The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Fresh Prince Bel Aire logo.svg
GenreSitcom
Created by
Developed by
Starring
Theme music composerThe Fresh Prince in association with A Touch of Jazz, Inc.
Opening theme"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" performed by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Ending theme"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (instrumental)
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes148
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Werner Walian
  • Lisa Rosenthal
  • Joel Madison
  • Leilani Downer
  • Joanne Curley-Kerner
  • Joel Markowitz
Production locations
Camera setupVideotape; Multi-camera
Running time22 minutes
Production companies
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
HBO Max (reunion special)
Release
Original networkNBC
Picture formatNTSC
Original releaseSeptember 10, 1990 (1990-09-10) -
May 20, 1996 (1996-05-20)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American sitcom television series created by 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 born and raised in West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy uncle and aunt in their Bel-Air mansion after getting into a fight at the local playground in his neighborhood. However, his lifestyle often clashes with that of his upper-class relatives.

Known as Smith's star vehicle into television and later his film career, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a top hit for NBC, running for 148 episodes over six seasons.[1][2] A reunion special/retrospective reuniting the original cast debuted on HBO Max in November 2020.[3][4] A more dramatic reboot based on the fan film Bel-Air is in active development, with a two-season order for Peacock.

Summary

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 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, pompous Carlton, and impressionable Ashley.

Cast and characters

  = Main cast (credited)
  = Recurring cast (4+)

Main

Actor/actress Character
1 2 3 4 5 6
Will Smith Will Smith Main
James Avery Philip Banks Main
Janet Hubert 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[a] Nicky Banks Recurring Main
  1. ^ Various actors portrayed Nicky Banks throughout Seasons 3 and 4.

Recurring

Actor/actress Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6
DJ Jazzy Jeff Jazz Recurring
Vernee Watson-Johnson[a] Viola "Vy" Smith Recurring
Michael Weiner Kellogg "Cornflake" 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
  1. ^ A different unidentified actress portrayed Will's mother in the opening title sequence.

Celebrity guest stars

The show is notable for having a heavy celebrity guest presence with more than forty celebrities guest starring throughout the series. Seasons 1 and 6 had the highest celebrity participation with over 10 celebrity guest stars each.[5]

