The Famous Jett Jackson is a joint Canadian and American Disney Channel Original Series coming-of-age television series for children ages 12–16 about a boy named Jett Jackson (Lee Thompson Young) who plays a teenage secret-agent on a fictional TV show-within-a-show called Silverstone. Jett lives and films Silverstone in his fictional hometown of Wilsted, North Carolina, where his father is the sheriff. However, the actual series, The Famous Jett Jackson, was filmed in Brooklin, Ontario.
- Main article: List of The Famous Jett Jackson episodes
Jett Jackson previously lived with his publicist mother in Los Angeles, but missed his home and his friends. Longing for a relatively normal life, Jett succeeds in getting the production of Silverstone moved to Wilsted, North Carolina, thus providing jobs to townspeople while affording Jett the chance to live with his father, Sheriff Wood Jackson, and his great-grandmother, Miz Coretta (whom Jett calls Nana). Keeping in touch with his mother Jules by video link on his computer (though by the third season she also moved to Wilsted), Jett now spends part of his time with family, friends and school, and the rest living the life of a working actor and celebrity. In doing so, Jett often ends up in sticky situations, usually aided and abetted by his best friend, J.B., his not-quite girlfriend Kayla, and sometimes by Cubby, Silverstone's wacky special effects wizard. In the second half of the series, Jett's new co-star, Riley Grant, is added to the mix.
The show within the show, Silverstone, is about a spy who works for Mission Omega Matrix in order to save the world from villains like Dr. Hypnoto and the Rat. In contrast to Jett, Silverstone has no family, only his mentor, Artemus, and eventually his partner Hawk ("played" by Riley Grant).
- Lee Thompson Young as Jett Jackson/Silverstone
- Ryan Sommers Baum as J.B. Halliburton
- Kerry Duff as Kayla West
- Gordon Greene as Woodrick Jackson
- Montrose Hagins as Miz Coretta
- Melanie Nicholls-King as Jules Jackson
- Jeffrey Douglas as Cubby
- Lindy Booth as Riley Grant/Hawk
- Nigel Shawn Williams as Nigel Essex/Artemus
Show creator Fracaswell Hyman reportedly devised the character before casting Lee Thompson Young for the role. Like Jett, Young was raised in a single parent home in the South, and decided on an acting career at an early age. Young went on to write one of the episodes produced for the series.
The series included both young guest stars such as Hayden Christensen, Britney Spears and Destiny's Child and veteran stars such as Eartha Kitt, the latter of whom played the new coach of Wilsted's minor league baseball team in one episode.
The relative realism of Jett's home life sometimes gave way to fantasy or paranormal elements, such as one episode in which Jett learns about a shameful incident in Wilsted's history with a little prodding from the ghost of a key figure in the buried scandal. Other episodes dealt with issues in a more realistic and contemporary way, such as when J.B.'s father's family-owned store is threatened by the arrival of high-powered, "big box" competition, and another in which Jett's English teacher, Dr. Dupree, runs afoul of local attempts at censorship of a class reading assignment. Other episodes dealt with such topics as bulimia and the question of whether Jett, with his relatively sheltered and pampered home life, can truly understand or cope with the problems of other African Americans.
Although it was well-received and regarded as a success, the series ended on June 22, 2001, allegedly due to Disney's unstated policy of making only 65 episodes per series. It was followed by a Disney Channel movie in which Jett finds himself trapped in Silverstone's world, and vice versa. In that movie he takes on Silverstone's role for real and is able to muddle through while Silverstone does the same thing in Jett's world until Miz Coreta finds out the truth and he returns home and sends Jett back as well. The movie ends with Jett returning to Silverstone's world and helping him complete his mission by rescuing Silverstone from Kragg and then defeating Kragg alongside his hero alter-ego. The series was in re-runs on Disney Channel throughout 2002 at 12:30 AM eastern/Pacific.
- Main article: Jett Jackson: The Movie
Jett Jackson: The Movie premiered on Disney Channel in 2001.
The show was removed from Disney Channel in early-mid 2004. The show airs reruns airing on Disney XD.
Many of the regular and recurring cast members from The Famous Jett Jackson have since appeared in another Canadian television series, Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, as stars or guest stars. The most obvious examples of this are Jeff Douglas (Cubby) as Professor Noel Zachary, a.k.a. Professor Z., Lawrence Bayne (Dr. Hypnoto) as Victor Pearson, Tony Munch (The Rat) as The Janitor, and Valerie Boyle (Vice Principal Niad) as Principal Amanda Durst.
Lee Thompson Young went on to play Cyborg in two episodes of Smallville, as well as an intern in the 8th season of Scrubs and was cast in the movie "Friday Night Lights". He also has a supporting role as Det. Barry Frost on the TNT original series Rizzoli & Isles
Response to the show was generally positive. Laura Fries of Variety, the Hollywood trade paper, noted in her review of Jett Jackson: The Movie that "Young serves as an appealing role model, much like Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy the Vampire Slayer --someone who can fulfill young, action craving audiences without the gratuitous violence. There's a sense of empowerment associated with these sort of roles, and handled correctly, they function as an excellent allegory for the confusing teenage years." Although she mentions "contrived plot devices", she also refers to the series as "clever" and "an extremely entertaining concept".
Awards and nominations
The series The Famous Jett Jackson and its young cast were nominated for Young Artist Awards, presented by the nonprofit Young Artist Foundation, in several categories in the course of the show's run:
|1999||Template:Nom||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Comedy Series, Leading Young Actor||Lee Thompson Young|
|1999||Template:Nom||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Comedy Series, Supporting Young Actor||Ryan Sommers Baum|
|1999||Template:Won||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Comedy Series, Supporting Young Actress||Kerry Duff|
|1999||Template:Nom||Young Artist Award||Best Family TV Comedy Series||The Famous Jett Jackson|
|2000||Template:Nom||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Drama Series, Leading Young Actor||Lee Thompson Young|
|2000||Template:Nom||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Drama Series, Supporting Young Actor||Ryan Sommers Baum|
|2000||Template:Nom||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Drama Series, Supporting Young Actress||Kerry Duff|
|2001||Template:Nom||Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a TV Movie||Kerry Duff (Jett Jackson: The Movie)|
|2001||Template:Won||Parents' Choice Awards||Silver Honor||The Famous Jett Jackson|