Norman Lear turns 100 and shares the meaning of life



An earlier version of this article misspelled the date of the special ABC event that will commemorate Norman Lear’s 100th birthday. The special will air on Thursday, September 22nd. This article has been corrected.

What is left to ask Norman Lear?

The living TV legend has spent his life handing out lessons, so when he had the chance to email him before his 100th birthday, what was there to ask?

Does he know the meaning of life? Yes, the meaning of life can be expressed in one word: tomorrow. What tips does he give that stand out above the rest? “There are two little words that we don’t pay enough attention to: again and again. When something ends, it ends and we move on to the next. Between these words, we live in the moment and make the most of it.” Is a hot dog a sandwich? “I consider hot dogs a personal pleasure.”

His birthday is Wednesday. He planned to spend it in Vermont “in what I call the Yiddish port of Hyannis with all my children and grandchildren. Right now, I feel like I can do 100 seconds.” ABC will honor Lear on September 22, with a promise to be a “star-studded” special titled ” Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter.

100 seconds will definitely be welcome. At least, as actress Rita Moreno suggests, when asked this week about Lear’s historic birthday, “I wish there was a way they could copy it. Wouldn’t that be cool? … What a super, superhuman addition to the human race.”

Norman Lear puts his foot down — and the Trump White House flinched

Or, as his longtime friend Mel Brooks put it, via email: “Norman has so much to offer us, I don’t think 100 is nearly enough.”

By all accounts, he’s one of the most important figures in modern pop culture – so much so that by now you probably know everything you should know about Norman Lear.

You probably know about his prolific spell that created and produced some of the most vibrant sitcoms of the 1970s such as “All in the Family”, “Maude”, “Good Times”, “The Jeffersons”, “One Day at a Time” and ” Marie Hartmann, Marie Hartmann.” And you are probably familiar with the fact that he and his colleagues received praise for addressing the hot-button issues on those shows, including racism and abortion, and for using the humor and humanity of his characters to expose and explore what he saw as the “folly” of the human condition.” Not to mention the fact, As Moreno points out, his criticisms are often aimed at “mocking their asses”.

“I have no idea how he did it,” she adds.

You’ve no doubt heard of his political activism, which extended far beyond the humanitarian messages baked into his shows. In 1981, he founded People for the American Way, a non-profit organization intended to challenge the agenda of the moral majority and which eventually became a Committee for Political Action. In 2004, he founded the Declare Yourself campaign to get young people to vote. He remains a true believer that the best countrymen will save her if she needs to save.

Norman Lear’s Crusade widened

“America has never really needed its steadfast, caring citizens so badly,” says Lear. “Percent, we’re a long way from the America I think I was born in. I don’t want to wake up in the morning without hope, so I have faith that enough sane, caring Americans are fully devoted to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all of us and will find their way.”

Summing up a hundred years of Lear’s life is a near-impossible task, but Rich West, a professor of family communication at Emerson College who has taught a course on Lear’s career, offers thoughtful framing, and calls Lear a “electronic therapist.”

His shows have forced people to confront their own values, prejudices, and beliefs. And in fact, it’s the therapists who facilitate this.”

“He was committed, unabashedly, to putting these provocative themes on TV,” West says, citing “Maude’s Dilemma,” a two-part episode of Maude in which he finds Bea Arthur’s Maude Findlay thinking—and The end gets – an abortion. The controversial episode aired two months before 1973 Raw vs. Wade resolution. And this is just one of the many times that Lear sitcoms wrestle with difficult themes.

“You think about rape, you think about mental health, you think about inflation, you think about alcoholism, you think about domestic violence and poverty. And imagine what? All of those resonate today in 2022,” says West. “That’s why I think he’s an icon. Not because of what he wrote, but because his themes are sustainable today. And we have conversations today about the same things he was writing about in the ’70s.”

His shows “made you feel uncomfortable. They made you feel awkward. They made you feel happy and sad. But they always spark some thought long after the credits of the show, if you’re willing to go there,” West adds.” And I think that’s where the part is. decisive of his influence.”

Justina Machado, who starred as Penelope Alvarez in the 2017 Netflix reboot of “One Day at a Time,” executive-produced by Lear, calls him an “American hero,” a “true friend” and a “genius.” “Getting to know and working with Norman has been a highlight of my life and career,” Machado says by email. Brent Miller, Head of Production at Lear’s Act III Productions, describes him as “a mentor in life and work,” a “friend,” a “partner” and “a daily inspiration.”

Norman Lear is back on TV with the song One Day at a Time. But his influence did not leave.

Moreno, who turned 90 last year, co-starred in the updated “One Day at a Time.” She and Lear became good friends; They like to cut public appearances, pretending to be brawl lovers. makes her laugh.

“It’s incredible because in a sense, it has never changed in the most significant way,” she says. “You know, his policy hasn’t changed. If anything, they might have a touch more radical. But, you know, they were already radical in the first place.”

Is he a genius? “The only reason I don’t use the word is because I’m sure everyone uses it. It would be nice to be a little innovative,” Moreno says. “His sense of humor is divine.”

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