Actor Woody Harrelson at a red carpet at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. On Saturday evening October 22, 2016. (Photo by Gabriel Cristuver Perez)

Who’s ready for a new Archie Bunker, live on your TV?

The live special will recreate one original episode from ‘All in the Family’ and another from ‘The Jeffersons.’

Archie Bunker is coming back to prime-time network TV and he might look a little different to viewers — even if what he says is exactly the same.

Woody Harrelson is stepping into the iconic role as part of a 90-minute ABC special celebrating writer, director and producer Norman Lear. It airs May 22.

“It’s going to be exciting as hell,” said Lear. “Another version of Archie Bunker is going to play Archie Bunker. A great, great talent is going to be Archie Bunker.”

The live special will recreate one original episode from “All in the Family” and another from “The Jeffersons.” It will be hosted by Lear and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who dreamed up the idea.

“It really is astonishing just how great these shows are. I say ‘are’ and not ‘were’ because they are still great,” Kimmel said. “I’m excited that a new generation will get to see them, and be reminded of them, and then maybe take the time to go back and watch all the old ones.”

Joining Harrelson, who will be playing Carroll O’Connor’s old role in “All in the Family,” will be Marisa Tomei playing Bunker’s long-suffering wife, Edith. Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes will play George and Louise Jefferson in “The Jeffersons,” in roles played originally by Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford. The special will also feature Ellie Kemper, Jamie Foxx, Will Ferrell, Justina Machado, Kerry Washington, Sean Hayes and Anthony Anderson.

READ MORE: Canadian TV, film industry making progress on gender, but not race, study says

Lear’s two 1970s-era sitcoms are cut from the same topical cloth, tackling racism, feminism and the Vietnam War. Asked if they still hold up, Lear was clear. “I think they work very well,” he said. “Funny is funny.”

Kimmel took inspiration from the recent move by networks to mount Broadway musicals and make them into live events, like “Rent,” ”The Sound of Music” and “Grease.”

“I’m not that interested in musicals. I love television shows. And I was just thinking about what gets ratings on TV nowadays,” said Kimmel.

“It seems like live events are still pretty popular and still doing well. I was thinking about the old shows and I thought, ‘Why don’t we do one of these great old shows?’ I know people love ‘Grease’ but how many times do you need to see that?”

Though producers won’t reveal which episodes of the sitcoms are being restaged, Kimmel promised having them live in front of a studio audience — and the world on TV — will give the shows a jolt of electricity.

He wants Americans to watch them the way they used to — together, at the same time. He’s not worried about any screw-ups, either, since that adds to the suspense.

“We may release a box of rats onto the set just to see what happens,” he joked. “I think it adds something to the production. You see it in the live musicals. They wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if they were on tape.”

Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Man dies from injuries at Customs House construction site in Victoria

Investigation continues into the circumstance of man’s death

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

Netflix, Warner Bros filming 10-part series in Colwood

Filming takes place now until March 2021

Teams back on the field in Langford

Soccer championships back in action after postponement

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Refresh of Liberal government’s agenda comes amid new looming COVID-19 crisis

Lockdowns saw fed spending soar to historic levels in effort to offset pandemic’s blow to Canadians’ livelihoods

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Most Read