Jamie Foxx stole the show as George Jefferson. The Oscar-winning actor took on Sherman Hemsley’s classic TV character on ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons, and he gave audiences an unexpected bonus laugh when he flubbed a line and broke character during the live broadcast.
The restaged All in the Family episode was 1973’s “Henry’s Farewell.” In the episode, George Jefferson’s brother Henry (played in the remake by Anthony Anderson) is getting ready to start his own dry cleaning business and is being feted by neighbors Archie and Edith Bunker (Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei). George, who has long refused to enter the Bunkers’ house, shows up to toast his brother.
Enter Jamie Foxx, who nailed Hemsley’s voice and strut as he made his debut as George Jefferson. But during the toast exchange with Anderson, Foxx stuttered over his line then hilariously reminded audiences it was a live performance, per E! News.
“It’s live. Everyone sitting at home just think their TV messed up.”
The studio audience roared, and as Foxx took a second to get back into character, his co-stars Woody Harrelson, Wanda Sykes, Marisa Tomei, Ellie Kemper, and Ike Barinholtz, tried not to laugh, but they were all clearly losing it. Jamie Foxx, back in character as George Jefferson, then strutted around in a circle and continued on with the scene.
You can see Jamie Foxx’s flubbed line and his subsequent save in the scene below.
— ABC (@ABCNetwork) May 23, 2019
Jamie Foxx easily proved why he was the perfect choice to play George Jefferson. When the 90-minute special was first announced, executive producer Jimmy Kimmel issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter about the star-studded cast for the All in the Family-Jeffersons event.
“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.
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) May 23, 2019
Of course, the live remake created buzz even before it aired. Some classic TV fans felt the All in the Family and Jeffersons episodes did not need to be remade to begin with. Others felt the episodes would not be relevant today. (In addition to “Henry’s Farewell,” a 1975 Jeffersons episode, “A Friend in Need,” was restaged.)
But show creator Norman Lear noted that many of the same issues that were important back in the early 1970s are still relevant in today.
“We hope tonight will make you laugh, provoke discussion, and encourage action. There is so much more work we must do in this country we love so much,” Lear said at the beginning of the broadcast.