Jaleel White & More Family Matters Cast Members Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Drama

By Allison Crist Nov 22, 2021 9:30 PMTags
Watch: How Steve Urkel's Addition to "Family Matters" Caused MAJOR Turmoil

Tonight's all-new episode of E!'s True Hollywood Story is throwing it back to the days of T.G.I.F.

For those more familiar with Netflix and Chill, T.G.I.F. was a two-hour Friday night block of family sitcoms—including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Family Matters, Full House and more—that was so popular over 24 million Americans tuned in every week.

However, with success came challenges—and the Family Matters cast is opening up about the biggest ones they faced in this sneak peek clip. 

"My arrival to Family Matters was a rocky start at the beginning," Jaleel White explains. 

The actor played the iconic Steve Urkel, who was originally meant to be a one-time only character until White stole the show halfway through season one; eventually shifting the entire focus of Family Matters from the Winslow family to Urkel himself.

"They kind of had to accept that I was there," White says of the cast. "That was a process."

E! True Hollywood Story Covers Crime

Jo Marie Payton a.k.a. Family Matters' Harriette Winslow recalls the showrunners telling the original cast that the "dynamic was going to change" and "the show was gonna be about him." 

"And we said 'Okay,'" she continues. "We weren't happy about it. I think along the way it got to be a little resentful but it was just an adjustment that we had to make."

Luckily, it didn't take long for the decision to pay off. Family Matters quickly rose in the ratings, and gradually, the cast began to embrace White.  

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Jaimee Foxworth, just 10 years old when she joined Family Matters, had a tougher time adjusting to the changes. 

As White tells the True Hollywood Story cameras, "I remember Jamie saying something to me on set like, 'Well, my mom said I was supposed to get my storyline before you.'" 

After season four, Foxworth's character disappeared without explanation.

In the clip, executive producer and creator of T.G.I.F. Jim Janicek reasons that there simply "wasn't a lot for her to do as a character," while Family Matters co-creator William Bickley says he just assumed the studio wanted to "cut the budget."  

Wild Reality TV Scandals

Regardless of the reasoning, Payton was crushed. 

"I asked Bill what happened and he said, 'Well, nobody's gonna notice Jo,' and I resented that," she explains. "It was hurtful. It was like you didn't care anything about Black families. Carl and Harriette would never throw their kids away. They would never do it."

Hear more from the Family Matters cast on E!'s True Hollywood Story tonight at 10 p.m.