Schmaltz alert! Schmaltz alert! Clear the area! It's the Kids From Fame and Starmaker!
Actually the "Kids" From Fame is a bit of a misnomer in this instance as all the best lines in that song went to Lydia Grant AKA Debbie Allen AKA one of the teachers. What a swizz! I mean, if she would insist on being involved at all why couldn't she just be like Mr Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Shorovsky or Miss Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Sh-Sherwood and just settle for a place in the choir? Eh?
And where's CoCo Hernandez? Nowhere in sight, that's where! Obviously the evil Grant or one of her cronies sent the poor girl off to the deli or something to buy some pastrami on rye (whatever that is) when filming was about to start, and she ended up not only missing out on a place in this, erm, heart-rending scene but also any involvement on the hit single version subsequently recorded and released on to an unsuspecting pop populace at the back end of 1982. (Or maybe she just had the week off when they filmed this episode.)
Also missing out would have been Montgomery Macneil who, despite having a line ("But I keep asking myself why") in the above clip taken from whatever episode of Fame that was, was usurped by Bruno Martelli (who's also seen here, tinkling on his piano) when it came to the actual recorded version. I think Montgomery may have left the show by this point, though, so he's got no-one to blame but himself (and his admittedly rather weedy singing voice).
And I know what you're thinking - who's the sitting down bloke that's being serenaded by ver Kids (and the scene-hogging Lydia Grant) in that video? Well, his name was Mr Crandell and he was a beloved (but suspiciously seldom-seen) teacher at the School of Performing Arts who was obviously being written out in this episode and was going off to live in Brisbane or wherever (no, hang on, I'm thinking of where old Neighbours characters all end up. Let's say Pittsburgh instead then. Altogether now: Pittsburgh!).
The real-life story behind his departure was far more poignant, though: you'll notice that Mr Crandell looks a bit peaky sat in that chair. Well the truth was that Michael Thoma, the actor that played him, was actually terminally ill in real life and died in September '82, before the song even became a single. So perhaps on this one occasion we can forgive the inherent shcmaltziness in that clip (assuming the cast all knew about Thoma's condition).
Honestly, though, talk about a back-handed tribute. I mean, take this line, from the chorus (actually it's pretty much the whole chorus):
Starmaker... Dreambreaker.... Soultaker.... We're happy now.
So let's get this straight: He made you a star, only to then shatter your dreams and take your souls, yet still you wrote him this tribute? Oh wait, I get it, you're happy now - happy that he's leaving. Why don't you just drop your trousers and moon in his face while you're at it? Still, as long as you're happy now. Or are you? It's all a bit confusing!
The Kids From Fame (and the microphone-hogging Lydia Grant) - Starmaker mp3
Mildly Embarrassing Childhood Confession: At school we were asked to improvise a scene about something or other in drama class and I remember basing mine around the characters from Fame, which I seem to recall involved me changing the name of Danny Amatulo to Danny Amagayboy. I really was a deeply unfunny individual. (Some things never change, eh, readers?)
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