George and Louise Jefferson are returning to network TV, only this time Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes will be moving on up. The late Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford [pictured above] played the characters on the original series.
The re-imagining is part of a live primetime special ABC plans to air next month. The 90-minute tribute will include one new episode of All in the Family and one new episode of its spinoff, The Jeffersons.
On Thursday night, Jimmy Kimmel announced he’s teaming up with Norman Lear, who created the two CBS sitcoms, for a live re-creation of the iconic 1970s series. The legendary producer and the late-night star will host and executive produce the star-studded tribute.
The special will feature Woody Harrelson playing All in the Family‘s Archie Bunker, with Marisa Tomei portraying his beleaguered wife Edith. In Addition to Foxx playing George Jefferson and Sykes co-starring as his wife Louise “Weezy,” other castmembers include Will Ferrell as George and Louise’s friend Tom Willis and Justina Machado is set to play sassy housekeeper Florence Johnston.
“The fact that a group of Oscar winners eagerly agreed to play these iconic characters is testament to the greatness of these shows and their creator, Norman Lear,” Kimmel said. “To be a part of this is a dream come true for me and for everyone involved.”
Lear, 96, admitted he’s been told it’s a bad idea to bring the iconic shows back, but whatever, he plans to do his thing.
“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,” he said.
Time — and ratings — will tell if this is good idea, or if Lear should have listened to the warnings.
Live In Front Of A Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All In The Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ is slated to air on ABC, Wednesday, May 22, from 8-9:30 PM ET.