ABC and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel will be presenting a most unusual experiment live on TV next week recreating two iconic episodes of Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons with completely different actors.
Kimmel and Lear will host the 90-minute special and James Burrow will serve as the director.
“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,” said Jimmy Kimmel in a recent press release from ABC.
The cast for the All in the Family episode includes Woody Harrelson playing the role of grumpy Archie Bunker and Marisa Tomei as his doting wife Edith. (The sad truth here is that Harrelson and Tomei are now old enough to play those roles.)
Ellie Kemper will take on the role of daughter Gloria and Ike Barinholtz will play her boyfriend (or husband depending on which episode they choose to air) Mike, aka Meathead. Sean Hayes will play Mr. Lorenzo
For the cast of The Jeffersons, Jamie Foxx will play hothead George Jefferson and Wanda Sykes as his wife Louise. Justina Machado will play the wisecracking maid Florence Johnston.
Will Ferrell and Kerry Washington will portray interracial couple Tom and Hellen Willis. Amber Stevens West is set to play Jenny Willis Jefferson, Jovan Adepo will reenact the role of Lionel Jefferson and Anthony Anderson joins the cast as Uncle Henry.
Stephen Tobolowsky is set to play the bumbling and British Mr. Bentley and Jackée Harry will play Diane Stockwell.
“They have said over and over again that these two shows were meant for the ‘70s and would not work today. 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,” said Norman Lear.
“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.”
ABC has not said which two episodes they chose to recreate for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons, but chances are good they will choose ones from the early years of the series.
Jimmy Kimmel got a chance to talk with some of the cast during Friday’s airing of Jimmy Kimmel Live to see how the rehearsals were going.
All in the Family ran on CBS from 1971 to 1979 featuring the Bunker family (Archie, Edith and Gloria and Gloria’s boyfriend Mike). Archie was the hot-headed, uber-opinionated head of the household while Edith was the sweet and loving wife and mother who never wanted to make waves.
Gloria was the loving daughter who ruffled Archie’s feathers by bringing her hippie boyfriend into the family.
“The award-winning series shaped ongoing political and social conversations among American families in the post-civil rights era,” says ABC.
The Jeffersons was a spinoff from All in the Family and ran on CBS from 1975 to 1985. It took on various subjects not usually featured on television.
The series centered on George and Louise Jefferson, a successful black couple who “moved on up to the east side” — a predominantly white world. The series featured TV’s first interracial couple and explored topics like race and class.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience will air on Wednesday, May 22 at 8 p.m. on ABC.