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Kids Incorporated
Kidsinclogo.png
Kids Incorporated logo, 1984–1992
Also known as Kids Inc.
Genre Musical
Comedy
Created by Thomas Lynch
Gary Biller
Starring See: Cast and characters
Theme music composer Michael Cruz
Opening theme "Kids Incorporated" performed by Marta "Martika" Marrero (1984–1986), Full Cast (1987–1993)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of episodes 150
Production
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Syndicated (1984–1986)
Disney Channel (1986–1993)
Original run September 17, 1984 (1984-09-17) – February 9, 1994 (1994-02-09)
Status Ended

Kids Incorporated (also known as Kids Inc.) is an American children's television program that was produced from 1984 to 1993. It was largely a youth oriented sitcom with musical performances as an integral part of the plot and show.

Contents

Plot

The series revolved around a group of children and teenagers who performed in their own rock group, Kids Incorporated. The band members struggled to deal with issues ranging from divorce to violence to schoolyard crushes while performing regularly at a local restaurant/theatre, The P*lace (called The Malt Shop in the pilot). It was originally named The Palace, a theater where supposedly the biggest names in entertainment, such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, performed (hence the posters at The P*lace). But the first "a" in the neon sign burned out and was never replaced. It was never explained how the KI group funded or profited from their performances, but the show did not aim for strict realism. The action took place on abstract, "stagey" sets and the plots involved many fantasy elements (such as the band meeting a singing robot and even meeting a sentient bicycle).

The city in which the P*lace was located was never disclosed. However, according to frequent director Paul Hoen, the show was supposed to be set in Fort Greene, a section of Brooklyn, New York City. The school depicted on the Kids Incorporated set had signage reading P.S., and later, Public School 127. In one episode in the second season, The P*lace was expected to be torn down, but was saved as a National Historical Landmark.

Cast and characters

The cast of Kids Incorporated was comprised mainly of children and teenagers. The only recurring adult members of the cast were Moosie Drier ("Riley", 1984–1988), Sean O'Riordan ("Flip", 1989–1992) and Dena Burton (1993), who played managers of The P*lace. Parents rarely appeared on the show or figured directly into episode plots.

The Kids Incorporated group

The members of Kids Incorporated ranged in age from eight to mid-teens. From 1987 to 1988 there were six members of the group; in other seasons, the band always consisted of three girls and two boys.

The characters on the show usually carried the names of the actors who played them (for instance, Stacy Ferguson's and Renee Sands's characters were also named "Stacy" and "Renee"). However, in some cases, the names were shortened (Anastasia Horne became "Ana"), and in other cases they were completely replaced. For example, Marta "Martika" Marrero's character was named "Gloria" while Jerry Sharell's character was named "Mickey." Rahsaan Patterson was called "The Kid" and his real name was not revealed as Rahsaan until well into the series (although scripts continued to refer to him as "The Kid" regardless). Jennifer Love Hewitt's character was called "Robin".

Actors left the series when they "aged out" of their roles as kids. The disappearances of some long-running actors, such as Jerry Sharell, Martika, Renee Sands and Rahsaan Patterson, were written into the script. However, most of the time the performers were replaced without comment such as the disappearances of Eric, Robin, Kenny, Devyn, Connie, Stacy, Richie and Ryan.

Stacy Ferguson held the record as the longest-running cast member, staying with the show for six seasons. Moosie Drier was part of the cast for five seasons; Renee Sands, Ryan Lambert, Kenny Ford and Rahsaan Patterson were on the show for four seasons each. Several of the other performers, however, like Eric Balfour, Jared Delgin and Jerry Sharell, left the show after only one season; Sharell's departure was said to be due to creative differences with producers Thomas W. Lynch and Gary Biller. In particular, he was unhappy with the show's often bizarre and outlandish storylines.

