The then-'ER' actor went one-on-one with Jaleel White and left Jo Marie Payton flustered

By Gerrad Hall
October 01, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT
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In the 1990s, Warner Bros.’ Burbank studios were buzzing with the stars of FriendsFull HouseMurphy Brown, and so many more, who were all filming their TV series during that time. So was Family Matters, and the stars fondly recall their days and famous neighbors there, especially one particular ER doctor.

I’ll never forget George Clooney,” Jo Marie Payton exclaims at EW’s recent reunion with the cast of the sitcom. “I love him to death. He helped me take my pots and pans into the set.”

GALLERY: See the Family Matters cast reunite in these exclusive photos

It’s quickly apparent by their shared laugh that Payton’s costars — Reginald VelJohnson, Telma Hopkins, Jaleel White, Kellie Shanygne Williams, Darius McCrary, Shawn Harrison, and Bryton James — know where this story is going.

“I’m taking my stuff out of my trunk, and George sees and he says, ‘Good morning,’ and asks if I need any help. He took all my stuff and he said, ‘Save some for me, whatever it is.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ Then I said [falling back in her seat, flustered], ‘Damn!'”

(No word whether Clooney got any of that gumbo Payton was making.)

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White had a very different experience with the future Oscar winner, albeit still an entertaining one.

“The ER stage was directly across from ours. Our basketball court … became synonymous with ‘that’s Jaleel’s basketball court,’” the onetime NBA hopeful explains. “I remember a teamster came onto our set and politely asked, ‘Would you mind if we moved the basketball hoop out into the common area between ourselves and the ER stage?’ I realized about a month later that this is technically no longer my basketball hoop; this hoop now belongs to Mr. George Clooney.”

While White can laugh about it now, back then he wasn’t about to give up “his” court so easily.

VIDEO: Jaleel White on how “Did I do that?” became his catchphrase

“I just figured, ‘Well, I have to kick his ass and remind him who this hoop belongs to.’ George Clooney and I played a particularly spirited game of one-on-one,” White recalls, “and of all people to walk by and watch this game conclude — ’cause we were really hacking on each other at this point — was [then-president of CBS Entertainment] Leslie Moonves. He was almost looking at it like, ‘Who is allowing the stars of these shows to beat on each other before they’re supposed to be filming?’”

White got to put his skills to use on the sitcom during a couple of its 215 episodes. You can see those and all nine seasons of Family Matters — plus other ABC comedies and TGIF titles including Full HouseStep by Step, and Home Improvement — now on Hulu.

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