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Join ‘That Thing You Do!’ band for a reunion watch party honoring Adam Schlesinger

"That Thing You Do!"
Peter Scolari, left, with director Tom Hanks on the set of 1996’s “That Thing You Do!”
(Phillip Carusoth / 20th Century Fox)

The Wonders — the fictional 1950s group from the film “That Thing You Do!” — are getting the band back together Friday to support struggling musicians and salute the title track’s songwriter, Adam Schlesinger, who died earlier this month of complications from COVID-19.

In support of the MusiCares Foundation’s COVID-19 relief fund, the cast of Tom Hanks’ 1996 directorial debut will reunite for a “That Thing You Do!” watch party featuring actors Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry, Tom Everett Scott and Johnathon Schaech. Liv Tyler also will join in.

For the record:

5:45 PM, Apr. 17, 2020Peter Scolari was misidentified as Steve Zahn in the caption of the main photo.

The show starts this afternoon at 4 p.m. Pacific on YouTube.

Viewers will have to cue up their own copy of “That Thing You Do!” (or a streaming rental of the movie) to the start of the 20th Century Fox logo and then connect to the Wonders’ YouTube channel for the event.

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“I think we’re just going to reminisce ... we’ll let the movie spur the conversation, and we’ll have guests,” Zahn told Rolling Stone on Thursday in a video interview that hinted at how fun the online event might be.

“Hi, everybody! I’m Guy Patterson and I play the drums,” Scott said in character in the video. Zahn introduced himself as lead guitarist Lenny, followed by Schaech chiming in as lead vocalist James Mannerly II. Then Embry waved and said only, “I’m the bass player!,” which garnered laughs.

“We were pretty tight right off the bat,” Zahn said, thinking back to when they came together as a faux band. “We had to be.”

The cool part, he said, was that they rehearsed as a band rather than rehearsing scenes as actors.

The line between fiction and reality has often been blurred when it comes to rock bands in movies and TV shows.

Scott recalled their first massive table read, which included the band playing for the first time. The guys went to thrift stores ahead of time and bought matching outfits that they wore to the reading. Whenever the script hit a song, the four would get up in their matching skinny ties and play.

While the others had played guitar before being cast, Scott had no experience as a drummer. Still, he managed to pick up the skill. “That’s insane,” Zahn said emphatically. “I mean, you can’t fake a drum solo.”

In honor of Schlesinger, who penned the film’s title track, the fictional bandmates hope to raise money to benefit those in the music community affected by the pandemic.

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Taika Waititi, James Gunn, Scott Derrickson and others have been chatting and dishing with fans in online communities as their movies screen in virtual watch parties.

Though not a musician, director Hanks was one of the first celebrities to test positive for the novel coronavirus, along with wife Rita Wilson, who is a singer as well as an actor. She had a worse case than he did but both have since recovered.

Shortly after Schlesinger’s April 1 death, Hanks paid tribute to the Fountains of Wayne frontman on Twitter, writing, “There would be no Playtone without Adam Schlesinger, without his That Thing You Do! He was a One-der. Lost him to Covid-19. Terribly sad today.”

The Wonders are one of several groups who have staged comebacks in recent weeks to raise money for charity amid the public health crisis. The Broadway ensembles of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” and Carole King’s “Beautiful” returned via video chat to spark some joy in quarantine.

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And on Thursday, the original cast of “High School Musical” taped a socially distanced rendition of “We’re All in This Together,” minus Zac Efron’s pipes, as part of ABC’s “Disney Family Singalong,” which featured Beyoncé, Thomas Rhett, Josh Gad, Christina Aguilera, John Stamos, Auli’i Cravalho, Kristin Chenoweth and many more.


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