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Andy Samberg on feeling bad for Bieber

The performer and the other members of The Lonely Island talk about lampooning the industry —but not its celebrities.
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    Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone plays former boy band members who s|Glen Wilson

Technically Andy Samberg is a musician. He’s even technically part of a hit-making band. Fifteen years ago the "Saturday Night Live" alum formed The Lonely Island with lifelong friends Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, whose bread and butter are song parodies: “Lazy Sunday,” “D— in a Box” and the jokey tunes that dot their second feature film, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.”

Samberg’s also married to an actual serious musician, Joanna Newsom. Surely they’ve never thought about combining their talents into some strange hybrid?

“I think her fanbase would probably be disappointed in that — rightfully,” Samberg, now 37, quips.

“As fans of her work I’d say we’d also be disappointed,” Taccone adds.

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The three are here to speak about “Popstar,” their follow-up to 2007’s “Hot Rod.” They play a broken-up rap boy band — part The Beastie Boys, part The Backstreet Boys. One of them, Samberg’s Connor, went onto a supersized solo career, while the other two have fallen on hard times. The movie, done as a star-studded mockumentary, finds Connor finally falling from favor himself when his latest album is poor received and his gaudy mega-concerts start underselling.

“The thing at the forefront, which I thought was fun to play around with, was how social media and media and the number of outlets have changed the landscape of the industry,” Samberg explains. They wanted to explore what is now expected of artists — what they make public, how they form relationships with their fans, how that level of fame affects their longtime relationships.

It’s a satire at once vicious and empathetic, hating the game but not the players. (Though it reserves true ire for the staffers at TMZ.) They even feel for one of the film’s obvious inspirations, Justin Bieber.

“We definitely empathize with Justin,” Samberg says. “We’ve worked with him a few times and we think he’s a good guy. We respect his music a lot, actually.” There are some references to the Bieber doc “Never Say Never,” but they’re not potshots, Samberg says. “We thought that [would offer] good jumping-off points for crazier jokes. And the title, obviously, feels like his title, which makes it seem it’s a lot more about him than we intended.

“But I hope he likes it!”

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Making a send-up of the pop music world means lots of cameos, some of them friends they knew from their years on “Saturday Night Live.” Ringo Starr was someone producer Judd Apatow hooked them up with. And miraculously they never had to have an uncomfortable conversation with Mariah Carey, whose own attempt at crossing into movies was the notorious “Glitter.” Not that she probably fretted that much over it, thinks Samberg.

“I think her record-breaking number of number one hits maybe gave her solace,” he jokes.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 

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