Television travelled back in time on Tuesday night with the latest installment of Live in Front of a Studio Audience. The third iteration of the hit series featured reenactments of beloved, classic television series The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes with stars of today taking on the iconic characters of yesteryear. In addition to the announced casts, which included Ann Dowd, Jennifer Anniston, Gabrielle Union, Allison Tolman, and Kathryn Hahn in The Facts of Life and John Lithgow, Damon Wayans and Kevin Hart in Diff'rent Strokes, there were some surprise guest stars as well.
In The Facts of Life portion of the event, things kicked off with appearances from two original stars of The Facts of Life, Lisa Welchel, who played Blair, and Mindy Cohn who originally played Natalie with Welchel singing the show's theme song. Soon after, some additional guest stars made their appearances in the reenactment of the episode "Kids Can Be Cruel" from the series' third season. Will Arnett appeared as Dink Lockwood, Jason Bateman as Tim Holifield, and Jon Stewart as Carl "Rocky" Price. Kim Fields also made an appearance at the end of the episode alongside Welchel and Cohn to review the episode and talk about the experience, one that was doubly moving for Fields, who appeared in both The Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes.
For the Diff'rent Strokes episode, a reenactment of the Season 1 episode "Willis' Privacy", there were some exciting guest stars as well. The reenactment started out with an introduction by Todd Bridges, the original Willis actor, who honored his costars, Gary Coleman, Conrad Bain, Dana Plato, and Charlotte Rae. who have all passed away over the years. Then the episode began in earnest with Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman of Boyz 2 Men singing the theme song. Snoop Dogg then made an appearance as Willis' friend Vernon.
And it wasn't just the reenactments themselves that had some interesting guest stars. Jennifer Beals and Alfonso Ribiero star in a handful of vintage-inspired commercials both separately — Beals in one for Jack in the Box and Ribiero in one inspired by the "this is your brain on drugs" ads from the 1980s — and together. Ribiero also costars in a Kool Aid ad with Bob Villa. Ryan Reynolds also "appears" in a voiceover for a vintage-styled Aviation Gin commercial.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience was produced by Kimmelot, ACT III Productions, Gary Sanchez Productions, D'Arconville, Simpson Street, and Sony Pictures Television. Norman Lear, Jimmy Kimmel, Brent Miller, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux, and Jim Burrows executive produced. Jim Burrows and Andy Fisher directed the live show.