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Aly & AJ's 'Super Sweet' movie


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  • Aly & AJ's 'Super Sweet' movie

    Aly & AJ pull out all the stops in 'Sweet' sister act

    By Sheryl Nields
    It's all about the brand: Alyson Renae "Aly," left, and Amanda Joy "AJ" Michalka
    are being marketed like the Olsen sisters.

    While Aly & AJ are closely associated with the Disney Channel, they aren't contractually tethered to the channel. That, says manager Gerry Cagle, gives the sisters more flexibility, creatively and career-wise.

    "We recognize the power of Disney, and we are quite happy being part of the Disney family, though we are not strictly bound by everything Disney insists upon (with) series-tied acts," he says. "It makes us able to make choices that are best for Aly & AJ.

    "A perfect example is the MTV movie. We could never have done that had we been signed to Disney."

    MTV premieres Aly & AJ's Super Sweet 16: The Movie this weekend (Sunday, noon ET/PT), but the movie has been available via mobile and on-demand services for as long as two weeks. That's just the first wave of an Olsen twins-style marketing barrage.

    Wal-Mart will have special displays of the sisters' Insomniatic album and a Super Sweet 16: The Movie DVD, both out Tuesday. Aly & AJ currently appear on 7 million boxes of Post Honeycomb cereal. In a nod to tour sponsor Sanrio, maker of Hello Kitty products, the sisters will strap on custom-made Hello Kitty Fender guitars for their performances.

    They're teen spokeswomen for Samsung's Hope for Education, which provides tech products to needy schools, and serve as co-chairs of an advisory board for the AmberWatch Foundation. They also have branded dolls, clothing, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, headwear, video games and a calendar coming later this year.

    "You have to be everywhere in order to be known. Otherwise, you're just one of many," says Seventeen's Carissa Rosenberg. "If your name and brand is everywhere, chances are you're going to be very successful."

    By Brian Mansfield
    Special for USA TODAY
    July 6, 2007

    The most elaborately organized Sweet 16 party has nothing on Aly & AJ's plans for the coming days. Who needs tiaras, limos and extravagant evening gowns when, like this teen singing duo, you're starring in your own TV movie adaptation of MTV's hot reality show My Super Sweet 16?

    "It's got all the drama and the cat fights and the girl tears and stuff, so it's very comical," says Aly, 18, who, with sister AJ, 16, also will release a new album and kick off a summer tour next week in Phoenix. "Fans of the show and MTV and our music are going to dig it."

    With the marketing blitz that's accompanying the CD, Insomniatic, and Super Sweet 16: The Movie, the sisters (real names: Alyson Renae and Amanda Joy Michalka) are being positioned as the pop-culture heirs apparent to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

    "It's definitely a positive comparison for us," says AJ. "Those girls are incredibly smart. They're amazing businesswomen."

    Aly and AJ — the only children of a dad who owns a contracting company and a mom who used to sing in a Christian pop band — got their start modeling at ages 11 and 9, respectively. That led to small acting parts on Six Feet Under and General Hospital for AJ, while Aly landed a co-starring role in the Disney Channel series Phil of the Future (2004-2006).

    Their big break came when Disney-owned Hollywood Records signed the duo to a recording contract. The 2005 debut album, Into the Rush, sold nearly 800,000 copies, getting most of its exposure through Radio Disney airplay and Disney Channel showings of their videos. The two also starred in a 2006 Disney Channel movie Cow Belles.

    If Aly & AJ make the leap from the Disney Channel to the MTV crowd, they'll have overcome one of the most challenging obstacles for pop-culture figures: keeping an audience as it ages.

    "If you discount those acts who came over in the British invasion, it's been very difficult for teenagers to take their audience with them as they grew older," says manager Gerry Cagle. "We are trying to make sure that is a seamless transition."

    With the recent, high-profile meltdowns of former teen faves like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, the Michalka sisters are making their move at a good time.

    "Listen, we're all desperate right now for new talent," says Carissa Rosenberg, entertainment director for Seventeen magazine. "And our younger generation needs role models."

    Her advice: "They should act their age. That doesn't mean they won't make mistakes, (but) they shouldn't be out clubbing."

    They'll be helped by their solid musical base. Having grown up listening to Heart, The Police and the Beach Boys, the Michalkas have a song-based sound that's rooted in the music of the '60s and '80s. They had early Radio Disney hits with covers of the Lovin' Spoonful's Do You Believe in Magic and Katrina & The Waves' Walking on Sunshine.

    For Insomniatic, the sisters had a hand in writing every song. The single Potential Breakup Song sounds somewhat like Del Shannon's Runaway run through a processor, but there's a lot more going musically than on your average teen-pop album.

    "They write their material; they play their instruments," says Hollywood Records general manager Abbey Konowitch. "They aren't in any way manufactured. That's very important."

    So, too, is the seriousness with which the sisters approach their career.
    "Never think you're the best," Aly says. "There's something wrong when you think that you've done the best that you possibly can, because there's always better.

    "That's what you see in those people who have long careers, those people who are legends."
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  • #2
    Re: Aly & AJ's 'Super Sweet' move

    Get ready for another media blitz a'la High School Musical and Hannah Montana. Aly & AJ's new album debuts July 10th.

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