'N Sync Co-Hosts Billboard Awards, Battles Puppet-Makers

The members of 'N Sync have been announced as co-hosts for the 2000 Billboard Music Awards, scheduled to air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The quintet, which will also be performing during the program, will share duties with Suddenly Susan star Kathy Griffin, who is returning to host the show for her third year in a row.

Ricky Martin, Destiny's Child, Faith Hill, Creed, the Dixie Chicks, Mystikal, and 3 Doors Down are also slated to perform at the event. Presenters for the show, which honors the top artists of the year, based on year-end Billboard charts, include Sheryl Crow; No Doubt; Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys and his fellow Jive Records recording artist, brother Aaron Carter; newcomer Samantha Mumba; and Oscar De la Hoya.

Meanwhile, as the direct result of an earlier awards show performance, 'N Sync is being sued by the creators of cult children's TV classic H.R. Pufnstuf.

On Tuesday in Los Angeles, Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures Inc., the brains behind Land of the Lost and other wacky '60s-'70s kiddie fare, filed a federal copyright infringement suit naming all five members of the group as defendants, as well as manager Johnny Wright and his Wright Entertainment Group, merchandise consultant Rick Barlowe, Winterland Concessions Company, and Winterland Productions, Ltd.

According to the suit, Wright recruited the Krofft company to manufacture 25-foot look-alike puppets of 'N Sync for the band's performance of "Bye Bye Bye" at this year's American Music Awards. Wright allegedly made an oral agreement to pay Krofft a cut if 'N Sync manufactured any merchandise related to the puppets, then created tour programs and souvenir tour laminates featuring the puppets' images without compensating Krofft.

"Krofft believes that there may be other merchandising items which likewise bear a photograph or other image of the Krofft puppets," says the puppet-maker's complaint. Krofft registered the copyright on the puppets July 24, giving him exclusive rights for their use, the AMA appearance excepted.

The plaintiffs are seeking actual and statutory damages, attorney's fees, and at least 10 percent of the profits from sales of the contested souvenirs. Krofft is also requesting compensation for the popular 'N Sync marionettes, available in toy stores and via the band's web site, claiming they were inspired by the puppets created for the AMA.