Last week’s announcement the cast of Fame were reuniting for comeback concerts in the UK was greeted with great excitement, and one of the stars of the hit 1980s’ US musical drama is hoping the much-loved show makes a return to the small screen – and she’s got her own ideas as to what the story would be.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com during a recent visit to London promoting the 2019 Fame UK reunion shows, Valerie Landsburg, who played good girl Doris Schwartz in the all-singing series about talented teens at New York’s School for Performing Arts, revealed she’d jump at the chance to revive the show more than 30 years after it last aired. Not only that, she’s already devised the plot…
“If it was the right script, we’d all be there,” says the performer, who has moved into screenwriting and directing since her Fame days brought her stardom with hits like High Fidelity. “I actually wrote a version myself about 15 years ago and talked to a few people about it. What would all the characters be doing now? Doris would not be in showbusiness, I think she’d be a therapist. In the original series she had a child, who was actually played by my real-life daughter Taylor as a baby, but I actually think she would’ve become a lesbian.
“I wrote it that she’d been married but it didn’t last, and she ended up, as many do, finding her way to women later in life. In this relationship with a woman she turned to Danny Amatullo, Carlo Imperato’s character, to give them a baby. Carlo always said he didn’t think Danny would’ve gone into showbusiness but would definitely want to be a father, so that would give him the opportunity.
“The ones I had who made it big were Coco (Erica Gimpel) and Bruno (Lee Curreri), I think they stuck with it and turned out to be successful. And I imagined Montgomery (PR Paul) ended up working in management! The characters were a group of people who banded together to do something for the good of others, so you would have to recapture that if you reunited them.”
All of Landsburg’s aforementioned colleagues are part of the reunion shows taking place on 5 and 6 May in Liverpool at the Auditorium of the Echo Arena, along with Cynthia Gibb (who played Holly), Nia Peeples (Nicole) and Jesse Borrego (Jesse). But one iconic star of the show whose presence will be sadly missed is Gene Anthony Ray, who played the much-loved Leroy and tragically died in of a stroke in 2003 having been diagnosed with HIV seven years earlier.
Landsburg’s idea is to make a virtue of Leroy’s absence by having it the catalyst for the schoolfriends coming back together. “You could start it like The Big Chill, and have everybody show up for Leroy’s funeral. Maybe some people don’t show up and you find out why and what they’re up to that way? You could even incorporate old footage of Gene into it in some way with the advances in technology. That would be very emotional.”
In the age of the reboot, with other popular shows of the era such as Dynasty being revived for a contemporary audience, and a new movie version of Fame having been made in 2009, it’s not out of the question Netflix or Amazon might spot the nostalgia potential and bring the show back.
“Rehearsing with my old friends is wonderful and feels like we’ve never been away,” says Landsburg. “Shows like Murphy Brown, Will and Grace – the casts are having the same kind of love affair being together again. If Fame returned, of course we’d have to find a plausible way of explaining why everyone bursts into song. Perhaps Doris plays the guitar for her kids and that’s how we do it. Who knows if this is possible, but if it is then I’d definitely sign up!”
Tickets are on sale now at www.fameukreunion.co.uk for next year’s concerts and convention, in aid of Liverpool’s Claire House Children’s Hospice. The cast have also collaborated on a new single Satellite, co-written and produced by PR Paul.