Saturday, September 02, 2006

Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Diff'rent Strokes' and Barry Williams Presents One-Hit Wonders of the 70s CD Reviewed

Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes

Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Diff'rent Strokes' - Monday, September 4th at 8-10PM ET/PT on NBC

NBC will re-visit one of television's most popular
comedy series -- "Diff'rent Strokes" -- with a movie
that serves as a powerful cautionary tale about the
tragedies and challenges facing the child stars of the
sitcom as well as all child stars in "Behind the
Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Diff'rent
Strokes,'" premiering on Monday, Sept. 4 (8-10 p.m.
ET). Original cast members Gary Coleman and Todd
Bridges participated in the movie and will also appear
in on-camera interviews.

"Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of
'Diff'rent Strokes'" not only takes viewers behind the
scenes of the popular sitcom, but also follows the
lives of Coleman, Bridges and fellow star Dana Plato
in the years after the series went off the air as
their personal lives spiraled downward. In addition,
it also examines the pitfalls of child stardom.

"Diff'rent Strokes" premiered on NBC on November 3,
1978 and concluded in 1986. Coleman and Bridges
starred as Arnold and Willis Jackson, respectively --
two orphaned children from Harlem who were adopted by
wealthy businessman Philip Drummond. The brothers'
sudden lifestyle change from poverty to the penthouse
made the comedy an instant hit for NBC.

This production -- which follows previous "Behind the
Camera" movies on NBC that re-created the story and
era surrounding "Three's Company," "Charlie's Angels"
and "Mork & Mindy" -- is produced by Once Upon a Time
Films. Bobb'e J Thompson ("The Tracy Morgan Show")
plays the young Coleman while Verda Bridges, Bridges'
real-life sister, portrays Bridges' mother.

"Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of
'Diff'rent Strokes'" is executive-produced by Stanley
M. Brooks ("Broken Trail") and Scott W. Anderson
(NBC's "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of
'Three's Company'"), with Damian Ganczewski ("Broken
Trail") producing. Robert Iscove ("She's All That")
directs from a script written by Greg Pincus and Susan
Rinehart.

Cast
Character / Actor
Gary Coleman as himself
Todd Bridges as himself
Gary Coleman (10-12 years) Bobb'e J Thompson
Gary Coleman (13-29 years) Robert Bailey, Jr.
Gary Coleman (30-31 years) Alon Williams
Todd Bridges (13-17 years) Brennan Gademans
Todd Bridges (17-37 years) Shedrack Anderson
Dana Plato (13-16 years) Jessica King
Dana Plato (17-34 years) Britt Irvin
Conrad Bain John Innes
Willie Coleman Bruce Young
Sue Coleman Lorena Gale
Betty Bridges Verda Bridges
Kay Plato Teryl Rothery
Kline Jason Schombing
Howard Leeds Jerry Wasserman
Dion Mial Rainbow Sun Francks
Vic Perillo Colin Cunningham
Wayne Newton Winston Reckert
Fred Silverman Saul Rubinek
Al Burton Peter Outerbridge
Brandon Tartikoff Adam Reid

Crew
Executive Producers: Stanley M. Brooks and Scott W.
Anderson
Produced by: Damian Ganczewski
Producer: Chad Oakes
Line Producer: Ian R. Smith
Associate Producer: Cath-Anne Ambrose
Director: Robert Iscove
Writer: Gregory K. Pincus
Director of Photography: David Frazee
Editor: Richard A. Schwadel
Production Designer: Phil Schmidt
Costume Designer: Sheila Bingham
Original Music by: Jeff Rona
Re-Recording Mixers: Cory Mandel and Ian Rodness

Casting by: Coreen Mayrs C.S.A.and Heike Brandstatter
C.S.A.
U.S. Casting by: Sandi Logan C.S.A. and Alyson
Silverberg C.S.A.
Production Company: Nomadic Pictures in association
with Once Upon A Time Films

My Review: I was beginning to wonder if this TV movie was ever going to see the light of day. This movie was greenlight in early 2005 and was produced in the fall of 2005 in Canada. This was NBC's 4th "Behind the Scenes" TV movie. It was by far the most dramatic. If you've seen the E! True Hollywood Stories on Diff'rent Strokes and Dana Plato, then you already know most of the events. It was interesting to see how these events were dramatized. FOX already made a Behind the Scenes Diff'rent Strokes movie in May 2000, but I thought the NBC one was quite a bit better. It went into a lot more details and just seemed to have higher production values. This movie was a bit different from the previous NBC TV movies. While previous installments have focused on the time the shows originally aired, this one also covered what happened after the series ended. About 2/3 of the movie was devoted from 1978-1986. The last 1/3 was about what happened after the series was cancelled.

