Bryan-Michael Cox is a Grammy-winning producer whose clients include Mary J. Blige, Usher and Mariah Carey. So what's he doing in the studio with former members of Color Me Badd and LFO?
The answer lies with reality television, of course.
Cox is the producer in charge of a new boy-band supergroup at the center of an upcoming VH1 series formerly titled "Man Band." (The show is currently untitled.)
Coming together for a show that blends "The Surreal Life" and "Making the Band" are Chris Kirkpatrick of 'NSYNC, Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees, Bryan Abrams of Color Me Badd and Rich Cronin of LFO (the latter of whom was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005 but is currently recovering from a stem-cell transplant: see "LFO Singer Rich Cronin Hospitalized With Leukemia").
"We put them all in one house," Cox said. "And the show focuses on them and their manager and me."
Cox and the group have been shooting throughout January in — where else? — Orlando, Florida, the onetime mecca for boy bands. Cameras are scheduled to roll for another few weeks, after which Cox hopes to have a finished album.
"The music is actually really, really good," Cox promised. "I think that people will be surprised by just how talented these guys are. You can never count anybody out."
Along with the VH1 show, Cox is producing his own reality series called "The Studio: Exposed," the first few episodes of which are available on YouTube.com.
"It's a raw view into what we do to create the energy and vibe in the studio," said Cox, whose diatribes dominate the show.
When he's not making TV, the Jermaine Dupri protégé (see "Usher's Success Lifts Songwriter/Producer Bryan-Michael Cox") is still making plenty of music — he has time booked with stars from Celine Dion to Usher.
"We have a certain chemistry," Cox said of the latter. "Usher is very focused in what kind of artist he is. And every album gets stronger and stronger because he knows where he wants to go."
Also on Cox's plate is the comeback album from Whitney Houston, for which he's already produced three tracks.
"I think that Whitney being gone so long is to her advantage," Cox said. "She has so many options. I'm leaning toward more classic Whitney, but I want to produce records that talk about what she's been through. You hear all negative press — it's up to her to tell her story and basically make records that mean something."
Cox is also working again with Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige and Jagged Edge on their next projects. In addition, he'll be taking on several newcomers, including those on his own label.
First though, the producer will hit the Grammys, where he's nominated for his work with Luther Vandross ("I was blessed to be the last [producer] to work with Luther," he said) and Blige.
"She broke some ground, and I don't think anybody expected it," said Cox, who produced Mary J.'s "Be Without You." "I think that people are attracted to stories like Mary's, watching her grow up and go through changes and come out victorious."