NEW YORK (CNN) -- Now that 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears has a bun in the oven, the young actress and singer's budding career may be over before it had a chance to really take off.
Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy could put her career as a teen television star at risk.
With her bright brown eyes and adorable, small-town girl smile, Jamie Lynn has charmed millions of young viewers for the past three years, as the star of "Zoey 101." The hit Nickelodeon sitcom is about a group of girls who help integrate an all-boys academy.
The series, which is one of the highest rated on the Nickelodeon channel, earned an Emmy nomination in 2005 for Outstanding Children's Program. In 2006, Spears won the Kids Choice Award for Favorite Television Actress.
She appeared to be doing all the right things, at least publicly. No club hopping, no tales of drug or alcohol abuse. She even kept a healthy distance from her troubled big sister (Britney Spears is said to not have known that her baby sister is with child).
Playing the role of the "good girl" to her older sister's "naughty" reputation, was great for Jamie Lynn's clean image and could have ultimately been good for her bank account.
"In a year when the 'High School Musical' soundtrack is the second-best selling CD of the year and the Hannah Montana tour is the most in-demand concert ticket, to lose the children's entertainment market -- as Jamie is certainly in danger of doing -- is a huge problem," said Joe Levy, managing editor of Rolling Stone magazine.
"Children's television can be a launching pad for a tremendously lucrative franchise that includes not just TV shows, but CDs, DVDs and concert tours," said Levy.
"What's sad about this is that Jamie Lynn was the good Spears," said Janice Min, editor-in-chief of US Weekly. "She was a huge tween star. And while her older sister was on the downslide, she appeared to be on the upswing. The hopes that Jamie Lynn could transcend the problems of her family were very high."
Time and time again young fans and their parents have made it clear they prefer their teen idols to be chaste. Lindsay Lohan's career nosedived when rumors began to swirl about her alleged drug use and partying, multiple trips to rehab, stealing cars and skipping work.
Britney's panty-less escapades and erratic public behavior have severely crippled her image. Now that she's morphed from role model to cautionary tale, whether Jamie Lynn's fans will abandon her remains to be seen.
When Britney was her sister's age, she was sitting at the top of the Billboard charts. Now, Jamie Lynn may be left singing a familiar tune: "I coulda been a contender." E-mail to a friend
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