BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Fresh Prince Project: How The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Remixed America’ by Chris Palmer

c.2022, Atria
320 pages

You turned on the TV and watched…

Nine hundred and forty eight channels and they are there still nothing you want to watch. Seeing that, seeing that, watching that twice, but it wasn’t always like that. Once upon a time, your Monday nights ended with a show you couldn’t miss, with a guy who made you laugh. And in the new book “The Fresh Prince Project” by Chris Palmerhe made America laugh, too.

Young Will Smith, born to well-to-do middle-class parents in West Philadelphia, made a name for himself early on as the funniest character in the group. Although he tried, he was not an athlete; instead, his talents were in helping people enjoy themselves. When he met Jeff Townes it was a perfect match: DJ Jazzy Jeff sang the songs, “Fresh Prince” Smith did the raps.

Everyone wanted to be at his party. They made records and went on tour. Weeks before he graduated from high school, months before he turned 18, Smith was a rich kid with a nice car and lots of friends. But bubble gum hip hop was on the way out, hard-driving rap was in, and Smith’s money dried up as quickly as it had arrived. In Search of Fame and Fortune Part II, Smith headed to California.

Writer Andy Borowitz was already there, cutting his teeth on Normal Lear projects and other television productions in Hollywood. When Brandon Tartikoff, who seemed to have a golden idea when it came to TV, asked Borowitz to work for him, the answer was yes. must be and Borowitz’s wife even joined the group. Tartikoff knew many industry figures, including Quincy Jones and music mogul Benny Medina, who was considering a move into the TV industry. At the same time, Will Smith was hanging around “The Arsenio Hall Show” backstage, hoping that fame would destroy him.

That afternoon when Smith met Medina, the young rapper had no idea who the older man was. Medina, on the other hand, was well aware of Smith’s early career. And when he asked Smith if he could take action, Smith downplayed his answer, as he had done many times before…

From the start, “The Fresh Prince Project” tries too hard. Its early chapters are filled with 30-year-old language that feels forced, and references to other issues with Smith’s father that aren’t fully, satisfactorily explained. This imbalance only gets better as the book progresses – there is a lot of confusion, and the words “fish out of water” appear. a ridiculous number of times.

However, if you separate the style from the substance, the writer Chris Palmer does this work: his book shows how one TV comedy and the people who made it, who created it on Monday evening and the mood of the day and the sun. It’s also the perfect situation for a star who has one foot in the work he loves, and one foot firmly in film.

Overall, fans who can handle the book’s struggles and challenges, and don’t mind the occasional embarrassment will want to catch “The Fresh Prince Project.” However, if you’re a fan of novelty, this book might turn you off.

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