Jem And The Holograms-The Film

If Transformers and G.I Joe can get live-action movies, then these ladies deserve a shot.
August 27, 2008
I have to be honest here...While "G.I Joe" and "Transformers" are both well-done programs, they don't appeal to me. Don't take that as a knock on the creators, cast and crew of these shows...They were well-conceived, but they just aren't my thing.

Now, "Jem And The Holograms", on the other hand, is most definitely something I enjoy.

I had written about the characters several times for various websites, but up until 2004, I never saw a full episode of the show. I purchased the first DVD set of the show (which now, in 2008, runs 70 dollars for a USED copy), and I liked what I saw. It was a show that had great music and very sophisticated writing for a kids' show. People tend to knock it now, but I find the show as riveting as any live-action drama of the decade. The songs were pop-rock at its' finest: Driving beats and simple, but not simplistic, lyrics.

In 2007, a live-action version of "Transformers" came out, and soon we'll be witness to a live-action version of "G.I Joe".

I feel that a live-action version of "Jem And The Holograms" is the next step. "Jem" was just as big as these other Sunbow/Claster productions, and there is a demand for the show. One needs only witness the aforementioned price issues for used DVD copies to see what I'm talking about.

Herewith, I would like to present my ideas for the casting of a live-action version of the movie.

Let's start out with Jerrica Benton, better known as Jem, and Eric Raymond, ruthless business magnate and someone who doesn't really prove himself to be a friend.

Jerrica is a character who, although she's nice, can also be on the edge at times. The death of her father, millionaire Emmett Benton, set her life on a very wayward course. A parent's death can do that, and one may think that "friends" of the family can help out, but that isn't always true.

Upon her father's death, Jerrica inherited a record company (Starlight Music) and a foster home (Starlight House). When the house starts getting in bad shape, Jerrica hopes that profits from Starlight Music can help pay for repairs. This is where Eric enters the picture.

A "friend" of the family, Eric shows himself to be an imposing figure. Due to Jerrica's youth, he feels that she's incapable of running a business, so he aims to take the whole operation over by any means necessary. This includes signing an act to the label that Jerrica finds horrific (I'll be getting to them in a few moments) and using a henchman (who I'll be getting to later) to engage in acts of sabotage.

For my first casting idea, that of Jerrica/Jem, I want someone who has singing talent, and might be able to parlay that into acting. To me, singing and acting are two halves of the same whole. Each one involves emotions and appeals to the audience.

While I'm not sure of her acting abilities, I know she's a great singer.

With that, I propose the idea of having Natasha Bedingfield play Jem/Jerrica.

She looks like she could play both parts, and when it comes to her voice, while Bedingfield is British, Jerrica has a bit of a British voice as well. Maybe not the accent, but the way Jerrica intones certain words has a British sound to it. I'm sure that, if required, she could do a good American accent, though.

As for Eric, I want him to be played by someone who is really good at playing emotionally charged characters. I think that the best person to play Eric Raymond would be Bill Pullman.

He's always played hard-edged characters, but many of them have been good-hearted ones (Lone Starr in "Spaceballs", Dr. James Harvey in "Casper", the President in "Independence Day"). If he were to play Eric Raymond, this would give him a great opportunity to act as an all-out son-of-a-bitch. While Eric never carries out any bad acts himself, he does mastermind them, as sort of like a Charles Manson type.

Manson had his coterie of girls, and so does Raymond. That act he wants to bring to the Starlight label is a raucous pop-rock group called The Misfits. They're as bad-mannered onstage as they are off. Their songs all revolve around 2 subjects: Winning and ego.

The members of the group are Pizzazz, Roxy and Stormer.

Let's start off with Pizzazz.

She's the lead singer and ring leader of the group. Although she's grown-up, she can act quite bratty at times. She's like an overgrown child...Always wanting success and whining when she can't get it. And God forbid you call her by her real name Phyllis. That'll set her off bad.

I think that a good choice to play Pizzazz would be Stacey "Fergie" Ferguson.

It's not the best picture of her, I know, but if you were to utilize the make-up they used on the animated version of Pizzazz, I think she could pull it off. She has the singing talent and the acting chops as well, so I think she would be a good choice. Besides that, it would give her a chance to return to her pop-rock roots ("Kids Incorporated", anybody?).

Next, we come to Roxy.

What Pizzazz does in words, Roxy does in actions. She's always one of the first to get physical in The Misfits' quest for success. One sometimes has to be so if they want to have hope of winning. A very physical personality is needed to carry out a role like this. As such, I have one in mind: A great combination of singing and acting.

I propose the idea of casting Pink as Roxy.

Pink carries a perfect bad-ass attitude about her, especially in her songs, dissing everyone from the President to ex-boyfriends. She's also on the move as well. From her very first music video, she's always projected an image of a woman on the move, be it on foot or on wheels.

To crush your competitors, you have to keep moving until it seems impossible to do so anymore. Pink is like that as well...She's had a hard life, but she's still doing her thing after all these years.

The final member of The Misfits, at least in my proposed movie version, is Stormer.

