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ABC Staging A Live Production of Classic Episodes of "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons" (1 Viewer)

Adam Lenhardt

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https://tvline.com/2019/04/18/all-in-the-family-woody-harrelson-archie-bunker-abc-special/

The 90-minute event will be hosted by Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel.

Woody Harrelson will play Archie Bunker, Marisa Tomei will play Edith, and Ellie Kemper will play Gloria.

Jamie Foxx will play George Jefferson, Wanda Sykes will play Louise, Will Ferrell will play Tom Willis, and Justina Machado will play Florence Johnston.

James Burrows will direct the special, which airs Wednesday, May 22 at 8/7c.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Additional Casting:

All In the Family:
  • Ike Barinholtz as Meathead
  • Sean Hayes as Frank Lorenzo
  • Anthony Anderson as Henry Jefferson
The Jeffersons:
  • Kerry Washington as Helen Willis
  • Amber Stevens West as Jenny Willis Jefferson
  • Jovan Adepo as Lionel Jefferson
  • Stephen Tobolowsky as Harry Bentley
  • Jackée Harry as Diane Stockwell
 

Garysb

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I wonder if they will announce which episodes they are remaking.

Based on the characters it appears the "All In The Family" episode will be "Henry's Farewell " or "We're Having a Heat Wave" which I believe are the only two episodes in which Henry Jefferson and Frank Lorenzo both appear,

The Jefferson episode appears to be the pilot AKA " A Friend In Need" which is the only episode the character "Diane Stockwell" appeared.
 
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Nelson Au

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I caught this broadcast, was home late from work so had it on whilst preparing dinner. I wasn’t planning on watching it because it was such a crazy idea.

I thought they did a very nice job of recreating the sets, costumes and hairstyles. I did not know who half the actors are recreating the roles as they were unrecognizable other then Woody Harrelson and Jamie Foxx and Will Ferrel and Kerry Washington.

The recreation of the theme songs were pretty good. But Jennifer Hudson’s version of The Jefferson’s theme song was really well sung.

I was never a fan of these shows, though I did see them during prime time as a youth. So their humor was sometimes lost on me. Though I got the idea of what both shows were doing.

Harrelson at first was jarring as Archie. He didn’t have the gravitas. But he did his best. I thought Foxx was over playing Hemsley’s original Jefferson a bit. Later during the Jefferson’s he’d calmed down. The actress doing Edith was pretty good.

The main reaction for me that felt odd was redoing the exact script from the 1970’s for a modern day audience. By that I mean the racial stuff. Things have gotten better but at the same time, it has not. So the message still plays, but the delivery felt odd. A show like Black-ish seems to deal with it in a much more modern way. So I wondered how a modern audience who’s never seen these shows would react.

On the other hand, I felt like I was watching two plays of an established play with new cast members. So looking at it that way, I thought it played ok.

Technically I thought it went off really well. A few shots had the boom mic come into the shot. And Foxx made one flub that he handled well.

I don’t know if this is something Jimmy Kimmel saw as a one off or experiment ABC let him do or if they plan to do more episodes or different shows. As live TV, it was kind of cool.
 

Malcolm R

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The actress doing Edith was pretty good.
I hope so. That was Academy Award-winner, Marisa Tomei. ;)

It won the night in the ratings, so I imagine we'll see more (until they start to drop off, like the live musicals have done).
 

David Weicker

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I was hoping we’d see Peg and Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill / Katey Sagal) in the audience during the second half. Oh well.
 

Garysb

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I thought "The Jeffersons "episode was much better than the "All In The Family" episode. The actors seemed to be trying to imitate the actors who originated the roles more than actually playing the characters. Woody Harrelson came across as a poor imitation , Jamie Fox was spot on in voice and look but was obviously much taller than Sherman Hemsley so George looked taller than he should be. Was a great surprise ,that I am glad wasn't spoiled , that Marla Gibbs played Florence. Sad to think that she is last regular cast member of "The Jeffersons" still with us. I hope ABC continues to do these live specials of classic comedies yearly. Assuming they do continue will they stick with Norman Lear or branch out to other producers such as Garry Marshall (Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy) and Grant Tinker ( Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart Show, Rhoda, WRKP in Cincinnati etc) . I know the producers I mentioned are no longer alive but I was referring to the shows they produced.

