The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990 to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight in his hometown. In the series, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his relatives in Bel Air. The series ran for six seasons and aired 148 episodes.
|The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air|
|Created by||Andy Borowitz|
Tatyana M. Ali
Daphne Maxwell Reid
|Theme music composer||The Fresh Prince in association with A Touch of Jazz, Inc.|
|Opening theme||"Yo Home to Bel Air", performed by The Fresh Prince|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||148 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Quincy Jones|
Kevin Wendle (Season 1)
Winifred Hervey (Seasons 2–3)
Gary H. Miller (Season 4, Episode 1–Season 5, Episode 15)
Cheryl Gard (Season 5, Episodes 16-25)
Will Smith (Season 6)
|Producer(s)||Werner Walian |
|Production location(s)||Hollywood Center Studios|
Hollywood, California (1990–1991)
Sunset Gower Studios
Hollywood, California (1991–1993)
Burbank, California (1993–1996)
|Camera setup||Videotape; Multi-camera|
|Running time||23 minutes|
|Production company(s)||The Stuffed Dog Company|
Quincy Jones Productions
Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original release||September 10, 1990 –|
May 20, 1996
In 1990, music manager Benny Medina, along with his 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“ said Medina 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 Tartikoff. Will Smith was well known by then as his music career as The Fresh Prince had put him in 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 of 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. Will 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 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.
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 people, 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: Hilary, Carlton, and Ashley.
Cast and charactersEdit
|Will Smith||Will Smith||Main|
|James Avery||Philip Banks||Main|
|Janet Hubert-Whitten||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||Nicky Banks||Main|
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Nielsen ratings|
|First aired||Last aired||Rank||Rating|
|1||25||September 10, 1990||May 6, 1991||N/A||N/A|
|2||24||September 9, 1991||May 4, 1992||22||14.3[A]|
|3||24||September 14, 1992||May 10, 1993||16||14.6[B]|
|4||26||September 20, 1993||May 23, 1994||21||13.7[C]|
|5||25||September 19, 1994||May 15, 1995||N/A||N/A|
|6||24||September 18, 1995||May 20, 1996||N/A||N/A|
Crossovers and other appearancesEdit
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".
In the Season 4 episode "My Pest Friend's Wedding", James Avery and Daphne Maxwell Reid (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.
The show is notable for having a heavy celebrity guest presence with more than 40 celebrities guest starring throughout the series. Seasons 1 and 4 had the highest celebrity participation with 10 guest stars each.
|Rev. Jesse Jackson||Season 1, Episode 2||Himself.|
|Richard Roundtree||Season 1, Episode 3||Dr Mumford, father of Will's love interest. Also played Rev. Sims in Season 6.|
|Don Cheadle||Season 1, Episode 5||Ice Tray, Will's best friend from Philly.|
|Bo Jackson||Season 1, Episode 8||Himself.|
|Heavy D||Season 1, Episode 9||Himself.|
|Al B. Sure||Season 1, Episode 9||Himself.|
|Isiah Thomas||Season 1, Episode 11||Himself.|
|Evander Holyfield||Season 1, Episode 15||Himself.|
|Jasmine Guy||Season 1, Episode 21||Kayla Samuels, Will's girlfriend.|
|Queen Latifah||Season 1, Episode 25||Marissa Redman, Hilary's Boss. Also played "Dee Dee" in season 2.|
|Zsa Zsa Gabor||Season 2, Episode 10||Sonya Lamor, Uncle Phill's celebrity client.|
|Bell Biv Devoe||Season 2, Episode 11||Themselves.|
|Brandon Quintin||Season 2, Episode 12||Bryan, Ashley's friend. He returns as Bryan in season 4.|
|Milton Berle||Season 2, Episode 18||Max Lakey, Will's hospital roommate.|
|Riddick Bowe||Season 3, Episode 3||Himself.|
|Sherman Hemsley||Season 3, Episode 6||Judge Carl, Uncle Phill's rival.|
|Oprah Winfrey||Season 3, Episode 9||Herself.|
|Vanessa Williams||Season 3, Episode 11||Danny Mitchell, Will's love interest.|
|Kim Fields||Season 3, Episode 17||Monique, Will's girlfriend.|
|Tom Jones||Season 3, Episode 18||Himself.|
|DL Hughley||Season 3, Episode 22||Keith Campbell, Will's comedian friend from Philly.|
|Hugh Hefner||Season 4, Episode 9||Himself.|
|Robin Quivers||Season 4, Episode 12||Judith, one of the ghosts playing cards.|
|Boyz II Men||Season 4, Episode 13||Themselves.|
|Branford Marsalis||Season 4, Episode 14||Himself. Also plays "Duane" a repair man in the same season.|
|Robert Guillaume||Season 4, Episode 19||Pete Fletcher, Will's boss.|
|Ben Vereen||Season 4, Episode 24||Lou Smith, Will's father.|
|Donald Trump||Season 4, Episode 25||Himself.|
