Now this is a story all about how … a viral YouTube trailer is becoming a hot TV series.
Will Smith and Morgan Cooper are teaming to adapt the latter’s dramatic re-imagining of the former’s beloved NBC comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Bel-Air is described as a dramatic take on the beloved ’90s comedy that catapulted Smith to stardom over six seasons starring as the street-smart kid who moved from West Philly to the tony Los Angeles neighborhood. With a re-imagined 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.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the new Bel-Air has been in the works for more than a year after the four-minute clip went viral when it was posted in March 2019 and caught Smith‘s attention. Cooper, a Fresh Prince superfan, created and directed the trailer that re-imagined the series as if it were a drama. He will co-write the script, direct and be credited as a co-EP.
The drama series is currently being shopped to streamers and is a co-production between Smith‘s Westbrook Studios and original producers Universal TV. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Peacock, Netflix and HBO Max are among the streamers who are bidding on the potential series. HBO Max is the current streaming home for the original series.
Original series producers Smith, Quincy Jones and Benny Medina, as well as creators Andy and Susan Borowitz, are all set to return as exec producers. Chris Collins (The Wire, Crash, Sons of Anarchy) will serve as showrunner, exec producer and is set to co-write the script alongside Cooper.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ran from 1990-1996 on NBC and was produced by Jones, Warner Bros. TV and what became Universal Television. Smith starred alongside James Avery, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali, Joseph Marcell and Janet Hubert-Whitten/Daphne Maxwell Reid. Smith has remained close with the cast and recently reunited with everyone on SnapChat.
Reboots remain in high demand across broadcast, cable and streaming platforms as they come with built-in recognition and a viewership with built-in awareness, helping to reduce the costs of marketing and making it easier to cut through a crowded landscape. Key to reboots is having the original creators and studio attached, which Bel-Air has in spades. Miguel Melendez and Westbrook Studios‘ Terence Carter are also attached to exec produce.