I feel it coming together, people will see me and cry (Fame!)
I'm gonna make it to heaven, light up the sky like a flame (Fame!)
I'm gonna live forever, baby, remember my name!"
A 1980 musical drama film directed by Alan Parker, Fame is the story of some students of the High School of Performing Arts, a very exclusive Real Life school in New York City (which has since been merged with the High School of Music & Art to become the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts). The students find themselves cooperating amongst themselves and with the faculty, even as they compete for chances in the real world to make their dreams of stardom come true, and deal with the personal and professional obstacles that stand in their way.
The original film received two Academy Awards: one for the score in general, and one for the title song. A remake film directed by Kevin Tancharoen (yes, the Mortal Kombat: Legacy guy) was released in 2009. There is also a musical stage adaptation which has had many productions over the years.
Along with the silver screen and the stage, Fame has been adapted into several musical television series. The first series aired from 198287 (with much of the film's cast reprising their roles), followed by Fame L.A. in 199798. The last attempt, in 2003, took the form of a Reality Show similar to American Idol.
The movies provide examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Kevin in the remake. The actors and the director disagree whether he is gay or not.
- Artistic License: "P.A." as shown in the film closed in 1984, but modern productions such as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou are mentioned by the characters in the remake.
- Award-Bait Song: "Out Here On My Own." Nominated for Oscar, but lost to the title song (so they technically both won and lost that Oscar).
- Big Applesauce: The film is set in New York.
- Coming-Out Story: Montgomery.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Malik's sister Ayanna died very young, and his father left his family even before that.
- Driven to Suicide: Nearly happens to Lisa in the original and Kevin in the remake after they're informed that their ballet skills aren't enough to recommend them to a professional dance studio.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Averted with Angelo Martelli, Bruno's father. Mr. Martelli actually likes Bruno's compositions and is very saddened by the fact that Bruno refuses to play them for public audiences.
- Gayngst: Montgomery. It makes sense considering when this takes place.
- Graduation for Everyone: The end.
- High School: Albeit an "alternative" one.
- High School Rejects: Michael graduates and he is sent out for auditions for television pilots. Two years later, Doris meets him again. He works as a waiter.
- High School Rocks: Literally.
- "I Am Becoming" Song: "In L.A.", though it's more I Was Becoming.
- I Am What I Am / "I Am" Song: "Out Here on My Own".
- "I Want" Song: "Fame", natch.
- Inspired by...: The real students of the real school.
- Kick the Dog: "Who in the world told you you were special?"
- Onscreen Chapter Titles: The film is divided into five chapters: "Auditions", "Freshman Year", "Sophomore Year", "Junior Year", and "Senior Year".
- The Peeping Tom: Some boys peep into the girls' locker room through a hole in the wall.
- Proscenium Reveal: One of the main characters is monologuing about his mother. It looks like an interview, until he flubs a line and we realize it's an audition.
- School Play / Graduate from the Story: "I Sing the Body Electric"/"Hold Your Dream".
- Shrinking Violet: Doris in the original, Jenny in the remake. They get better.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Stuck firmly on the cynical end. This is not a film which shys from showing how hard it is to get into showbiz. If you're talented, focused and willing to work to achieve your dream... it might not be enough. If you are unlucky, you will fail. If you are worse than anyone else, you will fail. If you fall in with the wrong people, you will fail. "All we can guarantee is seven harsh lessons and a hot lunch a day", indeed.
- Spiritual Successor: So, so many.
- Title Theme Tune: Won an Academy Award and became a hit single for Irene Cara (who also played Coco in the film).
- You Would Make a Great Model: Coco is approached in a diner by a sleazy guy claiming to be a director. She goes to his apartment for a "screen test" and he orders her to undress in front of a camera. She does so, and starts crying from embarrassment and shame.
The TV series provides examples of:
- All Just a Dream: "Not In Kansas Anymore", a Whole Plot Reference episode based on The Wizard of Oz.
- Bowdlerize: TV!Montgomery is not that obviously gay, compared to the movie version of him.
