January 18, 2017
New Edition is in a class by itself.
Not only did it achieve greatness, the group managed to launch successful second acts for each and every one of its members. The five-turned-six-man band launched the solo careers of three of its members – Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, and Ralph Tresvant – and even birthed another supergroup – Bell Biv DeVoe. But none of this happened without a hefty helping of drama – some of which even played out on stage. So it’s only fitting that their story has been turned into a three-night movie event.
BET will broadcast “The New Edition Story” January 24-26. The made-for-TV movie chronicles the R&B and new jack swing band’s successes and challenges during their meteoric rise from the Boston projects in the 1980s.
“The New Edition Story” is directed by Chris Robinson and is co-produced by the band’s longtime manager and original choreographer, Brooke Payne, according to Billboard. All the New Edition members – Brown, Gill, Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe – signed on as producers of the film.
The cast will include “Empire” star Bryshere Y. Gray as Bivins, singer Luke James as Gill, Algee Smith as Tresvant, Elijah Kelley as Bell, Keith Powers as DeVoe and Woody McClain as Brown.
Brown said of the actors “all of the guys that play us have tremendous talent.”
Luke James said playing Johnny Gill was a challenge, in part because he had to learn to dance like Johnny, who was not known as a great dancer. “Johnny wasn’t the best dancer, so I can’t go up there trying to be Michael Jackson,” James said. “Even if I might be a little bit better, I need to bring it back. Brooke Payne, the original manager and choreographer, he made sure. He’d say, ‘you’re doing it too well.’”
Gill has a unique place in New Edition’s story. He’s the only member not from Boston – he’s from Washington, D.C. and attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts – and he was not an original member of the band. Bivins recruited him in 1987, after the group voted Brown out of the band.
Gill joined New Edition for its fifth album, Heart Break, and he’s introduced to viewers during the second night of the BET movie, according to Brown.
In August 2015, BET announced plans for “The New Edition Story.” Band members have been involved in promotional efforts for months, attending private showings of the six-hour biopic and reminiscing about the ground-breaking band’s achievements.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh proclaimed January 8 “New Edition Day” in honor of the band.
JET called “The New Edition Story” a “film fans will love.”
Next week will be a big week for the band. In addition to BET’s long-awaited movie premiere, the band is scheduled to receive its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 23.
UPDATE (1/23/2017) – New Edition received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Read more about it here.