"This call is being recorded for television broadcast. If you consent, please continue," said a recorded voice on the other end of the phone line.
The shoe was on the other foot when a reporter called to talk to Jordan Knight, singer and heartthrob from the late-1980s teen pop sensation New Kids on the Block. Though Knight will perform solo at the State Theatre tomorrow night, this interview occurred during self-imposed house arrest as he tapes a new season of the reality series "The Surreal Life," in which grade-B celebrities share a home to win valuable camera time instead of prizes.
So Knight was talking on a tapped phone line from an undisclosed location in California in a house also occupied by Latina singer-actress Charo, hip-hopper Flava Flav, first season "American Idol" finalist Ryan Starr, Danish bombshell Brigitte Nielsen and Dave Coulier from ''Full House."
"I didn't want to do it, and I tell everyone. I don't care," Knight said in a soft Boston-accented voice when asked why he was part of this publicity stunt. "But the powers that be convinced me to do it."
It was clear he would rather talk about his new tour, which included a pre-"Surreal" date in Spain and will continue in the United States into August. He has a new/old CD on the market, too: "Jordan Knight Performs New Kids on the Block: The Remix Album," which gathers the Kids' hits in newly recorded and remixed versions, with all lead vocals by Knight.
Did he talk to the other guys about reworking the material? "No, actually, I didn't," he said. "A lot of the songs I sang lead on anyway, so I didn't feel like I needed to talk to anybody about doing them over." He thanked former band mate Danny Wood in the liner notes, but that was because "he introduced me to the record label," V.I. Music, Knight said. (Wood's solo CD came out last year.)
Knight asserted that he did not redo the songs for radio but for "die-hard fans that would just like to hear a different twist to some of the songs." In his live act, though, "I pretty much do them how they were" in a set that includes just "me, a piano and a deejay." As for those classic NKOTB dance moves, "I do a little dancing and then I jump behind the piano, then get up and do a little more dancing."
After the Kids disbanded in 1994, breaking the hearts of millions of teenage girls, Knight laid low and limited his singing to anonymous casual performances in a Boston piano bar. A 1999 solo single, "Give It to You," set the stage for an eponymous comeback CD around the same time that former Kid Joe McIntyre released a solo album. Neither drew as much attention as material by new boy bands such as 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys that had learned from the NKOTB template of tender, balladry, harmless dance pop and a merchandising juggernaut.
As for the other former Kids, Donnie Wahlberg has been in TV shows and movies, and Jonathan Knight is in real estate development. Don't laugh. "He's making big bucks," Jordan Knight said.
And then, having spoken for only six minutes, Knight had to run. "They are calling me to get off this phone," he announced. "It's not my fault. I'm sorry."
Living "The Surreal Life" means always having to say you're sorry.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
The State Theatre is at 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. Doors open at 7 p.m., and a dinner menu is available. Also appearing are Keysha and Jerry Reid. Tickets are $17 in advance, $20 on the day of the show and there's a special "meet and greet" ticket for $60 that includes an autograph and photo opportunity with Knight. For more information, call 703-237-0300 or visit www.thestatetheatre.com.