The 2011 BET Award Show celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the release of the feature film, “The Five Heartbeats”. The audience was surprised and delighted by a performance collaboration with the original cast of the movie “The Five Heartbeats” and the singing group “After 7”. Filmmaker, Robert Townsend, felt that it was a “surreal 20 year reunion at the BET Awards Show”.
The Five Heartbeats is a 1991 musical drama film directed by Robert Townsend, who co-wrote the script with Keenan Ivory Wayans. Distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film’s main cast includes Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon Robinson, Harry J. Lennix, Tico Wells, Harold Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers, and Diahann Carroll. The plot of the film (which is loosely based on the lives of several artists; The Dells, The Temptations, Four Tops, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cooke, David Ruffin and others) follows the three decade career of the band The Five Heartbeats. The film depicts the rise and fall of a Motown inspired soul act through the eyes of the film’s main protagonist Donald “Duck” Matthews (portrayed by Townsend), who serves as a narrator throughout the film, although a majority of the cinema is presented in a consecutive time line as opposed to traditional flash backs.
My long time friend, Tico Wells, who played “Choir Boy” in the film provided me with a backstage pass to capture the reunion of the cast of “The Five Heartbeats”. He still feels like they are brothers after all these years. Exclusive interview footage with him and Robert Townsend who directed, co-wrote and played the role of Donald “Duck” Matthews in the film. Check it all out in my recent episode of “What’s Up With Downes”:
Here is the video clip of “The Five Heartbeats” performing with “After 7” at the BET Awards 2011: