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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American sitcom television series created by Quincy Jones, Andy and Susan Borowitz, that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990 to May 20, 1996. The series 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 uncle and aunt in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight in his hometown. However, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his upper-class relatives. It ran for 148 episodes over six seasons.

 

Summary

The theme song and opening sequence set the premise of the show. Will Smith is a street-smart teenagerWest Philadelphia "born and raised". While playing street basketball, Will misses a shot and the ball hits a group of gang members, causing a confrontation that frightens his mother, who sends him to live with his wealthy 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: spoiled Hilary, entitled Carlton, and impressionable Ashley.

The premise is loosely based on the real-life story of the show's producer Benny Medina.

Development

In 1990, music manager Benny Medina, along with his business 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", Medina said in an interview for Ebony magazine.

Medina pitched the idea to Quincy Jones, who had just signed a TV deal with Time-Warner. Jones was impressed by the idea and arranged a meeting with NBC chief Brandon TartikoffWill Smith was well known by then as his music career as The Fresh Prince had put him on the mainstream radar, but he had come into debt after failing to pay taxes. At the suggestion of his then-girlfriend, Smith went to a taping of The Arsenio Hall Show where he met Medina by chance. Medina pitched the idea to Smith, but Smith was reluctant, having never acted before. Medina invited Smith to meet Jones at a party that Jones was throwing at his house in December 1989. There, Jones handed Smith a script for a failed Morris Day pilot that he had produced and challenged Smith to audition for Tartikoff on the spot. Smith did so, and the first contract for the show was drawn up that night in a limo outside. Three months later, the pilot was shot.

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, and aired on Monday, May 20, 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.

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 nameThe 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 (the second 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.

wikipedia.org

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