What did I like?

Involvement of Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges - They were consultants on the project and appear in on-camera interviews throughout the movie. They didn't sugarcoat their comments or cry or make excuses about their problems. They seemed very frank and honest with what they said.

Good Casting - It seems like they didn't try and go out and get exact doubles for the real actors. The two actors who played the young Gary Coleman were fantastic. Not only did they look like him physically, they had some of the same mannerisms. The actresses who played Dana Plato did a good job with the part. The older one is a real cutie. I didn't think the actor who played the young Todd Bridges looked much like him, but the older one looked and sounded more like him. Bruce Young did a fine job as Willie Coleman. He was big and intimidating and showed a lot of emotion. Verda Bridges was excellent as Betty Bridges, Todd Bridges' mother. I just thought she was a bit underutilized and could have been in a few more scenes. Some of the smaller parts went to local Canadian actors.

The Little Details - I like how they included all these details that most people probably wouldn't even notice... like the schedule grids on the walls at the NBC studios and including all the directors, production people, and some later cast members in some scenes. The dates of many events are listed to give you a timeline.

Funny Moments - There were a lot of unintentionally funny moments that will probably give you a laugh. The scene where Johnnie Cochran is questioning a potential jury member will leave you smiling.

What didn't I like?

The main studio set - They got the colors right but not much else. If you were a casual fan and only saw the show a few times, you might be fooled into thinking the set really looked the same. The staircase is completely wrong and spirals up in a different direction. They put the balcony area behind the couch. A lot of the furniture, props, and the general layout of the set was just not like how you saw it on the show.

The theme song - They used a completely modern sounding version that had different lyrics. This is not the theme song that people love and remember. Since this movie is airing on NBC, I don't see why they couldn't use the original theme to add some authenticity.

The casting of the actor who played the adult Gary Coleman - This actor also played Gary in the FOX TV movie. He simply looked too old for the part and didn't sound like him at all. If you look at his imdb.com entry, 2 of his 5 listed roles have been as Gary. I think he's been typecast.

Overall, this is probably not NBC's best "Behind the Scenes" TV movie (that would be Mork & Mindy), but it does a decent job of telling the story. There were even a few fresh revelations that I never knew about. If you are a fan of the show, it would certainly be worth watching or tivoing for later viewing.

-- Reviewed by Todd
(4/5 stars)

Related Links:

  • Diff'rent Strokes Online
  • Internet Movie Database entry for Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Diff'rent Strokes'
  • Todd Bridges on Diff'rent Strokes movie, his sister, and reality shows




    Barry Williams Presents One-Hit Wonders of the 70s

    Barry Williams Presents: One-Hit Wonders of the 70s (Time Life Records, $18.98)

    AM radio magic… without the static! This fantastic collection is your one-stop ticket back to the groovy ‘70s, featuring 20 of your favorite songs by "one-hit wonder" artists. And who knows the ‘70s better than Barry "Greg Brady" Williams from the ever-popular sitcom The Brady Bunch. You may not remember the artists, but you’re sure to remember these Top-10 songs, like Afternoon Delight, Please Come To Boston, In The Summertime, Sometimes When We Touch, Play That Funky Music, The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia, Seasons In The Sun and many more.

