Big Time Rush: Nick’s fab foursome

Youth Impact Report 2011: Young at Chart

Impact: Debut album certified gold; just wrapped 42-city U.S. tour and played stadiums with Justin Bieber in Mexico.
Next: A “Big Time Rush” movie for Nickelodeon.
Causes: City of Hope, Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, Camp Ronald McDonald. Recently honored at and performed at the annual T.J. Martell Foundation family event.

Producer Scott Fellows wanted to make his own version of “The Monkees,” but it took him and Nickelodeon execs two years to find the right four guys for “Big Time Rush,” the hit hybrid boy band/TV show that now airs in 78 territories.

“It was a crazy process, and a lot of us wondered why it took so long,” says 21-year-old James Maslow, who stars on the show with Kendall Schmidt (the youngest at 20) and 22-year-olds Carlos Pena Jr. and Logan Henderson.

“Honestly, there were people who were better actors, singers and dancers than me,” Maslow adds. “But what Scott really wanted was four guys who got along and came from normal backgrounds and had great parents.”

Adds Henderson: “We always say we’re brothers because get along so well.”

The series’ concept — four hockey players from Minnesota win a chance at music stardom as a boy band in Los Angeles — mirrored its members’ plucked-from-obscurity story, as did its instant success. Its January 2010 premiere set ratings records for Nick, and the show’s audience continued to grow in its second season.

The boys have flourished musically, with last year’s debut album scoring big in the States as well as England, Germany and Mexico. BTR sold out London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire before the record even dropped and recently opened for Justin Bieber in stadium shows in Mexico. “That was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever been through,” Pena says. “The fans could barely speak to us, but they knew every single word to all of our songs. I never thought we’d get to the point where 70,000 people would have their hands in the air singing our songs. It was trippy.”