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Thread started 01/05/10 9:56am

banks

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Fresh Prince Alum Rips Will Smith



The Fresh Prince's Janet Hubert: Perfection is Not A Sitcom Mom

In her alternately plaintive and scathing memoir, actress Janet Hubert, known as Vivian Banks on the popular 90's sitcom 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air,' strikes back at former colleagues whom she says denigrated her name and hurt her career.

In 'Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom,' Hubert addresses her departure from the show in 1993 and the toll it took on her personal and emotional life. She talks exclusively to BV on Books about what motivated her to write the book and what she's up to today:

Black Voices: What motivated you to write your memoir?

Janet Hubert: I decided to publish my memoir because I saw this YouTube rant that Alfonso Ribeiro [Carlton] had done about me. He said I was crazy and that I was fired and that I was out of my mind. No one ever defends black women, so I had to do it myself. I wrote it for clarity, to clear my clear my name. I got tired of answering questions about why I left. I answer every single question. In the book, I also talk about how words can kill. You don't take someone's life and just step on it, and you don't take my family's name and destroy it.

BV: What are the most surprising things readers will learn?

JH: My departure was planned for a long time...There will never be a reunion of the 'Fresh Prince.' Will Smith and Alfonso destroyed a 20-year-career with untruths. I got slammed. Will apologized later in an 'Essence Magazine' article, but it still lingers. It's still there...

BV: What have you been up to?

JH: I live on the East Coast. I love the East Coast because there is energy, something else other than entertainment. On the West Coast, everyone is waiting to be discovered. I've been here now for 11 years. My son Elijah is 16. He'll be in college next year.
I've created a children's book series called 'JG & the BC Kids.' It's about a little boy who solves a complicated mathematical equation that opens his imagination and out comes a teacher who takes him and his friends on an adventure.

BV: What's next on the horizon?
JH: I'm quite content. I'm getting my son off to college. I'm remarried and living peacefully. I've written a pilot for a dramady. I'm doing some pitches and I'm going to start [filming] soon...
Tagged as: Alfonso Ribeiro, AlfonsoRibeiro, Fresh Prince, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, FreshPrince, FreshPrinceOfBel-air, janet hubert, JanetHubert, jante hubert book, JanteHubertBook, Will Smith, WillSmith
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Reply #1 posted 01/05/10 10:13am

missfee

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I really didn't read where she supposedly "ripped" Will Smith, but doesn't she think that writing about something that happened almost 20 years ago is a bit beyond the stature of limitations? I mean who really cares about why she was either let go, fired, or quit the show? It's been in syndication for years now, get over it and do something else.
I will forever love and miss you...my sweet Prince.
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Reply #2 posted 01/05/10 10:52am

banks

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missfee said:

I really didn't read where she supposedly "ripped" Will Smith, but doesn't she think that writing about something that happened almost 20 years ago is a bit beyond the stature of limitations? I mean who really cares about why she was either let go, fired, or quit the show? It's been in syndication for years now, get over it and do something else.



I guess the ripping is in the book
shrug
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Reply #3 posted 01/05/10 11:19am

daPrettyman

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I've heard her in radio interviews where she has discussed this book and how she was treated on FP. She needs 2 sit down and do a commercial or 2 like "Aunt Vie"(Will's mom on the show) did.
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Reply #4 posted 01/05/10 11:20am

ernestsewell

I've heard her get a bad rap from Will and Alfonso. It could be foxhole bonding on their part. I don't always believe where there's smoke, there's fire. They were kids; she was the adult. Already, the stories from Smith & Co are taken with a grain of salt.
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Reply #5 posted 01/05/10 11:27am

2freaky4church
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Let's tell the truth. She was fired because she is [Snip no no no! - luv4u].
"My motherfucker's so cool sheep count him."
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Reply #6 posted 01/05/10 11:38am

daPrettyman

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ernestsewell said:

I've heard her get a bad rap from Will and Alfonso. It could be foxhole bonding on their part. I don't always believe where there's smoke, there's fire. They were kids; she was the adult. Already, the stories from Smith & Co are taken with a grain of salt.

I've heard that too. However, she's claiming that she can't get a job in Hollywood because Will has blackballed her. I just don't buy that. Hell, she could be doing a Pine Sol commercial or a AmeriTrade commercial to make money. Sure, she may be an award winning actress, but awards don't pay the bills. I heard Yvette Brown say on Wendy Williams how much money commercials pay. She finally got a show, but she was stating that commercials bought her house in LA and she's not too proud to be a commercial actress.
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U 'gon make me shake my doo loose!
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Reply #7 posted 01/05/10 12:03pm

ernestsewell

daPrettyman said:

ernestsewell said:

I've heard her get a bad rap from Will and Alfonso. It could be foxhole bonding on their part. I don't always believe where there's smoke, there's fire. They were kids; she was the adult. Already, the stories from Smith & Co are taken with a grain of salt.

