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Meghan Overdeep Headshot

On Singers Who Act and Actors Who Sing, Inspired by Justin Timberlake

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JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE MILA KUNIS
PA

Forgive me for a moment while I make a gross generalization: Actors should stick to acting and singers should stick to singing.

I mean, come on people, remember when Michael Jordan played baseball? Just say no.

I've felt this way for a long time, but the excessive promotion of Justin Timberlake's new movie Friends With Benefits has driven me to the edge. I love you Justin, I do, but watching you in The Social Network was about all I can take. So maybe you're not the best actor, but you're a damn good singer. Why don't you stick with crying a river and bringing sexy back? Those were good times. Or better yet, join the cast of Saturday Night Live! I think you're hilarious.

And then there's Gwyneth Paltrow's new singing career. Watching her sing on Glee is like watching a dog walk on its hind legs -- it looks forced, awkward and plain old unnatural. Why didn't anybody tell her that just because she can doesn't mean she should? How come nobody said, "Gwyn, maybe you should just go home and caress your Oscar? You're an excellent actress, don't be a mediocre singer."

I can just imagine Pierce Brosnan in his dressing room on the set of Mama Mia. "Of course I can sing," he tells his nervous assistant, "I'm James Bond, aren't I?"

Yes Pierce, you were James Bond, and you will remain a pop culture icon because of it, but that doesn't mean anybody wants to listen to you sing ABBA.

But I digress.

I realize we're all to blame for this phenomenon. I imagine the system that drives producers to cast Justin Timberlake in a leading role and to give Lindsay Lohan a record deal like a top-heavy, upside-down pyramid.

At the base sits us -- the tasteless consumer, of course -- easily swayed and drawn to familiar names. The middle is where producers and Hollywood executives stroke their sinister beards and lust after our money, who, despite their better judgment, always end up chasing that dollar sign. And at the tip -- bearing the weight of this absurd, teetering pyramid -- are the poor, self-absorbed entertainers who have been told for years that they can do no wrong. They're the real victims here. We thrive on putting them on pedestals and then knocking them down when they take an ill-advised step.

I should know, that's what I'm doing as I hide behind my laptop.

And of course there are exceptions to the rule. Bette Midler, Barbara Streisand, Meatloaf, Cher, Jared Leto, Jack Black, Jennifer Lopez and all the Disney kids all manage to straddle the actor/singer line with ease. Just to name a few.

But the rule is: Unless you are uniquely talented and/or have been on Broadway, you should not try. Chances are good that it won't end well, for any of us. I understand that like anybody else, celebrities get bored and want to try new things. In that case, why not find a hobby? Or better yet, use your skills and experience to help find and cultivate new talent.

So, dear actors who dream of singing and singers who long to act, save yourself the potential embarrassment and stick to what you know you're good at. Don't let anybody take advantage of you. And if you're worried you've surrounded yourself with yes-men who won't be honest with you about your career decisions, just ask me and I'll be happy to help.

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