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Scooter Braun on hurricane relief: 'We need to fight back with action and unity'

The talent manager, who calls Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande clients, tells EW about the upcoming ‘Hand in Hand’ telethon for hurricane victims

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After a bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester left 22 dead and more than 100 people injured, both Grande and her manager, Scooter Braun, sprung into action, organizing a star-studded concert in the English city to benefit victims of the attack. The British Red Cross later reported they raised $13 million thanks to the event.

Now, Braun is using what he learned from Manchester to help people cope with another, different tragedy: With the help of Houston rapper Bun B, Braun put together a telethon titled Hand in Hand to benefit victims of both Hurricane Harvey and Irma, storms that have ravaged Texas and Florida, respectively, in recent weeks. The event — featuring appearances and performances by Justin Bieber, George Strait, Beyoncé, and plenty more (see the lineup here) — will broadcast live on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CMT Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Bun B thought of the idea to have a telethon while he was thinking of ways to help his Texas community. “It just kind of came to me one morning, looking at the television, seeing what people are going through and wanting to try to put as big an effort as possible together,” he tells EW. The next step was getting in touch with people “who could get the most eyes and ears on what we were trying to get done.” Braun, who also manages Bieber, was one of those people.

“Whether they lost people or they lost homes, or whatever it may be, if you can do something, you should,” Braun says. “My hope is that, with this, we inspire people in our industry and in other industries to do something also. During this time, when there’s so much division, we need to fight back with action and unity. … This is bigger than Texas, this is bigger than Florida. We want to come together as a nation and believe in that idea that we all signed up for, that when things get tough, we stick together.”

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in late August, marking the first time a major hurricane had made landfall in the United States since Hurricane Wilma caused devastation in Florida back in 2005. As of Sept. 6, the Associated Press reported that at least 70 people had died in Texas as a result of the storm. This past weekend, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Caribbean islands, where at least 36 people have died, and then hit the Florida Keys before bringing high winds and storm surge to the rest of the state. As of Monday, it still wasn’t clear how much damage the storm did.

“My hope is that there’s some young kid sitting in their living room watching this tomorrow night and they get inspired to make their lives about giving,” Braun continues. “And the next great leader that we’re waiting for is some young kid sitting in their living room and they get inspired by what they see tomorrow. That would be my greatest hope,” he finishes, before adding with a laugh: “Another great hope is that we raise a ton of money.”

Hand in Hand will air on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CMT Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET (with a replay set for 8 p.m. PT). The show will also stream on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.