Actor Jimmy Akingbola clarified that Peacock’s upcoming television series, Bel-Air, will be a grittier dramatization of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, rather than a reboot of the popular 90’s sitcom. In an interview with THR, the Bel-Air star playing the Banks’ iconic butler, Geoffrey, confirmed that his new show would not be a retelling of the original and that each episode will be around an hour long.
Akingbola said that this freedom allowed the team behind the series to delve deeper into the beloved characters from the classic sitcom, while also putting a unique spin on them. “We have the license from Will to go in a completely different direction, but there are some beautiful nods to the original,” Akingbola said. “But there are a lot of things where we’re going in a completely different direction. Even Geoffrey, he’s very different.”
Akingbola revealed that Bel-Air’s Geoffrey will be a far more serious and no-nonsense character than his colorful counterpart from the original, claiming that the reimagined version has “an edge and a swagger to him.” That is not to say that Geoffrey has been completely stripped of his playfulness, however, as Akingbola confirmed that audiences will get to see his lighter side as the series progresses.
The origins of Bel-Air are unusual — it came about due to a YouTube fan film of the same name, written and directed by Morgan Cooper featuring a mock trailer that depicted the famous sitcom with a gritter and more serious tone. Upon seeing the fan film, the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, expressed an interest in turning the concept into a full-fledged series. After being in the works for over a year, Bel-Air was officially announced on Aug. 11, 2020, and Peacock ordered two seasons of the show on Sept. 8 later that year.
Much like its predecessor, Bel-Air centers around a young man from the streets of West Philadelphia and how he came to live in a mansion in Bel-Air with his wealthy aunt and uncle.
Bel-Air also features an entirely different cast from the original. Joining Akingbola as Geoffrey are Jabari Banks as Will Smith, Adrian Holmes (19-2) as Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman (The Last O.G.) as Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones (Let it Shine) as Hillary Banks and Akira Akbar (Captain Marvel) as Ashley Banks. Jordan L. Jones and Simone Joy Jones will also play Jazz and Lisa, Will’s best friend and love interest respectively.
Bel-Air will begin to stream on Peacock from Feb. 13.
‘Spider-Man Noir’ live-action series in the works at Amazon
A Spider-Man Noir live-action series is in the works at Amazon, GeekAfrique has learned via a Variety report. The untitled series will follow an older, grizzled superhero in 1930s New York City. An individual with knowledge of the project says that the show will be set in its own universe and the main character will not be Peter Parker.
This is the second known project based on the Sony-controlled Marvel characters at Amazon Prime Video and MGM+. It was previously announced that Amazon was moving forward with the series ‘Silk: Spider Society’ from showrunner Angela Kang, with several other shows in the works. It is unknown at this time which other Marvel characters will be featured in the other Amazon shows, though Sony currently controls over 900 such characters associated with the Spider-Man franchise.
The Spider-Man Noir comics originally debuted in 2009 as part of the Marvel Noir universe. That version of the iconic superhero lives in New York during the Great Depression. He is bitten by a spider hidden inside a stolen artifact, causing him to have visions of a spider-god who grants him superpowers. Nicolas Cage voiced the character in ‘Into the Spider-Verse’.
The Amazon show will be the first live-action iteration of Spider-Man Noir.
Sony has released multiple Spider-Man live-action films in the past and currently works with Marvel Studios on the rebooted film franchise starring Tom Holland via Columbia Pictures. Sony is also behind ‘Into the Spider-Verse’, which won the Academy Award for best animated film in 2019. Two sequels to that film are currently in the works, with the first — ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ — due out in June 2023.
‘Spartacus’ sequel series in the works
A sequel to hit historical drama series ‘Spartacus’ is in development, with Steven S. DeKnight, who created the original series, serving as showrunner and executive producer. ‘Spartacus’ was inspired by the story of the gladiator of the same name who incited a massive slave rebellion against Rome in the year 73 BC. Per the logline, the sequel series will be set after the defeat of Spartacus and his revolution, depicting “a new tale of treachery, deceit and blood unfolding beneath the foreboding shadow of Rome.”
The original show debuted in 2010, with Season 1 carrying the title ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’. Starz then debuted a prequel limited series, ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’ in 2011, before producing two more seasons of the flagship titled ‘Vengeance’ (2012) and ‘War of the Damned’ (2013).
The sequel series will be produced by Lionsgate Television.
‘God of War’ live-action TV series ordered at Amazon
A live-action adaptation of PlayStation’s hit video game franchise ‘God of War’ has been ordered to series at Amazon’s Prime Video, with ‘Wheel of Time’ boss Rafe Judkins set as showrunner. Based on the massively popular 2018 video game, the show follows Kratos, the God of War, who, after exiling himself from his blood-soaked past in ancient Greece, hangs up his weapons forever in the Norse realm of Midgard, per Amazon’s description. When his beloved wife dies, Kratos sets off on a dangerous journey with his estranged son Atreus to spread her ashes from the highest peak — his wife’s final wish. Kratos soon realizes the journey is an epic quest in disguise, one which will test the bonds between father and son, and force Kratos to battle new gods and monsters for the fate of the world.
“‘God of War’ is a compelling, character-driven franchise that we believe will captivate our global customers as much with its expansive and immersive worlds as its rich storytelling,” Vernon Sanders, head of global television at Amazon Studios, said. “We are honored to share in the adventure of exploring the God of War mythology in such a momentous way with Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, and Santa Monica Studio.”
The ‘God of War’ TV series marks the latest show based on a video game that is either in the works or in production, including Amazon’s ‘Fallout’ adaptation from ‘Westworld’ creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ (based on another PlayStation property), Paramount+’s ‘Halo’, the Anthony Mackie-led ‘Twisted Metal’ at Peacock, among others.
“We are so proud and excited to be working with our friends at Amazon Studios and our partners at PlayStation Productions to adapt this beautiful and heart-breaking game into a premium live-action series,” Katherine Pope, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, said.”
A sequel to the 2018 ‘God of War’ game, titled ‘God of War: Ragnarok’, was just released last month. At last week’s Game Awards, it won for best narrative, action/adventure game, score/music, audio design, performance for Kratos actor Christopher Judge and innovation in accessibility.