February 21, 2015

KID 'N PLAY


KID ‘N PLAY

(NBC, September 8, 1990-August 31, 1991)

Chris Cross Inc., Gordy de Passe Productions, Saban, Motown, Marvel Productions



MAIN CAST:

Christopher “Kid” Reid – Himself (live)

Christopher “Play” Martin – Himself (live)

Christopher Hooks – Christopher “Kid” Reid

Brian Stokes Mitchell – Christopher “Play” Martin

Tommy Davidson – Jazzy, Acorn

J.D. Hall – Pitbull, Mr. Reid

Cree Summer – Marika, Downtown Patty, Terry Martin

Martin Lawrence – Wiz, Hurbie

Dawnn Lewis – Lela Martin

Danny Mann – Hairy

Rain Pryor – B.B.

Dorian Harewood – Old Blue



            They were just two guys named Chris, but after meeting in high school they became a hip-hop sensation.


Kid 'n Play.

            Christopher “Kid Coolout” Reid and Christopher “Playboy” Martin were part of rival high school hip-hop groups: The Turnout Brothers and The Super Lovers. Meeting during a competition, the two hit it off and, after their respective groups broke up, they formed their own in 1986. Initially called The Fresh Force Crew, they had recorded two songs before officially changing their name to Kid ‘n Play in 1987 based on shortened versions of their respective nicknames.



            Kid ‘n Play teamed up with Hurby “Love Bug” Azor, also a former member of The Super Lovers, who became their manager and producer. Azor also managed rap trio Salt-N-Pepa, for whom Kid ‘n Play were once popular background dancers for. Signing with Select Records, the duo produced three albums between 1988 and 1991: 2 HypeFunhouse and Face the Nation (which was co-produced by Elektra Records). Each album featured positive lyrics backed by pop-friendly instrumental tracks. Their stage show was a hit with the teenage crowds, utilizing specialized dance moves dubbed the Kick Step and the Funky Charleston. But their most well-known trademark was probably Kid’s hi-top fade haircut, which at one point rose as high as ten inches from his head.



            In 1989, Reginald Hudlin wanted to reproduce his award-winning Harvard University student film on a bigger scale and turned it into the 1990 movie House Party, released by New Line Cinema. Originally written for DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and offered to them by New Line as part of a settlement over the copyright infringement case of their single “Nightmare on My Street.”, Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince weren’t thinking about movies at the time and passed (ironically, The Fresh Prince, aka Will Smith, would eventually go on to make a very lucrative career in the movie industry). Kid ‘n Play ended up taking the lead roles, as recommended by Azor, and using their energetic performances to propel the movie to a box office hit. Made for a modest $2.5 million, the film would go on to gross over $26 million. A less-favorably reviewed sequel, House Party 2, was made and released in 1991. Produced on double the budget of the original, it became a financial success by grossing over $19 million.



Kid 'n Play animated.

            With their fame riding high, NBC decided to offer the pair a TV deal. NBC not only gave them an animated series, but also a live-action sitcom. The cartoon was developed by Cynthia Friedlob and John Semper. While providing the theme song and appearing in live wraparound segments, Kid ‘n Play didn’t voice their animated counterparts. Instead, their roles were played by Christopher Hooks and Brian Stokes Mitchell, respectively. To attract the pre-teen audience, the duo was portrayed younger and still in school. Azor, renamed “Hurbie” for the series, was still their manager of sorts, albeit goofily portrayed, and drove the official Kid ‘n Play truck around. He was played by House Party co-star and then-relatively unknown comedian/actor Martin Lawrence. Kid also had a mohawk-sporting dog named Hairy (Danny Mann).




The series has often been compared to Fat Albert in that it featured kids in an urban setting engaging in adventures that had a positive moral message for the viewers. Joining the duo were their backup dancers Lela (Dawnn Lweis), Play’s sister, Marika, Play’s crush, and Downtown Patty (both Cree Summer); their DJ, Wiz (Lawrence); Play’s tomboy little sister, Terry (also Summer); and rival performers The Mean Machine: Acorn (Tommy Davidson), B.B. (Rain Pryor) and Pitbull (J.D. Hall), who would engage in practical jokes and sabotage the duo out of jealousy. Also tagging along was Jazzy (Davidson), a klutzy boy that idolized Play.



Ad for NBC's 1990 Saturday morning line-up.

Kid ‘n Play debuted on NBC on September 8, 1990. Aside from the music from Kid ‘n Play themselves, the show’s original music was composed by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, while the rapping was handled by Romeo Rich, Stan “The Guitar” Man, Nye Tucker and Yutaka. the show only lasted a single season of 13 episodes before it was cancelled. A major contributing factor was it was scheduled opposite two ratings powerhouses on the rival networks: CBS’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and ABC’s BeetlejuiceAnother factor was that NBC was looking to get out of the cartoon business and further build on the success of Saved by the Bell. Kid and Play, having grown up on cartoons and enjoying being the first rappers to have one, stood firm and cancelled production on the sitcom in anger. That show that ended up taking its place was Will Smith’s career-launching The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirMarvel Comics would publish a series based on the cartoon in 1992 that ran for nine issues.



In 1995, after their third House Party outing, the act split up to pursue their own ventures. Kid continued to act, guest-starring in numerous sitcoms and hosting several specials. Play became a born-again Christian and spent time working on Christian-based hip-hop projects before founding HP4 Digital Works and Brand Newz. He also became a professor at North Carolina Central University. Beginning in 2009, the duo would reunite on several talk shows and for the BETHip Hop Awards, and engaged on a House Party anniversary tour where they performed with various acts, including Salt-N-Pepa. In 2012, Kid 'n Play returned to the House Party franchise with House Party: Tonight's the Nightwhich served as a direct sequel to House Party 3. In 2014, they appeared in Radio Shack’s “The 80s Called” Super Bowl commercial.



EPISODE GUIDE:

“Play’s Place” (9/8/90) – To get a date with Marika, Play tries to impress her by saying he and Kid will be appearing at a big club.

 “Flip Your Kid Wig” (9/15/90) – Kid and his hair end up becoming famous when he’s interviewed about his opinion on the new Eddie Murphy movie.

 “Rap-O-Mania” (9/22/90) – The Mean Machine steals Kid’s lyrics and need to enlist the best poet in the school’s help to rewrite them in time for a contest.

 “There’s No Business Like Dough Business” (9/29/90) – Kid and Play have to get jobs in order to raise enough money to get Hubie’s truck out of police impound.

 “One Kid and a Baby” (10/6/90) – To learn responsibility, Kid volunteers to babysit his father’s assistant’s son.

 “Rapped Around His Little Finger” (10/13/90) – To avoid his aunt, Kid stays over at Play’s and ruins the good thing he had going with his family by volunteering to do chores around their house.

 “Not What It’s Rapped Up to Be” (10/20/90) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

 “Tap to the Rap” (10/27/90) – Kid ‘n Play have a chance to be discovered at a club but end up saddled with Play’s elderly godfather.

 “Say It, Don’t Spray It” (11/3/90) – To prove herself to her brother, Terry unknowingly ends up graffitiing an ad for their rap performance on a synagogue.

 “Jump Street Jazzy” (11/10/90) – When Play blows up at Jazzy because of his clumsiness, Jazzy decides to earn his respect by joining the junior police force.

 “Quantum Rap” (11/17/90) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

 “Project Creeper Sweeper” (12/1/90) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

 “Jazzman Jazzy” (12/8/90) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.


Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2020.

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