If there was any question as to whether ABC’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons tribute special was live on Wednesday night, Jamie Foxx sure settled that.
The Oscar winner, 51, flubbed one of his lines during the 90-minute recreation of two of Normal Lear’s biggest shows — breaking out of character and telling the audience, “It’s live! Everyone sitting at home just thinking their TV just messed up.”
Foxx was playing George Jefferson in the episode, the character created by Sherman Hemsley who debuted on All in the Family back in the ’70s before leading The Jeffersons spinoff. He was supposed to be insulting Anthony Anderson’s Uncle Henry in the scene, but couldn’t get the bit out.
“Ever since I was a little boy, I would always beg my mother for a little brother. But you know, we were broke,” Foxx said, stumbling on the punchline, “so all we could afford was you.”
Most of Foxx’s costars remained cool through the mishap, including Anderson, Wanda Sykes (playing Weezy Jefferson) and fellow Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (as Edith Bunker). Others on set, including Woody Harrelson (Archie Bunker), Ike Barinholtz (Mike Stivic) and Ellie Kemper (Gloria Stivic) seemed to break, themselves, laughing hysterically at the mishap.
Of course, Foxx — a sitcom veteran who honed his sketch comedy chops on four seasons of In Living Color — saved the moment with his natural charisma. Eventually, his cast picked up the ball and plowed ahead without skipping a beat.
That wasn’t the only memorable moment from the night, which was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and Lear, himself.
During The Jeffersons episode, original cast member Maria Gibbs reprised her role of Florence Johnston in a surprise appearance — sending the audience into rapturous applause.
Producers had previously announced in press releases that the part was to be played by Justina Machado, of One Day at a Time stardom. Turns out, they were just throwing folks off the trail.
Jennifer Hudson also had the crowd cheering, as she performed The Jeffersons‘ iconic theme song.
ABC announced plans for its Live In Front Of A Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All In The Family and The Jeffersons special back in April.
All in the Family originally premiered in 1971 and was praised for tackling tough subjects including racism and women’s rights.
The Jeffersons ran from 1975-1985 and followed a black family living in a predominantly white society.
“The fact that a group of Oscar winners eagerly agreed to play these iconic characters is a testament to the greatness of these shows and their creator, Norman Lear,” Kimmel said, according to Deadline.
Lear, meanwhile, hit back at claims that the sitcom wouldn’t work in the modern world, saying, “We disagree with them and are here to prove, with two great casts depicting of All In The Family and The Jeffersons, the timelessness of human nature,” he said, adding, “I cannot wait to see what these glorious performers make in our time of these indelible characters.”