She's always going along with whatever The Misfits are doing, but unlike the others, she has a conscience, which often is pushed to the side in favor of success at all costs. She occasionally stands up to her bandmates and speaks out when she objects to what they plan on doing, but more often than not, she stands with them.

For this role, we need someone who can display a good mixture of confidence and fragility. I think a good choice to cast on this front would be Amanda Bynes.

With her previous acting work, she's mixed up nice and mild characters to nice and take-charge characters. From her Nickelodeon days up to last year's "Hairspray", she's shown a lot of versatility. Playing the role of Stormer would give her a chance to do some dramatic work.

This leads me to a point I feel should be made: If a movie version of "Jem And The Holograms" were to be made, I believe it should be played straight. Quite a few live-action adaptations of cartoons have mocked the idiom and content of the sources themselves.

"Jem And The Holograms" is a show that dealt with competition, ego and how far a person can go in their pursuit of success. To turn that into a series of jokes doesn't really seem like a good idea. Hopefully, this movie would be set in the 80s, but once again, if it were, they probably wouldn't play it straight.

Even many who love 80s culture have made fun of the fashions, hairstyles and make-up of the decade, while singing the hosannas of the fashions that came after that time.

Many people see a woman who looks like this and they laugh:

I see a woman who looks like this and I go "Oh, Hell Yeah! I'd love to get to know her!"

Let's get back to the movie, shall we?

Now would be a good time to introduce Jerrica's 2 friends and one family member who serve as The Holograms.

Let's start off with Shana.

Bassist and drummer for the group, she first met Jerrica as one of the first young girls to be in the Starlight foster home. Although it was rocky going at first, they ended up becoming friends. She stood alongside Jerrica through most everything, and is probably the most light-hearted member of the band. While she does worry about the others, she's very good at keeping her cool.

Being as she's younger than Jerrica, we need a younger actress. I think that a good choice would be Kyla Pratt.

She has extensive animated experience through her voice-work as Penny Proud on "The Proud Family", and I think that, with some drumming and guitar lessons, she could be a pretty good casting choice.

Another reason why I chose her is because, I must admit, I don't know a lot about younger black actresses. This was somewhat of an instance of pulling a name out of a hat, and that's what I'll be doing with my next pick as well.

First, let's talk about the character of Aja.

Aja is the guitarist for the group, and occasionally serves as Jerrica's conscience in matters of the heart (to be detailed in a few moments). She's another girl who was a resident of Starlight House from the beginning, and another one who Jerrica was jealous of at first, but eventually grew to be friendly with.
Aja is a character of Asian descent according to the Truly Outrageous Jem Primer site (which is where I've gotten the pictures of the characters from). As such, an Asian-American actress is needed for the role. Once again, I don't know that much about younger Chinese-American actresses, so I'll be going with one name I know of: Brenda Song.

"Jem And The Holograms" is a youth-oriented program, and as one of the Disney Channel's leading stars, Song has a lot of experience with youth-oriented matters. Like it or not, guys, you can't deny that the Disney Channel is still making an enormous impact on popular culture after all these years. I predict that Brenda Song could easily add 10 million dollars to the gross of this movie if it were to go into production.

As the last member of the group, we come to Jerrica's younger sister Kimber.

As the younger sister, Kimber is envious of Jerrica. Jerrica is the one who is always concentrated on, especially as Jem. Kimber loves her sister very much, but like all siblings, she's often angry at her. She even stages a brief walk-out from the group and is tempted to join Eric Raymond's side when a solo contract is offered to her, but blood is thicker than water, and so Kimber stays with the Holograms.

For this role, a young actress is needed who can play nice most of the time, but angry at other times. I think we need to bring in an associate of Brenda Song on this one. I say that a good casting choice would be Ashley Tisdale.

I chose Tisdale because, firstly, she looks like she could resemble Kimber. Just give her the right make-up and I think the two could resemble each other well. Secondly, she's written several songs. This is a perfect match to Kimber, who writes the group's songs and often complains about being ignored in favor of Jerrica, leading to that brief walk-out.

This leads us into the machine that creates all these illusions for Jerrica. In addition to both his business and charitable endeavors, Emmett was also a scientist as well. He created a machine called Synergy.

Originally designed to serve as an entertainment machine, Emmett decided that if it fell into the wrong hands, then things could go wrong. After Jerrica's first confrontation with Eric, she receives a pair of earrings at home. Putting them on, she comes into contact with Synergy, who offers further instructions to be found in the box. A trip to the local drive-in turns into a mysterious encounter with this machine. Synergy introduces herself and explains her creation. She also explains the purpose of the earrings and how they can help Jerrica out, although Jerrica actually comes to the latter point on her own.

Synergy should be computer-animated, and I feel that her voice should be supplied by Daryl Hannah.

Ms. Hannah has quite a lot of experience with the fantasy genre. She played Pris in the seminal 80s sci-fi movie "Blade Runner" (which I discuss in my article "Some Of My Fave 80s Women"), and then played Madison the mermaid in "Splash". Her voice has a very machine-like tone to it...Not that I mind, but it seems like it would be a good match for a machine like Synergy.

