After days of negative headlines chronicling a client exodus, Scooter Braun needed some good press. So, on August 29, the Daily Mail came through, publishing an article with the headline: “Scooter Braun’s label teams up with billionaire David Geffen’s former record company to create ULTIMATE ‘global girl group’; talent search docuseries for Netflix.” The only problem? Braun has nothing to do with the series.
That Netflix project, announced last month as a global girl group audition docuseries that will premiere in 2024, comes from K-Pop powerhouse company, HYBE and Geffen Records. Braun is CEO of HYBE America. While one of Braun’s direct reports is overseeing the project, Braun has never had any involvement with the series, Variety has learned. Netflix and Braun declined to comment.
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Braun has about a dozen film and TV projects that have been announced in development, mostly at Netflix and Amazon. But Braun’s involvement with one previously announced project at Hulu is now in question: a documentary that marks the directorial debut of his former client, pop star Demi Lovato.
Lovato is directing the Hulu documentary, “Child Star,” a passion project that will explore the highs and lows of growing up in the spotlight through the lens of some of the world’s most famous former child stars, including Lovato herself. Lovato and her team have recently been enlisting on-camera participants for the doc, sending emails to high-profile, former child actors. The email pitch, obtained by Variety, says, “We understand that discussing such topics can be sensitive, and we assure you that the utmost respect and discretion will be maintained throughout the entire production process.”
While the letter highlights some talent already on board, like Drew Barrymore and Raven-Symoné, as well as one of the film’s producers, OBB, it makes no mention of the film’s other producer: Braun’s SB Projects, nor Braun himself. (OBB works closely with Hailey Bieber, who is married to Braun’s most notable client, Justin Bieber, who is in the process of splitting from Braun as his longtime manager.)
Braun had been slated to executive produce the Hulu documentary with his ex-client Lovato, as he did on her 2021 doc “Dancing With the Devil,” but his involvement is murky — or, at the very least, his public-facing involvement. Given the name recognition and celebrity status of Braun himself, omitting him as an executive producer on production documents is noteworthy, particularly after his separation from Lovato.
Reps for Lovato and Braun declined to comment. A Hulu source says Braun still retains his executive producer credit on “Child Star.”
Braun and Lovato cut ties earlier this summer. The separation was first reported in the press as an “amicable” parting of ways on August 21, but Variety has learned that Lovato stopped working with Braun a few weeks prior in late July or early August. Last week, she signed with new management. Hulu’s “Child Star” was announced in March.
It’s typical for managers to take a producer credit on their clients’ projects. But being attached to a project doesn’t necessarily equal active involvement.
A contractual obligation could also explain why Bieber has not confirmed he is separating from Braun. In other words, on paper, he’s still a client, but that doesn’t mean they are actively working together. On August 22, amid mounting negative press that Bieber and Grande had left Braun, TMZ reported that Braun’s company, SB Projects, is still, in fact, repping Bieber and Grande, but that he is “stepping into a larger role” away from management. The TMZ report raised eyebrows around the music industry, numerous insiders tell Variety, given that it was a known misrepresentation of the relationship between Bieber and Grande with Braun. Reps for Bieber and Grande did not respond to requests for comment.
“He’s obsessed with press. Spending his time and energy on the spin seemed to be a bigger priority than his artists,” says a source, who has worked closely with one of Braun’s clients. “You sign with Scooter, but you don’t get him. Most clients don’t have access to him as much as they would like to.”
Braun has been doing PR damage control ever since Puck first reported on August 21 that he and Bieber were splitting. Since then, Lovato, Grande and Idina Menzel are among those who are in the process of or have already have severed ties with Braun. (A source tells Variety that Menzel and Braun had actually stopped working together last October, long before it was reported amid media attention on Braun.) Sources close to Grande previously confirmed to Variety that she is parting ways with Braun.
Typically, A-list stars don’t confirm that they’ve left a rep until they’ve signed with a new one. But Grande took the parting of ways a step further and appears to have unfollowed Braun on Instagram on August 27. Her fans noted the sudden snub with screenshots showing his absence from the list of accounts she follows.
Despite the deluge in negative press surrounding Braun, one report of a frayed Braun relationship is being disputed. Puck recently reported that Braun is not talking to his longtime business cohort Allison Kaye. But when contacted by Variety, the SB Projects partner and manager threw cold water on that depiction.
“Very on the record, that’s not true,” Kaye tells Variety. “He’s my brother. And I am not leaving Scooter.”
(Over the years, Kaye has enjoyed a lucrative relationship with Braun. When HYBE acquired Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in 2021 for $1.05 billion, the Korean entertainment giant issued Kaye shares in the company worth $5 million, according to HYBE corporate filings.)
Braun does have at least one definite television project on the way. Braun and his SB Projects are behind Netflix’s upcoming reggaeton comedy series “Neon,” which wrapped production on its eight-episode season on April 28. Braun is said to have been active and hands-on with the production, visiting the Miami set in March. When Netflix announced details on the project last month, Braun was listed as an executive producer. The series is set to premiere on October 19.
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