Much can be said about the original “Boy Band” New Edition, from their roots as childhood pop-sensations, to their staggering pitfalls, breakups and worldwide success, essentially paving the way for male music groups like Blackstreet, NEXT, the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and B2K.
Originally formed in 1978, the group gained attention from fans across the nation with hit songs like “Candy Girl,” “Cool It Now,” and “Mr. Telephone Man.” Since then, the group has survived the solo careers of Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill, and Bobby Brown, and the formation of Bell-Biv-DeVoe featuring members Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe.
When film producer Jesse Collins decided it was long overdue to share the groups’ journey, “The New Edition Story” biopic was birthed. Set to serve as a three-part, six-hour miniseries airing on BET next month, Collins says he believes it’s a story we’ve all been waiting for. “New Edition is our Jackson Five, our Temptations, and they were ready to peel back the layers, pull back the curtains, and tell us how this group has functioned or not functioned for over twenty years,” Collins stated.
The cast will feature both the younger and older versions of the men, the latter of which star Empire’s Bryshere Y. Gray as Bivins, Woody McClain as Brown, Keith Powers as DeVoe, Elijah Kelley as Bell, singer Luke James as Gill, and Algee Smith as Tresvant. The cast will also feature appearances from Lala Anthony as Flo DeVoe, Melvin Jackson Jr. as Kurtis Blow, singer Tank as record producer Jheryl Busby and Bre-Z as Peanut Bell.
Gray says that the group endured an intense boot camp to ensure they mastered the groups’ famed moves and vocals. “It was hard, it was long, dedication, long hours, we got through it, we leaned on each other,” he said. “As men we just had to team up and just make it a great project and take all ego out the room,” he added.
In McClain’s role as Bobby Brown, the rising actor says he’s grateful to have had Brown’s support during filming. “Being able to talk with him and spend time with his family, it made it so much easier,” McClain said. “I’m so happy that all of New Edition is still alive and here, because without them being here it would’ve been so much more pressure,” he added.
Singer Tank said he’s blessed to even be a part of the film. “We need to see this. We need to see this example of greatness, this example of perseverance. New Edition is still selling out concerts and tours right now. You need to understand what that process is, and this is us getting an opportunity to show that and see it,” he declared.
Having been a member of the R&B group TGT, Tank understands the complexities many groups face. The singer says that he believes the future of male groups is in the work, and that often times it is money that causes division. “That’s the thing that’s holding up people coming together and being groups. People feel like it’s not enough money to go around,” Tank said. “If you put together good work, the people will show up, and eventually those numbers make sense,” he continued.
Today, all six members of New Edition continue to tour the world, keeping the music that made the hearts of teenage girls and grown women skip a beat alive. Be sure to catch “New Edition Story” biopic on BET January 24, 25 and 26, 2017 on BET. For exclusive interviews with the cast, be sure to visit www.lasentinel.net.