|Marla Maples||Season 4, Episode 25||Herself.|
|Dick Clark||Season 4, Episode 26||Himself.|
|Quincy Jones||Season 5, Episode 1||Himself.|
|Kareem Abdul Jabbar||Season 5, Episode 6||Himself.|
|Don Cornelius||Season 5, Episode 8||Himself.|
|Ken Griffey Jr.||Season 5, Episode 9||Himself.|
|Jay Leno||Season 5, Episode 10||Himself.|
|Isaac Hayes||Season 5, Episode 18||The Minister, who happens to be an Issac Hayes impersonator, assigned to officiate Will's express wedding.|
|Robin Givens||Season 5, Episode 23||Denise, Will's love interest.|
|Chris Rock||Season 6, Episode 2||Maurice, a famous actor. Also plays Maurice's sister in the same episode.|
|B. B. King||Season 6, Episode 4||Pappy, the bar's blues player.|
|Jaleel White||Season 6, Episode 7||Derek, Ashley's boyfriend.|
|Wayne Newton||Season 6, Episode 8||Himself.|
|Regis Philbin||Season 6, Episode 21||Himself.|
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, which continues to distribute the show worldwide (although NBCUniversal does own the series' copyright).
Warner Home Video has released the complete series, seasons 1 to 6, on DVD in Region 1. 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||February 21, 2005||April 13, 2005|
|The Complete Second Season||24||October 11, 2005||November 21, 2005||March 1, 2006|
|The Complete Third Season||24||February 14, 2006||June 26, 2006||August 9, 2006|
|The Complete Fourth Season||26||August 8, 2006||January 22, 2007||December 6, 2006|
|The Complete Fifth Season||25||May 11, 2010||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 nominationsEdit
|ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards:|
|Top TV Series||Won||Quincy Jones
DJ Jazzy Jeff
|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||Will Smith||1993|
|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|
|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|
|Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series||Won||Tatyana M. Ali||1997|
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. 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."
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- Coker, Cheo Hodari (May 20, 1996). "Good Night, 'Prince'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
- Ebony Magazine. April 1991. pp. 34, 38.
- "Will Smith Says He Became The Fresh Prince of Bel Air After Getting in Trouble with the IRS". people.com. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
- Wolf, Matt (February 11, 1991). "'Fresh Prince' makes Marcell changed man". Kentucky New Era. Associated Press. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
- Cerone, Daniel. "Rap's Prince Soon to Be TV Royalty?". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- "The Hollywood Minute". CNN. Cable News Network Inc. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2007-10-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth Edition). Ballantine Books. p. 1693. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
- "The Complete History of Guest Stars on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"". COMPLEX. September 10, 2012.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "Hare Today..."". imdb.com.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "She Ain't That Heavy"". imdb.com.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "Something For Nothing"". imdb.com.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "Stop Will! In The Name Of Love"". imdb.com.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air "Sleepless In Bel-Air"". imdb.com.
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- "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete First Season DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. February 8, 2005. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete First Series DVD: Amazon.co.uk: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell: DVD". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 1st Season (5 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". Ezydvd.com.au. April 27, 2005. Archived from the original on April 13, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Second Season DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete Second Series DVD: Amazon.co.uk: Will Smith, James Avery, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Ellen Falcon: DVD". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
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- "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Third Season DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. February 14, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - The Complete Third Season DVD: Amazon.co.uk: Will Smith, James Avery, Karyn Parsons, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell: DVD". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
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