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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Created by Andy Borowitz
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight in his home town. In the series, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his relatives in Bel Air. The series ran for six seasons and aired 148 episodes.Contents
In 1990, music manager Benny Medina, along with his partner real estate mogul Jeff Pollack, decided to market a TV story based on Medina’s life. Medina had grown up poor in East Los Angeles but his life changed when he befriended a rich white teenager, whose family lived in Beverly Hills and allowed Medina to live with them. Medina decided to use this part of his life as the main focus of the show, however, given that by then a black character living with a white family was a concept that had been done multiple times on TV, Medina decided to change the rich white family to a rich black family “That way we could explore Black-on-Black prejudice as well as Black class differences“ said Medina in an interview for Ebony magazine.
Medina pitched the idea to Quincy Jones, who’d just signed a TV deal with Timer-Warner. Jones was impressed by the idea and arranged a meeting with NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff. Medina wanted Will Smith to portray him in the show. Smith was well known by then as his music career as The Fresh Prince had put him in the main stream radar. After Tartikoff subsequently communicated he was interested in the show, Medina tracked down Smith who, at the time, was in the East coast, and asked him to get on the first plane to the Los Angeles area for a rushed casting session as Tartikoff said he wished to make sure Smith could act before advancing the project further.
Given the tight schedule of some of the parties involved, the casting for Smith and final detailing of the show's concept took place at Jones' 57th birthday party in his home.
Smith says that mid celebration Jones had a group of people reconfigure his furniture in the livingroom to simulate a casting room and after Tartikoff was satisfied with Smith’s performance contracts were signed on the spot to get the show started and bind Smith to the project.
Less than two months later the pilot episode began taping on May 1, 1990. Season 1 first aired in September 1990, and ended in May 1991. The series finale was taped on Thursday, March 21, 1996.
The theme song "Yo Home to Bel Air" was written and performed by Smith under his stage name, The Fresh Prince. The music was composed by Quincy Jones, who is credited with Smith at the end of each episode. The music often used to bridge scenes together during the show is based on a similar chord structure.Plot
The theme song and opening sequence set the premise of the show. Will Smith is a street-smart teenager, West Philadelphia "born and raised". While playing street basketball, Will misses a shot and the ball hits a group of people, causing a confrontation that frightens his mother, who sends him to live with his aunt and uncle in the opulent neighborhood of Bel Air, Los Angeles.
Will's working-class background ends up clashing in various humorous ways with the upper-class world of the Banks family – Will's uncle Phil and aunt Vivian and their children, Will's cousins: Hilary, Carlton, and Ashley.
The premise is loosely based on the real-life story of the show's producer Benny Medina.Cast and characters Main article: List of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air characters Main Actor/actress Character Seasons 1 2 3 4 5 6 Will Smith Will Smith Main James Avery Philip Banks Main Janet Hubert-Whitten Vivian Banks Main Daphne Maxwell Reid Main Alfonso Ribeiro Carlton Banks Main Karyn Parsons Hilary Banks Main Tatyana M. Ali Ashley Banks Main Joseph Marcell Geoffrey Butler Main Ross Bagley Nicky Banks Main Recurring Actor/actress Character Seasons 1 2 3 4 5 6 DJ Jazzy Jeff Jazz Recurring Vernee Watson-Johnson Viola "Vy" Smith Recurring Michael Weiner Kellogg Lieberbaum Recurring Lisa Fuller Toni Recurring Jenifer Lewis Helen Smith Recurring Charlayne Woodard Janice Smith Recurring Perry Moore Tyriq "Ty" Johnson Recurring Brian Stokes Mitchell Trevor Collins-Newsworthy Recurring Tyra Banks Jacqueline "Jackie" Ames Recurring Nia Long Beullah "Lisa" Wilkes Recurring Episodes Main article: List of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episodes SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedNielsen ratingsFirst airedLast airedRankRating125September 10, 1990 (1990-09-10)May 6, 1991 (1991-05-06)N/AN/A224September 9, 1991 (1991-09-09)May 4, 1992 (1992-05-04)2214.3[A]324September 14, 1992 (1992-09-14)May 10, 1993 (1993-05-10)1614.6[B]426September 20, 1993 (1993-09-20)May 23, 1994 (1994-05-23)2113.7[C]525September 19, 1994 (1994-09-19)May 15, 1995 (1995-05-15)N/AN/A624September 18, 1995 (1995-09-18)May 20, 1996 (1996-05-20)N/AN/A Crossovers and other appearances
During the fall 1991–1992 season, NBC gained two hit television shows to anchor their Monday night lineup (Blossom aired immediately after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). To gain popularity between the two shows, Will Smith appeared in the Blossom episode "I'm with the Band" as himself under his rap stage name, The Fresh Prince. That same season, Karyn Parsons appeared in the Blossom episode "Wake Up Little Suzy" as Hilary Banks. Parsons also appeared in the Patti LaBelle sitcom Out All Night as Hilary.
