“We are bringing the most original content ever to BET Networks with ‘Being Mary Jane,’ ‘Madiba,’ ‘The Quad,’ and ‘The New Edition Story,” president Debra Lee announced to a packed screening of the latter at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood Monday night.
Dubbed the network’s “Year of Yes,” Lee went on to describe the network’s focus on “shouting ‘yes’ to black, ‘yes’ to our stories and ‘yes’ to New Edition.”
For Lee, a biopic on R&B group New Edition proved to be the perfect fit for the network and its viewing audience. The group rose to fame in 1983 shortly after Bob Johnson birthed the channel in 1980, and inherently set in motion its following of the boy band at its originally music-based Black Entertainment Television.
President of programming Stephen Hill echoed those same sentiments on the carpet, adding that BET has carefully crafted its original content brand to be deep-rooted in family and community.
“It’s about being a brotherhood, staying together, and fighting not necessarily against each other but the business that wants to take advantage of people who didn’t know each other from the projects in Boston,” Hill shared. “We know our audience, we know what they relate to, what they respond to and ‘New Edition’ is just the start.”
Group members Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe – also widely known as Bell Biv DeVoe – walked the crowded carpet ahead of music group co-founder Bobby Brown, but sans fellow vocalists Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill, who both attended the dedication of the group’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame only hours earlier.
“For us to personally give our group history, share our music and to have a hand in who is actually playing you,” Bell shared his excitement with Variety. “This cast is really talented. These are not overdubs, that is them singing our songs, and it gets to introduce us to a whole new generation.”
But personifying the group was no easy task, according to actor Elijah Kelly who portrayed Bell throughout adulthood in the mini-series. “We had three weeks to compile their 30 years of legacy,” he said of undertaking a bootcamp to reenact the group’s choreography and harmonies.
Kelly rounded out the cast, which included Bryshere Y. Gray, Keith Powers, Algee Smith, Woody McClain and Luke James.
‘The New Edition Story’ bows 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24 in a three-part series, airing consecutive nights on BET.