Reporting from New York -- How big are the Jonas Brothers? One day here last week, not knowing the cause, some floors of Rockefeller Center were evacuated when the floor shaking and screams of the lads' fans during a TV shoot sent trepidations through the tenants.
It's hard to capture just how raucous the teenage choir for the Jonas Brothers is. But here, earlier in the day, they are on the set of CBS' "The Early Show." Cameras have been set up outdoors on Fifth Avenue to allow a few hundred teenage girls to stand close when Nick, 16, Joe, 19, and Kevin, 21, promote their film that opened this weekend: "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience."
The girls have been here for hours, their devotion such that many would have camped overnight had it not been for stinging winter winds whipping the city. Those who got here first are staked out along a long, waist-high barricade rail, and they're not giving an inch of real estate to their fellow females, now 10 and 20 rows deep and jostling for position. Outside of extra manpower for security, the television crew and a very few at-a-distance dads, there's not a male in sight.
But none of that matters now. The Jonas Brothers are here. You don't know because you see them. You know from all the pandemonium breaking loose, measured in decibels. Girls' screams. Followed by girls' heads bouncing, arms reaching, cellphone cameras flashing, and signs, flowers and presents thrust lovingly toward the boys.
During a frantic two-day ride-along with the teen pop phenom on the publicity tour for their film, it's like this at every stop.
Crisscrossing town in a three-black-SUV caravan from their base at the Trump International Hotel, the boys would appear on "Regis and Kelly," "The Early Show," "Good Morning America," Conan O'Brien, David Letterman, stop by an unveiling of their wax likenesses at Madame Tussauds, tape an MTV special, then be at the "Saturday Night Live" stages by late afternoon each day to rehearse the skits and songs they would perform there that weekend. As usual, they were extremely well behaved and extremely well dressed.
If that seems a lot, consider they are just coming off a sold-out concert tour on which their 3-D movie was made, are filming a Disney Channel series to premiere in May and were invited guests in the Obama White House on inauguration night -- after having been the Bushes' guests there just before leave-taking. They were jamming on stage with Stevie Wonder at the Grammys, where they were a best new artist nominee. They had just sold out an impromptu concert at Ryman Auditorium on their first visit to Nashville and were named "breakthrough artist" for the American Music Awards, where they also performed. They are the only artist to ever have three albums in the top 10 of SoundScan at the same time and the first artist to have six consecutive iTunes No. 1 tracks. All this while watching their current album, "A Little Bit Longer," reach 1.5 million.
Not bad for guys who hardly more than two years ago had a record that wouldn't sell and "were just four brothers [they have an 8-year-old brother, Frankie] in one bedroom," Kevin says to each talk show host.
The 200 teen girls chosen to be in the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center for the MTV taping know a lot about the Jonas Brothers. They know the wild reception the boys received at "The Early Show" that morning since they've been trading texts with the girls there. They know the time the Jonases left their hotel because the pod of girls camped there were texting as well. Then there are "the runners," the girls sprinting around Manhattan from one Jonas sighting to the next, keying into their phones as they go.
For the MTV opening scene, the band is hidden behind curtains as if anyone needed to build more angst and anticipation into these girls. When the boys are unveiled one by one, the resulting scream is so deafening, you can hardly hear one of them for all of them, and they are all saying the same thing, something like this: "Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I can't believe it's them. They're so beautiful." Then, depending on which of the brothers is closest, "I love you, Kevin." "I love you, Joe." "I love you, Nick. . . ."
But all this adulation has caused a very real problem. For one thing, the production crew's members can't do their work because they can't hear one another even in their headsets. And then comes the building evacuation.
The Jonas Brothers' mom, Denise, 41, a former singer and sign language teacher, watches the scene from a monitor in the control room. She laughs each time she sees one of the boys having fun on camera, savoring it like a parent who has just seen her child score a soccer goal, except that for her it has been like watching all three of her sons score goals, every day for nearly two years now.
The boys stay remarkably composed through it all.Appreciative. Enjoying it. Beyond their music, another thing that has so endeared them to their fans -- and their fans' parents -- is that they genuinely seem to be the nicest young men you could imagine.
"I am always impressed at how well they hold themselves," Denise says. "I'm a crazy Italian, hands flying. I can't help it. I go crazy at their concerts. They are more like their dad that way."
On this tour careening around town, along with their father, Kevin Sr., 44, a former Christian minister and songwriter and musician who co-manages his sons, there's co-manager Phil McIntyre, the director of their production company, their stylist and her assistant, their photographer, three publicists, a teacher and at least five security men.
When offstage, Denise might be with the boys, whispering in their ears or adjusting Nick's collar. Kevin Sr. tends to stand back a bit, watching over it all as he quietly takes calls on his cellphone.
Still, "when they walked out at MTV, I choked up when the crowd exploded," said Kevin Sr. "That's normal for the boys, but it's never normal to Dad and Mom. They are really good kids. They are healthy. They are normal. Everywhere I go, before I leave, someone grabs me and says, 'I see it all, and they are so polite, so courteous, so thankful.' I hope we had something to do with that. But I'm really glad because it is still important to me that they are really good boys."