Life is a whirlwind for Jesse McCartney, with his new “Expecting Amish” Lifetime movie, his new “In Technicolor” album, and his five-week House of Blues tour about to get underway. The timing of it all sounds like smart strategy, but according to McCartney, “It was a happy coincidence. The album release was set back around the end of January, and the movie came up very last minute.”
In the made-for-television film, McCartney plays an L.A. disc jockey who mixes
it up with an Amish girl (AJ Michalka) who is confronting worldliness for the
first time on a Rumspringa trip.
“It was all very new for me. I knew very little about the Amish culture,” says
McCartney. And while “Breaking Amish” and other reality shows in recent years
have put the spotlight on young members of the religion getting out and mingling
in the 21st-century world, he hadn’t seen the subject in a drama.
“I talked to the director; he really knew what he wanted. I liked the script.
I’d known AJ for years and I knew it would be fun to work with her,” he adds.
When his character meets AJ’s at a party. “He’s struck by her reaction to her
surroundings, and when she says she’s never been to a party before. There’s
something sweet about it. Before he knows it, he’s falling madly in love.”
And more. The drama centers on the choices she’s forced to make when she finds
herself pregnant by an outsider.
Meanwhile, it’s a huge week for McCartney, musically speaking. He released a
teaser EP of “Technicolor” late last year, and says he was happy to find an
appetite for his venture into disco/pop.
“These fans were waiting for it. People seem very excited about it, genuinely
excited about the new sound. Honestly, I thought they would like it. I think
music on pop radio is on its way back,” he says.
He doesn’t mind admitting he was influenced by his parents’ music. He thinks we
all are, “Big time. Whatever your parents listened to is your foundation of
music.” In his case, that meant Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees.
“I was singing at an early age,” notes the 27-year-old, who performed in
community theater musicals at 7, joined the boy band Dream Street at 12, and was
a bona fide teen heartthrob with his own solo success, as an actor as well as
singer, by 16. He feels he found his best voice doing blue-eyed soul.
McCartney says he wants to “push the album as long as I can and then get into
the production side of things in television by the end of the year.” He has
several projects on the burner.
And … what of the fourth Alvin and the Chipmunks movie? “There’s talk about
it. I’ve heard rumors but no official word,” says McCartney, who voices Theodore
in the feature series. “I’m sure they’ll make another. We work with the
Bagdasarians and they’ve been great about doing these.” Voice work, he adds,
“really is such an easy job — way less stress than being on camera. I went in
to work on ‘Alvin’ in sweatpants.”