A battle of the bands is rigged in The Misfits' favor, but Jerrica and her friends crash the concert and make their first performance as Jem And The Holograms. Eric is furious, needless to say. By saying "Show's over, Synergy", Jerrica is able to reappear to confront Eric about the concert. This leads to a proposal for another Battle Of The Bands, this time with Starlight Music on the line.

A man named Howard Sands steps in to raise the stakes further.

A famed movie producer, he throws in a movie contract and a big mansion as bonuses. Shortly after this, Eric brings in a man named Zipper to mess around with Starlight House.

Zipper burns down Starlight House, leaving all the girls homeless. Reluctantly, Howard bends the rules to allow Jerrica and the girls to move into the mansion, with the proviso that if they lose, they have to move back out.

For the role of Howard, I want somebody fatherly, but who knows his way around the music business. That's why I think that the following person might be good for the role.

I would like to go with Martin Mull.

He resembles Howard, at least to my eyes. Have him wear contacts and it could be a good match. He also has a lot of musical experience, having released many albums in the 70s when not doing comedy (although his songs were comedic, too). He has the perfect mix of kindness and frazzled behavior that would go with a character like Howard.

As for Zipper, I think that a good casting idea for him would be Andrew "Dice" Clay.

Clay is a little old, but his act is a good match for Zipper. Clay's "Diceman" act is that of a boorish individual who talks and acts tough, but is a little stupid. Zipper is like that, too. I could easily imagine the Diceman burning things down or thowing things all over.

Finally, we come to the character of Rio.

Rio is Jerrica's main squeeze, but her transformations into Jem and back out again confuse his feelings. He doesn't know who he loves, never knowing that they're technically the same person.

For the role of Rio, I choose Zachary Quinto.

Soon to be seen as Spock in the newest "Star Trek" movie, I can imagine Quinto playing the role of Rio. The character is a complex one...He tries to be logical, but sometimes his emotions get the better of him when dealing with Jerrica and Jem. This would be a good chance for him to get into something hopefully lighter-hearted, although not too much.

This leads into my 3 main crew ideas.

For director, I would recommend Ridley Scott.

Ridley Scott is a versatile director and I can imagine he would do good with this. He's oriented towards the visual (He was the mind behind Apple's famous "1984" commercial), he's done great fantasy and sci-fi work ("Alien" and the aforementioned "Blade Runner") and he's directed lighter-hearted pieces as well, like "Matchstick Men" and "A Good Year". If one were to pull all these elements together, I think that he would be a great match for the movie. He always brings an element of humanity to his work, even if it's fantasy-oriented.

Next, for a screenwriter, I would go with Paul Haggis.

He's done it all, from writing for Hanna-Barbera cartoons in the 80s to winning Oscars for his screenplays. I base my choice of him as a screenwriter on the following exchange from his Oscar-winning screenplay for "Million Dollar Baby". In it, boxing trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) and his priest Father Horvak (Brian F. O'Byrne) have the following exchange:

Father Horvak: What's confusing you this week?

Frankie Dunn: Oh, it's the same old "one God-three God" thing.

Father Horvak: Frankie, most people figure out by kindergarten it's about faith.

Frankie Dunn: Is it sort of like Snap Crackle and Pop, all rolled into one big box?

Father Horvak: You're standing outside my church, comparing God to Rice Krispies?


I can easily imagine The Misfits and Eric Raymond having a similar conversation.

Finally, for songs, I would go with writer Rod Temperton.

He wrote "Thriller" for Michael Jackson, but the song that inspired me to pick him for songs was a song he wrote called "Never Too Late To Start" from the soundtrack to 1986's "Running Scared".

Here are the lyrics:

"We're getting ready for the good times,
'Cause it's the only way to go.
So saddle up, lock into the rhythm,
Let the music take control.
This is it.
Reach for that feeling.
We need love tonight.
No rhyme or reason,
Is gonna stop us rockin' and a reelin',
So, baby come on.
Never too late to start.
Openin' up your heart,
Never too late to start,
Openin' up,
You know it's never too late to start.

It's time to take it to the nation,
And let the power of love decide.
We're gonna take it,
Baby, we can shake it,
'Til the sun begins to rise.
This is it.
Reach for that feeling.
We need love tonight.
No rhyme or reason,
Is gonna stop us rockin' and a reelin',
So baby, come on.
Never too late to start.
Openin' up your heart.
Never too late to start,
Openin' up,
You know it's never too late to start.

We're on a crew that never dies.
Whatever happens, it's alright.
There is no magic that we can't do.
So take a chance and let the love come shining through".


The chorus repeats and there's ad-libbing to the fade-out, but based on those lyrics, I think Temperton would be a good choice to do the music.

And so, there you have it: My casting and crew ideas for a movie version of "Jem And The Holograms".

So, the floor is open: What do you think of my casting and crew choices? Would you make different picks? Do you think this would be a success?

Thanks for reading.
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