Celebrity Episode Notes
Richard Roundtree Season 1, Episode 3 Dr Mumford, father of Will's love interest. Also played Rev. Sims in Season 6.[5][6]
Don Cheadle Season 1, Episode 5 Ice Tray, Will's best friend from Philadelphia.[5]
Bo Jackson Season 1, Episode 9 Himself.[5]
Heavy D
Malcolm Jamal Warner
Quincy Jones
Al B. Sure
Kadeem Hardison
Naomi Campbell Season 1, Episode 10 Helen, Geoffrey's date.[7]
Isiah Thomas Season 1, Episode 11 Himself.[5]
Evander Holyfield Season 1, Episode 15 Himself.[5]
Vivica A. Fox Season 1, Episode 19 Janet, Jazz's sister and Will's date.[5]
Jasmine Guy Season 1, Episode 21 Kayla Samuels, Will's girlfriend.[5]
Tevin Campbell Season 1, Episode 24 Little T, Teen idol.[5]
Queen Latifah Season 1, Episode 25 Marissa Redman, Hilary's Boss. Also played "Dee Dee" in season 2.[5][8]
Malcolm-Jamal Warner Season 2, Episode 9 Eric, Hilary's love interest.[9]
Zsa Zsa Gabor Season 2, Episode 10 Sonya Lamor, Uncle Phil's celebrity client.[5]
Bell Biv DeVoe Season 2, Episode 11 Themselves.[5]
Brandon Quintin Season 2, Episode 12 Ramon, Ashley's friend. He returns as Bryan in season 4.[10][11]
Allen Payne Season 2, Episode 15 Marcus, Will's basketball rival.[5]
Milton Berle Season 2, Episode 18 Max Jakey, Will's hospital roommate.[5]
Riddick Bowe Season 3, Episode 21 A bully that confronts Carlton, but fights Will instead.[5]
Lark Voorhies Season 3, Episode 5 Carlton's ex-girlfriend
Sherman Hemsley Season 3, Episode 6 Judge Robertson, Uncle Phil's rival. Also George Jefferson in seasons 5 and 6.[5][12][13]
Oprah Winfrey Season 3, Episode 9 Herself.[5]
Vanessa Williams Season 3, Episode 11 Danny Mitchell, Will's idol.[5]
Naya Rivera Season 3, Episode 16 Cindy, Hilary's imagined ideal baby sister.[14]
Kim Fields Season 3, Episode 17 Monique, Will's girlfriend.[5]
Tom Jones Season 3, Episode 18 Himself.[5]
DL Hughley Season 3, Episode 22 Keith Campbell, Will's comedian friend from Philly.[5]
Hugh Hefner Season 4, Episode 9 Himself.[5]
Robin Quivers Season 4, Episode 12 Judith, one of the ghosts playing cards.[5]
Boyz II Men Season 4, Episode 13 Themselves.[5]
Sullivan Walker Reverend Boyd.
Branford Marsalis Season 4, Episode 14 Himself. Also plays "Duane" a repair man in the same season.[5][15]
Stacey Dash Season 4, Episode 17 Michelle Michaels, a famous singer/celebrity.[5]
Robert Guillaume Season 4, Episode 19 Pete Fletcher, Will's boss.[5]
Ben Vereen Season 4, Episode 24 Lou Smith, Will's father.[5]
Donald Trump Season 4, Episode 25 Themselves.[5]
Marla Maples
Dick Clark Season 4, Episode 26 Himself.[5] Returned in season 6 episode 20 to co-host bloopers of the show with Will Smith.
Brad Garrett Season 5, Episode 5 John "Fingers" O'Neill.[16]
Kareem Abdul Jabbar Season 5, Episode 6 Himself.[5]
Don Cornelius Season 5, Episode 8 Himself.[5]
Ken Griffey Jr. Season 5, Episode 9 Himself.[5]
Jay Leno Season 5, Episode 10 Himself. Also in season 6 episode 5 again playing Himself.[17][18]
Isabel Sanford Season 5, Episode 17 Louise Jefferson, couple's therapy member. Returns in season 6.[12][19]
Isaac Hayes Season 5, Episode 18 The Minister, who happens to be an Isaac Hayes impersonator, assigned to officiate Will's express wedding.[5]
Robin Givens Season 5, Episode 23 Denise, Will's love interest.[5]
Chris Rock Season 6, Episode 2 Maurice, a famous actor. Also plays Maurice's sister in the same episode.[5]
B. B. King Season 6, Episode 4 Pappy, the bar's blues player.[5]
Jaleel White Season 6, Episode 7 Derek, Ashley's boyfriend.[5]
Wayne Newton Season 6, Episode 8 Himself.[5]
Dick Clark Season 6, Episode 20 Himself.[5]
Regis Philbin Season 6, Episode 21 Himself.[5]
William Shatner Season 6, Episode 22 Himself.[20]
Conrad Bain Season 6, Episode 24 Phillip Drummond, open house attendee.[21]
Gary Coleman Arnold Jackson-Drummond, open house attendee.[21]
Marla Gibbs Florence Johnston, open house attendee.[21]

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRating
First airedLast aired
125September 10, 1990 (1990-09-10)May 6, 1991 (1991-05-06)41[22]12.9[22]
224September 9, 1991 (1991-09-09)May 4, 1992 (1992-05-04)18[23]14.5[23]
324September 14, 1992 (1992-09-14)May 10, 1993 (1993-05-10)1614.6[A]
426September 20, 1993 (1993-09-20)May 23, 1994 (1994-05-23)2113.7[B]
525September 19, 1994 (1994-09-19)May 15, 1995 (1995-05-15)56[24]10.4[24]
624September 18, 1995 (1995-09-18)May 20, 1996 (1996-05-20)55[25]9.6[25]

Development

The cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, seasons 1-3. From top left: Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro. From bottom left: Tatyana M. Ali, James Avery, Will Smith.

