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

First responders continue to rally in support of Kelowna health care workers

Pandosy Street was packed with supporters for the second night in a row

COSAR assists first responders with injured hiker in K.L.O. Creek Park in Kelowna

This is the second incident COSAR has responded to in 24 hours

Vehicle goes up in smoke in Kelowna garage

Fire department on-scene in 200 block of Poplar Point Drive near Knox Mountain

COSAR rescues two lost hikers from Okanagan Mountain Park

Two male hikers were overdue from a hike they left for on the morning of March 28

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

Okanagan women spending quarantine making masks

Group at Predator Ridge, and a colleague in Vernon, keeping busy making surgical masks for others

Most Read