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Bass, Lance (b. 1979)  
 
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*NSync's debut album was released in the United States in 1998 and quickly sold in the millions. The band also put out a "specialty" recording, Winter Album / Home for Christmas, in 1998, and sales of it topped a million as well.

Known for their cheerful pop melodies, group harmonies, and energetic dancing, as well as for their good looks, the group quickly found a large following, especially among teen-age girls. Along with Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, *Nsync came to dominate the teen pop explosion of the late 1990s.

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Despite the success of the band, the performers were not seeing any money. At Thanksgiving 1998 *NSync's manager, Louis Pearlman, handed the boys checks for their work to date—checks for twenty-five thousand dollars each. Bass was so disgusted by the inadequacy of the compensation that he tore up the check and marched out of the room.

*NSync filed suit against Pearlman and the RCA record company over improprieties in their contract. Pearlman and RCA countersued for one hundred fifty million dollars. The matter was settled out of court in December 1999. The agreement severed the managerial relationship between Pearlman and the musicians but granted him a portion of the group's future earnings—reportedly one-sixth, as if he had been a member of the band.

Bass—along with his band-mates and their families—had trusted Pearlman and never envisaged a court fight. They were, however, content with the outcome. "We're the happiest we've ever been," Bass told Daily News reporter Jim Farber in 2000. "We're finally in charge of our lives—and until this happened, we didn't even know we weren't in charge of our lives."

Freed from their contract with Pearlman, *NSync signed with Jive Records and quickly put out a new album, No Strings Attached. The title was inspired by the band members' feeling that they were no longer puppets controlled by Pearlman.

Released in March 2000, No Strings Attached was an immediate sensation, with two and a half million copies sold within a week, making it one of the fastest selling albums of all time. The album achieved the lofty status of a "Diamond" record when sales reached ten million copies. The eventual total far exceeded even that: sales in the United States alone topped eleven million copies.

*NSync's next album, Celebrity, which appeared in 2001, was enthusiastically received as well and also sold copies in the millions.

While Celebrity was in production, Bass, who had explored acting opportunities with a guest appearance on the WB television series 7th Heaven in 2000, and fellow band-member and close friend Joey Fatone commuted to Canada to make a film called On the Line (2001, directed by Kevin Gibbons). Unfortunately, the low-budget production did not enjoy commercial success.

*NSync performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics, but they then decided to go on a six-month hiatus from performing and put plans for future albums on hold, mainly because lead singer Timberlake was working on a solo album.

While awaiting developments on that front, Bass signed to do a reality show that would allow him to realize his dream of becoming an astronaut. The Russian space program had already permitted two civilians to fly on their mission after going through training and paying a twenty-million dollar fee. The plan for the show was to follow Bass through the process.

A physical exam revealed that Bass had an irregular heartbeat. Although this put him at virtually no risk in his daily life, it would disqualify him from the space program. He chose to have elective surgery to correct the condition and was then able to resume training in Russia.

Preparing for the flight was arduous, and on top of that, Bass's daily routine included four hours of Russian language lessons. He remained dedicated to his goal, however, and in July 2002 was accepted to fly on a Soyuz mission scheduled for October.

Funding had plagued the television project from the outset. The original production deal fell through, and Bass's managers had to scramble to arrange new sponsorship. They secured support from the Discovery Channel, MTV, and several corporations. In the end, however, MTV pulled out when it proved impossible to insure the return of their investment if the Russians cancelled the flight.

Time constraints had also loomed large for Bass since *NSync was planning to begin work on a new album in early 2003. The production of Timberlake's solo album was taking longer than expected, though, and so the other band members agreed to a further delay before resuming collaborative work.

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