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Ariana Grande couldn’t get Scooter Braun’s help with Ethan Slater crisis: report

Ariana Grande couldn’t get Scooter Braun’s help with Ethan Slater crisis: report

As reports have piled up over the last week that Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Idina Menzel were dumping Scooter Braun as their manager, Ariana Grande’s name also popped up.

Puck founder Matthew Belloni broke the news  Monday that Grande was joining the exodus of talent from Braun’s elite management stable. While sources close to the manager have denied that he and Grande are parting ways,  Belloni published a followup story Friday that explains one of the reasons that the “Thank U, Next” singer would be looking for representation elsewhere, and it has to do with his failure to attend to her needs during a recent high-profile personal crisis.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 27: Scooter Braun and Singer Justin Bieber attend the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at the NYU Paulson Auditorium on April 27, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images) 

Last month, Grande became the topic of feverish tabloid speculation when it was learned that she had separated from real estate agent Dalton Gomez after two years of marriage. Pretty soon, Grande became the subject of “home wrecker” headlines when it was learned that she had begun a romance with Ethan Slater, a little known Broadway singer who is her co-star in the new film adaptation of the musical “Wicked.”

As far as Slater’s wife, Lilly Jay, knew, she and Ethan were still happily and were raising their 1-year-old son. People close to Grande and Slater desperately tried to leak claims that both co-stars were separated from their respective spouses before they began dating, but many weren’t buying it, especially as ongoing tabloid reports suggested that they flaunted their affair on the U.K. set of “Wicked” and were “sloppy” around the cast.

With all this turmoil swirling around Grande, her team wanted Braun to fly to New York from a vacation in Europe to help put out the fires, Belloni reported. But Braun declined to make the trip, telling the team, “I deserve a vacation.”

That answer took at least one person on Grande’s team by surprise, Belloni said. But it’s also one of several incidents over the past few years that show that Braun’s priorities have shifted and he will no longer be at the beck and call of his A-list clients. Instead he delegates, as he graduated from being just a talent manager, albeit one of the music industry’s most powerful and prolific celebrity handlers. Since 2021, he’s been C.E.O. of Hybe America, a U.S. offshoot of the South Korean entertainment company that houses megastar K-pop group BTS.

As Belloni reported, Grande’s crisis erupted as Braun was posting about jet-skiing around Europe and being seen partying on Jeff Bezos’s yacht. Braun doesn’t want to work for A-listers anymore; he wants to be the A-lister and a global media mogul, in the mold of David Geffen. Or, as the Daily Beast also said, he’s the rare celebrity handler who’s become a celebrity himself.

At this point, the reports about Braun’s talent exodus are based on leaks from anonymous sources and “off-the-record confirmations and denials,” Variety reported. Some of those sources told Variety that Bieber and Grande are not leaving the Braun’s company, but rather he’s stepping back from their day-to-day management to focus on HYBE America.

Belloni has stood by his report last week, which said that Justin Bieber is no longer speaking to Braun and that and his wife, Hailey, were hunting for for new management.  Braun famously discovered Bieber when Canadian crooner was 13 years old and turned him into a global phenomenon. Belloni said that Bieber is still contractually bound to Braun, as is Grande, who publicly fired the manager in 2016, then rehired him. But the lawyers for both stars are figuring out how to move forward with Braun stepping away from the manager role, Belloni said.

Belloni, Variety and other outlets agree the talent exodus reports are in some ways fueled by the bad blood Braun has inspired in Hollywood over the years. To the public, he enjoyed fawning media coverage as an entrepreneurial boy wonder. Behind the scenes, he became known for his ruthlessness, which was most in evidence when his company purchased Big Machine Records in 2018, which gave him control of Taylor Swift’s first six albums. Braun refused to sell Swift’s records back to her, despite her scathing public comments about him. He instead flipped them to a private equity firm in a deal that earned  $300 million. From then on, Braun wasn’t just Swift’s nemesis but public enemy No. 1 to her millions of fans.

“Cue 15 years of schadenfreude: Braun has treated so many people so poorly over the years, burned so many bridges, all while using his Svengali-like control over the trade and gossip press to project a Boy Wonder image,” Belloni said. For that reason, stories about famous clients supposedly turning on him, have been “Christmas in August,” Belloni said.