Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Cartoon queen Jem returns on DVD



By Lauren Bishop
The Cincinnati Enquirer

She's truly outrageous, and she's coming to DVD.

Jem Jem, the frontwoman of the hottest cartoon band of the '80s, Jem and the Holograms, will be immortalized in a glittery, four-disc box set from Rhino out today ($59.95).

The set contains the complete first and second seasons (26 episodes); interviews with creator and writer Christy Marx, and Jem's speaking voice, Samantha Newark; commentary from Marx; and excerpts from the Jem bible used by the show's writers.

It's the latest '80s cartoon to find new life on DVD, much to the delight of twentysomethings everywhere. Rhino released a four-disc set of season one, part one of G.I. Joe in January and has put out all four seasons of the original Transformers series.

"You know a cartoon was good if I can still sing most of the theme song at age 25," says Jem fan and downtown resident Brianne Fahey.

The pink-haired, punky Jem was the alter ego of Jerrica Benton, who ran Starlight Music and a foster home for girls by day. At night, Jerrica used her star-shaped earrings to access the computer Synergy, turn into Jem, and battle the evil Misfits for the top of the charts. (Somehow, boyfriend Rio never caught on to Jerrica's double life.)

Jem's influence was far-reaching. Fahey, for example, wonders if watching Jem take orders from a mysterious computerized spirit influenced her decision to get an engineering degree and pursue a career in information technology. Jennifer Tilford, 27, of Norwood says friends still dress up as Jem for Halloween.

No word on whether the Jem and the Holograms dolls - which Fahey and her sister, Erin, fondly remember - also will come back.

Namesake awakens

Jem isn't just a cartoon from the '80s. Finally Woken, the debut album from a Welsh singer named Jemma Griffiths, is getting rave reviews from critics, airplay on WOXY-FM (97.7) and even exposure on The O.C. The 28-year-old has been compared to Dido, Sarah McLachlan and Beth Orton. Jem's Finally Woken is out now on Dave Matthews' ATO Records.

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E-mail lbishop@enquirer.com




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