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October 4, 2015

norman lear

Surreal pop-culture moment: Norman Lear watching Patti Smith - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 3rd 2009 9:01AM
Patti Smith at the TCA tourOne of the things that never gets old about the press tour is that at any moment, you could be in the middle of a blow-your-mind, surreal pop culture moment. That's exactly what happened to me yesterday evening, as the PBS sessions were wrapping up.

Patti Smith had the last session, to promote her biographical movie on POV called Patti Smith: Dream of Life. It was fascinating, as she was pretty open with the reporters about why she let filmmaker Steven Sebring into her life for eleven years, what she likes to watch on YouTube (Maria Callas for one) and all sorts of fun stuff. But I had to leave to interview another legend, Norman Lear, who was there with producer Mark Johnson to promote the documentary Playing For Change: Peace Through Music.

When we were done with the interview, Lear, Johnson, the publicists and I were about to walk our separate ways when we heard music coming from the ballroom. When we open it, we see Patti Smith playing her guitar for the critics, in the middle of her second song. So imagine me and Norman Lear, standing there, listening to Patti Smith.

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How would you like all of Norman Lear's shows in one DVD box set?

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 23rd 2009 2:10PM
All in the FamilyActually, it's not every season of every show that Norman Lear produced and/or created. That would probably take two UPS trucks to deliver and a spare bedroom to store. But this sounds like an interesting collection nonetheless.

On June 9, Sony will release The Norman Lear Collection, a 19-disc set that will include the first seasons of the shows that Norman Lear did over the years, including All in the Family, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Maude, One Day At A Time, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and Good Times. The set will include lots of bonus material, including new interviews with people like Rob Reiner and Jimmie Walker, along with the two unseen pilots for All in the Family, Those Were The Days and And Justice For All (in the original pilot, the Bunkers' last name was actually Justice).

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The man behind one of the most famous kisses and kiss-offs in TV history - VIDEO

by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 5th 2009 9:02AM
Since I accepted TiVo as my personal savior, I have been afforded an opportunity to watch some great shows that air in the wee hours of the morning. Shows that, until now, have only been enjoyed by air traffic controllers with low attention spans, speed freaks and easily confused frat boys.

One of them is All in the Family, which airs at 8 a.m. on TV Land, the network with its rack of sour tasting reality shows and shrinking share of old sitcoms and serials that is in danger of becoming the new MTV.

A week ago, one of the show's -- and all of television history's greatest -- gems found its way to my "Now Playing List." That famous episode where Sammy Davis Jr. makes the trek to 704 Hauser Street and gives Archie a big wet one on the cheek. I had not seen this show since I was a kid, back in the 80s when All in the Family reruns flooded my television, but this most recent viewing unveiled an interesting factoid that almost went unnoticed.

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Pro wrestling as produced by Norman Lear

by Brad Trechak, posted Oct 1st 2008 7:02PM
Norman LearYou have to admire Norman Lear. In his heyday of the 70's, he produced a lot of counterculture television that allowed the medium to mature. And now, his production company is producing a show about pro-wrestling in the 1970's on a network known for mature content.

I have to say that this is as how that I would watch. Wrestling was very different in the 1970's than from today, made up of regional promotions rather than the single national promotion you see today (thanks to Vince McMahon for ending that). This show is a character-driven drama about a pro-wrestling family running a promotion in New York City. I wonder if they'll get any classic wrestlers making an appearance?

Having worked behind-the-scenes in a pro-wrestling promotion once upon a time, I think this premise has a lot of potential. It certainly has the correct name behind it who understands the culture of the time. With that and the fact that HBO is its home, I think we may have a winner on our hands.

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Stump the King - Barney Martin

by Paul Goebel, posted Aug 5th 2008 5:07AM

Barney MartinThis week, I got a question from Jonathan Myers that reads...
"There was a short lived television show in the late 60's or early 70's - sitcom - where the characters dressed in dog outfits. Part of me thinks it was related to Rob Reiner? Any idea what show this is?"

Well, after scouring my memory and doing a little research, I was able to dig up some info on an unsold pilot called McGurk.

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Top 15 best (intentional) uses of profanity on TV - VIDEO

by Julia Ward, posted May 21st 2007 10:16AM
deadwood al swearingGeorge Carlin's "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" routine famously landed him in jail. He was charged for obscenity in 1972 after performing the bit at Milwaukee's Summerfest. When it was broadcast the following year on a New York City radio station, the FCC got in on the act. The radio station challenged the fine, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Now, I intend on using every one of Carlin's "dirty words" after the jump so consider yourself warned. Be prepared to wash your computer's mouth out with soap. It may look like a saint, but it swears like sailor.

