'The New Edition Story' Part One: 7 Little-Known Facts We Learned About The R&B Group From BET Biopic
Part one of BET’s three-part mini series The New Edition Story was chock-full of details some diehard New Edition fans wouldn’t even know. The two-hour premiere, which aired Tuesday night (Jan. 24), started with an onstage brawl between the group and ex-member (at the time) Bobby Brown then flashed back to their Roxbury, Boston beginnings.
From local talent shows to their first major label record deal with MCA, the film revealed how the group formed (and got their name), their grassroots artist development by choreographer Brooke Payne, their naiveté to the business of music and their first post-tour check for $1.87.
The first installment was largely carried by the children in the cast -- Caleb McLaughlin as Ricky Bell, Dante Hoagland as Michael Bivins, Tyler Williams as Bobby, Jahi Winston as Ralph Tresvant and Miles Truitt as Ronnie DeVoe -- who nailed the young group’s mannerisms and singing chops.
Normally biopics are padded with dramatic falsehoods for entertainment, but as the executive producers of the film, New Edition kept the story true to how they lived it. Lifted from the film and live tweets from New Edition and the cast, here are 7 little-known bits of info about the legendary crew from part one. No alternative facts here.
Bobby Brown had stage fright as a kid
The now fearless, high-energy showman was once terrified to perform. During a local talent show in their hometown, a young Ricky Bell and Mike Bivins went to support Brown for his first show, where he choked in front of a packed house. To soothe his solo fears, Brown asked Bell and Biv to perform with him, which was the initial birth of the boys as an unnamed singing group.
Michael Bivins and Yvette Nicole Brown have history off-screen
In The New Edition Story, the actress/comedian plays the mother, Shirley, to little Mike Biv (Dante Hoagland). But back in the day, teen Brown was a singer in the East Coast Family, a collective of artists managed by Bivins under Motown Records.
Ronnie DeVoe is Brooke Payne’s nephew
New Edition’s first manager -- and the man behind their smooth choreography -- is DeVoe’s uncle. In part one, Payne developed the boys from amateurs to signed artists, putting them through rigorous workouts and giving them as much as of the music game as possible. Though he was eventually fired from his management role by the group’s mothers when they didn’t see a monetary return from the boys’ work, DeVoe tweeted that his family bond remains strong.
Ralph Tresvant was offered a solo deal
Before their Billboard Hot 100 hit "Candy Girl," Ricky Bell sang the main lead for the group, but Ralph quickly emerged as the answer to the Jackson 5’s Michael Jackson. After the group won a talent show hosted by Maurice Starr, the record label exec visited Tresvant’s home to persuade him to go solo. Tresvant, however, stayed loyal to his friends.
Bivins almost turned down their first record deal
Once Tresvant turned down the solo offer, Starr presented record contracts to all five members. However, Bivins hesitated since his first dream was to become a basketball player. After a motivational pep talk, his mom convinced him that he shouldn’t “leave no money on the table,” so he accepted the $500 deal.
New Edition opened for rapper Kurtis Blow
When “Candy Girl” was No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (then-called the Hot Black Singles chart) in 1983, ahead of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” the kids were billed for a show with Kurtis Blow and Madonna. According to the film, young New Edition's newfound fame made them the headlining act at New York's Roseland Ballroom, which sparked some tension between them and Blow.
The group was broke for years
After years of worldwide touring off the success of "Candy Girl," the group, now teenagers, didn’t gain a real financial come-up. Their tour bus dropped them off at Orchard Park housing projects and each member received a check for only $1.87, which led to their moms fighting for new management and a new record deal.
And yes the tour bus dropped us off right back in the projects #NewEditionBet— Ricky Bell (@MrRickyBell) January 25, 2017
The second installment of BET's three-part biopic The New Edition Story airs Wednesday (Jan. 25) at 9 p.m. ET/PT.