Jamie Foxx is playing George Jefferson in the 90-minute ABC tribute to the writer, director and producer Norman Lear. The special will be a live-action special that will have the new cast of stars re-enacting an episode of each series from the original script of Lear’s sitcoms “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons”. Jamie Foxx will play George Jefferson which was originally played by Sherman Hemsley who played the character in All in the Family from 1973-1975 and the spin-off The Jeffersons from 1975-1985. Hemsley was the only cast member to appear in all 253 episodes of The Jeffersons.
Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx is more than qualified to play George Jefferson. The actor won the Academy Award for “Best Actor” for portraying Ray Charles in the critically acclaimed drama Ray. He also won the award for “Best Supporting Actor” for his role alongside Tom Cruise in the thriller Collateral. Jamie got his start in the live-action comedy sketch show In Living Color and then moved on to star in The Jamie Foxx Show a few years later. He’s an accomplished comedian and has the TV comedy experience to excel in this role.
Big Shoes to Fill
The Jeffersons, at least the earlier episodes in the 1970s, dealt with heavy issues such as interracial marriage and racism. Sherman Hemsley was able to bring some much-needed levity to the heavy subject matter which is part of what made the show such a success. The Jeffersons dealt with relatable, real-world issues that audiences around the United States connected with. 2019 is a new era, and people are much more sensitive discussing the same subjects that were covered in the 1970s.
At the taping on Tuesday, Jimmy Kimmel warned the crowd, “Some of the jokes are going to be shocking to you,” noting that certain words aren’t acceptable on TV but “now you can have dragons burning naked women at the stakes.” As Variety reports, Lear will appear in a pre-taped segment before the show to explain that “people weren’t used to TV shows dealing with issues,” and that humor was one way to do so — but that “the language can still be jarring today.”
Jamie Foxx will have his hands full portraying not only one of the most recognizable, beloved characters in TV history but one that has to wring comedy out of these hot button issues. During the run through yesterday, the star didn’t seem to mind the challenge. As Variety reports,
Before the second half began, Foxx couldn’t help but mug for the audience and interact with the crowd (a week after he similarly took over the DJ booth at Fox’s upfronts party in New York), before doing an exaggerated strut in the style of Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson.
Jamie will be helped by a Star-Studded Cast
Jimmy Kimmel, who produced the show, will host the night, and Emmy winner James Burrows will be directing. Jamie will also play opposite to some equally hilarious people including Wanda Sykes as Louise Jefferson, Will Ferrell as George and Louise’s friend Tom Willis and Justina Machado as Jefferson housekeeper, Florence Johnston. The show will also feature Kerry Washington, Amber Stevens West, Stephen Tobolowsky and Jackee Harry in various roles.
A Fitting Tribute
Jimmy Kimmel, who is producing the show, called Norman Lear’s sitcoms “two of the greatest and most important shows in TV history.”
“[Lear] did so much for freedom of speech and inclusivity,” Kimmel told the audience at a rehearsal. “We’d be way behind without him.”
He explained his inspiration for the reboot, “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.”
Be sure to watch Jamie Foxx as George Jefferson at 8:00 PM EST on ABC. Click here to find out how to stream it online.