Janet Hubert: Will Smith is a 'Snotty-Nosed Punk' Who Sabotaged My Career
The war of words between Will Smith and Janet Hubert, who played the original role of Vivian Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" until she got pregnant and was fired and replaced by Daphne Reid, is about to heat up again. Janet has written a book - Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom out next year - in which she claims Will Smith fired her from the popular TV show and sabotaged her career, plus the career of others.
Here's an excerpt she sent to BV Buzz:
"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.
On her termination from "Fresh Prince of Bel Air."
"My agent called; it was time. He had a very funny sound to his voice, not the usual wonderfully funny Michael that I knew. 'Jaaaannnet,' he said, 'I got the offer and you're not gonna like it. They offered you 10 episodes.' Now, to the layperson who doesn't know what this means, each show is an episode, and the usual amount is 22, with perhaps two extra. But the show was a hit so they would order 26, with each show taking a week to shoot. I remember swallowing very, very hard. [My son] Eli was only three and half months old. That meant a cut in salary of more than $100,000."
"We had a new house, a new baby, I had just opened a new exercise studio, signed a 3-year lease, and my ex wasn't working at the time. And they knew this," the excerpt continued. "'That's not all,' Michael said. 'They don't want you to work on any other shows. You can only do two guest starring roles.' What? Who? I stammered. I couldn't breathe. What do we do, Michael? What do we do? 'We pass,' Michael said. 'This is a dirty deal, and they know it.' OK, I trust you, I said. Michael had been my agent for more than 20 years. 'OK sweetie, I will call you back,' he said."
In the last of the passage, Hubert describes just how the news that she was being replaced was delivered, an ordeal she likens to a murder.
"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 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' cast 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," the excerpt closed.
Will has addressed Janet's claims in previous interviews; he said she was a prima donna.
"I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be 'The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show" because I know she is going to dog me in the press ... She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. She's mad now but she's been mad all along. She said once, 'I've been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.' No matter what, to her I'm just the Anti-Christ."