(AllHipHop Features) Jesse Collins is a director, producer, and writer who has consistently contributed to the success of award-winning television, from the Grammys and BET Awards to the critically acclaimed 3-part miniseries, The New Edition Story.
As Collins gears up for new seasons of Dear Mama, and Hip Hop Squares, it's his work on The Bobby Brown Story that I'm most excited about.
Executive produced by Collins, The New Edition Story broke BET ratings records, won over the hearts of many, and undeniably became a new classic biopic when it aired in January 2017.
BET has now returned with, The Bobby Brown Story (also executive produced by Collins) which picks up where the previous biopic left off. The two-night series will follow Brown’s successful solo career.
Woody McClain has returned to reprise his role as Brown, one of the original “Bad Boys” of R&B, whose life has been a true representation of the highs of incredible success and the lows of tragedy, trials, and trying times. Brown's life epitomizes hits, classics, sex, drugs, and R&B. While Brown kept himself on the top of the charts, he also kept himself on the front pages of media publications as well.
Mekhi Phifer, Gabrielle Dennis, Lil Rel Howery, T.K. Carter, Laz Alonso, Lance Gross, Alyssa Goss and Sandi McCree are set to star in the biopic as Brown’s brother, ex-wife Whitney Houston, manager, MCA producer-executive, childhood friend, current wife and mother. The two-night miniseries is slated to premiere September 2018.
AllHipHop sat down with The Bobby Brown Story's executive producer, Jesse Collins, to discuss just how raw and entertaining the series will be.
AllHipHop: How did the New Edition Story come about?
Jesse Collins: So when I was five years old I was watching the Jackson Five movie, maybe I was a little older than that. But then I saw that, then I watched the Motown 25, and I saw The Temptations, and then I was like one day I want to make a music biopic. So the New Edition biopic came about where I had done BET's 25th anniversary. It was a reunion show where I got all 6 original members together. They hadn't been together in a while, and in the process of that, I really got to be brought in behind the curtain to see the function and dysfunction of the group, and that's just when I just really fell in love with the story and potential of it all. So then it was the process of getting the guys on board, finding a writer, going out and shopping it to multiple places, and BET was the one that really stepped up and said yes. It took a while, but eventually it wound up on screen, and everybody was right. So we are real happy with that. During that process we always talked about doing the Bobby story, and we purposely left a lot out of Bobby, a lot of Bobby's story out of New Edition, so we could come back and tell the story of a guy that's been greatly misunderstood by everyone. In this movie you are going to find out the most important question is. "Why?" Why so many tragedies happened in his life and how he got to the incredible levels of success that he did as a solo artist. So you really will gain a deeper understanding of who Bobby Brown is."
AllHipHop: What can we expect from the movie? Is is raw? Is it uncut? Is it comedic? Is it gritty? What can we expect from this? What's the different direction maybe a little bit from [The] New Edition [Story]? The story's different, but is the production different? Is the direction different?
Jesse Collins: So yes, the Bobby Brown movie, it goes very deep; it goes very deep into the heart and soul of Bobby Brown, which is gritty, which is raw, which is also fun. So we're going to hit all of those touch points. I think New Edition was trying to tell story of 6 people, 7 with Brooke, so you couldn't really dive so deep into everyone's true journeys. It was more the journey of a group. This is, we're just getting in, we're getting in. We're showing you stuff that Bobby never thought he'd never actually share with people. But it's what you had to do to make this movie interesting.
AllHipHop: What's your favorite reenactment thus far or your favorite reenactment that's coming in the script?
Jesse Collins: Well I love that we're going to match the "My Prerogative" video. I love that we're going shot for shot with that. We have the wedding, and we are doing a little bit of the reality show. We're matching a lot of things which I think people will be excited about. I think what I'm most excited about is the stuff that nobody knows: the conversation with Bobby & Whitney after the Diane Sawyer interview, and how that affected their relationship, and where they went after that. It's that kind of stuff, and really also understanding like everybody thinks that, while the relationship did start at Soul Train [Awards] we're going to show the connection wasn't based on her poking him in the back. There was something else that happened that night that drew them together. And that's the story. You're going to find out why they really fell in love and what that relationship really was like, and then you'll see how he's come back from that and survived a lot of death; a lot of tragedy and really found peace and serenity in his new life, in his new wife and his children. He's a completely different Bobby Brown, so we get to see full circle of this guy.
AllHipHop: What's next for Jesse Collins?
Jesse Collins: We want to get this out, and we have the BET Awards coming in late June. We're really excited about that. So that's what's up next on BET. We have the third season of 'Dear Mama' which is a great special we do with Queen Latifah, celebrities honoring their mothers. That's coming up in May, and the third season of Hip Hop Squares which is going to be ratchet fest extravaganza. We have some moments. We have some Tamar Braxton stuff that is a movie. We do a Love & Hip Hop episode. That is wow. It is amazing!
AllHipHop: Who are your "Top 5" rappers dead or alive?
Jesse Collins: In no particular order right. Alright here we go. Top 5: Jay, Big, Pac, Kendrick, Eminem.