'Fame' went on air in 1982. The series featured "the most ethnically diverse cast on television." William Blinn pointed out, "We don't intend to do things 'racially' in terms of stories about prejudice. For one thing, what is there new to say on that subject?" 'Fame' combined singing, dancing, and drama to tell the story. Mel Swope remarked, "The musical numbers are organic. That is to say, they will enhance the plot and move it along and sometimes even resolve the story problem. At no time does the music stop the story...And our cast does all its own singing and dancing. None of it is dubbed or faked." 

Centered around the School of The Arts in New York City, 'Fame' followed the lives of 7 talented aspiring musicians, dancers and actors (Leroy, Julie, Bruno, Coco, Danny, Doris and Montgomery) and their 3 teachers (Mr Shorofsky, Lydia and Elizabeth Sherwood). The series was an initiative of Brandon Tartikoff who saw the 1980 film which featured "foul-mouthed, self-centered brats" who relied on "stroke of luck" to make it in show business. Impressed, Brandon decided to commission William Blinn and Mel Swope to adapt the motion picture into a weekly TV series for the mass audience. 

From the outset Bill maintained, "We're not worried about comparisons between the series and the movie because what we're doing is very good. People who liked the movie will like the show and so will viewers who never saw the movie. Most pictures fail as series because the TV producers try to duplicate the film. We take up where the picture leaves off and move on to new things, as they did with 'M*A*S*H'." 

Mel added, "Once viewers understand what the show is about, it will make things easier. The stories involve hard-working, disciplined, talented kids who are seeking careers and, yes, stardom in show business." Bill believed, "Ours is a unique show because it cannot be described or defined. It's got comedy, drama and music all involved in a storyline. Debbie Allen doubles as full-time choreographer. We hired The Entertainment Company in New York which writes most of the songs for each episode."

Debbie Allen had contributed with "dance numbers" for many episodes, "It's done a lot for me being in 'Fame'. What limitations I've felt as an actress, I've made up as a producer and director. I couldn't have had a better school." Debbie observed, "There's nothing else like this on television. It moves, sings and dances and has a special kind of joy...The show is dealing with very realistic problems but in the midst of it, we always have that joy. The energy keeps going, and that's what the world needs today. Television certainly does!"

Around the world "'Fame' has been a big success in foreign countries. It has been in the top 5 in England and has had equal popularity in France and Italy. In Australia, its opposition was '60 Minutes' and 'Fame' became one of the highest-rated shows." It was reasoned, "'Fame' is popular in other countries because it deals with kids trying to make it. You have the same fear, anxiety and concern in every country. Kids have the same problems relating to adults around the world."

Bill mentioned, "We're trying not to be predictable...I think viewers will welcome a series that combines music with drama and comedy set in a booked production. 'Fame' will either take off right away and become a hit or it won't work at all. With a show as different as ours, there's no middle ground." Between 1983 and 1987, 'Fame' was syndicated to independent TV stations with first-run episodes.

Lawrence Gershman of the production company, MGM-UA Entertainment recounted, "I was attending a television convention in Europe last April (in 1982) when I heard about the NBC cancellation. When I finally got the word we weren't being picked up I got on the phone and called about a dozen foreign broadcasters. I said I need your help. Some increased their fees 100%. Some 50%, and in no case under 25%, then I offered it to Metromedia and about 6 other groups and got 40% of this country (the U.S.) in about 2 days. I had talked to HBO, but they were talking about 8 to 10 shows. I felt we had to do a full season. It has been sold in 65 countries."

To sell 'Fame' in the United Stares, "I had 64% of the country's markets, and I told (Frank) Yablans I needed 70% to make it work…The shows are budgeted at $700,000 (per episode), same as last season (on the network). All of the broadcasters told me, 'Keep it going.'" Valerie Landsburg remembered, "We waited 11 months after making the pilot until NBC picked us up. Then they ordered 9 shows, then 3 more, then 4, then 2 more….An executive told me the show was 98, 99% canceled, but not quite. For 2 ½ months, I remained on hold, turning down a chance to play 'Agnes of God' on Broadway."

One critic made the comment, "'Fame' is unlike anything else that has appeared on the small screen. It integrates music and dance without destroying the viewer's belief in the story." The difference between syndication and networks according to Bill, "We made the same changes we would have made if we'd stayed on the network. The network restrictions were gone so we had to become our own censors. One of the cast members was diagnosed as having leukemia. The network wouldn’t allow that. They would require that if you had a serious illness it had to be a guest star. It allows us to be a little more efficient. We don't have all those phone calls from the network telling us how to run the show." 'Fame' ended production in 1987 according to MGM-UA Television, "We canceled 'Fame' for economic reasons. We did the show for 6 years (1982-1987), but it didn't make sense to do it for another year. We've been running a deficit here, although it makes money overseas."

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