Following the popularity of BET’s wildly successful New Edition miniseries, crooner Mr. Dalvin announced that production would begin soon on a biopic based on the ’90s R&B group Jodeci. BET’s parent company, Viacom, wisely took note of how the feel-good nostalgia for Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny made for appointment viewing that propelled The New Edition to record ratings.
As we speak, wardrobe stylists are furiously sewing leather vests to adorn the lucky actors who will play JoJo, DeVante Swing, K-Ci and Mr. Dalvin. If the Jodeci project is as popular as its predecessor, you can bet that Viacom will use this template to churn out more programming in this vein. But the question remains: Is there enough material? Are there stories that can capture the public’s interest enough to make them tune in?
We have pinpointed five groups whose stories might make for great TV musical biopics based on their career achievements, public enthusiasm and how much drama is involved in their individual sagas.
1. En Vogue: Beauty, talent, fame and beauty. Yes, I realize I listed “beauty” twice, but in the history of all-girl bands, there has never been another group with this combination of physical attraction and pipes. This emotional journey follows Cindy, Maxine, Dawn and Terry through their ups and downs from the late ’80s until today, chronicling how they managed to keep their strong voices and their good looks intact for 30 years.
Keke Palmer, Tessa Thompson, Zöe Kravitz and Janelle Monáe star in TV One’s upcoming smash hit Black Don’t Crack: The En Vogue Story.
2. The Fugees: We’re not limited to R&B groups. It is a travesty of the highest order that no one has made this movie yet. The plotlines are too rich to have been overlooked this long. Wyclef Jean’s journey from a poor kid in Haiti to the top of the music world is enough for one movie, but when you add in his affair with Lauryn Hill, her rise to superstardom as an actress, how she left the group and enjoyed phenomenal solo success, and her marriage and motherhood—producers might be able to stretch this over the course of two or three seasons. Oh yeah ... I’m sure they can fit something in about Pras. They will probably have to schedule this as a daytime series.
... Because Hill is so perpetually late, by the time her character shows up, it’ll be prime time.
3. NSYNC: I know we are on a black site, reminiscing about black groups, but don’t act like you are too “woke” to admit you liked NSYNC. If you put New Edition in a washer and mistakenly added bleach, you’d get NSYNC. Not only could they sing and entertain, but Joey, J.C., Lance, Chris and Justin could dance like a motherfucker.
Plus, NSYNC’s history is filled with compelling storylines: The story of how Lance Bass bravely came out of the closet. Joey Fatone’s struggle living with the last name “fat one.” How Justin Timberlake went from being a little blond kid on The Mickey Mouse Club to a young, black R&B singer and then back to a multitalented Caucasian superstar.
4. Destiny’s Child: Viacom might be able to secure government grants to defray the production costs of this movie because, by the time they hire actresses to play former members of Destiny’s Child, it could lower the national unemployment rate by 2 percentage points.
Even the slightest production misstep could raise the ire of the rabid, bloodthirsty Beyhive, so producers must tread lightly when casting this six-part miniseries (one night of Destiny’s Child; five nights of Beyoncé). Blue Ivy will obviously play young Yoncé, and Bryshere Y. Gray will co-star as Jay Z, but what actress has enough acting chops to portray Beyoncé?
Please. Only Beyoncé can play Beyoncé.
5. Wu-Tang Clan: This epic biopic is already in the works. The first episode is just a two-hour scroll of the opening credits listing the members of the group. There is so much material to mine: That time Ol’ Dirty Bastard took MTV to the welfare office to pick up his food stamps. Method Man’s solo success and his acting career (I still believe How High deserved an Oscar nomination). RZA’s career producing, acting and serving as an early spokesperson for All Lives Matter. So much.
We rejected these groups:
Jagged Edge: The hang-ups on this biopic are logistical and financial. The lead singers for J.E. were twin brothers, so will the star of the movie get double the pay? Will the audience be confused when they are both on-screen? Will old Jagged Edge fans pass out from exhaustion or have a heart attack when they play the remix to “Let’s Get Married”?
Boyz II Men: One of the most successful groups of all time with a deep catalog of music, but no one cares enough about the individual members. Can you ever recall anyone saying, “Oooh, I loves me some Wanya!”
Dru Hill: They were simply a Great Value version of Jagged Edge. Plus, producers couldn’t find an actor willing to dye his hair Sisqo-blond for the entire schedule of the production.
Tony! Toni! Toné!: Too many exclamation points.
Mint Condition: No one sings falsetto anymore. Producers reached out to the Weeknd, but apparently he doesn’t work Monday through Fridays.
Earth, Wind & Fire: This would be epic, but there are so many members in this legendary group that after they hired actors, there’d only be three black people left to watch the movie.