The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of TV’s most beloved shows, so it wasn’t too surprising when it was announced that the property was being revived for a new generation. This series, however, will look a bit different, though, as it will be a dramatic retelling of the original show’s story. News on the project has been scarce since Will Smith, an executive producer on the series, confirmed the project last fall. Now, the show has taken a big step forward but is experiencing some behind-the-scenes shakeups as well.
Peacock’s Bel-Air is finally in the process of casting the new version of the Banks Family, per Backstage. It’s fair to assume that Will Smith and his fellow producers are going to cast a wide net when it comes to searching for actors to succeed the likes of Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali and the late James Avery.
On the other side of things, Bel-Air has had to make a few key changes behind the camera. Chris Collins, known for his work on The Wire and The Man in the High Castle, departed his role as showrunner, writer and executive producer, per THR. Following Collins’ departure in December, Empire and When We Rise alum Diane Houston was tapped to succeed him but has now left the project as well.
T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson are now set to serve as co-showrunners of the new Fresh Prince of Bel-Air project, which has now been bumped back to 2022. The writing duo reportedly boarded the project when Diane Houston was brought on. While Brady and Newson are first-time showrunners, they’ve had plenty of experience working in the industry, as they’ve written for series like The Chi, The 100 and Lie to Me. And the duo seems to have plenty of support in the form of executive producers like Will Smith and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier alum Malcolm Spellman, who also joined the project earlier this year.
Bel-Air is based on a 2019 trailer created by filmmaker Morgan Cooper, which depicted a darker take on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s premise of a Philadelphia youth moving in with his wealthy California relatives. The trailer went viral and, after seeing it himself, Will Smith would help spearhead efforts to turn the concept into an actual TV show. Cooper was with Smith (virtually) when he announced that the show had received a two-season order at Peacock. The filmmaker is currently still attached to Bel-Air as a director, writer and executive producer. You can check out his original short for yourself down below:
While fans likely have mixed feelings about a Fresh Prince revamp, many within the original cast seem to be fine with the new series. Tatyana Ali, who played Ashley Banks, called the concept “brilliant,” while Aunt Viv actress Daphne Maxwell Reid previously told us that she finds the idea to be quite “interesting.” And while former Carlton Banks actor Alfonso Ribeiro wants it to be clear that the show is a reimagining, he seems to appreciate the series’ fresh approach.
Bel-Air does present an intriguing concept and, as a fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air myself, I’ll be among those who tune in for the show. But let’s just hope things settle down behind the scenes ahead of the show’s debut.