|Theme music composer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||136 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Distributor||MGM Worldwide Television Distribution|
|Original release||January 7, 1982 –|
May 18, 1987
Fame is an American television series originally produced between January 7, 1982, and May 18, 1987, by Eilenna Productions in association with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television and sponsored by Yamaha musical instruments, which are prominently showcased in the episodes. The show is based on the 1980 motion picture of the same name. Using a mixture of comedy, drama and music, it followed the lives of the students and faculty at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts—a fictional establishment, but based heavily on the actual Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Most interior scenes were filmed in Hollywood, California. In all seasons except the third, the show filmed several exterior scenes on location in New York City.
The popularity of the series around the world, most notably in the United Kingdom, led to several hit records and live concert tours by the cast. Despite its success, few of the actors maintained high-profile careers after the series was cancelled. Several of the cast members were seen again briefly in Bring Back...Fame, a reunion special made for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom in 2008.
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||16||January 7, 1982||May 6, 1982||NBC|
|2||23||September 30, 1982||April 7, 1983|
|3||24||October 15, 1983||May 27, 1984||Syndication|
|4||25||September 29, 1984||May 25, 1985|
|5||24||October 12, 1985||May 24, 1986|
|6||24||October 6, 1986||May 18, 1987|
The show was produced by MGM Television and aired Thursday nights at 8:00–9:00 on NBC beginning on January 7, 1982. Despite glowing reviews from critics, ratings were less than impressive, and NBC cancelled it after only two seasons. However, by special arrangement with LBS Communications, MGM revived the series for first-run syndication in the fall of 1983, where it continued for four more seasons, with the last first-run episode airing in the US on May 18, 1987.
Ira Steven Behr wrote 12 episodes of the series. He recalled: "I did three years on Fame, which was a lot of fun and was also in syndication. We had no one looking over our shoulder. We got to do some wonderfully bizarre things on the show, and the only time they gave us any trouble was the last show I was going to write after I knew we were cancelled. It was going to be Road Warrior meets Fame. It was a show that takes place in the future, and you could only sing for the state. It was a fascist society, and we were going to have motorcycles going through the school and have Iggy Pop as the guest star. It was great, and I was in the midst of writing the episode when somehow MGM read somewhere that we planned to burn down the sets, which was a lie. We were going to trash them a bit, but it wasn't the last episode. We had one more after that, and they stopped me from writing it."
Following its cancellation, two versions of the series were syndicated in reruns: the original hour-long episodes, which usually contained a primary plot, a subplot, and two or more musical numbers; and a second version, stripped of the musical numbers and the subplot and reduced to 30 minutes in length.
The show's theme song was a pop hit for singer Irene Cara, having been featured in the motion picture. A re-recorded version of the theme, using similar instrumentation to the 1980 track, was used in the TV series and sung by co-star Erica Gimpel, who played Coco Hernandez.
Although Gimpel left the series midway through the third season (after the show moved from NBC to first-run syndication in 1983), her opening vocals were still heard on the show for two more seasons. An updated version of the song, featuring a modern, synthesized hard-rock flavor, was introduced in the fall of 1985 and performed by new cast member Loretta Chandler (Dusty). This version ran for the final two seasons of Fame.
"I Still Believe In Me", from an episode of the series titled "Passing Grade", was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Original Song. It was performed by Erica Gimpel and Debbie Allen, and co-written by Gary Portnoy, who went on to co-write and sing the theme from Cheers. In the United Kingdom, two singles credited to The Kids from "Fame", "Hi-Fidelity" and "Starmaker", peaked within the top ten of the UK Singles Chart.
