Norman Lear

December 8, 2014 - Norman Lear 12/08/2014 Views: 32,882

"Even This I Get to Experience" author and TV producer Norman Lear recalls his struggle to succeed in comedy before "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons" and "Maude." (6:28)

>>Jon: WELCOME BACK, TONIGHT MYGUEST,

THE LEGENDARY TV PRODUCER.HIS NEW MEMOIR IS CALLED

"EVEN THIS I GET TOEXPERIENCE."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THEPROGRAM NORMAN LEAR!

NORMAN!

COME ON. VERY NICE TO SEE YOU.

NORMAN LEAR!

>> YES!

WHAT A NIGHT, WHAT A NIGHTTO BE HERE.

>> Jon: WHAT A NIGHT. SO LOOK ATTHIS BOOK HERE, "EVEN THIS I GET

TO EXPERIENCE."

I WANT TO THANK YOU FORRAISING ME.

>> I WANT TO THANK YOU FORMAKING THIS -- THIS LAST

PIECE WAS -- NO WONDER MYWIFE AND GO TO BED WITH YOU

EVERY NIGHT.

>> Jon: OH, REALLY,THAT'S--

(LAUGHTER)>> EVERY NIGHT.

>> Jon: MY EARS ARE BURNING.

HOW -- FIRST OF ALL, YOU -- KIDSTODAY, THEY HAVE EVERYTHING

AT THEIR FINGERTIPS.

THEY CAN DOWNLOAD THINGS,THEY HAVE IT.

THEY CAN WATCH THINGS WHENTHEY WANT.

ALL IN THE FAMILY, MAUDE,THE JEFFERSONS, THIS WAS

APPOINTMENT TELEVISION.

I CAN REMEMBER AS A KID, THEANTICIPATION AND EXCITEMENT

WHEN YOUR SHOWS WERE GOINGTO BE COMING ON.

YOU OWNED TELEVISION BACKTHEN.

>> I WAS WORKING AS HARD ASYOU WORK TODAY.

>> Jon: NO.

>> NO TRULY, THAT'S WHAT WEWERE DOING.

WE WERE ALL WORKING OURASSES OFF.

>> Jon: YEAH.

>> TO MAKE THE BEST TELEVISIONWE THOUGHT WE COULD.

THE DIFFERENCE WAS THAT WEWERE ALL SERIOUS PEOPLE.

COMEDY WAS OUR BUSINESS.

YOU'RE A VERY SERIOUS MAN.

THAT WAS A VERY SERIOUS,HILARIOUS PIECE.

>> Jon: WELL, THAT'S VERY KINDOF YOU, SIR. I APPRECIATE THAT.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)BUT THAT'S WHERE, WHERE I THINK

I LEARNED HOW TO PROCESSCOMPLEX THOUGHTS, THINGS

THAT I REALLY CARED ABOUT,THROUGH THE LENS OF COMEDY

WAS WATCHING NORMAN LEARSHOWS.

BECAUSE THAT'S-- AND AT THATTIME IT WAS ASTONISHING.

I MEAN AT THAT TIME IT WASTHE BANANA SPLITS AND THE

HUDSON BROTHERS.

AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDENARCHIE BUNKER COMES ON THE

SCENE AND ALL IN THE FAMILY,AND ALL OF THESE ISSUES

UNDERLYING THE AMERICANCULTURE CAME RIGHT OUT.

>> WHAT COULD MAKE MEPROUDER THAN TO HAVE SAT

THROUGH THOSE LAST FEW-- IHAVE TO REPEAT IT AGAIN.

THAT WAS SO BRILLIANT.

>> Jon: OH, THANK YOU.

WHEN YOU, BUT YOU STRUGGLED,THOUGH, FOR A WHILE, RIGHT?

LIKE YOU -->>I HAD A LOT OF YEARS OF

STRUGGLING.

>> Jon: RIGHT. TELL ME ABOUTTHAT.

WHAT WAS IN YOUR MIND, DIDYOU THINK I'M GOING THE

WRONG DIRECTION HERE.

DID YOU THINK PEOPLE DON'TWANT TO HEAR THESE TYPES OF

ISSUES THROUGH A NARRATIVE?

>> YOU KNOW, I DID, THE FIRSTBIG BREAK, ED SIMMONS AND I HAD

WAS THE DEAN MARTIN AND JERRYLEWIS COLGATE COMEDY HOUR.

>> Jon: WOW.

>> ON THE COLGATE COMEDY HOURIT DEBUTED. AFTER THE SHOW

I WAS HAVING DINNER WITH MYAGENT AND HIS WIFE.

AND I WAS CRYING BECAUSEJERRY LEWIS HAD DESTROYED

THE SCENE, I THOUGHT, THATWE HAD WRITTEN FOR HIM.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> BECAUSE HE DIDN'T PAYATTENTION-- OR HE DID PAY

ATTENTION TO THE SCRIPT BUTHE LEFT THE SCRIPT OFTEN.