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.[26]

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 Tartikoff. Will 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.[27]

Andy Borowitz and his wife, Susan, are credited as the series' creators. Andy Borowitz, who was on a contract with NBC, was selected by Tartikoff to write the pilot. He based Will's cousins on Quincy Jones's daughters, and named Carlton after his friend Carlton Cuse. In 2015, he remarked that "It was written and taped in about three weeks, start to finish, and somehow it worked. It was just an explosion of really good luck."[28]

The pilot episode began taping on May 1, 1990.[29] Season 1 first aired in September 1990, and ended in May 1991. The series finale was taped on Thursday, March 21, 1996,[30][31] 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 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".

Following Fresh Prince's conclusion, Ribeiro joined the principal cast of In the House from its third season as Dr. Maxwell Stanton. In the Season 4 episode "My Pest Friend's Wedding", Avery and Daphne Maxwell Reid (the second Vivian Banks) guest starred as Stanton's parents. Joseph Marcell, 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 Distribution, which continues to distribute the show worldwide (with NBCUniversal owning the series' copyright).

Currently, reruns of the series are still aired around the world on ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks' MTV2, BET and VH1, having previously been aired on its MTV, Nick at Nite, TeenNick, CMT, and Centric channels. Other past carriers include WGN America, TBS, Walt Disney Television's Disney XD, ABC Family and ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks' Paramount Network.

The series developed significant popularity in the United Kingdom, where it aired on BBC Two between 1991 and 1996 with reruns airing on the network between 1996 and 2004, and was shown alongside The Simpsons and was later repeated on Trouble, Bravo, Channel One, Living, Sky Living Loves, Viva, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Comedy Central Extra and 5Star. In the United Kingdom, all seasons became available on the BBC iPlayer from 1 January 2021, and also currently airs on Sky Comedy and Sky Showcase.

It also aired on CBC in Canada.

The series became available to stream on HBO Max on May 27, 2020. It streams in Canada on Crave.

Home media

Warner Home Video has released the complete series, seasons 1 to 6, on DVD in Region 1.[32] 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[19] February 21, 2005[33] April 13, 2005[13]
The Complete Second Season 24 October 11, 2005[34] November 21, 2005[35] March 1, 2006[36]
The Complete Third Season 24 February 14, 2006[37] June 26, 2006[38] August 9, 2006[39]
The Complete Fourth Season 26 August 8, 2006[40] January 22, 2007[41] December 6, 2006[42]
The Complete Fifth Season 25 May 11, 2010[43] 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 Won Quincy Jones
Will Smith
DJ Jazzy Jeff
1994
Emmy Awards:
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction for a Comedy Series Nominated Art Busch 1996
Golden Globe Awards:
Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical Nominated Will Smith 1994
Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical Nominated[44] Will Smith 1993
NAACP Image Awards:
Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated 1997
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Won Alfonso Ribeiro 1996
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated Will Smith 1997
Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Won Tatyana M. Ali 1997
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Janet Hubert-Whitten 1991
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Nia Long 1996
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated Daphne Maxwell Reid 1996
Kids' Choice Awards:
Favorite Television Actor Nominated Will Smith 1996
Favorite Television Show Nominated 1996
Favorite TV Actress Nominated Tatyana M. Ali 1996
NCLR Bravo Awards:
Outstanding Television Series Actor in a Crossover Role Nominated Alfonso Ribeiro 1996
TP de Oro:
Best Foreign Series (Mejor Serie Extranjera) Nominated 1996
Best Foreign Series (Mejor Serie Extranjera) Won 1994
Teen Choice Awards:
Choice TV Show: Throwback Nominated 2017
Choice TV Show: Throwback Nominated 2018
Choice TV Show: Throwback Nominated 2019
TV Land Awards:
Best Broadcast Butler Nominated Joseph Marcell 2004
Favorite "Fish Out of Water" Nominated Will Smith 2004
Young Artist Awards:
Best Performance by an Actor Under Ten - Television Won Ross Bagley 1996
Best Performance by an Actor Under Ten in a TV Series Won Ross Bagley 1995
Best Youth Comedienne Nominated Tatyana M. Ali 1994
Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series Nominated Larenz Tate 1993
Best Young Actor Guest Starring or Recurring Role in a TV Series Nominated Tevin Campbell 1992
Best New Family Television Comedy Series Won 1991
YoungStar Award:
Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series Won Tatyana M. Ali 1997

