“The New Edition Story”
If you haven’t already, you must take the time to watch “The New Edition Story” It is a loving tribute and a must see depiction of the good, the bad, and the ugly of stardom in the music business.
The miniseries shows the lives of five childhood friends from the Orchard Park projects in the Roxbury section of Boston, Massachusetts, and how their lives were forever change after they formed a singing group to win local talent shows and ultimately become the legendary R&B group New Edition.
Their humble beginnings to global megastardom, detailed the controversy and personnel changes along the way, and reflected on the ultimate cost of their fame. New Edition formed in the early 1980s and consisted of Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivins. Johnny Gill joined the group in 1987 after Bobby Brown’s departure. The miniseries takes fans behind the scenes of the group that churned out such hits as “Candy Girl,” “Cool It Now,” and “Mr. Telephone Man.”
The TV series has been trending since it aired January 24, 2017, so it’s no wonder BET’s biopic about R&B group New Edition has provided them with their highest-rated premiere in five years.
The premiere drew over 3.3 million viewers in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, and 5.5 million total viewers on BET alone. Part Two’s pull was just slightly lower than 3.1 million in the demographic, and 5.3 million total viewers. Part three matched the first night, with 3.3 million in the demographic and 5.6 million viewers overall between BET and its sister network Centric. Sounds like tremendous success to me!
As a matter of fact, I’ve watched it 3 different times already. I’m a total NE fan. I grew up in the beginning of this R&B Music era and I was supposed to marry Ralph Tresvant! (lol) It was refreshing to take this journey with the millions of fans who remember, supported, and listened to their music. Fans are typically nosy and wish to know everything we can about our favorite artist and we’ve always wanted to know what happened. Why did everything end so abruptly? Now we know.
Eternal truths like this are part of the reason why biopics like The New Edition Story are so uplifting to watch: Their familiar structure always stays the same, no matter the subject. Act One is the struggle toward success, Act Two the highs and lows once the central characters get there, and Act Three the redemption and/or resolution. Rinse, repeat, re-watch.
Many biopics smooth out the edges of life stories to fit into a formula of telling but not telling too much. The best ones usually are the ones that give you the raw, vulnerable and transparent truth. This story delivered in a delightfully new way — like New Edition doing Jackson 5 covers at talent shows in the earliest phase of their career. New Edition got their coordinated outfits from the Jackson 5, too, and their soul group choreography from The Temptations and The Four Tops.
They were discovered at a talent show by Maurice Starr, who later replicated the formula with another Boston boy band, New Kids on the Block, which I didn’t even know! The idea of each group member being a slightly different prototype for girls to crush on — the cute one, the smart one, the shy one, the funny one — was the ultimate touch.
The cast includes Tyler Marcel Williams, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Dante Hoagland, Myles Truitt, Caleb McLaughlin as the younger members of New Edition. Bryshere Y. Gray, Elijah Kelley, Luke James, Keith Powers, Algee Smith, and Woody McClain as the adult members of New Edition. “The New Edition Story” is executive produced by Jesse Collins (“Real Husbands of Hollywood”) for JCE Films, a division of Jesse Collins Entertainment; directed by Chris Robinson (“ATL”) and co-produced by Brooke Payne, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, and Bobby Brown.
Where Are They Now!
As it turns out, even 33 years after its first hit and 20 years after its last successful album, New Edition still brings in the fans with great entertainment.
Last September, the 48-year-old Tresvant, launched his own radio show that he currently hosts “Inside the Ride,” a radio show in Boston that combines R&B, hip hop and soul. In 2014, he ventured into acting and media projects, playing a small role in the biopic of James Brown Get On Up, taking the part of Sam Cooke. After leaving New Edition, Tresvant only released one solo album, but it did well. His 1990 album “Sensitivity” and the title track reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. The album also included hits “Stone Cold Gentleman” and “Do What I Gotta Do.”
The 47-year-old Brown after leaving the group, Brown reached new heights of fame with his album “Don’t Be Cruel,’ which produced five top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including the No. 1 hit “My Prerogative.” He was the late Whitney Houston’s husband, and father to the late Bobbi Kristina Brown. Although his personal life — often eclipsed his artistic legacy, Bobby Brown continued to put out music, with 2012’s “The Masterpiece” standing as his last album to date. Brown, along with NE bandmates Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant, formed the group Heads of State in 2008, and embarked on their own tour only to later reunite with all of the NE members. Bobby Brown is also set to headline the Valentine’s Day Music Festival this year with fellow R&B kings Keith Sweat, Avant and El DeBarge. Aside from music, Brown and his wife Alicia launched Bobby Brown Foods, an all-natural food product line designed to provide healthy seasoning and sauces to consumers. Brown has also appeared in Kevin Hart’s scripted BET series Real Husbands of Hollywood.
Last October, Ramsay Park in Boston (Bivins and the group’s native city) named its basketball court after the singer, who “put a lot of time into playing ball”. The 48-year-old has made his money as a successful manager and producer, breaking such groups as Boyz II Men and Danity Kane. He’s estimated to have a net worth of $40 million. After Tresvant left the group, Bivins teamed up with Ricky Bell and Ronnie DeVoe to form the highly successful group Bell Biv DeVoe. BBD’s new album Three Stripes — the trio’s first album in over 15 years — was released on Friday, Jan. 27, at the conclusion of the miniseries.
Bell released a solo album “Ricardo Campana‘ in 2000. The 49-year-old has been married to his wife Amy Correra for 13 years. When he helped form Bell Biv DeVoe, his vocals really stuck out as he did most of the musical heavy lifting, including singing the key parts of the group’s smash hit “Poison.” “Mentally hip-hop, smoothed out on the R&B tip, with a pop feel appeal to it” is how Ricky Bell of Bell Biv DeVoe described their 1990 debut album, Poison, to reporters. Bell currently tours with Bell Biv Deoe, and the group recently performed for Steve Harvey’s Showtime at the Apollo.
The 49-year-old discovered a second career later in life as the founder and CEO of DeVoe Broker Associates, a real estate company based in Atlanta. He’s been married to his wife Shamari Fears for eight years. He’s also still recording music with Bell Biv DeVoe.
At 50 years old, Gill is still touring and last year he was given the Autism Beyond the Label Award for his work with autistic children through the L.A. Speech and Therapy Center. After New Edition broke up, Gill had a hit self-titled album in 1990 with hits like “My, My, My” and “Rub You the Right Way.’ He released two more solo albums and collaborated with Gerald Levert and Keith Sweat for a couple albums. Since going solo, the singer hasn’t missed a beat, and released his last studio contribution Game Changer in 2014. Gill will join Fantasia as an opener for Charlie Wilson’s In It To Win It tour, kicking off in February.
Brooke Payne, manager/choreographer
Payne is credited with forming New Edition, discovering the young kids in Boston in the late 1970s. Although he was dropped as the group’s manager when they hit it big, Payne stayed on as a choreographer. After more experience in the industry, Payne went on to manage New Edition again and other big groups such as New Kids On The Block and En Vogue. He currently owns 617 Management, a music management company based out of Atlanta.
Did you see the miniseries? Leave your comments below tell me what you thought about the show and share this article with everyone you know.