    Here is the track listing, including the highest Billboard chart position:

    1. Wild Cherry - Play That Funky Music (3:17) No. 1 1976
    2. B. W. Stevenson - My Maria (2:25) No. 9 1973
    3. Brewer & Shipley - One Toke Over The Line (3:20) No. 10 1971
    4. Starland - Afternoon Delight (3:14) No. 1 1976
    5. Reunion - Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me) (3:32) No. 8 1974
    6. Billy Swan - I Can Help (2:58) No. 1 1974
    7. Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime (3:29) No. 3 1970
    8. Terry Jacks - Seasons In The Sun (3:29) No. 1 1974
    9. Paper Lace - The Night Chicago Died (3:31) No. 1 1974
    10. Climax - Precious and Few (2:47) No. 3 1972
    11. Stories - Brother Louie (3:54) No. 1 1973
    12. Dave Loggins - Please Come to Boston (4:09) No. 5 1974
    13. First Class - Beach Baby (4:59) No. 4 1974
    14. The 5 Stairsteps - O-o-h Child (3:14) No. 8 1970
    15. Vicki Sue Robinson - Turn The Beat Around (5:31) No. 10 1976
    16. Dan Hill - Sometimes When We Touch (4:05) No. 3 1978
    17. Lynn Anderson - Rose Garden (2:47) - No. 3 1971
    18. Edison Lighthouse - Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) (2:47) - No. 5 1970
    19. Wadsworth Mansion - Sweet Mary (2:40) No. 7 1971
    20. Vicki Lawrence - The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia (3:34) No. 1 1973

    My Review: As a big movies and soundtracks fan, I recognized a lot of these songs from movies from the last few years. "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry was used in "Undercover Brother." The "Starsky & Hutch" movie used "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band. There was a memorable cast version by Will Ferrell and company in "Anchorman." Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime" was used in a funny bicycling montage scene in "Wedding Crashers." Dan Hill's "Sometimes When We Touch" was used in the Molly Shannon movie, "Superstar." Interestingly enough, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia," was originally offered to Cher, but she turned it down. Vicki Lawrence was already known for her work on The Carol Burnett Show at the time of her big hit. Sitcom fans, of course, would later know her as Mama on Mama's Family.

    My favorite tracks on this compilation were the classic hit "Precious and Few" by Climax, "O-o-h Child" by The 5 Stairsteps, and "Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill.
    I'd definitely recommend this CD if you are a fan of '70s music. There's a little bit of everything on this CD: Pop, Rock, Funk, Soul, Country, and Disco. I am more of a '60s (music that was used on The Wonder Years and American Dreams) and '80s music fan, so I'd probably enjoy an one-hit wonder compilation for those decades a bit more.

    You might ask what is the connection with Barry Williams? He currently hosts a program Sunday-Friday at 2-6PM ET on the Totally '70s channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. Groovy man!

    -- Reviewed by Todd
    (3/5 stars)

    To purchase the CD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
    Amazon.com

    Related Links:

  • Barry Williams Official Site
  • Brady World

  • Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Friday, November 27

    none scheduled

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 23)

    Friday, November 27

    • David Cross (Arrested Development/Running Wilde/Oliver Beene) - Watch David on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Dan Levy (Schitt's Creek) - Dan is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Michael J. Fox (Family Ties/Spin City/The Michael J. Fox Show) - Michael appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Thomas Middleditch (B Positive/Silicon Valley) - Thomas is a guest on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Hugh Laurie (Avenue 5/Veep) - Hugh is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Josh Gad (Avenue 5/Central Park/The Comedians/1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Jason Ritter (The Class) - Jason is a guest on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Joel McHale (Community/The Great Indoors) - Joel talks about Card Sharks on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) - Sarah appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Kiersey Clemons (Angie Tribeca) - Kiersey is a guest on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Lauren Ash (Superstore/Super Fun Night) - Lauren appears on a repeat of The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Tisha Campbell (Outmatched/Dr. Ken/Rita Rocks/My Wife and Kids/Martin) and Tichina Arnold (The Neighborhood/Survivor's Remorse/Happily Divorced/Everybody Hates Chris/Martin) - Tisha and Tichina talk about hosting the Soul Train Awards on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - NBC's Today has Thanks + Giving with Marlo sometime between 7-9am.
    • Patricia Heaton (Carol's Second Act/The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia opens up about her biggest struggle as a parent during the pandemic, why she gave up bread and booze, and how to start a new beginning at any age on a repeat of The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (August/September/October/November)

    Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season Mom - The Complete Seventh Season The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

