ABC’s next Live in Front of a Studio Audience special will include former The Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart. The 90-minute special will feature an all-star cast performing scrips from The Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes. Stewart will appear in the Facts of Life portion, but his role remains a mystery. However, it will allow fans to see Stewart and Jennifer Aniston share the screen. The special debuts on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET.
The Facts of Life portion will star Aniston as Blar, Gabrielle Union as Tootie, Allison Tolman as Natalie, Kathryn Hahn as Jo, and Ann Dowd as Mrs. Garrett. ABC kept Stewart’s role a secret. The Facts of Life was a spin-off of Diff’rent Strokes, and originally starred Charloette Rae as Mrs. Garrett, Kim Fields as Tootie, Nancy McKeon as Jo, and Mindy Cohn as Natalie. The series was created by Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon, and aired from 1979 to 1988.
The Diff’rent Strokes portion of the special will also feature Dowd as Mrs. Garrett. John Lithgow will play Dr. Drummond and Kevin Hart plays Arnold. Damon Wayans will play Willis. Diff’rent Strokes aired from 1978 to 1985 and was created by Jeff Harris and Bernie Kukoff. Conrad Bain was the original Mr. Drummond, while Gary Colmean played Arnold. Todd Bridges played Willis.
Norman Lear, who was a producer on both original shows, joins Jimmy Kimmel, Brent Miller, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux and Jim Burrows as a producer on Live in Front of a Studio Audience. The special is produced by Sony Pictures Television and will be available on Hulu the day after it airs. Burrows and Andy Fisher will direct the special.
The first two Live in Front of a Studio Audience specials were big hits for ABC. The 2019 special recreated episodes of All in the Family and The Jeffersons, while the 2020 special featured episodes of All in the Family and Good Times. Jamie Foxx, Marisa Tomei, Ellie Kemper, Anthony Anderson, Sean Hayes, Kevin Bacon, Justina Machado, Andre Braugher, Wanda Sykes, Ferrell, Washington, Viola Davis, and John Amos are among the stars who have participated. The first special also won the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special (Live).
As for Stewart, he is best known for hosting The Daily Show from 1999 to 2015. He now hosts The Problem with Jon Stewart, which debuted on Apple TV+ in September. He has also been a tireless advocate for 9/11 first responders. ABC hasn’t said which episode of The Facts of Life will be brought to life, so it’s difficult to say which of the male roles on the show he could fill. The series also starred John Lawlor, as Steven Bradley in Season 1 and a pre-fame George Clooney as George Burnett in Seasons 7 and 8.