Original Aunt Viv Gets In One Little Fight with Will Smith
Put down the remote, everyone: It is now time for a very special episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where Janet Hubert, the original "Aunt Viv," goes off on Will Smith. Hubert, who was eventually replaced in the role by Daphne Maxwell Reid, has just penned a book entitled Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom, and as is customary for the "I was on a TV show, listen to me" genre of literature, it contains salacious revelations about onscreen family members the author has either fought or slept with. In this case, the former!
BV Buzz has excerpts that detail the alleged havoc wreaked by Will Smith's ego:
Smith had people around him who made sure no one outshone him. I was happy to see Don Cheadle become the quality actor that he is, and often wondered how he made it past one episode, as Hilary's boyfriend, being such a fierce actor. No one could be on 'The Tonight Show,' that first season, except Will. And I mean no one.
"I recall the lovely and incredibly talented Countess Vaughn coming to guest star. Oh my God! The day of table read, she was pee-in-your-pants funny. The writers were howling, we were howling, so I knew she was history - banished into the cornfield. Many years later, after she had her own show, I had to tell her when she asked me why. 'Miss Janet why did I get cut from the episode,' she asked? Simply, my darling, you were too good," she recollected.
It is a national tragedy that Will Smith did not let Johnny Carson book the very famous "Aunt Viv" from Fresh Prince of Bel Air on The Tonight Show that first season, as I'm sure Carson wanted passionately to do. Why did Will Smith's overweening ego interfere with the late-night debuts of Geoffrey the butler and the actress who played Hilary?
But there is more. Here, then, is Hubert's recollection of the contract negotiations that broke down, leading to her firing:
My mind was going in a million places. OK, I thought, they will come back; this is how they do it. They always come back. I started into the kitchen where Rayna - my friend, housekeeper and nanny was. She was doing dishes as baby E was enjoying a swing. I knelt down, kissed his head, and waited for the next round of negotiations. They never came. The next time Michael called he said, 'They are going to recast your role.' There was a beautiful stained glass window that I designed in the bedroom, and the windows were open, so my neighbors probably heard me scream. And that beautiful window probably has many cracks in it. Time of Death: approximately 3 pm. The real Vivian Banks was murdered.
We told you it was a very special episode. Can we get the graffiti end titles in a muted black and white palette, please?