‘Martin’ cast dedicates reunion special to late co-star Thomas Ford in first trailer

Four people smiling and sitting on a black couch in a living room
Co-stars Tisha Campbell, left, Carl Anthony Payne II, Martin Lawrence and Tichina Arnold pose for a portrait while taping the “Martin” reunion special in February.
(Mark Von Holden / Invision / Associated Press)

The late Thomas Mikal Ford didn’t live to participate in the forthcoming “Martin” reunion special. But he was there in spirit.

On Monday, Entertainment Weekly released the first trailer for BET+’s “Martin: The Reunion,” featuring original cast members Tichina Arnold (Pamela); Tisha Campbell (Gina); Martin Lawrence (Martin); and Carl Anthony Payne II (Cole). At the top of the preview, the co-stars shout, “This one’s for you, Tommy!” — a tribute to Ford, who played Martin’s best friend, Tommy Strawn, on the seminal ’90s sitcom.

Ford died at an Atlanta hospital in October 2016 after suffering an abdominal aneurysm, according to the New York Times. He was 52.


The highly anticipated TV event premieres June 16 on BET+. It comes about 30 years after “Martin” premiered on Fox and introduced audiences to Martin Payne, a radio disc jockey navigating friendship and adulthood in Detroit. The hit series ran for five seasons from 1992 to 1997.

Thomas Ford, the actor who played Martin Lawrence’s character’s best friend Tommy Strawn on the hit ‘90s sitcom “Martin,” has died in Atlanta.

Oct. 12, 2016

“To be able to sit here 30 years later with this amazing cast that has had such an impact on pop culture is truly a blessing,” Lawrence, who co-executive produced the special, said in a statement when the reunion was announced in February. “I am always humbled that the fans still want more of the show and its characters.”

Hosted by comedian and actor Affion Crockett, the reunion special will also include appearances from Snoop Dogg, Brian McKnight, Tommy Davidson and other special guests. In the trailer, Campbell, Arnold, Payne and Lawrence return to the set of the show, reminisce about the program’s best moments, discuss how “Martin” was able to “capture the Black experience” and consider the possibility of a “Martin” reboot.

No mention is made in the preview of Campbell’s abrupt exit from the show. The actor walked away from the sitcom in November 1996 and filed a lawsuit accusing her onscreen love interest, Lawrence, of sexual harassment, sexual battery, and physical and emotional abuse. In March 1997, Campbell returned to “Martin” after “all parties ... resolved their differences,” HBO Independent Productions said in a statement at the time.

Television: Tisha Campbell sues producers, citing ‘intolerable’ conditions and claiming Lawrence sexually harassed her. Show execs decline comment.

Jan. 7, 1997

“Martin: The Reunion” is the latest play by a media company to lure subscribers with a blast of nostalgia. Similar projects include the “Friends,” “Harry Potter” and “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reunion specials, all distributed by HBO Max.

“Martin is one of the most beloved sitcoms in our community, both because it is hugely entertaining and because it played a pivotal role in changing the narrative of Black voices in entertainment and in culture through the portrayal of young, ambitious Black leads and healthy Black relationships,” Scott Mills, chief executive of BET, said in a statement.


“Decades later, that representation is still just as important, which is why we’re so excited to honor a series that put Black culture front and center on our platform that embraces Black culture every day.”