- Catapult Nightmare: Season 2 episode 12, "Tough Act to Follow", opens with Danny having a dream where he is in the elevator of the apartment building that Mr. Crandall lives in. The elevator malfunctions with Danny still inside, and he is left screaming, "Crandall!" Danny then wakes up right at the stroke of 2:36 AM. At school that day, he finds out that Mr. Crandall died of a heart attack early in the morning, and asks Mrs. Berg what time Crandall died. She says she doesn't know, and after a replay of the scene where Danny wakes up, he says "I know".
- Also a case of The Character Died with Him, as the actor, who played Crandall, Michael Thoma, had died.
- Christmas Episode: "All I Want For Christmas" and "Ebenezer Morloch".
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: While many cast members got fond farewells, others vanished without warning (i.e. Doris). Subverted in that many of them come Back for the Finale.
- Dance Party Ending: The finale - and yes, it was to the title song.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Miss Grant comes the closest."You've got big dreams. You want fame. Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying... in sweat."
- Emergency Impersonation: The 1985 episode "His Majesty Donlon" sees Chris having to trade places with Prince Frederic of Vatonia to allow the prince to experience normal life for a period prior to giving a speech at the United Nations (though unknown to Chris until a near-miss; the Prince is also the target of an assassination plot).
- Fake Guest Star: Dick Miller (who played Lou Mackie during the 2nd half of the series' run when Lou's Lanes becomes the Local Hangout) first appeared early in Season 4 but got this treatment during the first half of Season 6, when he appears in 8 of the first 12 episodes of that season before being Promoted to Opening Titles.
- First-Run Syndication: After NBC canned the show after 2 seasons, the rest of the show ran in syndication.
- Last Episode Theme Reprise: See Dance Party Ending for the video.
- Local Hangout: Lou's Lanes becomes this during the latter part of the series' run.
- Promoted to Opening Titles: Occurs with Dick Miller (as Lou Mackie) and Ann Nelson (as Mrs. Berg)
- "Rashomon"-Style: The Season 5 finale "The Incident" (focusing on an accident that left Jesse Velazquez unconscious). In fact it came a little too close to plagiarismnote
- Rearrange the Song: For the first few seasons, the theme was arranged in a similar manner as the film version. By the last season, however, the song received a more synthpop sounding arrangement.
- Recycled Soundtrack: The song "That Dream", featured in the season 3 episode "A Way of Winning", later appeared in the Kids Incorporated episode "You've Got The Wrong Date". A given, since both shows were made by MGM and featured original songs by Michael Cruz.
- Say My Name: See Catapult Nightmare.
- Very Special Episode: Many, including "Help From My Friends" and "Go Softly Into the Morning".
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: Naturally, "Ebenezer Morloch".
The musical version provides examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Mr. Myers.
- Alpha Bitch: Iris Kelly, though it's more how the other kids see her.
- Angry Black Man: Tyrone, in the beginning.
- Big Man on Campus: Nick
- The Casanova: Joe Vegas likes to think he is.
- Casting Couch: Implied to happen to Carmen Diaz.
- Deadpan Snarker: Lambchop.Lambchop: Sorry I'm late! My bus had a flat and I missed the ferry. See, I come from the end of the world - Staten Island.
Ms. Sherman: Miss Lamb, that's no excuse.
Lambchop': I know, it's a curse!
- Doomed Protagonist: Carmen
- Good Bad Girl: Carmen
- Half-Breed Discrimination: Carmen verges on this - she gets hooked on drugs and has lots of anonymous sex in L.A., then dies of an overdose.
- Hippie Teacher: Ms. Bell and Mr. Sheinkopf.
- "I Want" Song: several
- "Hard Work" for the students ("when I hit the heights, put my name in lights, show the world that I can make it...")
- "I Want to Make Magic" for Nick
- "There She Goes/Fame" for Carmen
- Inner City School
- Large Ham: Mabel.
- Lovable Nerd: Schlomo. Just ask Carmen.
- Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "Pray I Make P.A./Hard Work".
- Nice Guy: Schlomo.
- Pet the Dog: After spending most of the production being overly strict and a bit harsh on her students, Miss Sherman's offer to help Tyrone learn how to read and her subsequent song, These Are My Children, definitely comes across as this.
- Shrinking Violet: Serena, until she comes out of her shell.
- Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Serena and Nick.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Carmen and Schlomo.
- Stern Teacher: Ms. Sherman. Tough as hell, but she's got a soft spot for Tyrone.
- Tomboy: Lambchop