The original pilot for "Kids Incorporated" was produced in 1983 and shopped to several networks by the show's creators, Thomas W. Lynch and Gary Biller. Even though the series wasn't picked up by a major television network, it was distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co. Television and began a syndicated run during the fall of 1984.
The original cast members were Stacy Ferguson, Marta Marrero, Renee Sands, and Jerry Sharell who were joined by Rahsaan Patterson along with five backup dancers. The 1983 pilot episode was never shown on television, but it was released on VHS in 1985 under the title, "Kids Incorporated: The Beginning."
In order to add Rahsaan (who joined the show after the pilot was shot) into the show, a new storyline was edited into the film. Rahsaan's character, "The Kid" was introduced as the new kid in town, who was shy and afraid to audition for the band. Rahsaan's scenes were filmed in 1984 and edited in with the 1983 footage of the rest of the cast.
The members of Kids Incorporated ranged in age from eight to mid-teens. From 1987 to 1988, there were always six members of the group; in other seasons, the band always consisted of three girls and two boys.
The characters on the show usually carried the names of the actors who played them (for instance, Stacy Ferguson's and Renee Sands's characters were also named "Stacy" and "Renee"). However, in some cases, the names were shortened (Anastasia Horne became "Ana").
In other cases, they were completely replaced. For example, Marta Marrero's character was named "Gloria" while Jerry Sharell's character was named "Mickey" and Love Hewitt's character was called "Robin."
Rahsaan Patterson was called "The Kid" and his real name wasn't revealed as "Rahsaan" until the 4th season (which was his last season on the show), although scripts continued to refer to him as "The Kid" regardless.
Actors left the series when they "aged out" of their roles as kids. The disappearances of some actors, such as Jerry Sharell, Martika, Renee Sands and Rahsaan Patterson, were written into the script.
However, most of the time the performers were replaced without comment such as the disappearances of Robin, Kenny, Devyn, Connie, Stacy, Richie and Ryan. Eric, however, was mentioned in an 8th season episode.
Stacy Ferguson held the record as the longest-running cast member, staying with the show for six seasons. Moosie Drier was part of the cast for five seasons; Renee Sands, Rahsaan Patterson, Ryan Lambert, and Kenny Ford were on the show for four seasons each.
Several of the other performers, however, like Eric Balfour, Jared Delgin and Jerry Sharell, left the show after only one season; Sharell's departure was said to be due to creative differences with producers Thomas W. Lynch and Gary Biller. In particular, he was unhappy with the show's often bizarre and outlandish storylines.
Music was an integral part of Kids Incorporated, and several songs were included in every episode. The shows musical variety ranged over a number of different genres released from the 1960's onward.
While these numbers were usually performed onstage in the context of a concert at The P*lace, they were also occasionally used to illustrate a character's internal monologue or conflict. The vocal responsibilities were shared by all five (or six) singers; every cast member was given an opportunity to perform featured or solo songs throughout the course of the season. Each episode consisted of one original number and generally four previously recorded songs by recognized artists.
Artists and songs covered included "Into The Groove" by Madonna, "Message in a Bottle" by The Police, "Gloria" by Laura Branigan, "Hip Hop Hooray" by Naughty by Nature, "Friday I'm in Love" by The Cure, "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi, "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John, "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" by Belinda Carlisle, "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung, "All Fired Up" by Pat Benatar, "Workin' Overtime" by Diana Ross, "The Promise of a New Day" by Paula Abdul, "Pump up the Jam" by Technotronic, "Motownphilly" by Boyz II Men, "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston and "Breakaway" by Tracey Ullman in addition to hundreds of other songs over the entire run.
The original songs were written by the hired composers of the show. Depending on the year those composers were Michael Cruz, Andrew R. Powell, Craig Sharmat and others. Due to the age of both the performers and the target demographic, lyrics with objectionable content were generally edited out of the songs and replaced with more benign language.
However, occasionally songs were performed as written, slightly objectionable lyrics intact. Examples of uncensored songs that were presented on the series include "Dancing with Myself" by Billy Idol, "Seven Wonders" by Fleetwood Mac (1988), "Prove Your Love" by Taylor Dayne, and "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson (1989).
