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Cooking up Menudo

Reality show to whip up new batch of boys

Ben Silverman wants to give teen girls around the world a new Menudo to call their own.

The reality producer is attempting to revive the bilingual band that gave birth to Ricky Martin, teaming with Menudo Entertainment principals Jeffrey Weiner and Barry Solomon to create an “American Idol”-style competition. The goal: Bring some young blood back to the group, which was first formed in 1977.

Menudo’s hallmark was its rotational lineup: Boys, including Martin and Marc Anthony, were pushed out as soon as they turned 16. Since hitting it big in the U.S. in the early 1980s, band has never captured the same Stateside popularity.

TV show, which Silverman plans to shop starting this week, will run from the auditions to the completion of the group’s first album.

“It will start off with ‘American Idol,’ but then it turns into ‘Making the Band,’ ” Silverman said. “I have no doubt it will work, because Menudo is one of the most recognizable brands in the country. We’re talking about a true franchise.”

Boys of any ethnic background may audition as long as they’re fluent in both Spanish and English. And in keeping with tradition, the age limit is still 16.

“We want to respect the heritage of Menudo, but we also want to open it up for the larger American audience. What I think will make Menudo work now is it’s really a boy band, not a man band. It appeals to both kids and their families,” Silverman said. “Whether it’s Ricky Martin, Eva Longoria, George Lopez or J. Lo, we’re living in this moment where there is a huge artistic drive from the Latin community.”

WMA senior VP Jon Rosen, who is packaging the project, said in addition to starting with a proven brand, the new group is guaranteed a record deal and tour.

“This is one of those entities that every single department here is involved in and excited about,” he said. “And the good news is that several networks have already expressed interest.”

Solomon said the rotational group has been through more than 30 incarnations — including the adult version MDO — but the goal of the series will be to bring it back to the original youth aud for which it was intended. That means only clean-cut kids need apply.

“They’ll be singing cutting-edge, but not over-the-edge, music,” Solomon said. “Sponsors can feel a sense of comfort with Menudo, which has always stood for clean entertainment. We’ve already talked to some of the best producers in the country to be involved.”

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