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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.
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Interview: Bobby Brown tells his story his way on BET Sept 4 and 5

Originally posted Tuesday, August 28, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Bobby Brown, at Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth in March, is reliving an incident from nearly three decades earlier when he got arrested in Columbus for being too lewd on stage

BET has actor Woody McClain as a 19-year-old Brown singing “Roni” and bringing a young lady on stage. When he picks her up and starts simulating a sexual act, the fake cops rush on stage and drag him off. 

The two-day, four-hour miniseries, airing on BET Sept. 4 and 5, will re-create many of Brown’s solo concert performances, including “My Prerogative” and “Every Little Step,” all shot at Infinite. While the first hour focuses on his career, the second hour homes in on his passionate and often stormy relationship with the late Whitney Houston, played by Gabrielle Dennis. (I was only given the first two hours to screen.)

The series doesn’t sugarcoat many of his issues, including his infidelity, his jealousy of her confidante Robyn Crawford and incessant drug use that helped derail his career. But he is not shown being violent toward Houston. A 911 call by Houston indicating domestic assault in 2003 is not included and during an interview with reporters in July, he denied that call ever took place. 

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Brown, who also wrote an autobiography in 2016 called “Every Little Step,” was often portrayed over the years as a “bad boy,” a lovable rogue who fed into Houston’s own myriad problems. He hopes the miniseries will make it clear that he was merely a man who made poor decisions and that his love for Houston was pure. 

“The gossip sites were wrong about me,” said Brown in an interview in March at Infinite Energy Arena, “that I was a bad guy, that I was someone that would hurt somebody or I wasn’t loving or anything like that. I’ve got a kind heart. I believe I do. My family believes I do.” 

Brown, who lived in Atlanta from 1989 until the late 2000s, hopes fans and skeptics alike “will watch the movie with an open heart and open mind because it’s the truth.” 

McClain, who has to balance cockiness with pathos during the series as Brown, said he admires the singer as a survivor. 

“Bobby’s been through much through the drugs, through losing his daughter, Whitney and his parents, losing all these big people in his life. He’s still here and going strong,” McClain said. “His story needs to be told and I felt like I could do it, the singing, the dancing. I want the world to see what a great person he is.” 

Indeed, the 49-year-old singer said he’s now sober and in a head space, touring this fall with three of his New Edition buddies Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins. (He will be at State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Oct. 6.) They don’t argue anymore, he said.

“We’re too old to fight each other,” Brown said, with a chuckle. “We’re all about business and having fun. You don’t have to argue. You don’t have to fight.” 

He married his manager Alicia Etheridge in 2012 and has had three kids with her. She has helped steer his career in a positive direction. 

One cloud hanging over his head, though, is Nick Gordon, his daughter Bobbi Kristina’s boyfriend. Gordon still walks free and it bugs him. 

“I see him in the light that he is,” Brown said. “He is a bad person. I wish the D.A. here in Atlanta would do something about his actions. ... I don’t want to see another father or mother lose a child to this man’s hands. I think he’s a danger to society. I just want the D.A. to do what he’s supposed to do and give me some justice.” 

But this doesn’t mean he thinks badly about his daughter, who passed in 2015 from a drug overdose in a similar fashion as Houston. To keep Bobbi Kristina close to his heart, he wears a locket with a photo of him and his daughter.

“Alicia gave me this when my daughter was in a coma, when she was in ICU,” he said. “I try not to take it off.” 

March 21, 2018 Gwinnett - R&B singer Bobby Brown wears a neclace with a picture of himself and his late daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown. RYON HORNE/RHORN@AJC.COM (HANDOUT)
March 21, 2018 Gwinnett - Actor Woody McClain takes a break in-between takes of shooting BET's "The Bobby Brown Story" at the Infinite Energy Center in Gwinnett. This is McClain's second time portraying R&B singer Bobby Brown. Brown's tumultuous life will be chronicled over two nights for BET. Brown himself executive produced it. RYON HORNE/RHORN@AJC.COM (HANDOUT)

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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