NOW WE WE WROTE A SCENE THATHAD SOME MEANING FOR US, AND

THAT'S WHY I WAS CRYING.

BUT HE DELIVERED THE SCENESO WELL, THAT THEY HAD TO

APOLOGIZE TO THE MOTIONPICTURE INDUSTRY, BECAUSE

THIS WAS A SCENE ABOUTTELEVISION DESTROYING THE

MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY.

AND THEY MADE A PUBLICAPOLOGY.

>> Jon: REALLY?

>> YES, AT THE INSISTENCE OFTHE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY.

AND OUR SCENE HAD SCORED.

SO THERE WAS SOMETHING ONOUR MINDS AT THE VERY FIRST

BEGINNING.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AT THE VERY FIRST, MYCAREER.

>> Jon: IS THATSOMETHING-- SO YOU WENT INTO

THIS VERY CONSCIOUSLYDECIDING THAT YOU WEREN'T

JUST GOING TO WRITE ANY KINDOF COMEDY, YOU WERE GOING TO

WRITE SOCIAL COMEDY.

>> I DIDN'T GO INTO IT WITHTHAT.

BECAUSE THAT WOULD HAVEASSUMED I HAD SOME CONSCIOUS

OF FORETHOUGHT.

>> Jon: I GET IT, ALL RIGHT.

FAIR ENOUGH.

FAIR ENOUGH.

FIRST NIGHT "ALL IN THEFAMILY" COMES ON, THIS IS

GROUND BREAKING TELEVISION.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: WHAT WAS YOUREXPECTATION OF WHAT WOULD

HAPPEN WHEN THIS ARCHIEBUNKER CHARACTER, THIS

PLAIN-SPOKEN, LOVABLE BIGOTGETS INTO AMERICAN

TELEVISION LIVING ROOMS.

WHAT WAS THE NETWORK WORRIEDABOUT?

WHAT WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT?

>> WELL, THE NETWORK WASWORRIED ABOUT-- IT WAS 20

MINUTES BEFORE THE SHOW WENTON THE AIR.

>> Jon: UH-HUH.

>> IN NEW YORK WHEN I GOT ACALL THAT THEY WERE PUTTING

THE SHOW ON AIR.

BECAUSE THERE WAS ONE LINETHAT THEY WISHED OUT.

THE BUNKERS ARE RETURNINGFROM CHURCH BECAUSE HE HATED

THE SERMON AND HE HATED THE PASTOR.

AND THE KIDS HAVE THE HOUSEALONE, MIKE AND GLORIA AND

THEY'RE GOING UPSTAIRS.

THEY COME IN AND INTERRUPTTHAT.

AND ARCHIE SAYS, HE GETSWHAT'S HAPPENING, THE

MEANING OF WHAT ISHAPPENING.

AND HE SAYS 11:10 ON ASUNDAY MORNING.

THAT WAS IT.

>> Jon: OH MAN.

>> THAT HAD TO COME OUT.

NOW WHEN I SAID WHY?

THEY SAID IT MAKES IT VERYEXPLICIT.

THE "IT" MAKES IT-- 11:10 ONA SUNDAY MORNING, THAT NAILS

WHAT THEY'RE HAVING-- WELL,LET THAT BE.

HOW ABOUT THE FACT THATTHEY'RE MARRIED?

THEY'RE GOING UPSTAIRS,THEY'RE MARRIED.

>> Jon: YES.>> WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

>> Jon: MARRIED PEOPLE AREALLOWED TO HAVE SEX IN THE

MORNING.

>> I THINK SO.

SOMETIMES IT'S GOOD FOR THEM.

ANYWAY, THEY INSISTED THATTHAT COME OUT.

NOW IT SOUNDS, I DON'T MEANIT AS A TRIBUTE TO BRAVERY

AT ALL.

I HAD THE COMMON SENSE TOUNDERSTAND THAT THAT LITTLE

THING, IF I GIVE UP ON THATLITTLE THING, I WAS DEAD

FROM THERE ON.

THEN NO MATTER WHAT CRAZY,SILLY THING.

AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS JUSTPLAIN SILLY.

I ALSO HAD A THREE PICTUREDEAL OFFERED TO ME BY UNITED

ARTISTS.

>> Jon: SO YOU HAD A LITTLESOMETHING-- YOU HAD A LITTLE

FALLBACK.

>> YEAH.

>> Jon: WELL, IT'S A VERYEXCITING.

CAN YOU STICK AROUND FOR ALITTLE BIT?

>> I WOULD LOVE TO.

>> Jon: ALRIGHT WE'RE GOING HAVENORMAN LEAR STICK AROUND.

THE BOOK IS CALLED "EVEN THIS,I GET TO EXPERIENCE," IS ON THE

BOOKSHELVES NOW.

THE GREAT NORMAN LEAR. WE'LL BERIGHT BACK.