Netflix has given a 10-episode, straight-to-series order to a new animated take on Norman Lear’s classic sitcom “Good Times.” Lear and his Act III Prods. shingle is partnering with basketball star Steph Curry and his production company, Unanimous Media, as well as Seth MacFarlane and his shingle Fuzzy Door, to develop the show.
Both Act III and Unanimous are based at Sony Pictures TV, which is behind the animated “Good Times.” Carl Jones, whose credits include animated series “The Boondocks” and “Black Dynamite,” as well as TBS’ Tracy Morgan starrer “The Last O.G.,” will create, showrun and executive produce the project. Per the logline, the new animated series will follow “the Evans family as they navigate today’s world and contemporary social issues. Just as the original did years ago, ‘Good Times’ strives to remind us that with the love of our family, we can keep our heads above water.”
Said Jones: “It’s a dream come true to be working with the legendary talents of Norman Lear, Seth MacFarlane and Stephen Curry. We are excited to carry on the original legacy of ‘Good Times’ — but now animated and a little edgier. Let’s just say the struggle has just gotten strugglier.”
Besides Lear, Curry, Jones and MacFarlane, executive producers also include Brent Miller, who heads up Lear’s Act III; Unanimous Media co-founder and chief creative officer Erick Peyton; Unanimous’ Jeron Smith; and Fuzzy Door’s Erica Huggins.
It was Peyton who first broached the idea of a “Good Times” animated reboot with Miller and Lear, helped by the fact that their offices are near each other on the Sony lot. Unanimous TV head Jenelle Lindsay was pivotal in recruiting Jones to create the new adaptation.
“Unanimous is all about authentic partnerships and this team felt genuine from the beginning,” Curry and Peyton said in a joint statement. “‘Good Times’ strives to remind us that with the love of our family we can overcome any obstacle. We think, now more than ever, the world needs to see a show with hope and positivity.”
The news comes as another Lear property, the revived Pop TV series “One Day at a Time,” recently unveiled a special animated episode. Originally written in January, “The Politics Episode” wasn’t able to be shot live, due to the COVID-19 pandemic shut down of Hollywood productions. That’s why it was reworked into an animated half-hour, which ran this summer.
“Good Times” has also resurfaced recently thanks to Lear’s “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” which returned for a second installment last December. That special, which earned an Emmy nomination, featured the re-creation of a “Good Times” Season 3 episode from 1975, “The Politicians.” The updated live version featured Viola Davis, Andre Braugher, Tiffany Haddish and Jharrel Jerome, among others.
“We can’t think of anything better, at this time in our culture, than a reimagining of ‘Good Times’ animated,” Lear and Miller said in a joint quote. “In a year filled with darkness, this is one bright light we won’t soon forget. Thank you, Sony. Thank you, Netflix. Bless us all. ”
As reimagined by Jones, the animated “Good Times” will tackle a new story but will be inspired by the live-action show and the Evans family.
In the original series, Esther Rolle and John Amos played Florida and James Evans, the household heads of a family living in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green public housing project. Ja’Net Dubois, Ralph Carter, Jimmie Walker and Bern Nadette Stanis also starred. Amos departed the show after Season 3, after a dispute with the producers over the show’s direction. But he made a surprise appearance on “Live in Front of a Studio Audience.”
The original “Good Times” aired for six seasons on CBS, from 1974 to 1979, and was created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans, and developed by Lear. It was a spin-off of “Maude,” which in turn was a spin-off of Lear and Bud Yorkin’s “All in the Family.”
The new “Good Times” will rep the first animated series to be executive produced by Lear. In the past, Lear has worked as a consultant on “South Park.” His Act III Prods. also previously developed the kids series “Man of the House,” from writer/illustrator Michael Molina (“Trivia Night”), for Nickelodeon, and the project “Till the Fat Lady Sings,” which would have featured the voices of Anne Bancroft, Kirk Douglas and Alice Hirson.
“It’s a thrill to be partnering with Norman Lear and to help bring new life to his groundbreaking show ‘Good Times,’ through the talent and personal stories of Carl Jones and the team at Unanimous,” MacFarlane and Huggins said in a joint statement. “Animation is the ideal medium with which to reimagine the original show, and through the lens of Carl’s sharp, biting humor, audiences will grow to love these classic characters all over again.”
Sony Pictures TV’s Glenn Adilman, executive vice president of comedy development, expressed his thrill at partnering with Netflix on Jones’ “hilarious and extremely personal reimagining of the beloved series Good Times. And with the blue chip producing team of Norman Lear, Brent Miller, Seth MacFarlane and Stephen Curry, we know this animated adaptation will live up to the legendary status of the classic original.”
Added Netflix adult animation head Mike Moon: “’Good Times’ is an iconic series that has transcended generations. We are delighted to partner with this incredible and inspiring creative team in Norman Lear, Carl Jones, Stephen Curry, and Seth MacFarlane to bring this timely reimagining to life.”
Jones is repped by WME, The Vigilante Company, and Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light.