In remaking the classic ”Family Affair” for The WB, veteran comedy scribe Bob Young has to overcome one big obstacle: the original CBS series’ so-called curse. After the sitcom went off the air in 1971, Anissa Jones (Buffy) died of a drug overdose in 1976, Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French) suffered a fatal stroke in 1977, and Brian Keith (Uncle Bill) committed suicide in 1997.
”Yes, it’s like ‘Diff’rent Strokes.’ It’s cursed! People are dead! In prison!” says Young (”Boy Meets World”). ”I see people wince and cringe and say, ‘Oh, why couldn’t you leave that buried?’ I cringed too.” But Young quickly changed his tune after screening the original ”Affair” pilot (”utterly charming”).
The new show will stay true to the rich-bachelor-inherits-some-kids concept, right down to Uncle Bill’s (Gary Cole) line of work (he owns a civil engineering firm), the snobby British butler (Tim Curry), and Buffy’s infamous Mrs. Beasley doll. But Young – who is even open to guest spots by Kathy Garver (the original Cissy) and Johnny Whitaker (the original Jody) – will go only so far in re-creating the show’s lasting legacy. ”I’m going to stand there [on the set] and say, ‘Don’t commit suicide, anybody!”’
(Additional reporting by Tricia Johnson)