Analysis: ‘Bel-Air’ gives us a new Will Smith, thanks to Will Smith

And I’d like to take a minute just to write right here, and tell you about how we ended up with a reboot called “Bel-Air.”

No, the lyrics don’t exactly match, but I never claimed to be a rapper like Will Smith, who penned the original lyrics (along with his musical partner and BFF DJ Jazzy Jeff) for the theme song of his hit 1990s NBC sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Thanks to Smith, we now have a dramatic reboot of that show, which leads off the newsletter this week.


(From left) Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks and Jabari Banks as Will Smith are shown in a scene from "Bel-Air."

A 2019 viral video by filmmaker Morgan Cooper reimagining “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” as a modern-day drama caught the attention of the Fresh Prince himself, and with the backing of Will Smith it’s now a streaming series on Peacock.

It had been eagerly awaited since Smith announced it in 2020, and the whole thing sounds as much of a fairy tale as the premise of the comedy about an inner-city teen from Philadelphia transplanted to live the good life in the wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood.
“Bel-Air” is definitely darker, and having a new “Will” (played by Jabari Banks) takes some getting used to for those who loved the original.
To lighten things up, check out Smith passing the torch to Banks in the coolest way possible here.

‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Season 4

Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam "Midge" Maisel is shown in a scene from season four of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."

Midge is back!

Our favorite comedian (Rachel Brosnahan) from the 1950s was fresh off a career high when drama struck at the end of last season.

Season four is set in 1960, which begs the question: What will a new decade bring for the character whose life completely changed when she set out to chase her dreams?

And let’s not forget about her quick-tongued manager, Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein).

There’s a reason why both Brosnahan and Borstein have won awards for their performances on this show.

The new season starts streaming on Amazon Prime Friday.

‘Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy’

Kanye "Ye" West is shown in a scene from "Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy."

Old Kanye or new Kanye?

That has always been the struggle for longtime Kanye West fans.

Now, a trilogy docuseries will offer some of both.

“Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” documents his career from the beginning.

West, who now goes by “Ye,” started out as a producer before becoming a celebrated rapper, fashion mogul and ultimately a lightning rod for controversy.

These days, his personal life is drawing as much attention as his career, but for those who are interested in his journey, there is plenty of material here.

The first episode of “Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” drops Wednesday on Netflix, with the following two released over the next two Wednesdays.

Two things to listen to

Joe Nichols, ‘Good Day for Living’

Joe Nichols performs at the  Country Thunder Music Festival in Florence, Arizona, on April 8, 2017.

New album, new tour.

Country artist Joe Nichols has released his 10th studio album and first full-length project in four years.

“Good Day for Living” contains 13 tracks of Nichols’ classic country tunes, including “I Got Friends That Do,” featuring fellow country artist and “The Voice” coach Blake Shelton.

The new album is out now, and the tour kicked off last week in Jackson, Mississippi.

Del McCoury, ‘Almost Proud’

Del McCoury of The Del McCoury Band performs at the Big Barrel Country Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, on June 28, 2015.

After more than six decades in the music industry, Del McCoury, 82, still feels like he has plenty to say.

“Almost Proud” is the result.

He and his band have produced another country album that celebrates the everyman and everywoman who make up his fan base.

And McCoury still loves what he does.

“I’m as excited about listening to new music today as the day I started — finding a new tune or a story that tickles me,” he told Glide magazine. “This album is the best of what I heard while the world was on pause.”

The new album drops Friday.

One thing to talk about

Jamie-Lynn Sigler is shown in the Chevrolet Silverado commercial that debuted during Super Bowl LVI on February 13.

Dear David Chase, could we please get a “Sopranos” reboot with Meadow running the family business?

I can’t be the only person who thought this after watching the Super Bowl commercial starring Jamie-Lynn Sigler.
Sigler re-created the opening credits sequence from her former show to promote the first all-electric Chevy Silverado.

Seeing her drive the route that James Gandolfini did as her TV dad, Tony Soprano, and then meet up with Robert Iler, who played her on-screen brother, A.J. Soprano, hit me in the feels.

Reboots have been built on less is all I’m saying.

Something to sip on

Matt Damon (center) and his wife, 
Luciana Barroso (left), attend Super Bowl LVI between the LA Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on February 13.

Speaking of Super Bowl Sunday, it was not without some controversy.

That’s because several celebrities were spotted not wearing masks despite the mask mandate for “mega events” held in Los Angeles County, the location of SoFi Stadium and Super Bowl LVI.

Granted, of the more than 70,000 attendees at the game, not many were seen wearing masks at the outdoor venue.

But for celebs, some of whom have publicly admonished people to wear masks, a heightened profile means a higher level of responsibility.

And a reminder that the internet is always watching — and ready to comment.

What did you like about today’s newsletter? What did we miss? Pop in to poplife@cnn.com and say hello!

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