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‘New Edition Story’ rings true for group members

Mike Bivins, Ricky Bell, and Ronnie DeVoe at the Park Plaza Hotel on Thursday.
Mike Bivins, Ricky Bell, and Ronnie DeVoe at the Park Plaza Hotel on Thursday.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Ricky Bell, Mike Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe were at the Boston Park Plaza on Thursday meeting with the press and talking about the New Edition miniseries that will premiere on BET next month.

The New Edition Story” will bring to life the history of the pop group that started in Boston and gave us memorable hits like “Candy Girl,” and “Cool It Now.” The six members of New Edition — Bell, Bivins, DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, and Johnny Gill — served as co-producers on the project, along with their longtime manager and choreographer, Brooke Payne. The series will air in three parts, over three nights, on Jan. 24, 25, and 26.


The biopic will tell the story of how New Edition began in the late 1970s and rose to stardom in the 1980s, and all the drama that transpired in between.

“It’s very emotional,” said Bell. “We take you through the roller coaster of emotions, from laughter to anger, to fighting, to sadness . . . it’s definitely a ride.”

Bell said they’ve been “blown away” by the performances of the actors who portray them in the series. (Bell is played by Elijah Kelley; Bryshere Y. Gray is Bivins; Algee Smith is Tresvant; Keith Powers is DeVoe; Woody McClain is Bobby Brown, and Luke James is Johnny Gill.)

To prepare for the roles, the actors not only had to pick up each member’s accents and mannerisms, they also had to learn dance moves and choreographed performances as well.

And they nailed it, according to Bell.

“They were amazing, just the way they pulled it off,” said Bell.

The appearance at the Boston Park Plaza on Thursday was a homecoming of sorts for the three members of New Edition, who still perform together as Bell Biv DeVoe (they’ll be releasing their fourth studio album,“Three Stripes,” on Jan. 27).


Bell lives on the West Coast now, but whenever he comes back to Boston, he recalls growing up in the city, and how he used to skateboard around downtown.

“Every time I’m walking by the Common, it reminds me of when Ralph and I would take buckets and we’d go down there and bang on trash cans and sing and dance for money,” Bell said. “We would do that every weekend.”

When they weren’t performing, they also worked part-time selling newspapers. “We used to sell a newspaper called Black Weekly,” Bell said.

DeVoe, who now lives in Atlanta, has several favorite restaurants that he likes to visit when he comes back to town.

“Every time I touch down, there’s few things that you have to do, food-wise. You gotta get some pizza . . . Boston House of Pizza, you gotta slide by there. You gotta have some Chinese food, and we found a place out in Lynn called Green Tea that’s incredible,” said DeVoe. “And for soul food, Slades, yes indeed.” When he’s back in Georgia, DeVoe said he gets his Boston food fix at the local Legal Sea Foods.

Bivins is still based in New England, and is usually in Boston at least once or twice a week.

“For me, I kinda just ride through the old neighborhood a lot,” said Bivins. “I drive around there, because for some reason it makes me appreciate a little bit more.”

Sometimes he imagines how different life might have been without New Edition. “We don’t know the different paths we would have taken, and the things that would have been in front of us,” Bivins said.


“I just say to myself, ‘Man, I’m so happy we started this group.’ ”