Four cast members from the original movie appeared in the television series. Lee Curreri portrayed the character Bruno Martelli, an introverted musical genius. Gene Anthony Ray portrayed Leroy Johnson, a tough hood from the projects with a natural talent for dance, who muscles his way into an audition and wins. In the film, Leroy is also semiliterate, but this was dropped in favor of him having "fourth-grade reading level" in the television series. Albert Hague played teacher Benjamin Shorofsky, a German music teacher who constantly battled with Bruno Martelli over musical styles. The final cast member from the film was Debbie Allen, who portrayed dance instructor Lydia Grant. Allen only appeared briefly in the movie, but her character was expanded in the series. She also became the show's original choreographer, in addition to directing several episodes and co-producing one season.
Also, several characters were carried over from the movie, played by different actors. Irene Cara was offered the role of Coco Hernandez by the show's producers, but she politely declined, as she wished to focus on developing her budding singing career. The part was played by Erica Gimpel. Actor P. R. Paul played Montgomery McNeil in the series, while Paul McCrane portrayed the gay student in the film. The Montgomery character was changed for TV and was no longer gay. English teacher Elizabeth Sherwood was played in the film by actress Anne Meara, but in the series was played by actress Carol Mayo Jenkins.
The character of Ralph Garci (Tommy Aguilar inheriting the role played in the film by Barry Miller) appeared in the first episode of the TV version, but was metamorphosed into the character of Danny Amatullo, (whose last name is after the associate producer Tony Amatullo) and played by Carlo Imperato. The character Doris Schwartz, played by Valerie Landsburg, was in the series, while the character Doris Finsecker appeared in the film version and was portrayed by Maureen Teefy.
The arts-focused cable network Ovation began airing reruns of Fame in 2011 for a period.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the first season of Fame to DVD in Region 1 on November 1, 2005.
20th Century Fox, under license from MGM and MGM Television, released the complete first and second seasons of Fame on DVD in Region 1 and Region 2 on September 15, 2009. On January 12, 2010, Fox released seasons 1 and 2 in separate collections.
DVD releases also followed a similar pattern in Europe and Australia. Due to licensing issues, all DVDs contain some unspecified music substitutions.
|US DVD||Ep #||Release Date|
|Season 1 (MGM/Sony)||38||November 1, 2005|
|Seasons 1 & 2 (MGM/Fox)||38||September 15, 2009|
|Season 1 (MGM/Fox)||16||January 12, 2010|
|Season 2 (MGM/Fox)||22||January 12, 2010|
The series won a number of Emmy awards, and in 1983 and 1984, it won the Golden Globe Awards: Television, Best Series, Musical/Comedy. Actress, director and choreographer Debbie Allen, who had a small role in the motion picture, but played a major character in the television version, also won several awards.
On 27 December 2008, Channel 4 in the United Kingdom (despite Fame having originally been aired in Britain on BBC One) aired a 90-minute special titled Bring Back...Fame, which sought out and reunited some of the original cast members of the television series.
Hosted by Justin Lee Collins, and apparently filmed the previous summer, the show followed the presenter around the United States as he tracked down actors from the series and then staged a reunion. The program showed Collins appearing to surprise the former cast members in locations, including restaurants, a recording studio, a gym, LAX airport, and a cinema, before interviewing them and persuading them to take part in the reunion.
The actors featured were Debbie Allen, Carol Mayo Jenkins, Lee Curreri, Erica Gimpel, Valerie Landsburg, and Carlo Imperato. Also interviewed were Irene Cara and the mother of the late Gene Anthony Ray. Whether other actors from the series had also been approached but had declined to take part was not stated. Excerpts from the TV series were shown throughout the programme. The final scenes showed the six principal actors and a number of backing dancers taking part in a recreation of the title sequence of the TV programme.
In May 2019, eight members of the cast, Lee Curreri, Erica Gimpel, Carlo Imperato, Valerie Landsburg, PR Paul, Cynthia Gibb, Jesse Borrego, and Nia Peeples, performed two reunion concerts in Liverpool. This was the first time in over 35 years that the cast had performed together. A three-day fan convention, the Fame Family Experience, held in conjunction, was the first of its kind anywhere. Carol Mayo Jenkins, Loretta Chandler, and David Greenlee were special guests at the convention.