Planned reboot

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.[45][46] 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".[47]

In 2019, a mock trailer titled Bel-Air was uploaded on YouTube, written and directed by Morgan Cooper, for a darker, more dramatic re-imagining of the sitcom.[48][49] Will Smith subsequently heavily praised the fan film, commenting that "Morgan did a ridiculous trailer for Bel-Air. Brilliant idea, the dramatic version of The Fresh Prince for the next generation", expressing interest in expanding the idea beyond the short film into a full Bel-Air reboot series.[50][51]

In August 2020, it was announced that Will Smith and Morgan Cooper would be developing a reboot of the series based on Cooper's Bel-Air. The series had reportedly been in the works for over a year since Cooper posted his Bel-Air trailer on YouTube, with Netflix, Peacock, and HBO Max all currently bidding for the series.[52] On September 8, 2020, Peacock gave Bel-Air for a 2-season order.[53] In September 2021, the full cast was announced with newcomer Jabari Banks cast as Will Smith, Adrian Holmes as Philip Banks, Cassandra Freeman as Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones as Hilary Banks, Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks, Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey, Jordan L. Jones as Jazz and Simone Joy Jones as Lisa.[54]

A reunion of the surviving original cast, The Fresh Prince Reunion, aired on HBO Max in November 2020. Among other reminisces, Janet Hubert appeared, also appearing around this time in a joint radio interview with Smith where the two reconcile.[55][56] More information and context were offered regarding the situation between Smith and Hubert and her exit when the two met for their conversation. Hubert discussed the turmoil in her personal life, her abusive marriage, and that she had not actually been fired by the show. She was offered what she described as a "bad deal" to return for the fourth season and she turned it down. Smith talked about how grappling with his rapidly increasing fame at such a young age led him to make decisions during that time that he now regrets and wishes he had made differently.[57] The reunion show also features a tribute to James Avery, who died in 2013, that was shown to the surviving cast. The tribute brought the entire cast to tears.[58]

Notes

References

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  4. ^ Hutchinson, Emily (November 13, 2020). "Will Smith releases first trailer for Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion as premiere date is revealed". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on November 13, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
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  24. ^ a b "The TV Ratings Guide: 1994-95 Ratings History".
  25. ^ a b "The TV Ratings Guide: 1995-96 Ratings History".
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  53. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 8, 2020). "'Bel-Air': Peacock Gives 2-Season Order To 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' Drama Reboot From Morgan Cooper & Westbrook Studios". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on September 8, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  54. ^ Baumtgartner, Drew (September 14, 2021). "Peacock's 'Fresh Prince' Reboot 'Bel-Air' Announces Full Cast". Collider. Retrieved 2021.
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  58. ^ "'Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' Reunion: Cast Talks Sitcom's Trailblazing Impact, Pays Tribute To James Avery; Will Smith And Janet Hubert Settle 27-Year Feud". Deadline.com.

Real Estate Data

External links


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The_Fresh_Prince_of_Bel-Air
 



 



 
Music Scenes