↑ Return to Television Films

High School U.S.A.

DVD REVIEW

BRIEF PLOT DESCRIPTION

Jay Jay Manners, school ‘loser’, becomes attracted to Beth Franklin who has just recently become part of the ‘In’ crowd because of her new relationship with the school’s head prep/bully, Beau Middleton. As Jay Jay relentlessly pursues Beth, she must make the tough decision between being included or being with the guy she really cares for. In the meantime, the teachers are all struggling with the conflict created when the Middleton family offers a grant to the best teacher at the high school – which really means, the teacher who kisses up the most to Beau.

——————————————————————————–

GENERAL FILM INFORMATION

GENRE: Comedy
SETTING: Excelsior High School, somewhere in the state of Missouri
STATION: NBC
AIR DATE: October 19, 1983
RUNNING TIME: 100 Minutes; 1 hour 40 minutes

CREW AND OTHER TECHNICAL INFORMATION

WRITER: Alan Eisenstock, Larry Mintz
DIRECTOR: Rodney Amateau
PRODUCER: Alan Eisenstock, Larry Mintz
CO-PRODUCER: Robin S. Clark, Wolfgang Glattes
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Richard Freeman
SUPERVISING PRODUCER: Dori Weiss
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Leonard Hill, Philip Mandelker
EDITOR: John Cortland
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hal Trussell, Jack Whitman
ART DIRECTOR/SET DESIGNER: George Costello, Maria Redman Caso
ORIGINAL MUSIC BY: Tony Berg, Miles Goodman
SPECIAL EFFECTS BY: Clif Wenger
COSTUME DESIGN BY: Dodie Shepard
MAKE-UP BY: Kathy Logan
HAIR STYLIST: Linda McFee, Candy Ford Walker
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Paramount Television

——————————————————————————–

CAST :: CHARACTER NAME…ACTOR NAME

Jay Jay Manners…Michael J. Fox
Beth Franklin…Nancy McKeon
Otto Lipton…Todd Bridges
Miss D’Angelo…Angela Cartwright
Milton Feld…Bob Denver
Mr. Plaza…Dwayne Hickman
Nadine…Lauri Hendler
Cara Ames…Dana Plato
Anne-Marie Conklin…Crystal Bernard
Beau Middleton…Anthony Edwards
Mr. Gerardi…Frank Bank
Mrs. Franklin…Elinor Donahue
Principal Pete Kinney…Tony Dow
Dr. Fritz Hauptmann…Steve Franken
Mr. Krinsky, the Janitor…David Nelson
Baxter Franklin…Ken Osmend
Mis Lorilee…Dawn Wells
Jerry…Jon Caliri
Danny…David Packer
Archie Feld…Crispin Glover
Peggy…Cathy Silvers
Dirty Curt…Jonathan Gries
Chuckie Dipple…Michael Zorek
Crazy Leo Bandini…Tom Villard
Mr. Sirota…Barry Livingston
Swoozie…Kelly Ann Conn
Girl #1…Robin Evans
Chris…Kaley Ward
Robot…Jerry Maren
Clem Pickens…Danny Williams
Cheerleader #1…Kathi Biggs (uncredited)
Boy at Ferris Wheel…John Richard Petersen (uncredited)

——————————————————————————–

EXTRAS

Remakes and Spin-Offs

This movie apparently did well and was recast so that a new pilot could be made to hopefully sell as a series. According to Stephen at BTTF.com it aired on 5/26/84 with Ben Marley playing Jay Jay Manners, but was obviously not picked up for a series. (See the IMDB.com page for more information on this pilot.)

Dean Cameron was to play the role of Archie Feld. On his website, he has this to say about his experiences with this film. Be aware that it does contain harsh language: (I would have included a link to the page, but it’s on a pop-up with no URL visible)

High School USA (T.V. Pilot) (1984)

This was an all star TV Movie with stars of NBC series in 1983; Michael Fox, Nancy McKeon, Dana Plato, Todd Bridges, etc.

The hook was that old TV Stars played the parents of new TV stars. It was fucking awful. It was also very popular, so they decided to make a pilot out of it. Obviously, all of the stars were busy doing their own shows, so they recast all the leads.

Crispin Glover had played the part of Archie, half of a comic duo. The other half was a guy named Michael Zorek. Crispin didn’t want to do a TV series so they recast those two parts with me in the role of Archie, and an actor named Googy Gress got the part of Chucky.

I had gotten a lead in a TV Series! All was good. A couple of months before this, my dad had “the talk” with me about being in L.A. for four years and having not made it yet and it how I should start thinking about going to college and all that. Here was proof that he was wrong!!!

It was weird. There was a lot of whispering and stuff going on.

On the third day of shooting, Googy and I got fired. The network wanted what Crispin was doing and, obviously, I wasn’t doing it. I was doing something sort of like that but it was me and not Crispin. They paid him what at that time was an unheard of amount of $35,000 to come back and do a guest starring role. He wasn’t tied to do the actual show. They just wanted him in the pilot.

When I showed up that day, I was going to my dressing room and they had changed the name to Crispin already. I tried to go in and the A.D. was really nervous and weird and told me the producer wanted to talk to me and Googy.

She told us. I was devastated. Googy, being the professional he is, simply asked “We still get paid, right?” She said “Yes”, he turned to me “Let’s get the fuck outta here.” And we left..

It was the day Marvin Gaye Jr’s dad killed him.

Crispin Glover turned in the nuttiest performance they had ever seen as his final “Fuck You” to television. Genius.

Because of this and Eye of the Hawk, I am always really, really nervous the first three days of any job I get. It’s a horrible feeling.

High Points: Getting a lead in a T.V. Pilot.
Low Points: Getting shitcanned from a T.V. Pilot, getting shitcanned from my job parking cars the next day for not showing up because I forgot to let them know that I was doing a T.V. Pilot.

Written 1/03/02
Updated 4/28/02

Trivia

This film’s ‘gimmick’ was to bring back big TV stars from past programs such as “Gilligan’s Island”, “Leave it to Beaver” and “Dobie Gillis” and team them together with teen stars from current hit TV programs such as “Family Ties“, “Different Strokes” and “The Facts of Life.”

Crispin Glover, who portrays Archie Feld, also appeared in an episode of “Family Ties” and played Michael J. Fox’s father in Back to the Future.

Michael Zorek, who portrays Chuckie Dimple, also appeared in two episodes of “Family Ties“.

Quotes

  • Curt, are you still a virgin?
  • Me? I got kids.
  • My parents wanted kids.

-Chucky, Dirty Curt & Archie

Picture Gallery