ABC and Jimmy Kimmel announced plans for an unprecedented one-night television event featuring an all-star cast recreating classic episodes of Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons. The cast for the 90-minute special will be headlined by Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx and Will Ferrell.
Kimmel and Lear will host the event, in which the actors will perform one episode of the two television classics live. Harrelson will play Archie Bunker with Tomei as Edith Bunker. Foxx and Wanda Sykes will star as George and Louise Jefferson. Will Ferrell was cast as Tom Willis.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper will play Gloria Stivic and One Day At A Time star Justina Machado is playing Florence Johnston. More cast members will be named later.
“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 statement.
“They have said over and over again that these two shows were meant for the ‘70s and would not work today," Lear added. "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. 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."
All in the Family originally ran from 1971 to 1979, which famously touched on countless real-life subjects rarely tackled on American television at the time. Carroll O'Connor starred as Archie Bunker, a World War II veteran set in his ways and unwilling to deal with the social changes happening in front of him. Jean Stapleton played his wife Edith, while Sally Struthers played Gloria. Rob Reiner played Gloria's liberal husband Michael.
The series was followed by The Jeffersons, which ran from 1975 to 1985. It was the first series to feature an interracial couple and was one of the longest-running TV shows featuring African-American leads. The main cast included Isabel Sanford as Louise and Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson.
After the news broke, Kemper celebrated the news on Instagram.
"ECSTATIC to be a part of this!!!! Wednesday May 22 LIVE on ABC," Kemper wrote.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear's 'All in the Family' and 'The Jeffersons' will be directed by James Burrows with Lear, Kimmel, Brent Miller, Ferrell, Adam McKay and Justin Theroux as executive producers. The special will air live on Wednesday, May 22 at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images