A month ago, filmmaker Morgan Cooper reimagined NBC’s hit 1990s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” as a dramatic series, creating a concept trailer that quickly went viral. With close to 6 million views on YouTube alone, the star of the original series, Will Smith, eventually saw the trailer, and loved it so much that he invited Cooper for a videotaped interview during which he not only expressed his appreciation for the effort, but also analyzed its potential.
“Morgan did a ridiculous trailer for ‘Bel-Air’,” Smith said in the video titled “How I Really Feel About That BEL-AIR Trailer,” which he published on his popular YouTube channel on Friday. “The dramatic version of these ideas means that you can use existing storylines, but it’s not going to seem like you are redoing an episode because the storyline’s going to be brand-new from a dramatic perspective.”
Additionally, Smith enthusiastically recognized how much more could’ve been done with the original series, were it an hour-long drama. “As funny as the episodes are, there was a whole other layer that you couldn’t do,” he said. “In a one-hour drama, you could do 8-episode arcs.”
The conversation also included Mike Soccio, a writer from the first season of the original series, who Smith introduced.
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The dramatic concept, titled simply “Bel-Air,” which runs almost four minutes in length, was shot over six months, according to Cooper, who said he grew up on the original series. It was an idea that he said didn’t take long to come up with — as he drove underneath an overpass on the 71 highway in his hometown of Kansas City — and he is clearly thrilled by the attention the trailer has received, and even more so that Smith approves.
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“The Internet’s the Internet and you never know if something’s gonna catch a spark or not,” the filmmaker said. “I’m very excited for everything that has happened and receive it humbly. But at the end of the day I’m a black creative and representing my culture and expressing myself authentically is of the utmost importance to me.”
Whether fans can expect this dramatic retelling of “Fresh Prince” to become a reality, remains to be seen. But if there’s anyone with the power to make it happen, it’s probably Will Smith.
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996. For years, there have been rumors of a reunion with the original cast, minus James Avery who played patriarch Uncle Phil, who died in 2013. But Smith shut down the possibility during an appearance on “The Graham Norton Show” in December 2017.
Watch Smith’s 9-minute reaction video, which includes the trailer for “Bel-Air,” below.