Debbie Allen talks 'A Different World' reboot: 'Bill Cosby wanted to see this happen'
After more than three decades as a leading lady in Hollywood, legendary choreographer and producer Debbie Allen is busier the ever.
The Emmy winner, who serves as a guest judge and choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, is currently championing her latest cause, T2 Dance crew, a new campaign to combat diabetes.
In 2012, Allen made headlines after taking to Twitter to express her desire to reboot the popular 80s/90s sitcom A Different World, a spin-off of The Cosby Show that aired for six seasons on NBC from 1987-1993.
In part 2 of her interview with theGrio, Allen opened up about journey to bring the classic sitcom back to TV.
“I have been trying with some very powerful people behind me [to reboot A Different World]. The difficulty is that it’s very convoluted when you’re mixing old writers and new writers,” Allen confessed. “I just wanted to have the name so that I could get started again. Bill Cosby wanted to see this happen. Right now we’re kinda at a stand still. I got really far up that ladder, and then I got stopped. So we’re going to re-investigate it again because it’s such a good idea.”
In a recent interview with theGrio, Allen’s sister, Phylicia Rashad, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, opened up about some of the backlash the series received from critics who believed the show’s portrayal of an upscale African-American family wasn’t realistic.
Allen opened up about some of the struggles she faced during the years A Different World was on the air.
“I don’t remember so much the critics as I remember the battles that I had with some of the networks, because I was put there. Bill Cosby hired me to come and take over the show and make it relevant,” Allen said. “I graduated from Howard University, and I knew what a black college in the South should look like and especially a historic college like Hillman.”
“There were a lot of challenges, and we kinda went off the air unceremoniously.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, A Different World was transformed “from a bland Cosby spinoff into a lively, socially responsible, ensemble situation comedy” only after Debbie Allen took over as producer-director following the first season.
Allen, who currently stars on Grey’s Anatomy and recently directed an episode of season 4 of Scandal, weighed in on the current state of TV and said that reality TV shows have largely overtaken scripted TV comedies.
“[Reality shows are] cheaper, and networks are investing in cheaper production that doesn’t cost as much money, and it has put a dent in the scripted shows that would be on the air,” said Allen. “Anybody can have a reality show, it feels like.”
Click below to watch Debbie Allen discuss her new T2 Dance Crew campaign to combat diabetes.
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