In the House and Fresh Prince were both executive-produced by Winifred Hervey, David Salzman and Quincy Jones. During the second season's first episode, Alfonso Ribeiro and Tatyana Ali appeared as their Fresh Prince characters (Carlton and Ashley Banks) in the crossover episode "Dog Catchers". Later that season, James Avery (Phillip Banks) appeared as a mediator in the episode "Love on a One-Way Street".
In the Season 4 episode "My Pest Friend's Wedding", James Avery and Daphne Maxwell Reid (Vivian Banks) guest starred as Dr. Maxwell Stanton's parents (Stanton was played by Ribeiro). Both Avery and Reid portrayed the parents of Ribeiro's Fresh Prince character. Joseph Marcell, who played the wisecracking Geoffrey Butler on Fresh Prince, appeared as an officiating minister in the same episode.Syndication
The series was produced by NBC Productions in association with the Stuffed Dog Company and Quincy Jones Entertainment (later Quincy Jones-David Salzman Entertainment in 1993). After the show was released to syndication in 1994, the series was distributed by Warner Bros. Television, which continues to distribute the show worldwide (although NBCUniversal does own the series' copyright). WGN America was the first cable channel to acquire the series in 1997 and TBS acquired the series a year later, in 1998; both channels carried the series until the fall of 2003, though TBS reacquired the series in 2007.
The theme song was shown in the original TBS run, but after TBS re-acquired Fresh Prince in 2007, the opening credits were truncated and the theme song was removed and replaced with the instrumental version used as the show's closing theme. These versions also re-added portions of scenes cut from the original syndicated prints for some episodes, particularly those from Seasons 3 to 6. TBS continued to air the series up until September 2014, when Viacom Media Networks reaquired the rights to the series. Reruns also aired on WPIX-TV back to back weeknights at 6 pm and6:30 pm EST from 1994 until 2000, on weekdays 5 pm from 2000 to 2005, and sometimes on weekends, until 2007. The series was still rerunning on The WB's affiliation WPIX-TV until 2006. The series aired on Nick at Nite, from 2006 to 2009 and moved to Disney XD.
In July 2009, Disney XD acquired the rights to the series, though it was quickly moved from prime time to late night, and only episodes from Seasons 1 to 3 are aired, mainly because those episodes are more appropriate for young viewers as they do not contain as many mature themes, sexual content and strong language as later episodes. In August 2010, Disney XD stopped airing the show. ABC Family (now called Freeform) acquired the series in September 2008, though airing all 148 episodes; originally airing exclusively on Saturday nights, the series was added to ABC Family's weekday line up in late 2009. On September 29, 2014, Disney/ABC's rights to the show expired. Viacom Media Networks got the series back.
In October 2014, Viacom Media Networks also gave the series to BET, and it would also air on Centric. It was previously aired on MTV's retro block. The series is also re-aired on VH1. On November 2, 2015, the series started airing on the Family Channel in Canada. On January 1, 2017, the series was added to Netflix in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 2014, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air started airing again in Nickelodeon's block night channel, Nick at Nite.
In 2017, the series began from the beginning on the 5* channel in the UK.Home media
Warner Home Video has released the complete series, seasons 1 to 6, on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 1 to 4 have been released in Regions 2 and 4. Seasons 5 to 6 have been released in Region 2 in Germany, and in the complete series boxset in the United Kingdom.DVD name Ep # Release dates Region 1 Region 2 Region 4 The Complete First Season 25 February 8, 2005 February 21, 2005 April 13, 2005 The Complete Second Season 24 October 11, 2005 November 21, 2005 March 1, 2006 The Complete Third Season 24 February 14, 2006 June 26, 2006 August 9, 2006 The Complete Fourth Season 26 August 8, 2006 January 22, 2007 December 6, 2006 The Complete Fifth Season 25 May 11, 2010 June 18, 2010 2018 The Complete Sixth & Final Season 24 April 19, 2011 May 6, 2011 2018 The Complete Series 148 April 12, 2011 Awards and nominations Awards Outcome Recipient(s) Year ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards: Top TV Series Won Quincy Jones
On August 13, 2015, it was reported that a reboot of the show was in development by Overbrook Entertainment, with Will Smith serving as a producer. In August 2016, during a promotional interview with the E! television network, for his then upcoming film Suicide Squad, Smith denied that a reboot was in development, saying that it would happen "...pretty close to when Hell freezes over."Notes