Hollywood heavyweights from Interscope Records and talent agency Endeavor plan to catapult the neo-burlesque cabaret act, which has a concentrated L.A. following, into a national multimedia franchise.
The Dolls are a revolving cast of leggy, lingerie-clad women with a wildly popular stage act that launched them into appearances in NBC mini-movies, the film "Charlie's Angels 2" and on Carson Daly's talk show. Celebrities such as No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and sitcom actress Christina Applegate have made on-stage cameos as part of the group, which was founded by Hollywood choreographer Robin Antin.
Interscope President Jimmy Iovine and A&M President Ron Fair are personally directing the project with Jimmy Yaffe of Endeavor's marketing group. Mr. Fair, a Grammy winner, launched Christina Aguilera's career. The Dolls' founder, Mr. Antin, will be the brand steward.
The partners are considering everything from music, DVDs, film, video games, tours and fixed venue shows to lingerie and cosmetics under the Pussycat Dolls imprint. "It's not enough anymore just to be a musical artist. You have to hit on a lot of cylinders," said Mr. Fair. "This act is multi-dimensional, and there's a business here."
First up will be a CD/DVD combo, and guest stars from the pop world are likely. Mr. Antin is looking at DVD content that's a cross between the movie "Chicago" and the music video for "Lady Marmalade," a nod to old school peekaboo with a contemporary flavor.
"It's not Destiny's Child," said Mr. Antin, who based the show on Bob Fosse-style dancing, classic musicals and current pop culture. "It's high concept, pure entertainment."
In early December, the handlers will cast a handful of permanent members-professional singer-dancers-and build concepts around them. A casting call has gone out in New York, Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas and other major cities via ads in acting and dance trades. Some current Dolls could be among the new group, along with high-profile guests like Carmen Electra.
It won't be the Rockettes or "hootchie kootchie" bimbo show, Mr. Fair said. Movie projects would be story-driven, and TV shows could be anything from a reality behind-the-scenes show to a variety show to a modern day Monkees.
"We'll create a lineup where there's equity in the individual members, with real substance and talent," Mr. Fair said. "There will be a hats off to the burlesque vibe, but we'll bring it up to date so it's not a one-trick pony."
Endeavor agents have had discussions with retailers about in-store Dolls boutiques, and with brands such as Revlon, Frederick's of Hollywood and Victoria's Secret, although no deals are in place yet.
The Dolls, originally launched at Johnny Depp's Viper Room, have been kicking around Hollywood for a decade. The group has been hot for the past several years. Upcoming TV appearances with current Dolls include a VH1 holiday show with Kid Rock and an MTV special.
"The Dolls clearly have a following, but it will all depend on the execution," said Michael Wolf, author of "The Entertainment Economy" and head of McKinsey & Co.'s entertainment and media practice. "There's a tremendous upside opportunity in a situation like this because they're being created and the label will own all the different exploitations. It's a better business situation than signing an already existing band."