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Fans of the Jem and the Holograms toy line and animated TV series from the ’80s have every reason to be excited about the upcoming movie about the fictional pop band, producer Scooter Braun told The Hollywood Reporter at Wednesday night’s fundraising gala for his brother’s global education organization Pencils of Promise.
Braun, who’s producing the film, said he recently saw a screening at director Jon M. Chu’s office. While he noted that there are “a few things we’ve got to change up,” he was very pleased with the current cut.
“It’s really good. I went in to say, ‘OK how good is it?’ And I was blown away!” Braun tells THR. “It has so much heart; it’s such a good story; the music’s so good. I thought the actresses just did a really good job, and when the movie ends you’re just like all right, all right, we got something here.”
The movie follows Jerrica Benton and her alter ego, Jem, the lead singer of The Holograms. The film has been described as a modern look at the mysterious pop star and will follow the band on a musical adventure through L.A. Nashville actress Aubrey Peeples is playing Jem with Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau and Hayley Kiyoko rounding out The Holograms. Molly Ringwald, Juliette Lewis and Ryan Guzman also star in the movie, which is also being produced by Chu and Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions. Universal Pictures is set to release the movie on Oct. 23, 2015.
Braun also predicted that the soundtrack would be a hit, saying he told the label to get ready.
“I literally went back to Universal, whom we have the soundtrack with, and I said, ‘You guys, we have a serious sleeper with this movie coming,’ ” he added.
Chu previously worked with Braun on the Justin Bieber documentaries Never Say Never and Believe, and Braun said he wanted to continue that collaboration.
“I want to make a movie once a year with Jon Chu,” Braun said. “He’s one of my closest friends. … Each year we’re going to try to find one project.”
The veteran music manager, best known for shepherding the careers of Bieber, Ariana Grande and others, has recently moved into producing movies and TV shows, with his SB Projects working on The Giver and Scorpion on CBS among other projects. Braun told THR that he was surprised that Hollywood was so willing to let him in.
“They could have said, ‘Well you’re a music guy’ and tried to keep me out, but I’ve been invited into that community,” Braun said.
Incidentally, he met The Giver producer Nikki Silver through Pencils of Promise, he told THR.
This year’s Pencils of Promise gala, held at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan, honored SB Projects CMO Brad Haugen, actress Sophia Bush and social-media marketer Gary Vaynerchuk. PoP, founded by Scooter Braun’s brother Adam, works to provide global access to education, building 250 schools in some of the world’s poorest regions. Each of the honorees received a Pencils of Promise school dedicated in their honor.
The event raised more than $2 million for the organization, with $630,000 coming from a live auction, during which surprise experiences up for bidding included lunch with Bush on the set of NBC’s Chicago P.D. and four private DJ lessons with one of Braun’s artists, Martin Garrix.
Although Bush was unable to attend due to a last minute scheduling change on Chicago P.D., she recorded a video message to attendees, saying “I’m incredibly grateful getting this award from all of you, being honored by a cause that’s so close to my heart. … A lot of people ask me why I’m so passionate about Pencils of Promise and why I do so much for the organization, but really the organization does so much for me. … You’ve changed my life for the better in ways that I will never be able to fully explain. … I do believe that a pencil can change the world, and I believe it because I’ve seen it.”
Earlier, Adam Braun praised Bush’s strong commitment to the organization, calling her, Haugen and Vaynerchuk “family.”
“Sophia has come with me to Laos. She’s been with me in the field in Guatemala. She donated her 30th birthday and built two schools in the process. She’s a member of our advisory board, and she’s hosted this event two of the last three years,” Adam Braun said. “When we thought about who we wanted to honor, we didn’t just want to honor big names. We wanted to honor big names that also cared about international education work and Pencils of Promise in particular, and [Bush, Haugen and Vaynerchuk] were perfect fits.
Haugen and Vaynerchuk both serve on Pencils of Promise’s board and have been involved with the organization since its early days.
Other guests at the event included Def Jam CEO Steve Bartels and Orange Is the New Black actress Alysia Reiner.
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