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Facts of Life, The (NBC 1979-1988, Charlotte Rae, Lisa Whelchel)

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“You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, The Facts of Life.”

Long before the good and the bad, there was the different, or rather the “Diff’rent.” Believe it or not, even Diff’rent Strokes’ Kimberly Drummond had problems. When her school’s housemother abruptly quit with the campus play just one day away, who would make the costumes for Eastlake Academy? Kimberly asked the family maid, Mrs. Edna Garrett, for help. With her well-honed domestic skills, Mrs. G did such a smashing job that the all-girls boarding school’s headmaster, Steven Bradley, offered her the position of housemother. So Mrs. G said goodbye to Arnold, Willis and Kimberly (Kimberly, who commuted to the Peekskille, New York school, was rarely seen in the new show) and hello to one of the most enduring sitcoms of the eighties.

The Facts of Life chronicled the lives of the girls of Eastland (the name was changed after the pilot) and the joy and difficulties of straddling the line between childhood and womanhood. Among the students were the rich, beautiful and totally self-absorbed Blair Warner, her main boy-chasing competitors Sue Ann and Nancy, tomboy Cindy, chubby funny girl Natalie, shy girl Molly (Molly Ringwald of mid-80’s John Hughes teen flick fame) and roller-skating gossiper Tootie.

This format ended at the beginning of the next season with the introduction of the “new girl”, street-smart Jo Polniazek. The first episode had tough-girl Jo convincing Blair, Natalie and Tootie to join her in hot-wiring the school’s car and driving to a local bar called the Chug-a-lug. Needless to say, more facts of life were learned as the four girls were caught and sentenced to live above the school cafeteria and work in the kitchenunder the watchful eye of Mrs. Garrett, who had been promoted to school dietician. The majority of the show now took place in the kitchen and dining room of the school cafeteria, and the rest of the girls were written out of the series.

Forced to live together, these four very different girls were often at odds but usually learned something about each other and themselves as a result. Jo and Blair’s relationship was especially dynamic: Jo came from a working class neighborhood in the Bronx, attended Eastland on scholarship and didn’t care about girly things like hair and make-up. Blair, on the other hand, was a spoiled heiress who was well versed in the art of vanity: “I just came up with another one of my brilliant ideas.” The dichotomy provided equal helpings of conflict and humor, and usually resulted in Mrs. Garrett coming to the rescue.

Indicative of sitcoms of the eighties, the show often dealt with Issues (with a capital “I”). Tootie, the only African American character, objected to her cousin’s going out with her best friend, Natalie, because of their difference in race. Natalie also had to deal with being an adopted child, and toward the later years, the death of her father. In one particularly memorable episode, Jo was attacked by a date and uncharacteristically accepted the comfort of Mrs. Garret. Comedienne Geri Jewel played Blair’s cousin, Geri Tyler, who suffered from cerebral palsy. Although the rest of the students found Geri to be delightful, Blair was initially embarrassed by her disabled cousin. In the end, Blair reveals that she always felt jealous of and threatened by her disabled cousin, because she had so much to live up to. Through Blair’s eyes, we learned tolerance, acceptance and respect for Geri, who returned for several more memorable episodes.

This format remained basically unchanged until the fifth season, when Jo and Blair began attending Langley College. By this time, Mrs. Garret had given up the world of girls’ school to open her own gourmet shop, Edna’s Edibles. Fortunately, the shop was attached to a house big enough for everyone, including Natalie and Tootie, who still attended Eastland.

Facts of Life George Clooney

George Clooney had an early role as handyman George Burnett. 

In the seventh season, the shop burned down and Mrs. Garret hired a local handyman (George Clooney) to rebuild it. The result was a new, trendy boutique called “Over Our Heads.” Also this year, the girls befriended a young latchkey kid named Andy.

The next major change occurred at the start of the eighth season as Mrs. Garrett left her girls to live in Africa with her beau. She was replaced by her sister, Beverly Ann. The final season had the women taking care of a young Australian girl named Pippa, who attended Eastland. As the show came to a close, Natalie was pursuing her dream of becoming a journalist, Tootie was an aspiring actress, Jo married her boyfriend Rick, and Blair bought and became headmistress of good old Eastland. This last episode (which featured then-unknowns Seth Green, Mayim Bialik and Juliette Lewis) was intended to be a spin-off, but Lisa Whelchel decided that nine seasons was long enough to play Blair Warner.

The show boasted a large audience comprised mostly of pre-teen and teenaged girls. This is hardly surprising, since no other show had dealt with the specific challenges of being an adolescent girl in the in-depth way that The Facts of Life did.

Over the course of nine seasons, a generation of viewers grew up with Blair, Jo, Natalie and Tootie, and saw a little bit of themselves up there on the screen.

