Those Were the Days…And those days are here once again with ABC’s highly anticipated live special Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons. The live special, produced by original creator Norman Lear and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, is just days away — and EW has your first exclusive look at the cast in the clip above.
On a soundstage, the all-star, award-winning cast, which includes Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, Kerry Washington, Ellie Kemper, and more promote the special and begin to get into character. Barinholtz sports a very 1970s mustache (did he grow it just to play Meathead?); Foxx yells out “Weezy!” in George Jefferson’s characteristic bellow, and Harrelson sings a strain of the classic All in the Family theme song.
“Anything could happen,” teases Stephen Tobolowsky, while Foxx jokes he might say something bleeped on air as the cast play up the live nature of the special.
Norman Lear talked to EW about this unique assembly of extremely talented actors, saying, “They’ll all bring something unexpected because we know the characters from the original show, and we know the actors from the things they’ve been doing preceding this event. And so, I’m going to be as eager and surprised as any viewer.”
However, Lear stresses that audiences shouldn’t tune in expecting these actors to be recreating the performances of the original actors in the roles. He has urged them all to make it their own.
Brent Miller, Lear’s producing partner and an executive producer on the special, elaborates, “Norman and Jimmy have been very clear to the cast that they understand that these are big shoes to fill, and they want them to feel comfortable creatively. They have really, over and over again, insisted that they do not try and replicate these roles or become Jean Stapleton or Carroll O’Connor. That they take on these roles as who they feel Archie and Edith are, or George and Weezy.”
Watch the clip above for your first glimpse of this starry cast. The special airs live (in case you didn’t catch that from the clip) on ABC on May 22 at 8 p.m.