I've heard that too. However, she's claiming that she can't get a job in Hollywood because Will has blackballed her. I just don't buy that. Hell, she could be doing a Pine Sol commercial or a AmeriTrade commercial to make money. Sure, she may be an award winning actress, but awards don't pay the bills. I heard Yvette Brown say on Wendy Williams how much money commercials pay. She finally got a show, but she was stating that commercials bought her house in LA and she's not too proud to be a commercial actress.

I don't believe that either. Will Smith doesn't have that kind of clout, despite the success of his movies.
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Reply #8 posted 01/05/10 12:07pm

banks

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I thought she was better than Daphne as Aunt Viv
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Reply #9 posted 01/05/10 12:35pm

luv4u

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I love that dress she is wearing. I want it!

2nd want item on my list after I get ernest's jacket deal
Edmonton, AB - canada

Ohh purple joy oh purple bliss oh purple rapture!
REAL MUSIC by REAL MUSICIANS - Prince
"I kind of wish there was a reason for Prince to make the site crash more" ~~ Ben
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Reply #10 posted 01/05/10 12:36pm

daPrettyman

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ernestsewell said:

daPrettyman said:


I've heard that too. However, she's claiming that she can't get a job in Hollywood because Will has blackballed her. I just don't buy that. Hell, she could be doing a Pine Sol commercial or a AmeriTrade commercial to make money. Sure, she may be an award winning actress, but awards don't pay the bills. I heard Yvette Brown say on Wendy Williams how much money commercials pay. She finally got a show, but she was stating that commercials bought her house in LA and she's not too proud to be a commercial actress.

I don't believe that either. Will Smith doesn't have that kind of clout, despite the success of his movies.

Believe it or not, Will is like one of the most powerful people in "black" hollywood.
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U 'gon make me shake my doo loose!
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Reply #11 posted 01/05/10 1:07pm

ernestsewell

daPrettyman said:

ernestsewell said:


I don't believe that either. Will Smith doesn't have that kind of clout, despite the success of his movies.

Believe it or not, Will is like one of the most powerful people in "black" hollywood.

He's black? Since when?!
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Reply #12 posted 01/05/10 1:37pm

purplewisdom

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what did big willy say about her?
"Dead in the middle of Little Italy little did we know
that we riddled some middleman who didn't do diddily"--BP
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Reply #13 posted 01/05/10 1:56pm

daPrettyman

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ernestsewell said:

daPrettyman said:


Believe it or not, Will is like one of the most powerful people in "black" hollywood.

He's black? Since when?!

lol

U know she must be hard to work with. Tyler Perry hasn't hired her for anything. lol
[Edited 1/5/10 13:57pm]
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U 'gon make me shake my doo loose!
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Reply #14 posted 01/05/10 1:57pm

daPrettyman

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purplewisdom said:

what did big willy say about her?

www.google.com

Look up her getting fired. You might be surprised at what you find.
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Reply #15 posted 01/05/10 2:00pm

SCNDLS

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How recent is this interview cuz we had a thread about this about a year ago? hmmm
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Reply #16 posted 01/05/10 2:06pm

daPrettyman

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SCNDLS said:

How recent is this interview cuz we had a thread about this about a year ago? hmmm

I think u're right. She was on Tom Joyner's show last year discussing this.

Tom interviewed her in June of last year.
http://www.blackamericawe...ssip/10335

'Fresh Prince's' Janet Hubert Blasts Will Smith

Date: Monday, June 22, 2009, 4:37 am
By: DeBorah E. Pryor, EURweb.com

There’s a machine and it was designed to make him a superstar. And that machine was designed to steamroll over anybody who got in the way. I was simply a body.” JANET HUBERT

Warning: It is going to be hard, even painful, for many people to fathom that Will Smith - an actor who has achieved the greatest level of fame, admiration and success imaginable - may have, at one time in his evolution, been a complete a-hole.

Now, nearly two decades since NBC’s "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" took the then 22-year-old rapper from his radio-friendly songs long enough to start his walk on the road to stardom, former “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” cast member Janet Hubert-Whitten, who originally played Vivian Banks - the first "Aunt Viv" - has broken her silence and authored the book, "Perfection Is Not a Sitcom Mom."

In an emotional exclusive interview with EUR’s Lee Bailey, Hubert (no longer Whitten) sounds more hurt than bitter as she paints a disturbing and unrecognizable picture of the superstar, and although she admits she doesn’t know him now, she speaks candidly about the man she knew then.

Without so much as a stutter, Hubert, who at times seems to be near tears, uses the one-hour and eight-minutes telephone interview to reveal vivid details of her claims against Smith, which include verbal and mental abuse on the set, hypocrisy, excessive egoism, blatant resentment, the insensitive spewing of "your mama’s so black" jokes, and ultimately, public slander – which Hubert says kept her from getting projects green-lighted and has banned her from work in the field she used to love.

“He had a lot of power. He had full power on that set! Maybe not the first season, but by the second, third season, he was basically running it,” said Hubert, her words escaping her mouth so fast, with no second-guessing herself; it’s as if she is in a time warp. “He knew what everybody was making because even on that V103 interview he said (mimics Smith using gangsta voice) ‘She made $250,000 – a quarter million dollars a year. Now she ain’t makin’ nothin’!’”

