Rock Stars Talk to N.Y. Teens in AIDS PSAs

NEW YORK A series of eight HIV-awareness public service announcements set to break tomorrow feature recording artists Elton John, Mary J. Blige and Shirley Manson interviewing New York teenagers.

Created by Boston-based Area 17, the 30-second TV spots show the performers asking questions, then cut to the teens answering while seated casually on a white bed against a white backdrop. In one ad, John asks, “Why do you wear a condom?” In another, he asks for favorite excuses for not wearing one.

One spot features African American teenagers answering Blige’s question, “What does respect mean to you?” Following their answers, she says, “Two-thirds of teens infected with HIV are African American. If you don’t respect yourself, who will?”

In another PSA aimed at girls, Shirley Manson, lead singer of the alt-rock group garbage, queries teenage girls, “What do you worry about when having sex?” She concludes: “Among teens infected with HIV, more than half of them are girls. Wear a condom. It’s one less thing to worry about.”

The spots were shot over a three-day period in New York by Public Interest Productions and @radical.media, two Santa Monica, Calif.-based production companies that also produced John’s “AIDS Ain’t Over” campaign. MAC Cosmetic’s AIDS Fund and the Elton John AIDS Foundation paid to produce the PSAs. They will air on MTV, VH-1 and BET, among other networks.

The teens were cast by teams conducting on-the-street interviews in New York, said Douglas Allenstein, executive producer at PIP. They answered questions from the production crew candidly, and were not scripted, he said.