The 'Good Times' star, whose career spans more than five decades, and his filmmaker son, K.C., have been working on the project for more than two and a half years
John Amos has covered a lot of ground in his 50-plus-year acting career.
He was one of television’s first Black patriarchs on the 1970s sitcom Good Times. He earned an Emmy nomination for playing an adult Kunta Kinte in the landmark 1977 TV miniseries Roots. He’s also appeared on countless other TV series, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The West Wing, Men in Trees and Two and a Half Men, and in movies like Let’s Do It Again and Coming to America.
But one thing he hasn’t done so far is star in a docuseries about his own remarkable life and career. He's getting ready to cross that off his to-do list because that’s exactly what Amos and his filmmaker son K.C. have been working on for more than two and a half years.
“It covers my career, his career, our joint careers,” John, 84, tells PEOPLE of the forthcoming project. “And it's something that I think every father and son will want to see.”
The pair have been working on the docuseries — which John says will offer “the definitive explanation and the definitive description as to who we are” — while traveling to such far-flung places as Ireland, Portugal, Jamaica and Monrovia and talking to fans.
“He has this way of telling stories to where you just have to be ready with the camera and get the true stories of his lifetime,” K.C., 53, says. “And it chronicles from his days growing up in Newark all the way up to things that he's doing now and the days in between with playing football and moving on into entertainment.”
The title of the docuseries, which doesn’t yet have a release date, is one befitting the man who became a star playing James Evans, the patriarch of one of television’s earliest Black nuclear families, on Good Times.
“We're calling it America's Dad because so many young men have come up to me and said, ‘Your father was my father,’” K.C. told PEOPLE in December. “And I mean, people of all walks of life — even guys who look like bikers with ZZ Top beards have come up to me and said, ‘Can I give you a hug? Your father was my father, man.’ And they just want a chance to shake his hand.”
John is especially moved that his work has meant so much to such a diverse array of fans, and that his appeal and influence has transcended race.
“One of the most gratifying things about this is that these young men that come up to me and express themselves the way K.C. just described it, they'll be from various ethnic backgrounds,” John adds. “And I love that because a real father speaks to all younger people. And if you've had the experience, the primary thing in your life is you want to share the experience, the positives and all these things that help them avoid the pitfalls that wait for so many young men.”
Of course, being a father can also be a complicated experience. Last year, John’s daughter Shannon made headlines when she accused K.C. of elder abuse against their father, who was hospitalized at the time. From his hospital bed, John told PEOPLE he was “doing well,” and in a video posted on social media, he accused Shannon of being the one who was guilty of elder abuse.
A representative for Shannon told PEOPLE at the time that she was "disheartened at the continuation of false and defamatory statements being made against her."
John told PEOPLE in December that “the love is still there,” although his relationship with Shannon remains “somewhat acrimonious.”
“Ultimately, I believe the family love will triumph and God will watch over us and protect us as a family and bring us back together in our harmonious relationship at some point,” he said. “We are still family and we love each other, and that's the bottom line. And all families go through trials and tribulations of some sort.”
K.C. says growing up with John as his dad was an interesting — and occasionally side-splitting — experience.
"I don't think James Evans was quite as fun as my father," he says, referring to John's Good Times alter ego. "Pop really, really liked to have fun."
"When I was growing up, about five or six, I had these few buddies that lived across the way and our favorite pastime was to have sleepovers at the house because [Dad would] put on this African mask, and he'd wait till we went to sleep around sometime after midnight or something. We always tried to stay up, but we never could. And the moment we fell asleep, he'd come in with this African mask and lift us up to the ceiling, and we felt like we were bouncing off the walls basically."
"But then again, there was the tough-love part. Some people use a higher octave when they talk to youngsters. He never babied me."
As for the upcoming documentary, John says one of the best parts of making it has been deepening his bond with K.C. as an adult.
“Having my own son working with me as a filmmaker,” he says, “it's a blessing because we can capture these moments of inspiration as they come to us and share them with those young men and even older men who are willing to hear and watch it because they'll see a little bit of themselves in our relationship.”
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