Forty-eight years after Archie Bunker first sat in his armchair and yelled at Meathead to get his feet off the coffee table, ABC announced a live tribute special to All in the Family and its spinoff, The Jeffersons. The one-night only event will air on May 22nd.
Hosted by legendary producer Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel, the tribute will star Woody Harrelson as the curmudgeonly Bunker and Marisa Tomei as his wife Edith—originally played by Carol O’Connor and Jean Stapleton. Jamie Foxx will take on Sherman Hensley’s role as George Jefferson alongside Wanda Sykes as Louise “Weezy” Jefferson. The show also stars Ellie Kemper as Gloria Stivic and Will Ferrel as Tom Willis. It will be directed by Cheers co-creator James Burrows.
“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,” Kimmel said in a statement. “To be a part of this is a dream come true for me and for everyone involved.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sony Pictures Television had been looking into rebooting Lear’s groundbreaking comedies for some time—a two-year, first-look deal had been made in July 2018. “These revered shows are as culturally relevant today as they’ve ever been, and the talent they have gathered makes this the can’t-miss television event of the year… make that decade,” said ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke.
Considering the issues covered in All in the Family were deemed so controversial for national television at the time—feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam War, to name a few—it’s hard to imagine how well the show would do in 2019. But at 96-years-old, Lear is determined to prove people wrong.
“They have said over and over again that these two shows were meant for the 70s and would not work today,” he said. “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.”