‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton and Marcelle LeBlanc Talk Bringing Back Original Character for Another Remake

by Suzanne Halliburton

If you are a fan of the classic The Waltons, you probably noticed that the reboot was missing a character.

How can there be a proper good night sequence without seven kids? There was no Ben Walton, the third oldest son of The Waltons expansive family. John Boy and Jason were older than Ben, while Jim Bob was the youngest brother. The family even had another brother — Joseph Zebulon, who was Jim Bob’s twin. But he died at birth.

But in the CW reboot of The Waltons Homecoming, there were three brothers and three sisters. If the CW picks up the show as a series or for more stand-alone movies, there likely will be a Ben.

This all was discussed in Judy Norton’s online series. On Thursday, the original Mary Ellen released her weekly episode called “The new Homecoming – Behind the scenes of The Waltons with Guest Marcelle LeBlanc.”

LeBlanc, 18, portrayed the new Mary Ellen in the CW Homecoming movie. Norton told LeBlanc that she heard the recent news that executive producer Sam Haskell intends to broaden the family if and when the CW decides to film another movie.

“I’m very excited about that,” Norton said.

Then LeBlanc explained what happened. “Our little family of six is so close, but we are anxious to get in another one, I am so excited that we are going to bring Ben back.”

On New Waltons, There Weren’t Enough Stories for Four Brothers

LeBlanc said she had no idea that the original Waltons featured seven kids until she did some basic research.

” I remember when I got the audition, I said I feel like somebody is missing,” LeBlanc told Norton. “And I looked it up on IMDb and there’s a seventh kid, where’s the seventh kid?”

She said there was a reason Ben was left out. With so many kids, there weren’t hefty storylines in the first movie.

“Hearing our executive director talk, he wanted to make sure that all the characters he had in our movie had a substantial storyline,” LeBlanc said. “And he didn’t think he wanted to have a seventh kid who would just be there for filler lines. Because if Ben was there, he wanted Ben to have a story and for not for him to be there just for the sake of having him there.”

The only original cast member in the Waltons reboot was Richard Thomas. And he narrated the movie.

There’s no official word on whether there will be another The Waltons movie on the CW. But when the project was announced earlier this year, Haskell said he wanted to do more than one movie.

Nostalgia still is big among U.S. viewers. So the CW opted to remake The Waltons pilot to commemorate its 50th anniversary. And viewers tuned in to see the new cast. The premiere attracted 960,000 viewers. Need context for the numbers? It was the largest audience to watch a show on the CW this fall season. And it was the biggest since April. In contrast, the only CW series that is averaging above 900,000 viewers is Walker.