The interview Hubert refers to was one of the first, she claims, Smith gave following her removal from the show.

“I dug out the old tape - I call it ‘Vicious V103’ in Atlanta. When it all went down, (Smith) was in Atlanta, and he was with the DJs at V103, and he referred to me as a ‘Drive-by.’ When he had finished his session of lies and slander, he said (gangsta voice), ,you know, I feel like this is like comic timing, you know what I’m sayin’? It’s kind of like a drive-by; we should move on, you know what I’m sayin?'”

With the show still in reruns, fans are constantly reminded of the abrupt departure of Hubert’s Aunt Viv – and those who watched the show when it originally aired were arguably confused behind the networks’ decision to remain mute and just slip Daphne Maxwell-Reid into the role one day. Fine actor that she is, the difference between her "Aunt Viv" and Hubert’s was not a subtle one. But the decision to gloss over the cast change was, according to Hubert, Smith’s handy work: "‘We’re going to just act like nothing happened,’" she says, mimicking him.

Now, with her new book, due out in 2010, he may have to eat those words.

“Here’s what happened: Back when the re-negotiations came up, the network (NBC) offered me 10 weeks of work, and they said, ‘You cannot work anywhere else,'” Hubert tells Lee Bailey, adding that the show was set to film 27 episodes - five more than a usual TV contract – yet cut her out of 15 of them. “So I was ... not to work anywhere else – except two guest starring roles.”

As is the usual case with re-negotiations, there is a back-and-forth dance between the network and the talent. Hubert made it known to NBC that she would be unable to make a living with the offer they placed on the table, so she declined, expecting them to return with something better in their negotiations.

They never came back. When Hubert's agent called casting, he learned that her role was being recast.

“I couldn’t believe Will would do this to me, but [then again] I could,” Hubert says, adding that no one would disagree with Smith as he was notorious for acting like it was okay to do so while in front of others, but would later "cut you" for such an action. She mentioned one day on the set when Smith screamed, "I am God!" and she responded, “No, you’re not!”

“I was a dark-skinned, African-American mother, and Will used to tell the you’re-so-black jokes to the audience before the show, and at one point, I came out and stopped him, and the audience went ‘Woooo.’

"He didn’t understand how unbelievably disrespectful that was to women like me," she said. [Gangsta voice demonstrates Will telling the joke] “Yo mama’s so black, when she looks at her shoes, she thinks she’s looking in the mirror. Ha, ha!”

Hubert said that when she would stop Smith, he would arrogantly retort, “Nobody stops me!”

Hubert said a call finally came from Deborah Langford of Quincy Jones’ office. Jones was a producer of the show. According to Hubert, Langford said, ‘We want you to go in front of the cameras, and we want you to tell the world that this was your idea; that you’ve decided to move on.’

Hubert’s response? “Kiss my ass! ... I said, ‘What in the world am I going to get from that?' I’m not Dawnn Lewis. I’m not a slave on an auction block who stands there, and she’s got nothin’, and says (using a high-pitched female voice),‘I’ve decided to move on because it would be good for my career.'”

Lewis was dropped from the hit ABC comedy "Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper" in 1993 when the producers decided to change the direction of the show. She took the action in stride and, in an interview with JET magazine that same year, said she had no bitterness about the decision and was going on to pursue other projects she had missed out on by doing a weekly television show. Today Lewis, a great talent continues to delight audiences in live productions all over the world.

Hubert says that she believes it was Langford who went back to Smith and started what she refers to as "the firestorm." And it is the self-reflection of what she calls "her sitcom mom death," as well as the reality that [working] black actresses in Hollywood have disappeared, that motivated her to write her book.

Already a professional in the business for more than a decade before "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" came her way in 1990, Hubert had won a scholarship to the famed Julliard School in NYC, but ended up attending for only a year. She had appeared in daytime television and worked extensively in theatre, at one time as an understudy to one of the lead characters in the musical "Cats," and was an Alvin Ailey dancer. It has been rumored that she was jealous of Smith for landing such a sweet deal without any previous acting experience.

Yet Hubert says in the first season, before she even knew who Will Smith was, she tried to get him to join her in uniting the cast so that they could ask for more money. She said she asked him what role he was going to play and he said, ‘I’m Will.'

“I said, ‘Oh!’ I didn’t even know who the brother was. I’m 30-something years old [at the time]. I’m not a rap fan at all, not in the least. I didn’t know ‘Summertime’ or his name or whatever his hits were," said Hubert. "I’m not easily impressed. You have to show me that you are an honorable person. [I] come from the theatre; [I’ve] gone to the school of hard knocks. Rappers don’t impress me. Their ideology … what they’ve done to our children.”
[Edited 1/5/10 14:07pm]
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Reply #17 posted 01/05/10 2:11pm

banks

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SCNDLS said:

How recent is this interview cuz we had a thread about this about a year ago? hmmm


I guess her book just came out... This was on aol's front page today
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