CHICAGO — Kim Fields is both star and executive producer of the new Lifetime holiday movie “You Light Up My Christmas,” which premieres Sunday, and she’ll be joined by a trio of recognizable faces from early in her career. Specifically, her fellow cast members from the 1980s sitcom “The Facts of Life,” where she played Tootie for nine seasons.
“Being an executive producer, I appreciate how much Lifetime let my voice be heard,” said Fields. “And I said to them one day, ‘The holidays are all about family and these ladies are my family" -- that would be Lisa Whelchel (Blair), Mindy Cohn (Natalie) and Nancy McKeon (Jo). Fields told the network she wanted to “bring a little bit of Christmas magic and nostalgia and whimsy by having them make a special appearance in the film,' and they said, ‘Oh my gosh, of course! Yes!’ And so I reached out to the girls and told them what I was doing and they said, ‘Yes, we’d love to do it.’”
If there is yet another Christmas movie in Fields’ future (she’s done several, starting with “Have I Got a Christmas for You” in 1977) might she want to invite her co-stars from “Living Single,” the other sitcom that made her famous? “Absolutely.”
In “You Light Up My Christmas,” she plays a real estate broker who returns to the small town of her childhood, where her family has owned a Christmas light factory for generations and the business is on the verge of going under. While home, she reconnects with an ex (played by Adrian Holmes). “What’s exciting to me about this movie is that I’m the leading lady. What’s that line -- ‘I’m just a girl looking for a boy,’ ya know? And I’m excited to be that.”
When asked to share a worst moment in her career, Fields said: “Oh my gosh, well this one is well-documented. It’s when I was a guest star on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’”
In that episode, from 1993, she and Will Smith’s character get married -- but it’s really all a ruse just to get her character into bed. Fields picks up the story from there.
My worst moment ...
“I had to do a quick-change off camera from a bride’s skirt-and-jacket suit into my honeymoon attire. A quick change means, rather than stopping or pausing the camera (to change clothes) they thought the timing would be much better if Will was changing his clothes on camera while my character goes to the bathroom -- which was really backstage -- to change into the next outfit.
“So I was going into the little fake bathroom on the set to do the quick change while Will was doing his quick-change on camera, where he’s ripping off his clothes and throwing shoes and just going a million miles an hour to get ready for what supposed be our honeymoon night. And he kept getting faster and faster with the wardrobe change.
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“After we did a few takes the costumer said, ‘You know, it’ll buy me some time if we don’t button the skirt, if you just zip it up.’ The skirt had a zipper then a button at the top. And I said, ‘OK.’ And on the next take we didn’t button the skirt, we just zipped it.
“So Will and I are doing our dialogue right before I leave to do this quick-change. And all of a sudden I feel this draft around my legs and I’m like, ‘Why is it so cold all of a sudden?’
“And I looked down and my skirt had fallen completely around my ankles. It was gone. There was no moment of I feel it slipping and I can catch it. Oh no. It was gone. Around my ankles. And thank God I’m so short that the blazer that I was wearing covered my, uh, my treasure (long laugh).
“This was totally on camera! You can look this up, it is out there for all the ages. It’s not the take they ended up using on the show, but on ‘The Fresh Prince’ during the end credits they would show the bloopers from that episode, so that ran during the credits.
“And Will, bless his heart, after he laughed and I looked down and I screamed and squealed, he was such a wonderful gentleman that he put his hands up and walked towards the camera to cover the lens, like don’t-look-at-her kind of thing as I went racing out.
“That was definitely my most embarrassing moment.”
What did Smith say to her afterwards?
“Oh we just laughed and laughed and laughed. There’s nothing to do but laugh.
“And like I said, I just thought it was so precious and kind that he would try to cover everybody’s eyes, so to speak, by blocking the camera. It was just the kind of gentleman that he was and is.”
The takeaway …
“What did I learn? Button up your damn clothes (laughs)!”