The Emmy Award-winning Live In Front of A Studio Audience returns to TV on Wednesday night, recreating the 1970s classic sitcoms, All In the Family and Good Times, and both stagings will feature a slew of A-list celebrities. While All In the Family is having Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei reprise their roles as Archie and Edith Bunker,Good Times will star a fresh crop of talented actors, including Andre Braugher, who is taking on the lead role of James Evans (John Amos).
Executive produced by Norman Lear, Jimmy Kimmel, Brent Miller, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux and Kerry Washington, the latter of whom played Helen Willis in The Jeffersons portion of Live in Front of a Studio Audience last year, this new holiday special is bringing back Good Times for the first time, a groundbreaking series which featured a poor Chicago couple, Florida (Esther Rolle) and James Evans (John Amos), as they raised their kids, JJ (Jimmie Walker), Thelma (BernNadette Stanis), and Michael (Ralph Carter).
Created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans, along with Lear, who helped develop the series when it originally premiered in 1974, Good Times was a spin-off from the hit show, Maude, and it was the first mainstream TV series to feature a two-parent African American household. Along with Sanford and Sons and The Jefferson, Good Times was one of the highest rated TV series in its first few years.
Joining Braugher in ABC’s live re-staging, is Academy Award winner Viola Davis, who will play Evans’ wife Florida, and comedian Tiffany Haddish will star as the family’s next door neighbor, Willona Woods (Ja’Net Dubois). Playing the Evans’ children will be Jay Pharoah as JJ, Asante Blackk as Michael, and Corinne Foxx, Jamie Foxx’s real-life daughter, as Thelma.
Braugher Says ‘Good Times’ Continues To Remain Relevant Today
Braugher, a two-time Golden Globe nominee, who’s best known for his role as Captain Ray Holt on the long running comedy series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and from his six years on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – the actor has big shoes to fill in the patriarch role of James Evans on Good Times.
Braugher, who’s originally from the Windy City himself, said the iconic series continues to resonate with him for numerous reasons.
“The Evans are a black family living in the projects in Chicago,” Braugher said on GMA. “There’s a kind of earthiness, a reality that Norman Lear is trying to set up in a certain way, that I think is appealing to people. Part of Lear’s genius is to make these stories real… so they have the generational strife, they have the racial strife, they have the societal complications and such. Those things haven’t changed, and they still ring true for us today.”
Why Did John Amos, The Original Star of ‘Good Times’ Leave The Show?
While Good Times ran for a successful six season, after John Amos, who originally played the role of James Evans, left the show, the series saw a sharp decline in popularity. Amos later said his exit was due to the show’s new focus on his character’s jokey son, JJ, and the storylines becoming mere frivolous comedy.
Amos was vocal about his objections at the time, which didn’t sit well with producers. In a 2015 interview with the Archive of American Television he explained, ““I felt that with two other younger children, one of whom aspired to become a Supreme Court justice—that would be Ralph Carter, or Michael—and the other, BernNadette Stanis… she aspired to become a surgeon. And the differences I had with the producers of the show… I felt too much emphasis was being put on J.J. and his chicken hat and saying ‘dy-no-mite’ every third page, when just as much emphasis and mileage could have been gotten out of my other two children.”
It was agreed that Amos would be written him off the show. In Season 4, it was revealed that James Evans had been killed on Good Times.