All cast members performed their own vocals. Several, such as Devyn Puett, were also trained dancers and occasionally showcased their abilities. However, none of the performers actually played musical instruments with the exception of Haylie Johnson who as of 1997 played guitar. In many scenes in the show, the characters are shown pretending to play the piano, guitar and other instruments.
Supporting "Kids Incorporated"'s singers was an ensemble of five young dancers. These cast members appeared in background scenes in The P*lace; they also performed choreographed routines and served as backup singers and musicians (pretending to play) during Kids Incorporated's performances.
Generally, the dancers were peripheral to the stories; the plots of the episodes almost never incorporated them. (In at least one episode, their "drummer", Mario Lopez, taught The Kid to wrestle.) However, during Season 1, dancer Wendy Brainard performed as a singer for Corey Hart's "It Ain't Enough" and Donna Summer's "Dim All the Lights." In addition, over the years, more than twelve of the dancers were given speaking roles in various episodes.
The longest-running dancer in the "Kids Incorporated" cast was Gina Marie Vinaccia, who appeared on the show for four years, from 1985 to 1988. Other noted KI dancers included R&B singer, Shanice Wilson, former "Saved by the Bell" actor\host of "Extra," Mario Lopez, and Broadway choreographer and dancer, Darren Lee.
Guest stars on "Kids Incorporated" included both established celebrities and newcomers. Florence Henderson, Gwen Verdon, Kathy Johnson, Barry Williams, Billy Blanks, David Hasselhoff, John Franklin, Ryan Bollman, Brian Robbins and Ruth Buzzi were among the stars who appeared during the run of the show. Young actors who guest starred on KI included Brittany Murphy, Andrea Barber, Scott Wolf, Jason Hervey and Jeff Cohen (from the 1985 film, "The Goonies").
In syndication, the show was usually shown on Tuesday or Sunday evenings, of course, depended on decisions made by local television stations. (For example, KTRV in Boise, Idaho aired the show at first on Tuesday, then Saturday nights at 6:30 PM, while WNBC in New York City aired it first on Sundays at 1:00 PM, and then moved it back to 9:00 AM. KPTV in Portland, Oregon first aired it Saturday mornings at 10:30 AM and then moved it back to 9:30 AM.)
The shuffling time slots affected the ratings, and KI was cancelled the weekend of May 25, 1986. Reruns aired on the CBN Network (now the ABC Family network) from 1985-1986.
Due to the positive ratings from the CBN reruns during the summer of 1986, "Kids Incorporated" was given a second chance when The Disney Channel acquired the rights to the series. It resumed production with the same cast, and new episodes began airing on November 3, 1986.
Disney's buyout package also included the entire syndicated run; as such, edits had to be made to remove fee plugs & commercial outros. The show's main time slot on the Disney Channel was 5:00 PM ET/4:00 PM CT.
Budget cuts and the expiration of Disney's lease with MGM prompted another hiatus in 1993 after only ten episodes of the 9th season had been filmed. The last episode of the season, which aired on February 9, 1994, proved to be the series finale.
By the summer of 1995, when the show was scheduled to resume production, most of the cast members were graduating from high school or college, or getting married. Since they could no longer sustain the Kids Incorporated image as a result, the show ended.
The format of the show would have changed, giving the songs less importance and placing them in breaks in the main storyline action. Some proposed scripts had no songs at all. In addition, the show's filming would have moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Canada. There was some hype created for the new Kids Incorporated project in Los Angeles and New York, but it never came to fruition.
After its default cancellation, Kids Incorporated continued to be shown in reruns on The Disney Channel until May 30, 1996.
"Kids Incorporated" was filmed at Hollywood Center Studios in California for its entire run. It was one of the only shows, along with "The Mickey Mouse Club", "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers", and "You Can't Do That on Television" in which the complete season took place within the calendar year, instead of the traditional fall-through-spring shooting/broadcast schedule.
The excepting specials, such as the 1987 Happy New Year/holiday episode "Rock In The New Year" (also known as "Rockin' In The New Year" or Season 3, Episode 14), production took place during December 31, 1986-January 1, 1987 of each year. In later seasons, this schedule was moved to the spring.