Capitalizing on the recent trend of remakes, ABC decided a few years ago to launch a new series titled Live in Front of a Studio Audience comprised of television specials that depict live reenactments of classic episodes from some of our favorite ’70s and ’80s sitcoms. After past successful recreations of episodes from All In The Family, The Jeffersons and Good Times, the next up will be Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.
The casting is what makes these specials truly become a hit amongst viewers, and it appears faithful fans of Diff’rent Strokes can’t wait to see Kevin Hart as Arnold, Damon Wayans as Willis and John Lithgow as Mr. Drummond for example. However, many felt divided when it came to The Facts of Life casting, particularly with the decision to give Kim Fields’ iconic role as Tootie to Gabrielle Union.
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The upcoming special also stars Ann Dowd as Edna Garrett — she will also appear in Diff’rent Strokes being that The Facts of Life is its spinoff — and famed Friends actress Jennifer Aniston as Blair Warner. Although a few people had some opposition to Lisa Whelchel not being asked back to play Blair, it was nothing like the split reactions for those that felt slighted by Kim Fields not reprising the role as Tootie. Outside of Mindy Cohn, who gets replaced by Fargo actress Allison Tolman as Natalie Green in the live rendition, Lisa and Kim were the only actresses to star in all nine original seasons of The Facts Of Life when it aired from 1979 to 1988. Many feel like their dedication deserved some sort of recognition in the new live rendition.
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Live reenactments of Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life episodes will air next week on December 7 for ABC’s latest Live in Front of a Studio Audience, but take a look below to see some of the many reactions to Gabrielle Union being chosen to play Tootie to see what we mean:
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1. . @itsgabrielleu will play Tootie & Jennifer Aniston will play Blair in #Kimmel’s 1 Night Only reboot of Facts of Life? To hear Gab Union say, “there’s gonna be some trouble” followed by Jennifer saying, “I just had another 1 of my BRILLIANT ideas.” My life is complete #GoodDayDC
2. Gabby still looks like she’s 27 although she’s in her 40s.
3. Kevin Hart is playing Arnold from Different Strokes & Gabrielle Union is playing Tootie. Old heads playing preteen & teens.
4. Kim Fields still looks great. There is & always will be only 1 “real” Tootie.
5. @itsgabrielleu is playing Tootie!
6. I like Gabrielle Union, but couldn’t Kim Fields have played Tootie in the “Facts of Life Live?”
7. I love everyone that’s in the cast for this Live event & I think it will be funny but I wish they would have cast age appropriate actors for the roles. Kevin Hart and Damon Wayans as Arnold & Willis? Gabrielle Union as Tootie? Come on now…
8. Fans are actually complaining about Gabrielle Union playing Tootie? You know Kim Fields will likely make a cameo, right? It’d be funny if she played Regine Hunter.
9. Kim Fields, the original Tootie, is still alive. Nothing against Gabrielle, I love her.
10. Jennifer Anniston as BLAIR?! Nope, on Gabrielle Union as well. One ques: how come they aren’t having the ACTUAL actors who played those characters in the original series do it?! They’re all still alive and kicking and working STILL! Also, hard YES on Ann Dowd! #FactsOfLife