EXCLUSIVE: Just before he recently departed ABC Studios to embark on a rich overall deal at Netflix, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris sold one last high-profile project to ABC: Bewitched, a single camera, interracial blended family comedy based on the popular 1960s sitcom of the same name. It took a little while for all the deals to close, but the network has given a pilot production commitment to the new take on the classic supernatural sitcom, from Barris and Black-ish writer/producer Yamara Taylor. The project hails from ABC Studios; Sony Pictures TV, which has the rights to the title; and Sony-based Davis Entertainment (The Blacklist).
In Bewitched, written by Barris and Taylor, Samantha, a hardworking black single mom who happens to be a witch, marries Darren, a white mortal who happens to be a bit of a slacker. They struggle to navigate their differences as she discovers that even when a black girl is literally magic, she’s still not as powerful as a decently tall white man with a full head of hair in America.
Barris is executive producing via his Khalabo Ink Society banner alongside Taylor and Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox.
ABC, which aired the original Bewitched from 1964-1972, had been very interested in a reboot as the concept represents a twist on a family sitcom, which has been the network’s signature brand of comedy.
In 2014, ABC heavily pursued a Bewitched sequel, one of two previous attempts by Sony Pictures TV to revive the comedy series over the past decade. Beside the 2014 project, which in a bidding situation landed a pilot production commitment at NBC but did not go to series, another reboot was in development at CBS during the 2011-2012 season.
Created by Sol Saks and executive produced by Harry Ackerman, Bewitched ran for eight seasons. It starred Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha, a witch married to an ordinary mortal man, Darrin, and chronicles the way her powers and wicked family get in the way of her efforts to live a normal, magic-free life as a typical suburban housewife. Her daughter, Tabitha, got her short-lived spinoff series on ABC in 1977. Lisa Hartman played adult Tabitha who, along with her brother Adam, worked at a TV station.
Bewitched got a feature remake with Columbia Pictures’ 2005 film starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. While it didn’t fare well, the original series remains popular. It has enjoyed a long afterlife in syndication and around the world with local versions mounted in Russia, India, Argentina and Japan. The classic sitcom also has also been embraced by new technologies with a streaming deal at Hulu.
Barris sold Bewitched to ABC shortly before his overall deal at ABC Studios officially terminated August 15, a little over a year into its original four-year term. The next day, Netflix announced an overall deal with the prolific comedy writer-producer, said to be for three years with an option for another two.
In addition to creating the Peabody-awarded and Emmy-nominated ABC comedy series Black-ish and its successful spinoff series Grown-ish on Freeform, Barris also is behind the upcoming Freeform comedy series Besties and co-wrote last summer’s hit feature comedy Girls Trip. He is repped by Artists First, CAA and attorney Gregg Gellman.
Before joining Black-ish at the start of Season 2, Taylor worked as a writer on Instant Mom and The Boondocks, the latter also produced by Sony TV. She is repped by CAA, 3 Arts and Lev Ginsburg.
Davis Entertainment is behind NBC’s drama series The Blacklist, which is returning for a fifth season; CBS’ upcoming Magnum PI reboot; as well as cult favorite NBC drama Timeless, set for a two-part series finale.