Entertainment

Jimmy Kimmel presents Norman Lear sitcom special with star-filled cast

Jimmy Kimmel is putting a contemporary spin on a couple of TV classics.

On his ABC late-night show Thursday, Kimmel announced a 90-minute, ABC special remembering two legendary Norman Lear comedies, “All in the Family” (1971-1979) and “The Jeffersons” (1975-1985), with a re-creation of an episode of each featuring present-day stars.

Kimmel and Lear will host “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons'” (May 22, 8 EDT/PDT). A star-studded cast, including Ellie Kemper, Jamie Foxx, Justina Machado, Marisa Tomei, Wanda Sykes, Will Ferrell and Woody Harrelson, will play characters in the episodes of the Lear-produced sitcoms, which became big hits when they launched in the 1970s. 

More: Norman Lear’s hits gain new relevance in era of TV remakes

Harrelson will play “Family” patriarch Archie Bunker with Tomei as his wife, Edith, and Kemper as daughter Gloria. In “The Jeffersons” episode, Foxx and Sykes will portray George and Louise Jefferson, with Ferrell as neighbor Tom Willis and Machado as Florence Johnston, who worked as the Jeffersons’ maid in the original series.

The “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host marveled at the material and the cast, which features Oscar winners Foxx and Tomei.

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USA TODAY

“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. To be a part of this is a dream come true for me and for everyone involved,” Kimmel said in a news release about the special. 

There’s big talent behind the camera, too, as renowned sitcom director and 10-time Emmy winner James Burrows will direct the special and Ferrell, Adam McKay, Justin Theroux and Brent Miller join Kimmel and Lear as executive producers.

In a statement, Lear said the special will disprove those who say the groundbreaking hits couldn’t be made 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,” Lear said. “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.” 

More: ‘One Day at a Time’ is canceled by Netflix; now producers, stars hope show finds new home

The special comes at an interesting time, as Netflix last month decided against going forward with a fourth season of “One Day at a Time,” a critically acclaimed re-imagining of another Lear sitcom hit that stars Machado. Sony Pictures Television, which is one of the producers of Kimmel’s special, has been trying to find a new TV home for “One Day.” 

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