REAL PEOPLE was NBC’s very popular magazine show. Each episode had different taped pieces of “real people”, interesting usually for some humorous way.
The hosts are what I remember most about the show.
Sarah Purcell and Skip Stephenson were the main hosts. They would introduce segments from a studio in front of an audience. Also introducing segments were Bill Rafferty, John Barbour, Byron Allen, and political comedian Mark Russell. Fred Willard was an on again / off again host. Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A CHRISTMAS STORY) would join the cast for the last couple seasons, bringing a kid’s perspective.
The series aired from 1979 to 1984. It was edited down into half hour episodes and syndicated for a while. In 1980, ABC launched THAT’S INCREDIBLE, a similar show hosted by John Davidson, Cathy Lee Crosby and Fran Tarkenton.
If you sent in a story to them, or a funny newspaper clipping that they used (like Jay Leno’s “Headlines”) they would send you a “Real People T-shirt”. My mom once sent in a newspaper clipping and they sent her some REAL PEOPLE stickers. It wasn’t good enough for a T-shirt, I guess.
One surprising thing, Sarah Purcell and Skip Stephensen never really did much after it. Stephensen passed away in 1992. There was a big rumor going around that Stephensen was on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER. He wasn’t.
Byron Allen still hosts a couple syndicated program, so he is still out there. Peter Billingsley produces and often acts in his friends Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau’s productions (he was an executive producer of IRON MAN). Mark Russell is still at it. And Fred Willard is now more popular than ever.
I guess in a way we can blame REAL PEOPLE for shows like INSIDE EDITION and A CURRENT AFFAIR. REAL PEOPLE wasn’t a tabloid show, it was mostly a positive series. But, without it, would we have had the others?