August 28, 2002 11:50 AM

While ‘N Sync member Lance Bass preps at Houston’s Johnson Space Center to go into space this fall, his bandmates aren’t just sitting around waiting for him to become weightless. Fellow ‘N Sync singer Chris Kirkpatrick, 30, cohosted “Miss Teen USA 2002” with pop star Willa Ford, 21, on Wednesday — the same night that ‘N Sync-er Joey Fatone, 25, officially made his debut in the Tony-winning musical “Rent” on Broadway. The beauty pageant was telecast live from South Padre Island, Texas, on CBS. As Ford told “I judged Miss USA this last year and I worked with these people, and they enjoyed working with me, so they called back and said, ‘Would Willa be willing to maybe host Miss Teen USA?’ And we said, ‘Sure, why not.’ And then I wanted to see who my cohost was, and they said, ‘Well, if you’ll do it, Chris will do it,’ and I said, ‘I’ll do it, then. ‘” In “Rent,” Fatone plays Mark, the insecure filmmaker. “Hopefully, Joey is going to bring in tens of thousands of new audience members who I believe will be converted to ‘Rent’-heads, who will keep us going for the next couple years,” the show’s producer, Jeffrey Seller, tells Playbill On-Line. “Girls who were 8 (when ‘Rent’ opened) were not going to see ‘Rent, ‘ but now they’re 14 and they would go see ‘Rent. ‘” Fatone’s other acting credits include his role as Angelo in this summer’s surprise box-office hit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and, prior to that, appearances in “Longshot” and “On the Line” costarring Bass. Meanwhile, the next ‘N Sync sighting will take place Thursday, when Justin Timberlake makes his solo performing debut at the MTV Video Music Awards in advance of his forthcoming album, “Justified.”

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