CeeLo Green and members of Goodie Mob talk about their new reality show at aTVfest

The TBS show will begin airing in June
From left: Panel moderator Jefferson Graham, executive producer Andrew Jameson, CeeLo Green, Big Gipp, T-Mo, Khujo, and executive producer Eli Frankel

Photographs by Myrydd Wells

Best friends forever. That’s the theme of CeeLo Green’s new TBS reality show, CeeLo Green’s The Good Life, which will focus on the recent reunion of Goodie Mob, the Dirty South hip-hop group that first made Green famous back in the 1990s. During a panel and Q&A with the band and the show’s producers at Savannah College of Art and Design’s aTVfest Friday afternoon, moderated by USA Today columnist Jefferson Graham, Goodie Mob member Big Gipp summed up the message of their new show.

“That friendship can win through anything,” Gipp said.  “Because I don’t know too many people that still run with they friends from they childhood. And what we showing you is that when you really know somebody, don’t discard them from your life. A friend can be a friend forever if everybody just learn how to compromise a little bit.”

Indeed, the band seems to have learned to compromise well. While Green left the group in the late nineties, moving on to a successful solo career and another reality TV gig as a coach on NBC’s The Voice, the group reunited and released an album, Age Against the Machine, last summer. Throughout the forty-minute discussion, the bandmates showed no animosity toward each other. Instead, they frequently referred to each other as “brothers” and “family.” Indeed, Gipp co-authored Green’s memoir Everybody’s Brother, released last fall.

Green even took that notion one step further.  “By the way guys, that’s Eli, my stepfather,” he joked about executive producer Eli Frankel. “My own personal Phillip Drummond.”

Although a full-length episode was not screened for the audience of mostly SCAD students at Midtown’s 14th Street Playhouse, a two minute trailer featured the group performing in Las Vegas as part of Green’s Planet Hollywood show, Green’s first pitch at Dodgers game, and even a Snoop Dogg cameo. And like any good reality series, the show seems to promise a lot of larger than life moments, including one segment the producers never planned.

“(They were) given them a lot of cash earlier in the day to go shopping, and instead they kinda took us for a little trip—they decided to blow it all on really expensive Lamborghinis and Ferraris.” Frankel said. “So they weren’t supposed to be in that car. We were just keeping up with them, but that’s again a good example of how these guys kinda live life a little differently. We’re there to document it. “

At one point, the group was filmed checking out live tigers as possible additions to their Vegas show. (Green wanted to ride a tiger on stage, according to Big Gipp.) Even after watching the animals crunch on bones while feeding and learning that if he got into an altercation with one of the cats, he would surely die, Green was still on board with adding tigers to the show. The plan, however, didn’t pan out.

“We had to come up with a plan B, which was just pyro,” Green said, “And I almost got burnt doing that too.”

The guys also got the opportunity to create their own Goodie Mob cartoon, voicing the characters themselves and using motion capture suits for the animation.

The final audience question of the night involved another of Atlanta’s most famous hip-hop exports. “The 6 o’clock song that comes on V-103—were you really supposed to be in Outkast?”

Green’s answer? Yes, sort of. He and Andre 3000 attended the same elementary school and later met up again in 11th grade at a College Park alternative school. At that point, they were “both kind of seeking shelter in music.” The other half of Outkast, Big Boi, attended school across the street. When a cable access television show came to one of the schools, Andre 3000 managed to talk his way into getting Outkast a performance on the show. But Big Boi couldn’t attend, so Green took his place.

“I wish we could find that footage. It’s probably so funny,” Green said, “But to make a long story short, yes, it’s true. But not so formally. Like I said, we’re all the same age; we were really good friends. But I think it worked out the way it was supposed to.”