Woody Harrelson and Jamie Foxx will helm a unique special that puts a new twist on the trend of live TV productions. The actors will star as two iconic classic TV characters in the upcoming ABC live event, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons, more than 40 years after the original shows aired on CBS, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Harrelson will take on the role of Archie Bunker, made famous by Carroll O’Connor in the 1970s sitcom All in the Family, while Jamie Foxx will play George Jefferson in the role originally made famous by Sherman Hemsley in The Jeffersons spinoff. The star-studded, 90-minute tribute special will be produced by a team led by Jimmy Kimmel and TV legend Norman Lear.
The cast also includes Marisa Tomei as Archie’s wife, Edith Bunker (originally played by Jean Stapleton), and Wanda Sykes as George’s wife, Louise Jefferson (played by Isabel Sanford in the 1970s original). In addition, Ellie Kemper will play Archie and Edith’s daughter, Gloria Stivic, and Will Ferrell will appear as George and Louise’s neighbor and friend, Tom Willis. Justina Machado will play the Jeffersons’ housekeeper Florence Johnston (originally played by Marla Gibbs). The full cast list for the one-night TV revival will be revealed soon.
In a statement about the live TV tribute, Norman Lear noted that critics have long said that All in the Family and The Jeffersons were shows “meant for the ’70s and would not work today.” The legendary television producer vowed that the live special will prove “the timelessness of human nature.”
In 1971, All in the Family debuted on CBS and immediately sparked political and social conversations throughout the country. The controversial CBS comedy, which aired from 1971 through 1979, starred O’Connor as working class Archie Bunker, a bigoted loudmouth who often sparred with his liberal son-in-law, Mike aka “Meathead,” played by Rob Reiner. The Emmy-winning series made headlines as it tackled hot-button topics such as religion, racism, women’s liberation, homosexuality, and the Vietnam War, and it soon spawned a groundbreaking spinoff about the Bunkers neighbors, George and Louise Jefferson.
The Jeffersons ran on CBS from 1975 to 1985 and was the first TV series to prominently feature a married interracial couple, with the Jeffersons’ neighbors Tom and Helen Willis (played by Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker). The long-running show followed former Bunker neighbors George and Louise as they “moved on up” from Queens to a high-end East Side apartment after the success of George’s dry cleaning chain.
The Jeffersons was abruptly canceled in 1985 and was never given a proper finale episode. More than 30 years later, the live TV special will give fans of the iconic comedy some closure.
You can see Carroll O’Connor and Sherman Hemsley’s Archie Bunker and George Jefferson in a classic All in the Family scene below.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons airs May 22 at 8 p.m. on ABC.