'Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' Reboot Changes Showrunner For A "Different Creative Direction"

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the sitcom that propelled Will Smith to fame, aired its series finale on May 20, 1996, so it's been over 25 years now since it left primetime. The show lives on in syndication and you can stream all those old reruns with their Carlton dances on HBO Max.

Soon, you'll be able to see a new version of the show, reimagined as a serious drama with new actors. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot, which is headed for Peacock, also has a new pair of showrunners.

The Hollywood Reporter has the news that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has lost another showrunner and gained two more. Chris Collins, a writer and producer whose credits include The Wire, The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, and The Man in the High Castle, was originally signed on as showrunner. He departed last December, and now his replacement, Dianne Houston, a veteran of Empire, has also departed. In their place, T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson have stepped up as the new showrunning team.

Malcolm Spellman, the creator of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for Marvel Studios and Disney+, is executive producing, along with Smith, original series producers Quincy Jones and Benny Medina, and creators Andy and Susan Borowitz. The series, which has already received a two-season order, is based on a 2019 viral video by Morgan Cooper, embedded below.

The reason behind the shuffle is said to be that the show is "going in a slightly different creative direction," with Peacock wanting a show that will skew broad and network-style, in contrast to Collins, who "wanted to deliver an edgy, premium series." On his YouTube channel last September, Smith had this say about the two-season pickup for the new Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:

"We have just officially closed the deal with Peacock with an unprecedented two-season-order from a pitch. I've been in this business for 30 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."

A Fresh Take on The Fresh Prince

It's hard to believe it's been a quarter-century already since Smith crossed over into summer blockbusters (with Bad Boys) and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air subsequently went off the air. Last year, a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion special debuted on HBO Max, allowing subscribers to see him and his castmates together again. Among other things, he had a sitdown with Janet Hubert, who portrayed Aunt Vivian on the show's first three seasons before she and Smith had a public fallout and the show replaced her with Daphne Maxwell-Reid.

Alfonso Ribeiro, who played the one and only dancing Carlton, is now hosting America's Funniest Home Videos, and the show's other cast members have since moved on to other life pursuits. However, there are still many viewers out there (myself included) for whom The Fresh Prince might be a ripe source of '90s nostalgia.

As an earworm — capable of burrowing its way into the very depths of your musical soul — the show's theme song, "Yo Home to Bel-Air," is right up there with any of the alt-rock hits in Netflix's Fear Street trilogy. If I started typing out the lyrics right now, it's virtually guaranteed that you'd be singing along in your head, but maybe you are already.

On the surface, it doesn't bode well for the new Fresh Prince of Bel-Air series that it is already turning into a revolving door of showrunners before it has even premiered. The idea of rebooting The Fresh Prince as a serious drama might already have a whiff of desperation to it, like this is just another cynical misfire of Hollywood's haywire reboot-o-tron.

Then again, maybe the producers, including Smith, just care about the original show's legacy and want to get it right. If you watch the video above, you can see how they might actually be able to wrangle a good show out of the idea of recontextualizing The Fresh Prince as something, well, fresh and modern for the 21st century.

The new Fresh Prince of Bel-Air series hasn't begun casting yet but it's expected to air in Bel-Air (and everywhere Peacock is available) in 2022.