The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American sitcom television series created by Quincy Jones, Andy and Susan Borowitz, that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990 to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy uncle and aunt 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||Quincy Jones|
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|
|Ending theme||"Yo Home to Bel Air” (instrumental)|
|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 (1990–1991)|
Sunset Gower Studios, Hollywood (1991–1993)
NBC Studios, Burbank (1993–1996)
|Camera setup||Videotape; Multi-camera|
|Running time||23 minutes|
|Production company(s)||The Stuffed Dog Company|
Quincy Jones Entertainment (1990–1993, seasons 1–4)
Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (1993–1996, seasons 4–6)
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original release||September 10, 1990 –|
May 20, 1996
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.
The premise is loosely based on the real-life story of the show's producer Benny Medina.
Cast and characters
|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||Guest||Main|
|DJ Jazzy Jeff||Jazz||Recurring|
|Vernee Watson-Johnson||Viola "Vy" Smith||Recurring|
|Michael Weiner||Kellogg "Cornflake" Lieberbaum||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|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||25||September 10, 1990||May 6, 1991||19||17|
|2||24||September 9, 1991||May 4, 1992||22||14.3|
|3||24||September 14, 1992||May 10, 1993||16||14.6|
|4||26||September 20, 1993||May 23, 1994||21||13.7|
|5||25||September 19, 1994||May 15, 1995||N/A||N/A|
|6||24||September 18, 1995||May 20, 1996||N/A||N/A|
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.
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.
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".
In the Season 4 episode "My Pest Friend's Wedding", James Avery and Daphne Maxwell Reid (the second 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.|
|Quincy Jones||Season 1, Episode 9||Himself.|
|Al B. Sure||Season 1, Episode 9||Himself.|
|Naomi Campbell||Season 1, Episode 10||Helen, Geoffrey's date on his birthday.|
|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 idol.|
|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.|
|Tyra Banks||Season 4, Episodes 1-2||Jacqueline/Jackie.|
|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.|
|Stacey Dash||Season 4, Episode 17||Michelle Michaels .|
|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; future 45th President of the United States.|
|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.|
|William Shatner||Season 6, Episode 22||Himself.|
|Conrad Bain||Season 6, Episode 24||Phillip Drummond (Diff'rent Strokes)|
|Gary Coleman||Season 6, Episode 24||Arnold Jackson-Drummond (Diff'rent Strokes)|
|Marla Gibbs||Season 6, Episode 24||Florence Johnston (The Jeffersons)|
|Sherman Hemsley||Season 6, Episode 24||George Jefferson (The Jeffersons)|
|Isabel Sanford||Season 6, Episode 24||Louise Jefferson (The Jeffersons)|
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. Domestic Television Distribution, which continues to distribute the show worldwide (although NBCUniversal does own the series' copyright).
The series developed significant popularity in the United Kingdom, where it aired on BBC Two between 1991 and 1997 with reruns airing on the network between 1997 and 2004, and was shown alongside The Simpsons and was later repeated on Viva, Bravo, and currently Comedy Central, Comedy Central Extra, and 5Star
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.
Awards and nominations
|ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards:|
|Top TV||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|
|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|
|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."
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. 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.
On October 10, 2019, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Westbrook Inc., a cross-platform company overseen by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, was developing a spinoff of the series.
- "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". TV.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
- Coker, Cheo Hodari (May 20, 1996). "Good Night, 'Prince'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- 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 January 7, 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 September 20, 2014.
- "The Hollywood Minute". CNN. Cable News Network Inc. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "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.
- "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air DVD news: Announcement for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete 6th Season". TVShowsOnDVD.com. May 25, 2007. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "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.
- "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 2nd Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". Ezydvd.com.au. Archived from the original on April 13, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "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.
- "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 3rd Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". Ezydvd.com.au. August 9, 2006. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Fourth Season DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. August 8, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - Series 4 [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Will Smith: DVD". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "Buy Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The - The Complete 4th Season (4 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD". Ezydvd.com.au. December 6, 2006. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, The: The Complete Fifth Season DVD @ DVD Empire". Dvdempire.com. November 5, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- "Awards for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". Imdb.com. Retrieved August 7, 2008.
- Lovett, Jamie (August 13, 2015). "Will Smith Producing A Fresh Prince Of Bel Air Reboot". Comicbook.com. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
- ""Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" Reboot in the Works - thenewbenjamin". thenewbenjamin. Archived from the original on August 14, 2015.
- Loughrey, Clarisse (August 2, 2016). "Will Smith says Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot will happen when 'hell freezes over'". The Independent. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
- Greene, Andy (March 13, 2019). "Hilarious 'Bel Air' Trailer Reimagines 'The Fresh Prince' as a Dramatic Movie". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
- Kirkland, Justin (March 14, 2019). "The Fresh Prince Gets a Dramatic Reimagining in the Trailer for Bel-Air". Esquire. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
- Smith, Will (April 26, 2019). "How I Really Feel About That BEL-AIR Trailer". YouTube. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
- Parker, Ryan (April 26, 2019). "Will Smith Calls Dramatic Fan-Made 'Bel-Air' Trailer "Brilliant"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
- Siegel, Tatiana (October 10, 2019). "How Will Smith Cracked the Code on Making Real Money in Hollywood". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 10, 2019.