Pete Davidson to play George Bailey in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ event

Tattooed Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson is prepping to play the “richest man in town.”

He’ll star alongside Ellie Kemper, of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Jurassic Park’s BD Wong; Sleepless in Seattle’s Bill Pullman; and many other recognizable stars in a virtual table read of Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Set for Sunday, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, the event will raise money for the Ed Asner Family Center, which helps children with special needs and their families through counseling and programs in mindfulness and the arts.

Pete Davidson is stepping into Jimmy Stewart’s shoes. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Tickets are $50 each, and just one per household is needed. Larger donations come with extra perks. The $100 exclusive holiday gift pack, for instance, comes with a code for the event but also an Asner autographed copy of The Greatest Gift, the book that inspired the 1946 movie the cast will celebrate, as well as a retro T-shirt that reads, “I Hate Spunk!” That last line is one that Asner’s most famous character, newsman Lou Grant, delivered in the very first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Davidson will take on the iconic role of George Bailey, played in the film by Jimmy Stewart, a man who gets the chance to see what the world would be like if he’d never been born. Kemper will take over Donna Reed’s part of Bailey’s wife, Mary.

Davidson’s casting was somewhat surprising but not entirely since he’s spoken out on his mental health, which is one thing the center addresses. Social media was abuzz over the news, with some people apparently thinking the headlines were about a feature film-length remake.

Superstore director Victor Nelli Jr.’s cast also includes Asner himself; Michael Shannon; Maude Apatow; Carole Kane; and Mia Farrow. The organizers teased that there would also be surprises guests. Tom Bergeron, formerly of Dancing With the Stars, will host.

Jimmy Stewart (middle) stars in the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life."  (Photo: Everett Collection)
Jimmy Stewart (middle) stars in the 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” (Photo: Everett Collection)

Any version of It’s a Wonderful Life has a lot of expectations to fulfill. The Frank Capra favorite consistently ranks high on the American Film Institute’s lists of the greatest films ever made; It’s currently No. 20 of the greatest American films of all time. When it was released, it was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. (The Academy gave the trophy to World War II veteran movie The Best Years of Our Lives instead.)

Since the early days of the pandemic, table reads like this one have become popular. Exes Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt reunited during a look back on Fast Times at Ridgemont High in September. Casts of TV shows such as Community and Everybody Loves Raymond and movies like Dazed and Confused have already come together online. On Tuesday, former Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced that the actors of the HBO show will reunite on Dec. 6 for a table read of their own to motivate voters in Georgia’s Jan. 5 runoff election.

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