In a very competitive situation, Peacock has landed Bel-Air with a two-season order. The hourlong series, based on Morgan Cooper’s popular fan film that reenvisions the 1990s Will Smith sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air,as a drama, hails from Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Universal Television. Will Smith just announced the deal online in a video that captures him breaking the news to Morgan Cooper and the adaptation’s co-writer Chris Collins. (You can watch it above)
“We have just officially closed the deal with Peacock with an unprecedented two-season-order from a pitch,” Smith said. “I’ve been in this business for thirty years and that does not happen. They ordered two full seasons of Bel-Air based on the quality of the pitch and the work that you guys have done. So I want to say congratulations. I am hyped.”
The project was pitched to streamers last month, drawing strong interest and big commitments, including multiple straight-to-series orders, to set up a bidding war. I hear it went down to Peacock and Netflix, resulting in a two-season pickup.
Cooper will direct and co-executive produce the series, which he is co-writing with Collins (The Man in the High Castle). Collins is an executive producer and showrunner.
Set in modern-day America, Bel-Air is a serialized one-hour dramatic analogue of the 90’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that leans into the original premise: 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 that were impossible to fully explore in a 30-minute sitcom format, while still delivering swagger and nods to the original show.
The series is also executive produced by Will Smith, Terence Carter, James Lassiter, Miguel Melendez, Quincy Jones, Benny Medina, and Andy & Susan Borowitz. Westbrook Studios, a division of Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s Westbrook Inc., and Universal TV, which owns copyright to the original series, will serve as the studios.
The short film by cinematographer Cooper took the Internet by storm when it was released in March 2019; it has amassed more than 7.5 million views to date in two official YouTune posts alone. (You can watch it below) The four-minute spec trailer received a lot of praise, including from Will Smith who appeared in a video with Cooper, telling the filmmaker, “That’s an idea that is brilliant.”
The original sitcom was a signature series for NBC. That legacy likely played into Peacock’s push to land the reimagining. The NBCU streamer has been actively rebooting classic NBC sitcoms with Saved By the Bell and Punky Brewster, and the Fresh Prince reimagining is co-produced by corporate sibling Universal TV.
The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air is streaming on HBO Max, which recently announced a non-scripted cast reunion special, also produced by Westbrook.