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Norman Lear on producing and politics

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 03:08

The veteran television producer shares his life and a new documentary and his thoughts on Donald Trump. Rough cut (no reporter narration)

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: With a goal of simply earning a living and supporting his family, Norman Lear became one of the most influential television producers. After more than six decades, Lear talks about the highlights of both his career and personal life in the new documentary, "American Masters -- Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You," by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. "I was ready to do it. American Masters had asked me a number of times before, but not with these two women. They loved my bumper sticker, said Lear, speaking of Ewing and Grady. "My bumper sticker reads, 'just another version of you,' which is kind of what I mean at heart. You know, I think we are version of one another in our common humanity and they picked it up and I love that they used it as a title," he added. At one point, Lear had six of the top ten shows on the air. The four time Emmy award winner created numerous programs in the 1970s and 80s, with "All in the Family," 'Maude," "The Jeffersons," and "Good Times" being among the most well known. Using humor, Lear was able to tackle social and political issues, but not without fighting network censors. "We were making a good living, but that was what it was about. The fact that I'm of serious mind and cared to do comedy that was serious, that just came with the territory of the kind of human being, I guess, I grew to be," he said. Some of the topics explored and considered taboo at the time were abortion, homosexuality, racism and breast cancer. Archie Bunker, one of Lear's most iconic characters from "All in the Family," has been compared to current U.S. republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, but Lear says there is no link. "I understand why people think one and then think the other. But Archie Bunker was, you know, had a heart and soul. A lot of beliefs that came out of not knowing. But he would have been a better president then the fellow that's running now." Adding: "I think Donald Trump is the middle finger of the American right hand. I think the American people are fed up with the leadership we provide them. Whether it's corporate America or medical America or political America or media America, we don't give them the leadership they earn. And Donald Trump is a way of saying this is the kind of leadership you give us, take this and make him your freaking president." The almost 90 minute film chronicles Lear's time in the Army, something the Connecticut native said gave him a new understanding of humanity. "I would watch hundreds of bombs dropping and wonder, what if one missed a target and hit a home. And I remember thinking, screw them I don't care. And even as I say it I can feel my fist wanting to clinch, my jaw (tightens jaw), because I can feel that feeling," he said. "But then I would ask myself, if anybody came up with a piece of paper and a pencil and said, Mr. Lear sign this and you will forever mean you didn't care. I prayed I would never sign, I believed to my toes that I would never sign such a paper, that I would care. But the fact is, I felt that at that moment and didn't care and it taught me, in our common humanity we are all capable of the worst of anybody else's behavior and the most transcendent also. We as human beings have the capacity for both." Each morning the 94-year-old starts with strengthening and stretching exercises and is still flexing his funny bone by continuing to create content. Lear has revamped his 1970s show "One Day at a Time" with a Cuban American family for Netflix starring Rita Moreno. "American Masters -- Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You" will premiere on Tuesday, October 25, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS and available same day on Blu-ray, DVD.

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Norman Lear on producing and politics

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 03:08