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And then there's Maude! (on DVD)

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 8th 2007 6:09PM

MaudeLady Godiva was a freedom rider
She didn't care if the whole world looked
Joan of Arc with the Lord to guide her
She was a sister who really cooked

If you've never seen the groundbreaking 70s sitcom Maude, then you missed the theme song. It was cowritten by Dave Grusin! (It also has the line "Isadora was the first bra burner, ain't you glad she showed up? And when this country was falling apart, Betsy Ross got it all sewed up!" That's excellent.).

Yes, Maude is coming to DVD.

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Mike Evans dead at 57

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 22nd 2006 12:27PM

The JeffersonsYou'll remember Evans from his role as Lionel Jefferson on All In The Family and the spinoff show The Jeffersons. He died of throat cancer last week in California.

Besides his role as Lionel, Evans also appeared in The Streets of San Francisco, Rich Man, Poor Man, Love, American Style, Match Game, and Walker, Texas Ranger. He was also one of the creators and writers of the sitcom Good Times.

I had forgotten this, but he was actually replaced as Lionel Jefferson on The Jeffersons for four years, in the late 70s. He was replaced by Damon Evans, then returned to the show for the last couple of years.

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People for the American Way auctions off TV goodies

by Julia Ward, posted Dec 7th 2006 12:27PM
PFAW LogoNon-profit advocacy group People for the American Way are hosting a ten-day charity auction that includes some mighty tempting television-related items. If you've got the cash, TV-loving friends and an altruistic spirit, consider your holiday shopping complete. Up for grabs are set visits to Desperate Housewives and CSI: Miami, tours of South Park Studios and the Playboy Mansion, signed scripts from Family Guy and Oz, signed books by Al Franken and James Carville, lunch with Elvira at the Magic Castle and an invite to a table read with the cast of Family Guy.

How did a Washington-based advocacy group get so connected to the Left Coast? One of the organization's founders is none other than Norman Lear, the man who created The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude and All in the Family.

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What baby boomers learned from TV

by Julia Ward, posted Nov 7th 2006 11:01AM
All in the FamilyNewsweek's November 13th issue features a story on what television taught baby boomers. Apparently, it first taught them how to buy a Davy Crockett cap and shotgun. Then, however, things got more complicated. All in the Family. M*A*S*H. Good Times. The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Roots. "What boomers ultimately took from early TV was a collective sense of irony." The article isn't entirely convincing in this argument, but it does level a pointed criticism about television today.

Modern TV, according to Newsweek, has lost its edge. "The most popular shows are still crime procedurals (CSI) or soaps (Grey's Anatomy) - slick and sexy, but not about much. The reality shows American Idol and Dancing with the Stars are so retro, they're practically The Lawrence Welk Show. When The Unit or 24 does dare to focus on something like the war on terror, their take is uncritically gung-ho - no network today would risk satire on the level of M*A*S*H."

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The science behind television pilots -- market research

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 7th 2006 8:36AM

ASI Media CenterThe journey to get a television show from concept to eventual broadcast is a harrowing one. You have an idea, you prepare a spec summary for the network; they review the proposal and ask for a script. You (with help from others, most likely) prepare a script to send back to the network; they review the script and ask for a filmed pilot. You blow a big was of cash to create that pilot. Through a miracle of God the show gets picked up by the network.

At this point you're probably thinking Emmy and a juicy syndication package. Everything is going your way. Well, actually, no. You see, there's one more stop on the road to getting your show onto the big picture box. One stop that producers dread, but need to make in order to ensure some sort of chance to have their show stay on the air longer than two weeks. It's the small theater with people off of the street; pencils in their hands, a survey sheet nearby. I am talking about the neighborhood market research panel.

In this case, ASI Entertainment, Hollywood's oldest and most frequently-used audience testing location. Established back in 1966, ASI gages the reaction of regular folks for any number of television pilots that make it to the precipice of network pickup. From those reactions producers of those pilots make determinations on whether or not anything should be changed or if it is good to go for broadcast.

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Another sad Hollywood tale

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 15th 2006 3:24PM
Good TimesRather interesting piece over at The Los Angeles Times, about Eric Monte, a writer who created such television classics as Good Times and What's Happening, wrote the 70s film Cooley High, wrote for Moesha and The Wayan Brothers, and even created the characters of George and Louise Jefferson on All in the Family.

He is now homeless and living in a shelter in Los Angeles.

Part of it is because of a bad crack addiction he had (he's clean now), but a lot of it was because of a series of strokes he had, plus a lawsuit he filed against Norman Lear, Bud Yorkin, CBS, and ABC for stealing his ideas for Good Times, What's Happening, and other projects (he got a million dollar settlement, years ago).

This is also, as Lee Goldberg says, a cautionary tale about the world of self-publishing. Monte spent thousands of his own money to publish and market a book, but no one was interested in it.

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