ABC’s Facts of Life re-creation has added another big name to its cast.
Jon Stewart has joined Jennifer Aniston, Gabrielle Union, Kathryn Hahn and Allison Tolman in the cast for the live episode, part of the network’s third Live in Front of a Studio Audience special, set to air Dec. 7. Stewart will be playing a “surprise role” in the show, per ABC.
The Facts of Life re-enactment will be paired by a staging of its parent show, Diff’rent Strokes. That episode will feature Kevin Hart, John Lithgow and Damon Wayans. Ann Dowd will appear in both episodes as Mrs. Garrett, the role played by Charlotte Rae on Diff’rent Strokes and then The Facts of Life.
Stewart currently hosts and executive produces The Problem With Jon Stewart on Apple TV+. The former Daily Show anchor will be taking on his first on-camera acting role that’s not a version of himself since 2002’s Death to Smoochy.
The Facts of Life, which ran from 1979-88, centered on students at a girls’ boarding school where Mrs. Garrett was first a house mother, then the school dietitian and later the proprietor of a gourmet food business where the four leads — Blair (Lisa Whelchel), Tootie (Kim Fields), Natalie (Mindy Cohn) and Jo (Nancy McKeon) — worked. Aniston will play Blair in the special, while Union will play Tootie, Tolman will play Natalie and Hahn will play Jo.
The longest-running male role in The Facts of Life was Andy (played by Mackenzie Astin), a foster kid who worked at Mrs. Garrett’s shop. The most well-known is probably handyman George Burnett, thanks to it being an early-career part for George Clooney.
Norman Lear — whose companies Tandem Productions and Embassy Communications produced Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life — and Jimmy Kimmel executive produce Live in Front of a Studio Audience. Lear’s Act III Productions partner Brent Miller, Kerry Washington (via her Simpson Street), Will Ferrell (via Gloria Sanchez Productions), Justin Theroux and Jim Burrows also exec produce; Burrows and Andy Fisher will direct. Sony Pictures TV, where Lear is based, is producing the special.