Now, this is what you call reality television.
George Schlatter, the brains behind Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, delivered one more classic series for NBC with Real People, which launched in 1979, when NBC was struggling to find a primetime hit not named Little House on the Prairie.
People initially aired on Wednesdays, as did Little House before it. Veteran comic Fred Willard came over from the syndicated Fernwood/America 2Night to help anchor a lineup of co-hosts that included fellow comics Bill Rafferty, Skip Stephenson, and political satirist Mark Russell, who seemed to be happy to be on a network other than PBS. Sarah Purcell (ex-The Better Sex) rounded out the group, which would later include Byron Allen and child actor Peter Billingsley.
The focus was, obviously, on ordinary folks like you and me, in small towns you probably had never heard of or can't find on a map. Schlatter, with urging from the network, added two more series to the franchise. Unfortunately, Real Kids, with Billingsley, seemed out of place in primetime and belonged as an accessory to NBC's developing Saturday morning block. Speak Up America, anchored by Marjoe Gortner, was slightly more successful, but not by much. In all, Real People lasted 5 seasons, moving to Sundays at the end of the run, which might not have been the smartest of moves.
Post-People, Rafferty took over a revived Mark Goodson-Bill Todman series, Card Sharks, but was later cashiered out in favor of game show icon Bob Eubanks. Byron Allen, you probably know, has become a producer through his Entertainmentstudios.com, but venturing outside of infomercials hasn't borne a lot of fruit of late.
Here's a sample intro: