The nineties were a decade that saw the launch of many of our favorite television programs. Whether we’re nostalgic for the shows we watched as kids, we enjoy the carefree demeanor the shows tended to have then, or maybe we just respect good TV, everybody has at least a few nineties series they cherish. But that carefree attitude is important. Apart from some tough economic times at the beginning of the decade and humanitarian crises in places like the Balkans and Rwanda, the nineties were relatively peaceful and prosperous. There wasn’t the overhanging, ever present threat of violence that typified the post 9-11 era. Nor the financial hardships of the Great Recession or the ugly political divisiveness we have today. And this relaxed, happy-go-lucky atmosphere was reflected in many of the most popular TV programs.
However, while the on-screen mood was often lighthearted, warm and fuzzy, off-camera was frequently a different story. For every cast and crew that genuinely liked each other and got along well, it seems there were two that were constantly feuding with each other. In some cases, it’s a testament to the actors and directors that the on-screen product remained funny, happy, and entertaining. Other shows were not so lucky, and the actors’ personal problems took a clear toll on the show’s quality. To find out just what some of this bad blood was all about, read on and discover 15 dark secrets 90s TV show cast members don’t want you to know.
15. The ‘Aunt Viv’ Fiasco
While it occasionally took on heavy issues such as race, class, and absentee parenting, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of the most beloved, easy going, light hearted sitcoms of the 90s. Yet despite its breezy style of comedy, life was not always fun loving on the set. We all know that the actress who portrayed Vivian, Janet Hubert, was replaced, suddenly, by Daphne Maxwell-Reid. The replacement was one of the more jarring casting decisions in TV history as the two actresses look nothing alike and no explanation was ever given. The reason for Hubert’s replacing was not merely a contract dispute. Hubert did not get along with Will Smith (Will) and Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton). She accused Smith of doing “some horrible, heinous things” and claimed that he pushed for her firing. Ribeiro stated that while Hubert is a talented actress, she just snapped one day and was “crazy”. Hubert’s firing is also rumored to be partially due to her getting pregnant, a situation that lead to the Nicky character.
14. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Unlike perhaps most shows that experience drama and beefs, Buffy’s problems came not from the cast, but rather the executives. Fans of the show will remember seeing the names Fran Rubel Kazui and Kaz Kuzui. The two were executive producers on the show. Or, at least, they got executive producing credits. In truth, the two never once set foot on the set. The reason for this stems from Buffy’s somewhat complicated history. Before the popular TV series, Buffy was first a rather poor film that has been largely forgotten. Because the film was directed by Fran Kuzui and produced by Kuzui studios, the two owned the rights to the character of Buffy. Despite Joss Whedon having created her. So when Whedon finally got to make a Buffy TV series of his own, he was furious that he had to share credit (and royalties) with the Kuzuis. Whedon has always seemed bitter about this and has never hesitated to throw same shade their way.
13. Jodie Sweetin’s Addiction
In truth, this is not a very well kept secret. Actress Jodie Sweetin, best known for playing Stephanie Tanner on Full House, has been quite open about her struggles since the show ended. She became addicted to drugs, specifically meth. Not a good look. Her long and scary struggle was once the stuff of Hollywood legend, suspected by many to be a myth, before it was confirmed. Thankfully, Sweetin in is a much better place now and no longer uses the drug. She recently reprised her role on Netflix’s sequel series, Fuller House and looks much better than she once did. Not to be crass, but I defy you to find a better looking former meth addict.
12. Vulgar Bob Saget
Staying with the Full House theme, when Bob Saget landed the role of Danny Tanner, it seemed like an odd choice for those who knew his previous work (which weren’t that many, to be honest). Saget is now known as one of the more vulgar comedians, and he was vulgar before Full House too, he just wasn’t well known. The problem was that he was vulgar on the set of Full House, as well. Which can be problematic if you’re working with, you know, children. And apparently, Saget’s vulgarity was sometimes contagious, leading to producers and the parents of the child actors to have to reprimand Saget, John Stamos, and Dave Coulier privately. Saget also had a penchant for drawing penises on the scripts. For some reason.
11. Dave Coulier
Speaking of Dave Coulier, he is the subject of our third and final Full House secret. You know the song “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette? Well, you oughta (hahaha, I’m so sorry). An angry and raw savaging of an ex-boyfriend, the 1995 song was a marked departure from the then 21-year old’s catalogue of bubblegum pop. What’s more surprising is that song is (probably) about Coulier, who is 16 years Morissette’s senior. While Morissette has never publicly assigned a name to the subject of the song, Coulier has admitted (and denied) that it was him, with Saget at times also seeming to confirm the rumor. The thought of the cheesy and family friendly character of Uncle Joey mistreating his much younger girlfriend is disturbing. Equally disturbing is that Coulier apparently routinely suffered from gastric distress on set and his flatulence was so bad it used to make the other actors leave the set. Is it any wonder the Olsen twins wanted no part of Fuller House?
10. Shannen Doherty vs Alyssa Milano
Yes, Charmed was one of the better received paranormal shows that spawned in the wake of Buffy in the late 1990s. The show never took itself too seriously and the three attractive and quirky actresses who played the three good witch sisters always gave entertaining performances as their characters battled the powers of evil. Unfortunately, there were even scarier battles off-camera. Namely, the battle between Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano. Doherty did not like Milano. Why? Well, as we’ll see later, Doherty doesn’t like a lot of people. Doherty said she left the show due to drama and unprofessionalism. She never accused anybody by name, but said she’d miss co-star Holly Marie Combs. Translation: screw you, Alyssa Milano. The writers killed off Doherty’s character in the third season finale. Luckily, there was a long-lost half sister witch (Rose McGowan) to take her place. Phew.
9. Saved by the Bell
The show Saved by the Bell is an interesting case, in that the drama was that there, apparently, was no drama. Or rather, the drama came after the show had ended. Dustin Diamond portrayed Screech on the show. And he hasn’t done much since, apart from being a controversial trainwreck. He wrote a book in which he alleged the set was rife with drug abuse and sexual promiscuity. And that he was left out and shunned by the other actors. These allegations have been roundly denied, however, principally by Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer. Meyer even went so far as to call Diamond a “d*ck” and say he “was full of”…well, you know. Diamond then claimed the ghost-writer of his book made up those stories, but then he contradicted himself when he produced the Lifetime series Behind the Bell, which was based on the claims he made in his book.
8. Mighty Morphin Homophobic Power Rangers
While it’s kind of hard to imagine drama on the set of Power Rangers, there was. And it was pretty ugly. David Yost, who played the Blue Ranger (Billy), is gay. At the time of the show, however, he wasn’t exactly out. Nevertheless, people on the show suspected as much and were not too kind to him about it. Yost apparently suffered homophobic verbal abuse from producers, writers, and the creators of the show. Yost was called “faggot” so many times on set that he eventually walked off at one point. Tragically, all this abuse led Yost to join a Pray Away the Gay Camp for two years and caused him to be suicidal. Thankfully, Yost seems much happier now as an out gay man. But Morphin Time was not a happy time for Yost.
7. Ian Maxtone-Graham vs Norm MacDonald
NBC’s Saturday Night Live’s illustrious history as a television institution is rife with behind the scenes drama. But this is a lesser known case, because it revolves around a non-performing writer. Ian Maxtone-Graham was a writer and producer of The Simpsons for 20 years and is responsible for writing some of the best –and worst– episodes of the show. Before any of that, however, Maxtone-Graham wrote for SNL. That was, however, until an altercation with Norm MacDonald, that, according to Jay Mohr, lead Maxtone-Graham to threaten a lawsuit. The altercation allegedly came about after Maxtone-Graham poured water over MacDonald’s head as the latter was smoking a cigarette in the writer’s room. Outraged, MacDonald punched him in the face. An audacious move considering Maxtone-Graham’s 6-foot-8 frame (he was the inspiration behind the “Very Tall Man” character on The Simpsons). MacDonald was never a stranger to conflict, making controversial jokes on “Weekend Update”, swearing on air, and apparently being fired by NBC producer Don Ohlmeyer, for repeatedly mocking Ohlmeyer’s real life friend, O.J. Simpson.
6. Matthew Perry’s Problems
It’s true that Matthew Perry’s –Chandler from Friends— struggles with drug addiction is hardly a secret at all right now. But at the time, few people knew of his problems. This is both perfectly understandable and baffling. It’s understandable because his performances on the show never seemed to suffer and the show largely kept producing at around the same quality it always had. On the other hand, look at him; Perry’s weight fluctuation in the show’s later years tells the tale of his addictions. Perry once was as thin as 145 pounds, before becoming bloated in later years. Perry entered rehab for Vicodin addiction in 1997 and again in 2001 for Vicodin, Methadone, amphetamines and alcohol. Thankfully, Perry has since recovered and has been much more open about his struggles.
5. Grace Under Fire
In yet another tale of substance abuse, Brett Butler’s problems had a much more drastic affect on her show, Grace Under Fire. While Jodie Sweetin’s problems came after Full House, and Perry’s problems were hidden by the ensemble cast of Friends, there was no getting around Butler’s addiction to pills and alcohol as she played the title character, Grace. Butler’s problems and combative behavior caused five producers to quit and the parents of the actor who portrayed her character’s son (Jon Paul Steuer), pulled him from the show after Butler showed him her new boob job. Things came to a head when Julie White, who played Grace’s best friend, quit the show and refused to return after a blow-up with Butler. All this chaos caused the producers to throw in the towel and cancel the show mid-season.
4. Shannen Doherty Strikes Again
Before her blood feud with Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty’s main rival was Jennie Garth. (This sounds like a pro-wrestling storyline.) Doherty and Garth did not care for each other and once even nearly came to blows on the set of Beverly Hills, 90210. It was only the physical intervention of other cast members that prevented an all out brawl. Altercations weren’t limited to the set, however, as the two had a heated exchange in a bar as well. Doherty also allegedly lifted up Garth’s dress during a take once. All of this became too much and producers identified Doherty as the bigger problem and jettisoned her from the show. The enmity between these two wasn’t the only problem producers had. Actress Gabrielle Carteris lied about her age to get on the show but was too entrenched by the time she was found out to be fired.
3. The Vanishing of Judy Winslow
Little Judy Winslow’s disappearance from Family Matters remains the stuff of Hollywood lore. The character walked up to her room one day and just… never returned. The actress that played Judy, Jaimee Foxworth, was written off when her parents demanded more money. The show had become increasingly focused on the Urkel character and thus the producers decided a replacement wasn’t needed and the character of Judy simply disappeared, never to be mentioned again. Unfortunately for Foxworth, she too was largely forgotten, only to be remembered for less-than-ideal reasons. After she grew up, she became addicted to drugs and began performing in p*rnographic films. While many p*rn actors choose their profession for good and healthy reasons, Foxworth does not appear to have been one of them.
2. Twin Peaks
David Lynch’s Twin Peaks was so weird and mysterious that it’s no shock that there was also drama off-camera. Lara Flynn Boyle and Sherilyn Fenn grew to dislike and mistrust one another. The cause of their feud? Kyle MacLachlan. Fenn has claimed the fact that she got more screen time with MacLachlan –Boyle’s then real life boyfriend– upset Boyle. Fenn also claims that Heather Graham and Billy Zane were brought on to the show in part to break up this situation and appease Boyle. But things only got worse when MacLachlan, who was already unsettled by the age difference between he and Fenn, was then scripted to have a relationship with the even younger Graham. All the while, Lynch was busy battling it out with the network executives who eventually forced him to reveal who killed Laura Palmer and the show quickly ran out of steam.
We’ve already seen the difference between what happens to a show when one of its major actors develops a drug addiction; and when that actor can and cannot keep those problems off set. Well, Martin Lawrence took his problems to all new heights. While Butler’s behavior on the set of Grace Under Fire was inappropriate and exhausting, Lawrence’s actions were downright terrifying. Actress Tisha Campbell claimed Lawrence’s drug addiction lead to erratic and dangerous behavior. Campbell claimed that Lawrence repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances towards her until she went the drastic route of negotiating her contract with the producers such that she never actually had to be on set with Lawrence at the same time; a real difficulty considering they played a happily married couple. The most salacious rumor of all is that Lawrence once even brandished a gun on set in order to bully his co-stars.