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

Lithium-ion battery fire damages suite in Nanaimo

One man displaced from home after battery for radio-controlled toy bursts into flame while charging

Nanaimo pianist and future doctor honoured for ‘excellence in culture’

Devon Joiner is among this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners

Volunteers on Vancouver Island checking in on seniors during pandemic

United Way reports 2,600 phone check-ins and 1,300 ‘virtual visits’

Nanaimo mayor, in his work as a lawyer, named in lawsuit over client’s will

Leonard Krog administrator of an estate being challenged under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act

B.C. Ferries says Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay sailings filling up fast

Tsawwassen-Duke Point may be a better alternative between June 4 and 7, says ferry corporation

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Beefs & Bouquets, June 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Cortes Island affordable housing project hangs by a thread

Regional decision makers resort to COVID-19 concerns despite virtual meeting option and push hearing to September

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

North Island recreation camping site closed due to vandalism

Damage happens every year, forcing site manager to reallocate improvement budget to repairs

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Most Read