HomeEntertainment‘All in the Family’: ABC Passed on Two Separate Pilots Before Show Went to CBS

‘All in the Family’: ABC Passed on Two Separate Pilots Before Show Went to CBS

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

The beloved sitcom, “All in the Family,” tackled tough subjects such as racism and the Vietnam Wawhile making it a family-friendly show.

CBS’ programming president Fred Silverman initiated a “rural purge,” which resulted in a cancellation of shows like “Green Acres” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

Silverman created the “purge” to move away from older viewers and start drawing in younger audiences. As a result, the network created series such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “All in the Family.”

Despite its undeniable success, ABC turned down the show after the creators pitched two pilot episodes to the network.

TV historian Jim Colucci gave insight into why the network passed on their chance to back the cherished show. He also revealed the backstory behind the network’s censor at the time, William H. Tankersley.

ABC Passed on ‘All In The Family’ Due to A ‘Lack Of Chemistry’

“All in the Family was done as a pilot at ABC twice with two different Mikes and Glorias, and ABC passed on it both times. But with Silverman the timing for All in the Family was perfect, so CBS wanted to make a third pilot and obviously that launched the series.

When it was shown to William Tankersley, he was a little horrified and couldn’t believe they wanted to give it his blessing.”

Producers shot the pilot episode, titled “And Justice For All,” in New York on September 3, 1968. It featured Jean Stapelton as Edith Justice, who would remain through every incarnation of the show.

Once aired, it became one of the first sitcoms to use the three-camera model while having a live audience. 

According to Lear, ABC turned down the first pilot due to a lack of chemistry between Archie and Edith and the young couple.

On February 10, 1969, they shot the second pilot less than five months after the first.

The second pilot is almost identical to the first, besides the recasting. There are a few minor changes to the lines, but it’s mostly similar to the first pilot. 

Eventually, CBS decided to give the show a go. It aired with Lear’s original script, and the rest is history.