Entertainment

This Is A Story All About How A Viral Youtube Video Became The Next ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’

That’s right the 90s classic starring Will Smith is being flipped-turned upside down into a dramatic television series.

You might remember a year ago when a creative YouTube trailer of a dramatic version of the beloved series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” went viral. When the original trailer first came out, fans could not stop talking about the accurate POV the series presented of the original NBC comedy. The fresh trailer clipped out the goofy and playful nature that a young Will Smith presented in the original series and revealed a much more dramatic reimagining of the series about a street-wise teen who moved from West Philadelphia to Bel Air, California. The trailer was such a success among fans that it went so far as to capture the attention of the original star of the series.

Now, the series that catapulted Will Smith to stardom is getting a remake.

The new series called “Bel-Air” is described as a “dramatic take” on the former series that ran for six seasons.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new series has been in the works for well over a year after the four-minute trailer went viral last March. The creator behind the series, Morgan Cooper, has been a longtime Fresh Prince fan and directed and posted the trailer which reimagined the series with much darker undertones. Cooper will produce the series alongside the original Will Smith. He will also co-write and direct.

What’s more, the new series is headed back home

Just a month ago the repackaged drama is being shopped to streamers and will be co-produced by Smith’s Westbrook Studios and the original producer of the series: Universal TV.

According to The Hollywood Reporter Peacock, Netflix and HBO Max were some of the top streamers bidding on the series. “HBO Max is the current streaming home for the original series,” THR reports. “Bel-Air is described as an hourlong dramatic retelling of the beloved ’90s sitcom that leans into the original premise of Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air. With a reimagined vision, Bel-Air will dive deeper into the inherent conflicts, emotions and biases of what it means to be a Black man in America today, while still delivering the swagger and fun nods to the original show.”

Earlier this week, Will Smith announced on his YouTube Channel that the new series has been signed to Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service.

“We have just officially closed the deal with Peacock with an unprecedented two-season order from a pitch,” Smith announced in the video. “I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and that does not happen.”

Speaking about his excitement over seeing his classic series get a modern twist, Smith said “The Carlton character — a Black, young Republican, modern-day? The heat that will be stirred up between these characters. It’s like, what’s the Hilary character in a world of Instagram and social media?”

Besides Smith, the new series will see original participants such as Quincy Jones, Benny Medina, and creators Andy & Susan Borowitzreturn return as executive producers.

You may remember that the original “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” series ran for six seasons from 1990-1996 on NBC. At the time it was produced by Jones and Warner Bros. TV and it starred young Will Smith as the titular character “Will Smith” and featured actors James Avery, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell, Janet Hubert-Whitten and Daphne Maxwell Reid.

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Will Smith And Aunt Viv Finally Confronted Their Decades-Long ‘Fresh Prince’ Rift —”It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned black woman”

Fierce

Will Smith And Aunt Viv Finally Confronted Their Decades-Long ‘Fresh Prince’ Rift —”It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned black woman”

NBC

The Tale of Aunt Viv was probably every millennial’s first-ever encounter with a celebrity feud played out on screen. Vivian Banks was the beloved maternal aunt of Will Smith’s “Fresh Prince” and captivated the hearts of young viewers for her no-nonsense and nurturing character. She was astute, career-driven, and had some incredible vocal chops. Or at least, that’s how she was when actress Janet Hubert portrayed her during the first two seasons. Then actress Daphne Maxwell Reid took on the role. Suddenly Aunt Viv became quite a bit less fiery and more likely to support her children’s strange decisions. Still lovable, not totally recognizable.

Of course, it didn’t take long for rumors about a set dispute between Hubert and Smith to reveal that the original Aunt Viv had been forced out of the role. The rumors became one of the biggest bits of celebrity chisme in homes and got more attention as the characters made jokes about Hubert. You may remember Will occasionally referring to Hubertin family photos as looking “mannish.”

Fortunately, it looks like Will Smith and his former co-star Janet Hubert are finally having a heart-to-heart about their old brawl.

NBC

In an emotional episode of The Red Table Talk, Will Smith sat down with Janet Hubert ahead of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cast reunion to lay it all out there. Jumping into Jada-mode, Smith sat down with Hubert at the Red Table to discuss why campaigned against Aunt Viv almost thirty years ago.

You might remember Smith claimed in a radio interview soon after Hubert was pushed out from the show that he could “say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air show, because I know she is going to dog me in the press… She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. She’s mad now, but she’s been mad all along. She said once, ‘I’ve been in the business for 10 years, and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.’ No matter what, to her, I’m just the Anti-Christ.”

In response, Hubert hit back saying “He probably is responsible for my firing… He has a lot of clout. It’s too bad that it’s a Black-on-Black attack. I have tried not to name names. I have more class than that. I wish Will would tell the truth. If you’re going to talk, tell the truth. He has gotten me fired from the show, and now he’s trying to get my career snatched away from me.”

Of course, neither of their interviews told the whole story. During the reunion special, Hubert revealed that she found herself stuck in an abusive relationship during the third season and pregnant. “I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking because there were things that were going on that nobody knew about. The cast had no idea what was going on.”