As Alan Thicke wrote in the catchy theme song, “The facts of life are all about you!”

production details
USA / NBC – Embassy Pictures Television / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 24 August 1979 – 10 September 1988

cast
Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Edna Garrett (1979-86)
Lisa Whelchel as Blair Warner
Nancy McKeon as Jo Polniaczek (1980-88)
Mindy Cohn as Natalie Green
Kim Fields as Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey
Cloris Leachman as Beverly Ann Stickle (1986-88)
Paul Provenza as Casey Clark (1987-88)
John Lawlor as Stephen Bradley (1979-80)
Jenny O’Hara as Miss Emily Mahoney (1979-80)
Molly Ringwald as Molly Parker (1979-80)
Julie Anne Haddock as Cindy Webster (1979-80)
Julie Piekarski as Sue Ann Weaver (1979-80)
Felice Schachter as Nancy Olson (1979-80)
Hugh Gillin as Howard (1980-81)
Pamela Segall as Kelly Affinado (1983-84)
MacKenzie Astin as Andy Moffet (1985-88)
George Clooney as George Burnett (1985-86)
Sherrie Krenn as Pippa McKenna (1987-88)
Robert Romanus as “Snake” Robinson (1987-88)
Todd Hallowell as Jeff Williams (1987-88)
Scott Bryce as Rick Bonner (1987-88)

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Christmas Princess (UP 2017, Nicole Munoz, Zak Santiago)

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Christmas Princess Nicole Munoz

Christmas Princess is the true story of Donaly Marquez who, through a childhood of neglect and abuse, achieved her dream of becoming a rose bowl princess. An inspirational story of resilience, strength and finding a family to call your own.

cast
Nicole Muñoz as Donaly Marquez
Rosa Blasi as Sara
Zak Santiago as Ignacio Marquez
Olivia Steele Falconer as Emily Marquez
Jaedon Siewert as Abraham Marquez
Lina Renna as Young Donaly
Paloma Kwiatkowski as Chloe
Ty Wood as Trent
Pendo Muema as Monique
Kalyn Miles as Maria
Kaaren de Zilva as Roberta
Garfield Wilson as Dr. Miller
Clay St. Thomas as Judge #1
Patti Allan as Judge #2
Natalie von Rotsburg as Judge #3

crew details
Director: Allan Harmon
Writer: Tracy Andreen

production details
Country: Canada
Network and Production Companies: UP
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017

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Christmas Reunion, A (Lifetime 2015, Catherine Hicks, Denise Richards)

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A Christmas Reunion Lifetime

In A Christmas Reunion a Madison Avenue executive, Amy, discovers an unusual Christmas surprise when she inherits her Aunt’s hometown bakery. The real surprise comes when she learns the other half of the bakery was left to her long-ago boyfriend, Jack.

Unresolved personal issues resurface between them, as the exes return home to co-manage the store, along with its traditional holiday cookie bake-off.

cast
Denise Richards as Amy Stone
Patrick Muldoon as Jack Evans
Jake Busey as Dylan Carruthers
Catherine Hicks as Aunt Linda
Parker Stevenson as Don Dupree
Patricia De Leon as Janette Crowder
Jon Briddell as Luke Crowder
Robert R. Shafer as Frank O’Brien
Anna Barnholtz as Chloe
John Colton as Steve Evans
Sandra Evans as Shari
Brody Fitzgerald as Young Jack Evans
Michael Gaglio as Earl Pratt, Sr.
Gib Gerard as Earl Pratt, Jr.
Joyce Greenleaf as Helen

crew details
Director: Sean Olson
Writers: Margaret Base, Mary Glenn, Sam Irvin, Sean Olson, Peter Sullivan, Michael Varrat

production details
Country: USA
Network and Production Companies: Lifetime – Hybrid
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: 13 December 2015

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TV

Final Vision (ID 2017, Scott Foley, Dave Annable)

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Final Vision ID

Final Vision is a twisted psychological thriller and a true-crime drama based on the longest running criminal case in U.S. history. It’s the story of Jeffrey MacDonald (Foley), a handsome, Ivy League-educated U.S. Army Green Beret doctor, who was convicted of brutally murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters in the middle of the night.

Told through the eyes of best-selling author Joe McGinniss (Annable), who was approached by MacDonald to write a book about his personal nightmare as he was about to go to trial.

cast
Scott Foley as Jeffrey MacDonald
Dave Annable as Joe McGinniss
John Doman as Bernie Segal
Lochlyn Munro as Wade Smith
Jessica Harmon as Colette MacDonald
Caroline Aaron as Leslie Sterling
Primo Allon as MP Sergeant
Julia Maren Baker as Kimberly MacDonald
Julia Benson as Nancy McGinniss
Baylee Breen-Wood as Kristen MacDonald
April Cameron as Nurse at St. Mary’s
Aaron Craven as James Blackburn
Bruce Dawson as Doctor
Parveen Dosanjh as Woman at Party
Lane Edwards as Brian Murtagh

crew details
Writer: Denis O’Neill
Director:  Nicholas McCarthy
Executive Producers: Angela Bromstad, Christine Connor, Linda Berman S

production details
Country:  USA
Network and Production Companies: ID – Lincoln Square Productions
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From:  Sunday 10 December 2017

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