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Friday, 2 January 2009

Bring Back... Fame!, Channel 4

Did we like it?
JLC once again hits the US in his attempts to track down actors from the 80’s movie and show. And unlike his Dallas and Star Wars attempts, is surprisingly successful. Despite the inevitable hard-luck stories concerning a few of the stars, this was ‘feel-good’ most of the way and left us with cheesy grins on our faces. Remember our name!

What was good about it?
· Pretty much all the remaining cast members were willing to play ball and consented to interviews with Justin without too much persuasion – and despite various trials and tribulations, all seemed remarkably well-adjusted.
· JLC inadvertently showing his (thankfully pixellated) plums in some ill-fitting shorts whilst trying to infiltrate Debbie Allen’s dance studio was a particular highlight.
· Lee Curreri (aka keyboard wiz Bruno Martelli) came across as a very articulate, lovely guy – telling some great anecdotes about his relationship with Albert Hague (aka Shorofsky), and how they got along like a house on fire behind the scenes despite their on-screen relationship. His huge cocaine intake in the 80’s hadn’t left him a paranoid wreck, either. Despite not being keen on Justin’s reunion, JLC’s threat to shoot himself in the face and leave a note implicating Lee made him cave in!
· Valerie Landsburg (aka Doris) was not only happy to be interviewed by Justin but also ‘wore a wire’ to help him snare Debbie Allen.
· The now sadly deceased Gene Anthony Ray (aka Leroy) was universally loved by the cast members, but his talent for self-destruction meant that it was only a matter of time before his partying caught up with him. Carol Mayo Jenkins (aka Miss Sherwood) even revealed how she’d asked the producers if he could come live with her to help straighten him out, but she was warned off.
· Carlo Imperato (aka Danny) who, like the rest of the cast, had aged remarkably well, also came across as a delightful man. And when reminiscing about his relationship with Gene (“It was his show, man!”) couldn’t contain his emotion.
· Unusually for a JLC vehicle, there was the odd serious interlude, and he coped remarkably well, handling the conversations about Gene Ray sensitively, even interviewing his convicted drug-dealer mother about the life and death of her son.
· It really brought back the memories of how huge the Fame tv series had been in the UK in the 80’s. And they all revealed how much of a party they’d had on their UK tour.
· Unlike previous reunions, this was an unqualified success; with all bar Irene Cara making it to the reunion, and all seemed genuinely delighted to see each other. Justin was like a proud parent as he supervised things, and it ended with a dancing on top of a taxi in the street. Good times!

What was bad about it?
· Irene Cara had been completely screwed over by her record company, as despite recording a couple of smash hits, they were refusing to pay her. It set her career back years.
· All the major stars left because the TV studio wanted to keep them very much in their place – and all left under unhappy circumstances.
· Some of the clips of the last couple of series of Fame - which never made it to UK terrestrial TV – showed how dreadful the storylines had become, with Danny Amatullo being diagnosed with leukaemia and cured in the same episode!
· We could have done without the audio recording of Valerie Landsburg’s toilet visit – that was a cheap shot, JLC!

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