American Idol, 1970s-style

When you think of New York City’s late-’70s and ’80s nightlife heyday, you don’t necessarily picture prepubescent girls hitting Studio 54 two and three times a week. But they were there, because they were Annies or Orphans (as young as 7), and they were huge stars, the toast of the town. “I don’t know where my parents were, but I was there, being stepped on,” says Sarah Jessica Parker, the most famous ex-star of the long-running Broadway hit (and current revival) Annie.

Parker is one of 40 Annie alumnae who reminisce for Life After Tomorrow (debuting on Showtime 12/24), a fascinating, often harrowing documentary about the precocious kids who minted money for the show’s producers.

The stories they tell are doozies: eight shows a week punctuated by hobnobbing with the rich and powerful, singing at the White House and Carnegie Hall (and the occasional bar mitzvah for an extra $15,000), doing national TV appearances — and enduring fist-fighting stage moms, pervy stagehands, and, most of all, sudden dismissal when puberty hit.

Until American Idol, there’d never been an apparatus for creating — and disposing of — mini celebrities as quickly and as efficiently as the Annie machine.

VIEW a preview of Life After Tomorrow — and check airdates and showtimes

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