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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

Oh, you didn’t know? It’s once again time for a few tidbits you might not know or have forgotten.  We start with a few things I learned a few months back.  On April 16, the cast of the Cosby spin-off A Different World was on ABC’s The View.  That’s not a show I frequently watch but I thought this might be interesting.  


A Different World was a spin-off of The Cosby Show.  It aired for six seasons on NBC (from September 24, 1987 to July 9, 1993).  The series originally centered on Denise Huxtable (played by Lisa Bonet) and the lives of Hillman College, a fictional historically black college in Virginia.  It was inspired by student life at historically black colleges and universities.  

After Bonet’s departure in the first season, the remainder of the series primarily focused on southern belle Whitley Gilbert-Wayne (played by Jasmine Guy) and math whiz Dwayne Cleophus Wayne(played by Kadeem Hardison).  A Different World typically addressed issues that were avoided by The Cosby Show writers (race and class relation, sexual assault or the Equal Rights Amendments).  One episode that aired in 1990 was one of the first network television episodes to address the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS.  

Here are a few things of note from the cast interview on The View. The theme song for A Different World was sung by Aretha Franklin and written by cast member Dawn Lewis.  Dawn explains “the musical director of The Cosby Show knew me as a singer-songwriter.  He called me out of the blue and asked if I’d be willing to work with him on a theme song.  He said I need it Friday.  It was Wednesday.  The same hour he called me, the casting director asked if I was still interested in auditioning.  Can you come tomorrow (Thursday) and audition”? “In less than 10 days, I’d written the theme song and booked a co-star spot on the series.  They had no idea they hired the same person”.

I found this next bit of information interesting also.  This comes from an AXS-TV Top Ten episode.  Ray Parker, Jr sang The Ghostbusters theme song and produced some of the biggest songs of the ‘80’s.  He wrote “Mr. Telephone Man” a decade before New Edition recorded it.  He was the session guitar player on Cheryl Lynn’s 1978 debut single “Got To Be Real”.  He was the original songwriter of Leo Sayer’s 1976 hit “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”, but when he submitted the tune as a demo, his accreditation as such was missed.  Parker also laid down a riff for Chaka Kahn’s 1974 hit “You Got The Love”.  He also played lead guitar on Freda Payne’s 1970 hit “Band Of Gold”.  

Those of us who remember the Doublemint Twins from the old Doublemint Gum commercials, check this out: The sisters who played the Doublemint Twins were Linda Puffer and Lisa Winters Cox.  There were others.  One was Jean Segal and her twin sister.  The third sister? Married With Children and 8 Simple Rules alum Katey Segal.  Katey was also a backup singer for Ette James, Bob Dylan, and Bette Midler among others.

Two last facts: In 1967, Little Debbie introduced its snack cakes.  The originals were cake, layered with cream, covered in white icing and decorated with fudge stripes.  In 1991, the treats were re-named Zebra Cakes.  This final one comes from two television favorites.  William Daniels, who fellow Boy Meets World fans know as Mr. Feeny, was the voice of KITT on the 1982-’86 NBC series Knight Rider.  I hope you’ve enjoyed and maybe even learned a thing or two from this deeper look into a few American favorites.

Below are links to my podcast, Blendertainment.   


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