All cast members performed their own vocals. Several, such as Devyn Puett, were also trained dancers and occasionally showcased their abilities. However, none of the performers actually played musical instruments with the exception of Haylie Johnson who as of 1997 plays the guitar. In many scenes in the show, the characters are shown pretending to play the piano, guitar and other instruments.

For many of the cast members, Kids Incorporated was the beginning of a fruitful career in the music industry. Currently, the most visible ex-KI kid is Fergie (Stacy Ferguson), a former member of pop trio Wild Orchid and who currently performs with the Grammy-award winning group The Black Eyed Peas as well as enjoying a very successful solo career. Others who have seen success in the fields of music and acting include Martika (Marta Marrero) ("Toy Soldiers"), Renee Sands (Wild Orchid), Rahsaan Patterson, Eric Balfour (24), Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was credited simply as "Love Hewitt," (Party of Five, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Ghost Whisperer) and Ryan Lambert (The Monster Squad, Elephone). In 1992 Nicole Brown was in the Rappin' Rockin' Barbie Doll Commercial.

The dancers

Supporting Kids Incorporated's singers was an ensemble of five young dancers. These cast members appeared in background scenes in The P*lace; they also performed choreographed routines and served as backup singers and musicians (pretending to play) during Kids Incorporated's performances.

Generally, the dancers were peripheral to the story; the plots of the episodes almost never incorporated them (In at least one episode, their "drummer", Mario Lopez, taught The Kid to wrestle). However, during Season 1, dancer Wendy Brainard performed as a singer for Corey Hart's "It Ain't Enough" and Donna Summer's "Dim All the Lights". In addition, over the years, more than twelve of the dancers were given speaking roles in various episodes.

The longest-running dancer in the Kids Incorporated cast was Gina Marie Vinaccia, who appeared on the show for four years, from 1985 to 1988. Other noted KI dancers included recording artist Shanice Wilson ("I Love Your Smile"), actor Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell, Extra), and Broadway choreographer and dancer Darren Lee.

  • Charon Aldredge — 1991–1993
  • Ken Arata — 1993
  • Wendy Brainard — 1984–1986
  • Dee Caspary — 1987–1988
  • Joseph Conrad — 1989
  • Nicole Cropper — 1987–1988
  • Kimberly Duncan — 1988–1989
  • Brian Friedman — 1991–1993
  • Andre Fuentes — 1993
  • Aaron Hamilton — 1984
  • Adam Gillott — 1991
  • Jennifer King — 1991–1992
  • Leilani Lagmay — 1989
  • Darren Lee — 1985–1986
  • Mario Lopez — 1984–1986
  • Mikey Pereira — 1984–1986
  • Danielle Marcus-Janssen — 1991–1993
  • Challyn Markray — 1987
  • Tony Perrin — 1991–1992
  • Brian Poth — 1987–1988
  • Carletta Prince — 1984
  • Tiffany Robbins — 1989
  • Cory Tyler — 1989
  • Gina Marie Vinaccia — 1985–1988
  • Andrea Paige Wilson — 1984–1986
  • Shanice Wilson — 1984

Guest stars

Guest stars on Kids Incorporated included both established celebrities and newcomers. Florence Henderson, Gwen Verdon, Kathy Johnson, Barry Williams, Billy Blanks, David Hasselhoff, and Ruth Buzzi were among the stars who appeared during the run of the show. Young actors who guest starred on KI included Brittany Murphy, Andrea Barber, Scott Wolf, and Jason Hervey.

Music

Music was an integral part of Kids Incorporated, and several songs were included in every episode. The shows musical variety ranged over a number of different genres released from the 1960's onward. While these numbers were usually performed onstage in the context of a concert at The P*lace, they were also occasionally used to illustrate a character's internal monologue or conflict. The vocal responsibilities were shared by all five singers; every cast member was given an opportunity to perform featured or solo songs throughout the course of the season.

