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The star-studded cast of ABC’s live restaging of All in the Family and The Jeffersons has added several more big names.
The May 22 event, bearing the title Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons, will re-create episodes of the two classic sitcoms. Legendary producer Lear and Jimmy Kimmel are among the exec producers and will host the 90-minute special.
The new additions to the cast are Anthony Anderson of Black-ish — whose creator, Kenya Barris, is a huge admirer of Lear’s and invited him into the show’s writers room in 2016 — Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project, Blockers), Amber Stevens West (Happy Together), Sean Hayes (Will & Grace), Jovan Adepo (Jack Ryan, The Leftovers), Stephen Tobolowsky (The Goldbergs, Groundhog Day) and Jackée Harry (The Paynes, Sister Sister).
They join a cast that also features Woody Harrelson, who’s playing Archie Bunker, Jamie Foxx (George Jefferson), Marisa Tomei (Edith Bunker), Wanda Sykes (Louise Jefferson), Ellie Kemper (Gloria Bunker Stivic), Will Ferrell (Tom Willis) and Justina Machado (Florence Johnston).
Barinholtz will play Mike “Meathead” Stivic, Gloria’s husband and Archie’s polar opposite; Rob Reiner played the role in All in the Family. Anderson plays Henry Jefferson, George’s brother and for a time a neighbor of Archie’s in Queens. Mel Stewart recurred as Henry on early seasons of All in the Family but never appeared on The Jeffersons. Hayes will play Mr. Lorenzo, another neighbor of Archie’s who’s a part-time househusband. Vincent Gardenia played the character originally.
Adepo plays George and Louise’s son Lionel (played by the unrelated Mike Evans and Damon Evans in The Jeffersons‘ 10-season run); Stevens West plays Jenny, Tom (Ferrell) and Helen Willis’ daughter (Berlinda Tolbert in the original); Tobolowsky plays the Jeffersons’ neighbor Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict originally); and Harry plays Diane Stockwell, an old friend of Louise’s (Paulene Myers in The Jeffersons pilot, her only appearance).
The event grew out of a two-year, first-look deal Lear signed with Sony in 2018 that included the option to reimagine his past shows and potentially mount reboots a la Netflix’s One Day at a Time, which was canceled earlier this year after three seasons on the streamer.
Lear and Sony had discussed doing an updated version of All in the Family in 2015, and a year later considered having current stars take on some of Lear’s iconic characters in limited series. ABC’s one-off event is closer to the latter.
“They have said over and over again that these two shows were meant for the ’70s and would not work today,” Lear said when the special was announced. “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.
In addition to Lear and Kimmel, Lear’s producing partner Brent Miller, Ferrell, Adam McKay and Justin Theroux are executive producing the special. Ten-time Emmy winner James Burrows is directing.
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