Harrelson & Foxx lead ‘All in the Family/Jeffersons’ reboot

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I’ve often said that with all of the political correctness out there that you could never get away with half of the things Archie Bunker said or George Jefferson calling white people, “honky” almost ten times an episode.

What 96-year-old Norman Lear was able to do with All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Sanford and Son and more was make biting commentary after biting commentary about what we as a country were going through in the seventies.

Lear forced us to take an insightful and shocking look at how we viewed race and prejudice, and, in turn ourselves. In addition, the shows covered so many social issues that are still relevant today such as rape, ageism, inequality, women’s rights, politics, unemployment, cancer, abortion and immigration.

These were shows my mom introduced me to as a kid in the seventies. I laughed, cried and was shocked as was most of America.

Apparently, Jimmy Kimmel Show host Jimmy Kimmel is out to prove me wrong.

Kimmel is rebooting a classic episode of All in the Family and The Jeffersons for one night in a 90-minute special called Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

Carroll O’Connor’s iconic blue-collar character will get new life from Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson and his loving and loyal “dingbat” Edith will be played by Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei. Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes will take on the roles of George and Louise “Weezy” Jefferson.

Oscar winner Jamie Foxx will take on the titular role of The Jeffersons.

Creator Norman Lear will co-host the special. “Many say these two shows were meant for the ’70s and would not work today,” he said in a statement. “We disagree with them and are here to prove, with two great casts depicting All in the Family and The Jeffersons, the timelessness of human nature. I cannot wait to see what these glorious performers make in our time of these indelible characters, and I couldn’t be more grateful for Jimmy Kimmel, Sony and ABC for their collective willingness to conceive and pursue this never-been-done-before event.”

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According to The Wrap, legendary sitcom director James Burrows (Cheers) will direct, with Lear, Kimmel, Will Ferrell, Brent Miller, Adam McKay and Justin Theroux on board as executive producers

Speaking of Ferrell, he is expected to appear on The Jeffersons’ episode as neighbor Tom Willis. He will be joined by Ellie Kemper who will play Archie’s daughter Gloria Stivic and Justina Machado as Jefferson maid Florence Johnston. No word on who will play progressive liberal and Archie’s “meathead” son-in-law Michael Stivic or Tom Willis’ wife .

All four lead actors in the original shows — O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford — have passed, but other co-stars are still with us today. Sally Struthers played the Bunkers’ daughter Gloria while director Rob Reiner played Michael.

“The fact that a group of Oscar winners eagerly agreed to play these iconic characters is a testament to the greatness of these shows and their creator, Norman Lear. To be a part of this is a dream come true for me and for everyone involved,” Kimmel said in a statement.

According to a story in The Hollywood Reporter, back in 2015, Lear and Sony were mulling an updated take on All in the Family, the Emmy-winning sitcom about at a bigoted working-class guy named Archie. A year later, the idea was to have the biggest stars of the era step into the shoes of Lear’s iconic characters for a string of miniseries.

The 90-minute live special will air May 22 on ABC. The Reel 360 team can’t wait to be proven wrong!

SOURCE: The Wrap and Hollywood Reporter.

Contact Colin Costello at colin@reelchicago.com.