If imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery, then NBC's sleeper hit American Dreams (Sundays, 8 pm/ET) is paying a doozy of a compliment to Hairspray, the 1988 cult-classic movie that's become the toast of Broadway as a musical. Not only do both have a beat and you can dance to 'em, but their story lines are so similar that Dreams executive producer Dick Clark ought to at least give an "inspired by" credit to Hairspray writer-director John Waters.

THE ERA
Hairspray: Early-1960s Baltimore.
American Dreams: Early-1960s Philadelphia.

THE HEROINE:
Hairspray: Chunky Tracy Turnblad, who defies her mother's wishes to achieve her goal of becoming a dancer on The Corny Collins Show.
American Dreams: Spunky Meg Pryor, who defies her father's wishes to achieve her goal of becoming a dancer on American Bandstand.

HER SIDEKICK
Hairspray: Mild-mannered Penny Pingleton.
American Dreams: Wild-mannered Roxanne Bojarksi.

THE HEARTTHROB
Hairspray: Corny regular Link Larkin gives Tracy his ring.
American Dreams: Bandstand regular Jimmy Riley gives Meg a kiss.

THE HISTORY LESSON
Hairspray: Tracy integrates The Corny Collins Show after befriending African-American Seaweed at Patterson Park High.
American Dreams: Meg befriends African-American Sam Walker after East Catholic High is integrated.

THE GIMMICK
Hairspray: To play Tracy's mother Edna, cross-dressers (the late Divine in the feature, Harvey Fierstein on stage) break out the Nair.
American Dreams: To play Meg's favorite singers, chart-toppers (Michelle Branch as Lesley Gore, Ashanti as Dionne Warwick) tease up their hair.