It is amazing to me how they accurately recreated the main sets from both shows. Its wonderful to see but it makes me want to see the original actors populate the original sets. Obviously that is not possible.
 
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Matt Hough

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Yes, I saw that the ratings were good, so I'm sure there will be more of these. I didn't watch, but I'm betting ABC will rebroadcast this, and I may catch it then rather than watching the On Demand presentation and having to sit through commercials.
 

Malcolm R

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Was a great surprise ,that I am glad wasn't spoiled , that Marla Gibbs played Florence. Sad to think that she is last regular cast member of "The Jeffersons" still with us.
She still has it, too. She was a guest star on an episode of The Neighborhood last fall, and was hilarious.

I sometimes get to see her on 227 reruns, too, on OWN.
 

Garysb

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Hollywoodaholic

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Woody's task was impossible matching O'Connor, so he came across the weakest, but most everyone else was quite good with the Jefferson's cast the best. Jaime Foxx defnitely got some laughs from me with not just his imitation, but his commitment and energy, well done.

Bring on some more. But don't move that stupid balcony set with Lear and Kimmel around. Way too goofy.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I’m watching it on Hulu now and it’s just...bizarre. Bizarre is the only word coming to mind.
 

Matt Hough

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I recorded last night's rebroadcast and watched it this afternoon. Everybody was trying really hard, but it's difficult to recapture lightning in a bottle: those shows were very important in their place and time in history but even though some of the ideas espoused still play in today's climate, the message seems forced now, at least to me. And the comedy except in a few places was muted.

I did not understand Stephen Tobolowsky's casting. Why not get a genuine English comic actor to play the role rather than settling for his very weak imitation of a Brit. Loved Sean Hayes' bit, and Jennifer Hudson sang her guts out of The Jefferson's title song.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I only made it through the All In The Family segment before giving up. The whole thing just struck me as a bizarre pantomime of what made the shows great in the first place. Several years ago, David Lynch created a webseries called "Rabbits" that was just this unnerving thing of three people wearing full rabbit costumes sitting in a sitcom-esque living room as a laugh track responded to all of their comments in an inappropriate fashion. It was so unsettling because it had all the outward trappings of a sitcom but just seemed wrong. That's sort of what this felt like to me.
 

EricSchulz

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I actually liked The Jeffersons better than AITF. Growing up I never missed AITF (after Mike and Gloria left I really felt the quality dropped off) but The Jeffersons I could take it or leave it. Definite kudos to Jennifer Hudson (she killed it!) and Marla Gibbs. I think most of Lear's shows had some of the best theme songs....
 

Adam Lenhardt

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I only made it through the All In The Family segment before giving up. The whole thing just struck me as a bizarre pantomime of what made the shows great in the first place.
I just finished watching the "All in the Family" segment of my recording. It's wonderful to see Norman Lear so present and healthy at 96, and to be part of this in such an active way. And I hope they do more of these, as this was a lot of fun.

But I thought they missed an opportunity by staging the episode as closely as possible to the original recording, between exactly recreating the sets and then the actors all imitating (to varying degrees of success) the original performers. I would have rather they approached it like a new production of an old play, where the dialogue is the same but everything else is up for grabs. I would have liked to see a different vision of what the Bunker house could be. I'd love to see Woody Harrelson play Archie Bunker unburdened by having to capture Carroll O'Connor's manner of speaking.

But I enjoyed what we got quite a bit. Despite a few dated references, the episode played. The energy and pacing wasn't quite at the level of the original, or maybe it's just my memory that was faulty.

The highlight for me was Marisa Tomei as Edith. She nailed Jean Stapleton's distinctive voice for the character, but she made some interesting choices. I think her Edith was a bit more self-aware than Stapleton's Edith.
 

Wiseguy

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I wonder if they will announce which episodes they are remaking.

The Jefferson episode appears to be the pilot AKA " A Friend In Need" which is the only episode the character "Diane Stockwell" appeared.

Technically, the pilot of The Jeffersons aired as the All in the Family episode "The Jeffersons Move Up." The Willises (portrayed by different actors) and George's mother had been introduced in an earlier episode "Lionel's Engagement."
 

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