ABC has found a new niche: nostalgic live TV, fueled by the success of this year’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons one-night-only revival. At Monday’s Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke revealed that the network will add two more installments to its new Live in Front of a Studio Audience franchise. Sitcom legend Norman Lear, who created All in the Family and The Jeffersons, and Jimmy Kimmel will once again be tapped to host and executive produce the specials.
It has not yet been revealed which vintage shows will get the live reenactment treatment. However, one special will be holiday-themed and one will air in spring 2020. They will both be fresh takes on old shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
It’s not surprising that ABC would dip back into this well of nostalgia television. In May, the network landed ratings success after tapping stars like Jamie Foxx, Woody Harrelson, and Marisa Tomei to reenact episodes of Lear’s classic sitcoms. The special nabbed 10.4 million viewers and earned warm reviews from critics. “Yes, the conceit was gimmicky—but by the end, ABC had pulled off an entertaining, strangely touching tribute to television as a medium,” Vanity Fair’s Laura Bradley wrote. The special also yielded a hilarious viral moment when Foxx, who was playing George Jefferson, flubbed a line and decided to momentarily break character instead of speeding away from the mistake. “It’s live!” he said. “Everyone sitting at home just thinking their TV just messed up.”
The special earned three Emmy nominations, including outstanding variety special (live), and also made history; at 96 years old, Lear is now the oldest Emmy nominee ever. The four-time Emmy winner teased the renewal of Live in Front of a Studio Audience back in June, telling Deadline that the storylines are still relevant to modern times.
“The younger generations are often surprised with how the problems with the families resonate,” he said. “That’s because we were dealing with problems that relate to the human experience — and that experience hasn’t changed. It evolves.”
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