Cinematographer and self-professed Fresh Prince ‘superfan’ Morgan Cooper wrote and directed a high production trailer titled ‘Bel-Air’ which was uploaded to YouTube in March 2019 instantly becoming a viral sensation.
This fan trailer caught the attention of Will Smith who, impressed, contacted Cooper to begin working on developing it into an actual project. For the most dedicated Fresh Prince superfans this may not be entirely new news, as the Bel-Air project has been rumoured to be in the works for over a year. However, The Hollywood Reporter uncovered more concrete evidence of its development after discovering the project is currently being shopped to streaming sites such as Netflix and HBO Max.
The reimagined Bel-Air reportedly will step away from the original ’90s sit-com, taking a more nuanced stance exploring the conflict, struggle and emotions of what it is like to be black in America today. Although Bel-Air will draw more heavily on the sobering episodes of the original Fresh Prince, such as “Mistaken Identity”, and will be brought up to date with contemporary ideas and situations, it reportedly will still implement the fun aspects that made the original so iconic.
Whilst it is still in development, there is no confirmation at time of writing who will be starring in the new series, however it is confirmed that Bel-Air will be co-produced in a joint venture between Will Smith’s production company Westbrook Studios and Universal TV. For those fans concerned that Bel-Air will deviate too far from the beloved ’90s show, have no fear as the original Fresh Prince producers and creators will return to Bel-Air as executive producers.
With successful series such as The Wire, Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy under his belt, Chris Collins will be joining Bel-Air as a showrunner and executive producer as well as helping co-write the story with mastermind Morgan Cooper.
Bel-Air appears to be the next in a growing line of dark, gritty reworks of TV classics and whilst so far it looks promising, its success still remains to be seen as the previous failings of similar reimaginings *cough* Chilling Adventures of Sabrina *cough* loom overhead. However, with a very real viewpoint and the involvement of so many original crew-members, Bel-Air has all the ingredients for a masterpiece, and all we can do now is wait.