Each episode consisted of one original number and generally four previously recorded songs by recognized artists. Artists and songs covered included "Into The Groove" by Madonna, "Message in a Bottle" by The Police, "Gloria" by Laura Branigan, "Hip Hop Hooray" by Naughty by Nature, "Friday I'm in Love" by The Cure, "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi, "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John, "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" by Belinda Carlisle, "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung, "All Fired Up" by Pat Benatar, "Workin' Overtime" by Diana Ross, "Promise of a New Day" by Paula Abdul, "Pump up the Jam" by Technotronic, "Motownphilly" by Boyz II Men, "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston and "Breakaway" by Tracey Ullman. The original songs were written by the hired composers of the show. Depending on the year those composers were Michael Cruz, Andrew R. Powell, Craig Sharmat and others.

Due to the age of both the performers and the target demographic, lyrics referencing alcohol, drugs, violence, sex and slang were generally edited out of the songs and replaced with more benign language. However, occasionally songs were performed as written, "objectionable" lyrics intact. Examples of uncensored songs that were presented on the series include "Dancing with Myself" by Billy Idol ("The Storybook House" episode, 1989), "Seven Wonders" by Fleetwood Mac (1988), "Prove Your Love" by Taylor Dayne, and "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson (1989).

The large number of songs performed in the series, and the subsequent licensing fees existing therein, present a considerable challenge to releasing Kids Incorporated on DVD or returning it to television. In 2005, for example, a proposal to air Kids Incorporated as part of The Disney Channel's Saturday night teen line-up fell through when Disney officials suggested removing much of the music and replacing it with blooper reels.

Production and broadcast history

The original pilot film for Kids Incorporated was produced in 1983 and shopped to several networks by creators Thomas W. Lynch and Gary Biller.

The series was not picked up by a major network, but, distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co. Television, began a syndicated run in the fall of 1984. The original four cast members, Stacy Ferguson, Marta Marrero, Renee Sands and Jerry Sharell, were joined by Rahsaan Patterson and a company of five backup dancers.

In syndication, the show was usually shown on Tuesday or Sunday evenings; this, of course, depended on decisions made by local television stations. For example, KTRV in Boise, Idaho aired the show at first on Tuesday, then Saturday nights at 6:30 PM, while WNBC in New York City aired it first on Sundays at 1:00 PM then moved it back to 9:00 AM. KPTV in Portland, Oregon first aired it Saturday mornings at 10:30 AM, then moved it back to 9:30 AM. The shuffling time slots affected the ratings, and KI was cancelled the weekend of May 25, 1986. Reruns aired on the CBN Cable Network (now ABC Family) from 1985-1986.

It was due to the positive ratings from the CBN reruns that in the summer of 1986, Kids Incorporated was given a second chance when The Disney Channel acquired the rights to the series. It resumed production with the same cast, and new episodes began airing on November 3, 1986. Disney's buyout package also included the entire syndicated run; as such, edits had to be made to remove fee plugs & commercial outros. The show's main time slot on the Disney Channel was 4:00 PM ET/3:00 PM CT.

After the sixth season (1989) was filmed, Kids Incorporated was put on hiatus for two years, during which time most of the cast moved on to other projects or "aged out." The only performers who were invited to return to the show in 1991 when it resumed production were Kenny Ford and Love Hewitt.

Budget cuts and the expiration of Disney's lease with MGM prompted another hiatus in 1993, after only ten episodes of Season 9 had been filmed. The last episode of this season, which aired on February 9, 1994, turned out to be the series finale. By the summer of 1995, when the show was scheduled to resume production, most of the cast members were graduating from high school or college or getting married and could no longer sustain the Kids Incorporated image. Thus, the show did not continue.

The format of the show would have changed, giving the songs less importance and placing them in breaks in the main storyline action. Some proposed scripts had no songs at all. In addition, the show's filming would have moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Canada. There was some hype created for the new Kids Incorporated project in Los Angeles and New York, but it never came to fruition.

