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NBCUniversal-owned streamer Peacock has emerged as the winner in the bidding war for the drama reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, handing out a straight-to-series, two-season order for the update from original series star Will Smith.
Smith and Morgan Cooper are teaming to adapt the latter’s dramatic reimagining of the former’s beloved NBC comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that was taken out to buyers last month.
“We have just officially closed the deal with Peacock with an unprecedented two-season-order from a pitch,” Smith told Morgan Cooper and showrunner Chris Collins when he surprised them with the good news about Bel-Air in an announcement posted to YouTube (watch it below). “I’ve been in this business for 30 years and that does not happen. They ordered two full seasons of Bel-Air based on the quality of the pitch and the work that you guys have done. So I want to say congratulations. I am hyped.”
Bel-Air is described as a dramatic take on the beloved ’90s comedy that catapulted Smith to stardom over his six seasons starring as a street-smart kid who moves from West Philly to the tony Los Angeles neighborhood. With a reimagined vision, Bel-Air will dive deeper into the inherent conflicts, emotions and biases of what it means to be a Black man in America today, while still delivering the swagger and fun nods to the original show.
The new Bel-Air has been in the works for more than a year, after Cooper’s four-minute clip went viral when it was posted in March 2019 and caught Smith’s attention. Cooper, a Fresh Prince superfan, created and directed the trailer that reimagined the series as if it were a drama. He will co-write the script, direct and be credited as a co-EP.
The series is a co-production between Smith’s Westbrook Studios and original producers Universal TV. Peacock, Netflix and HBO Max were among the streamers who were bidding for the series. HBO Max is the current streaming home for the original series.
Original series producers Smith, Quincy Jones and Benny Medina, as well as creators Andy and Susan Borowitz, are all set to return as exec producers. Chris Collins (The Wire, Crash, Sons of Anarchy) will serve as showrunner, exec producer and is set to co-write the script alongside Cooper.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ran from 1990-1996 on NBC and was produced by Jones, Warner Bros. TV and what became Universal Television. Smith starred alongside James Avery, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell and Janet Hubert-Whitten/Daphne Maxwell Reid. Smith has remained close with the cast and recently reunited with everyone on SnapChat.
Reboots remain in high demand across broadcast, cable and streaming platforms as they come with built-in recognition and a viewership with built-in awareness, helping to reduce the costs of marketing and making it easier to cut through a crowded landscape. Key to reboots is having the original creators and studio attached, which Bel-Air has in spades. Miguel Melendez and Westbrook Studios’ Terence Carter are also attached to exec produce.
At Peacock, Bel-Air joins reboots of former NBC comedies including Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster, as well as an update of Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica as the NBCU streamer mines its top library titles to help boost the new platform.
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