Hubert revealed that during the third season of the show she was edged out with a deal she could not accept. “They said you’ve got two months and two weeks of work, and you cannot work anywhere else,” she revealed. “That meant my salary was cut. I had a new baby and a husband who was out of work. So I said no. I did not accept their offer. I was never fired. So the misconception was always put out there. I was trapped. What could I do? So they said, ‘Okay, we’re going to recast your role.’ And I said, what could I say? I was hurt deeply.”

In a separate interview, Smith admitted he “wasn’t sensitive, I wasn’t perceptive… Now that I’ve had three kids, I’ve learned some things I did not know at the time and I would do things very differently. I can see where I made the set very difficult for Janet.”

Speaking on the Red Table Talk, Hubert told Smith how her life fell apart after show.

“When I left the show, I had this new baby and no one—family disowned me, Hollywood disowned me. My family said you’ve ruined our name,” she explained. “And I wasn’t unprofessional on the set. I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn’t know who to trust because I had been banished. And they said it was you who banished me. Because you were Will. You were a kid. It was hard.”

“I was 21 years old. Everything was a threat to me,” Smith explained. “I was so driven by fear and jokes and comedy, and all of that.”

In a separate interview for the Red Table Talk, Smith spoke with YouTube’s Dr. Ramani Durvasula to go over clips of his sit-down with Hubert to dive into his behavior and mindset as a rising sitcom star.

Smith explained that the childhood abuse he experienced at the hands of his father caused him to feel a deep sense of insecurity. “On my ‘little boy in me’ level, I needed Mommy to think I was great,” he explained, referring to his desire to have Hubert’s approval. “And then once I realized that she didn’t, my dragon woke up.”

This behavior, Hubert says, destroyed her career. “Words can kill,” Hubert told Smith. “I lost everything. Reputation, everything. Everything. I understand, you were able to move forward but you know those words, calling a black woman difficult in Hollywood is the kiss of death. It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned black woman in this business but I felt it was necessary for us to finally move forward. And I’m sorry that I have blasted you to pieces.”

In the end Smith and Hubert seemed to find strength and love for each other in their reunion. “I am so thankful for all the love being shown and the understanding,” Hubert tweeted Thursday. “Will and team let me participate in whatever I wanted and felt comfortable doing. After 27 years of disconnect, we are all different people. It was great seeing everyone, life is too short!”

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CBS Pledges to Make the Casts of ‘Survivor’ and ‘Big Brother’ 50% People of Color

Entertainment

CBS Pledges to Make the Casts of ‘Survivor’ and ‘Big Brother’ 50% People of Color

Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

CBS just announced that it is committing to making at least 50% of the casts of their unscripted shows Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC). CBS also announced that they are devoting 25% of their unscripted budget to BIPOC creators. The changes are expected to take effect in the 2021-2022 season.

“The reality TV genre is an area that’s especially underrepresented, and needs to be more inclusive across development, casting, production and all phases of storytelling,” said CBS CEO George Cheeks. “As we strive to improve all of these creative aspects, the commitments announced today are important first steps in sourcing new voices to create content and further expanding the diversity in our unscripted programming, as well as on our Network.”

CBS’s unscripted TV shows include fan-favorite staples like “Survivor”, “The Amazing Race”, “Big Brother”, and “Love Island”. The network has regularly come under fire for failing to cast diverse talent in both their scripted and unscripted programs. Unlike other broadcast networks like ABC (Grey’s Anatomy, literally any other Shondaland show) or NBC (This Is Us, Superstore), CBS has a reputation for white-washing its programming.

Last year, a former CBS Diversity & Inclusion executive wrote an op-ed in Variety accusing the company of having a “white problem”.

“While CBS proudly touts its diversity programs, a close look beneath the surface reveals that the company is unconcerned about creating space for minorities,” wrote Whitney Davis, who is a Black woman. “CBS continues to promote its diversity initiatives in public, while internally minorities are practically invisible.” 

In June of this year, a group of Black “Survivor” alumni created a petition demanding that the stalwart show make 30% of its cast BIPOC. They also asked that BIPOC are given “equitable screen time and opportunities to participate in marketing and promotional events.” The show’s Black alumni alleged that they were ostracized, gaslighted, and short-shrifted while they were contestants on the show. The petition received almost 8,000 signatures to-date.

As is expected, fan reactions have been mixed. Some people are happy that CBS is making the effort to fix the structural problems of their company. But others feel that the commitment is forced and will result in BIPOC cast members being treated as tokens.

This person is confident that CBS’s unscripted shows will simply improve by including more people of color on their cast lists.

If anything, this decision will add some much-needed change to their tired formulas.

This person was ready to submit their application.

Now that people know the playing field is more even, we’re sure that CBS will receive a more diverse pool of applications.

This person has doubts as to how CBS will approach choosing and casting POC.

It’s one thing to talk about diversity, but it’s another thing to actually choose people who represent a range of diverse cultures.

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