After its default cancellation, Kids Incorporated continued to be shown in reruns on The Disney Channel until May 30, 1996.

Kids Incorporated was filmed at Hollywood Center Studios in California for its entire run. It was one of the only shows, along with The Mickey Mouse Club, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and You Can't Do That on Television, in which the complete season took place within the calendar year, instead of the traditional fall-through-spring shooting/broadcast schedule. For instance, if an actor was with the show from 1985 to 1988, he actually appeared in four seasons, not three.

A significant amount of time passed between the filming of each season, accounting for the speed at which the kids in the cast seemed to age. Excepting specials, such as the 1986 holiday show Rockin' in the New Year, production took place during July and August of each year. In later seasons, this schedule was moved to the spring.

Producers

Throughout its history, various producers and production companies were associated with Kids Incorporated, including K-tel Entertainment, Lynch-Biller Productions (later Lynch Entertainment; now The Tom Lynch Company), RHI Entertainment, and MGM Television (aka MGM-Pathé). Hal Roach Studios/Quintex, the studio responsible for the Our Gang (Little Rascals) short films series of the 1930s, was also involved with KI.

Kids Incorporated essentially launched the careers of creators and producers Gary Biller and Thomas W. Lynch, who would go on to create The Secret World of Alex Mack and Romeo! among many other shows, leading the New York Times to call him "the David E. Kelley of 'tween TV"). Prior to Kids Incorporated, Lynch and Biller created and produced a long-running music video series for TBS, Night Tracks.

Merchandise

Kids Incorporated: The Beginning and other videos

The 1983 pilot was never shown on television; however, in 1985 it was released on VHS as Kids Incorporated: The Beginning. In order to include cast member Rahsaan Patterson, who joined the show after the pilot was shot, a new storyline was edited into the film. His character "The Kid" was depicted as the new kid in town, who was very shy and afraid to audition for the band. He also revealed the origins of the Kids Incorporated group. Patterson's scenes were filmed 1984, and edited in with the 1983 footage of the rest of the cast.

Two additional KI videos were released in 1985, entitled Chartbusters and The Best of Kids Incorporated. While the show was still in syndication, four records were also released, entitled Kids Incorporated: New Attitude, Kids Incorporated: The Chart Hits, and a second Kids Incorporated. At least two of these records achieved platinum sales status. No further albums were released when the show moved to Disney because the company that produced them, K-Tel Records, filed for bankruptcy at around the same time.

Current DVD plans

As of November 2006, MGM and The Disney Channel have had several talks with Thomas Lynch about releasing the series on DVD or re-broadcasting it on Disney primetime. MGM has stated that the official reason for Kids Incorporated's absence from the DVD and TV markets has not been because of domestic or music rights, but because of recent financial changes to the companies involved with the series. The final decision for future Kids Incorporated releases lies with MGM and Disney.

In the past, the series has been held from DVD and television due to complicated questions of rights and logistics. In addition to the numerous issues involving the music contained in the show, matters have been further complicated by the fact that the rights to Kids Incorporated are split between three different companies. Currently, MGM owns American domestic television rights, and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment holds DVD rights, while the video archives reside with The Disney Channel.

International versions

Japan

An original Japanese adaptation of Kids Incorporated, entitled StarS, ran from 1999 to 2001. Between 13 and 26 episodes were filmed in each of the show's three seasons. A second version, StarS2, is scheduled to premiere on MBS in the summer of 2007. Both series have been produced by TOEI and co-produced by Sunrise Studios.

In addition, the American KI, dubbed into Japanese, was shown on the MBS network until 2001.

New Zealand

The original New Zealand version of the show, High Life, began production in 1990. It ran periodically for five seasons, broadcasting six episodes per year, until 1995, when TVNZ-2 cancelled it.

Other countries

The original Kids Incorporated series was also seen in countries such as Iraq, United Kingdom, Iceland, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.[citation needed]

External links








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