    08/04 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Eighth Season
    08/04 - The Neighborhood - Season One
    08/11 - Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens - Season 1
    08/11 - Final Space - The First and Second Seasons (Blu-ray)
    09/01 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 14
    09/01 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete Second Season
    09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    09/15 - Mom - The Complete Seventh Season
    09/15 - South Side - Season 1
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Second Season
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Third Season
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Fourth Season
    09/22 - Man with a Plan - Season Three
    09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
    10/13 - The Jetsons - The Complete Series (Diamond Collection)
    10/13 - Our Cartoon President - Season Two
    10/23 - Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em - The Complete Collection
    10/27 - The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    10/27 - Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
    11/10 - Letterkenny - Seasons 5 & 6
    11/10 - The Office - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    11/10 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Collection

    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    11/27 - Young Sheldon Starts on Nick at Nite on Monday; Pluto TV Adds 6 More Classic TV Channels
    11/26 - 2020 Thanksgiving TV Marathons on TV This Holiday Weekend
    11/25 - HBO Max Comedy Search Party Brings Out the Guest Stars; CW Seed Reunites CW 90210 Series
    11/24 - Catch Last Season's Holiday Sitcom The Moodys Before Season 2; Tiffani Thiessen Hosting Deliciousness, Spin-off of Ridiculousness
    11/23 - ABC Announces Midseason 2021 Scripted Premieres; NBC Announces January and February 2021 Schedule
    11/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 23, 2020)
    11/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: NBC Sets Premiere Date for Mr. Mayor; New Version of Name That Tune in the Works at Fox
    11/20 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on Fresh Prince Reunion on HBO Max; Nick at Nite Renews Friends in Multi-Year Deal
    11/19 - PBS to Air A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Christmas; Cybill Shepherd Gets Showtime Comedy Pilot
    11/18 - Hulu Orders Second Season of Woke; HBO Max Gets Conan Variety Series, While Conan Ends on TBS in June 2021
    11/17 - COZI TV Thanksgiving and Christmas Marathons; Stream 65 Full Episodes of The Carol Burnett Show Unedited
    11/16 - Antenna TV Holiday 2020 Stunts and Marathons; The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Premieres This Thursday!
    11/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 16, 2020)
    11/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Preview Released; Peacock Launches Saved by the Bell Channel
    11/13 - Fri-Yay: Any Hope Left for Broadcast Sitcom Ratings?; BET Presents CBS Monday Series Tonight; BUZZR Remembers Alex Trebek Tomorrow
    11/12 - CBS Orders New Chuck Lorre Comedy to Series; MeTV and Game Show Network to Remember Alex Trebek
    11/11 - Fox Announces Winter Premiere Dates for New and Returning Series; ABC Announces Early 2021 Unscripted Premiere Dates
    11/10 - ABC Orders Celebrity Wheel of Fortune; Turner Networks Celebrate Thanksgiving to the HBO Max
    11/09 - Remembering Alex Trebek; Decades Changes Schedule in December with The Odd Couple and The Love Boat Added
    11/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 9, 2020)
    11/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Jeopardy GOATS to Return in New Version of The Chase; Holly Robinson Peete Joins American Housewife Cast
    11/06 - Fri-Yay: Superstore Tackles the Pandemic in a Smart, Funny Way; Family Ties Cast to Reunite
    11/05 - Dave Chappelle Returns to SNL for Post Election Episode; Remembering Writer Jeremy Stevens of Everybody Loves Raymond
    11/04 - Showtime's Moonbase 8 Gets Early Release Online; Lark Voorhies to Appear on Peacock's Saved by the Bell
    11/03 - NBC Pulls Connecting... From Lineup; Fox Says The Great North to Air in February
    11/02 - Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas Schedule for 2020; HBO Max Licenses Comedy Central Library in Streaming Deal
    11/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 2, 2020)
    10/31 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fox to Remake British Comedy; Judy Justice Headed to IMDb TV
    10/30 - Fri-Yay: The Best Sitcom Halloween Episodes; CBS All Access Renews No Activity for 4th Season
    10/29 - Even More Ted Lasso on Way at Apple TV+; Craig Robinson to Host The Masked Dancer on Fox
    10/28 - COZI TV Halloween Marathons of The Munsters & Roseanne; Apple TV+ Orders Another Comedy, This Time with Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen
    10/27 - Freeform's The Clock Is Ticking Special with Yara Shahidi; Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Ends on New Year's Eve