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‘The Wonder Years’ shines spotlight on Montgomery

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 9:04 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - When the television series “The Wonder Years” first aired in 1988 it took us back in time to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s where we followed the lives of a suburban middle-class family. Today, that show is getting a new look and the backdrop is Montgomery.

When many people recall Montgomery’s past, they recall black-and-white images of historic events like the Montgomery bus boycott and other civil rights movement. But soon the city’s history will become the backdrop for the story of a middle-class Black family living in the capital city during the ‘60s called “The Wonder Years.”

“We’ve seen the struggle. We’ve seen the civil rights struggle. We’ve seen the struggle of oppression in the late ‘60s and the civil rights movement for a Black family, and that’s all very important but what we haven’t necessarily seen is what was the experience like for the Black middle class that also existed during that time,” said one of the show’s executive producers, Saladin Patterson.

Patterson is not only an executive producer of “The Wonder Years,” he’s also a Montgomery native. He says like the original show, the reboot will be a coming-of-age story of a 12-year-old boy and his family growing up during the ‘60s but from a different perspective.

“Whereas the original ‘Wonder Years,’ like I said, focused on the fact that the American dream kind of was, you were able to shield yourself if you were a white middle-class family from the turmoil of the ‘60s. For a black middle-class family that wasn’t possible, so we really wanted to see how did the family in that time make sure it was the wonder years for them too.”

Most of the series will be shot in Atlanta but some scenes will be shot in Montgomery, so look for familiar landmarks and faces. The show is holding auditions for background actors. Adam Hochfeld is vice president of Central Casting. He says you don’t need any acting experience, but bring plenty of enthusiasm.

“Especially with the history of everything, and with the show taking place there I think in the back of everybody’s head they have their own story and it’s been passed along through their generation, so the fact that they can carry that to the screen, even as a background performer, I think is a huge opportunity,” Hochfeld said.

All cast and crew will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Filming for the show will take place in Montgomery between Oct. 11-15.

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The series premiered Wednesday on ABC.

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