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Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Diff'rent Strokes' (2006)

TV Movie  |  TV-14  |   |  Drama  |  4 September 2006 (USA)
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Reviews: 9 user

The story of the popular situation comedy and its ill fated child stars.


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Title: Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Diff'rent Strokes' (TV Movie 2006)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Willie Coleman (as Bruce Young)
Sue Coleman
Verda Bridges ...
Kay Plato
Howard Leeds
Dion Mial (as Rainbow Sun Francks)
Dana Plato - 17 to 34 years (as Brittney Irvin)
Vic Perillo
Winston Rekert ...
Todd Bridges - 17 to 37 years (as Shedrack Anderson)


As NBC's hit sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" proves a long-running hit for a network desperately in need of one, its young stars: Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, and Dana Plato face all sorts of trouble off-camera. Gary battles with his parents over the management of his salary, Todd runs into trouble with the law countless times, and Dana's career after the show meets with despair and tragedy. Written by Attmay

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Release Date:

4 September 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A História não Autorizada de Minha Família é uma Bagunça  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The series is shown as being taped at "Embassy Studios," when no such facility ever existed. The company that produced the series was not known as Embassy until 1982, and it never owned its own studio. See more »


References Night Court (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

Good job (sometimes) of telling the bad
5 September 2006 | by See all my reviews

I enjoyed "Diff'rent Strokes", mainly because of Gary Coleman. I had already seen this bratty kid do such a good job on "The Jeffersons" even before he got his own series.

But if you're looking for the ideal world portrayed in the sitcom, look somewhere else. The few scenes from the show look like a nauseatingly sweet parody of "Leave It To Beaver" type shows. After about the first 20 minutes, no one except the network executives is allowed to be happy for more than two minutes. We see as much of the negative in these kids' lives as is possible in two hours minus commercial breaks. And most everyone seems to be angry or depressed nearly all the time. No wonder these kids ended up like they did--look at their parents! Though many kids from similar situations have turned out all right.

I thought all the actors playing Coleman did a good job. There will never be another Gary Coleman, and that's part of the problem. Because of his special talents (and his father's desire to keep making money), he wasn't allowed to just quit because of his illness. Bobb'e J. Thompson played the sassy Coleman about as well as any kid could. Robert Bailey Jr. effectively showed the angry teenager tired of being treated like a cute kid, as well as the sick child never allowed to take too much time off. Alon Williams, despite his height, looked and spoke like an adult (ironically, he looked more adult than the real Coleman). In one scene, though, it appears a bad makeup job was allowed to substitute for actually looking adult, so I am assuming that was Bailey.

In her first scenes as Dana, Jessica King seemed to be on drugs. Because of the nature of this movie, they would have told us if Dana really had been high. Whichever actress played Dana in her first scene at home, though, was much better than King in her first scene. Once Dana became an adult, Brittney Irvin gave one of the movie's best performances. And she had a nice body too--we got to see as much as network TV would let us.

Brennan Gademans and Shedrack Anderson both did a good job as Todd Bridges--Anderson, of course, had the greater challenge. Saul Rubinek gave the standout performance, though, as NBC head Fred Silverman. I thought most of the actors did a good job. Bruce Young and Lorena Gale seemed kind of old to be Coleman's parents rather than his grandparents.

A couple of celebrity cameos deserve mention. The actor playing Johnny Carson, though he looked like George W. Bush, captured the late night legend's mannerisms and speaking style perfectly. On the other hand, Johnnie Cochran seemed like a "Saturday Night Live" or "Mad TV" version of the flamboyant lawyer who entertained at the O. J. Simpson trial.

Julie Brown had only a brief appearance as Charlotte Rae, but she captured her style. One possible goof: Rae was told here that she would be headmistress at Kimberly's school. In fact, Mrs. Garrett was a house mother and later a dietitian on "Facts of Life". However, I don't know what the actual plan was.

John Innes' performance as Conrad Bain, on the other hand, was a joke. The man was not mentally or physically disabled. And this was not intended to be a parody.

I thought Coleman and Bridges both did a good job explaining their lives for us. Their presence added something and gave the movie some credibility. If they actually appeared, that helps to make the case that they approved of how they were portrayed.

If you want to see all the sleazy details of celebrities' lives and don't care about seeing them happy, this movie may be for you. If you wanted a more balanced portrayal with more of the good parts, maybe not.

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