keenen_ivory_wayans_1.jpgIt is only natural that Keenan Ivory Wayans was able to talk Fox into reviving In Living Color. Fox has been in search of an edgy new comedy sketch show. And none has been able to capture the wonder of Wayans’ original urban answer to Saturday Night Live.

Fox has decided to air two half-hour In Living Color specials — hosted and produced by the show’s creator Wayans — sometime in spring 2012 as part of the network’s 25th anniversary celebration. 

Wayans says the new 2012 ILC episodes by his Ivory Way Productions and Fox 21 will be a “contemporary take” on the original show with new cast members and musicians. Should the specials do well, Fox will pick up the show for a full season.  

From April 15, 1990 to May 19, 1994, the ensemble-cast show created iconic characters, launched A-list careers and inspired people across the country, while irreverently shedding new light on racial topics, skewed world views and dirty politics.

The show launched the careers of creators Keenan and Damon Wayans, also Jennifer Lopez, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Kim Wayans, Kim Coles, David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson. It also featured some of today’s top dancers in addition to Lopez, such as Carrie Ann Anaba,

Laurie Ann Gibson, and choreographer Rosie Perez.

That’s a lot of careers for a show that didn’t catch on until almost a year after its first airing, mainly by word of mouth. ILC proved triumphant by introducing such memorable characters as “Fire Marshall Bill” (played by Carrey); “Men on…’s” Blaine Edwards (Damon Wayans) and Antoine Merriweather (Grier); “Wanda” (Foxx); “Benita Betrayal” (Kim Wayans); homeless wino “Homie D. Clown” and “Head Detective” (Damon Wayans). For many, the mention of these characters generates fond nostalgia of being entertained on a Sunday night.

Along with the excitement from the return of the iconic show, one wonders if the old issues of censorship will crop up. The deletion of segments with eyebrow-raising subject matter regarding homosexuality, date rape and other themes is why Keenan left the show after its third season, although he remained as a producer and sometimes host.

Since Fox now is a more liberal network, Keenan may not run into the same issues of the early 1990s. Spring will tell.

During the 1992 Superbowl halftime, ILC managed to generate 20 million viewers. Since its final episode, no show has been able to capture the appeal of Emmy nominated and Image Award-winning ILC — one reason its reruns remain a cable-TV staple.

Still the new ILC, with its expected cast of up-and-comers, will have Homie D. Clown-sized shoes to fill. It’s becoming increasingly harder for a show to find an audience.  Last year’s In the Flow with Affion Crockett tried and failed to be the comedy Fox wants.

Wayans created a successful show so many years ago, and it only stands to reason that entertainers get better with experience. There’s still an audience likely to tune into see what political commentary and urban landscapes he will address next, and a welcome new beginning likely for fans of In Living Color.

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