So claims 'N Sync-er Joey Fatone, who called into Tampa, Florida, radio station WFLZ-FM this week to personally deliver the, um, bad news that a battle-scene cameo they shot for Episode II--Attack of the Clones has been cut because of the subsequent fan uproar.
"I'm going to make it officially known that they dropped it because people made a big deal about it," said Fatone, who sounded a tad perturbed about the development. "We're not going to be in it, and I'm not going to comment on it any more."
So can those griping Star Wars fans finally breath easy? Not quite. Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynne Hale wouldn't confirm Thursday whether 'N Sync will or will not appear in the final cut of Clones, saying "it's just too early to make that decision."
"The 'N Sync guys were shot as extras, and whether they're in or out won't be determined until the final edit," Hale says.
Even if they do make the final cut when Episode II is released May 16, don't expect the on-screen cameo to be very noticeable. Despite rumors that George Lucas cast the boys to appease his boy-band-crazy daughters, Lance Bass told Entertainment Weekly that he and his bandmates were enlisted for the scene while they were at Lucas' California sound studios last fall working on their concert video Pop Odyssey Live.
When Fatone mentioned they were huge Star Wars fans, producer Rick McCallum cast them as Jedi Knights alongside hundreds of other extras in one of the film's battle scenes.
Not all the 'N Sync-ers nabbed the nonspeaking, noncredited parts; Bass said "there was only room for four guys"--Justin Timberlake couldn't make the December shoot and Bass had a scheduling conflict, so "I gave the scene to Steve, Joey's brother," he said. "It broke my heart."
His wasn't the only heart broken over the casting. Star Wars geeks let out a collective yelp last week when word leaked that 'N Sync shot a scene for Clones, no matter how brief and inconsequential it may have been.
But Lucasfilm rep Hale denies that public criticism will have any effect on whether the boys stay or go from the film. "George makes all his decisions himself," Hale added. "And the final edit of the film is what he determines it will be."
If you need any more proof, just remember this, folks: Jar Jar is coming back.