Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (2016) Movie Script

-Good evening,
ladies and gentlemen.
[ Laughter ]
-Norman, that hat,
that chapeau you're wearing --
Now, is that your favorite hat?
You're known to wear hats.
-In the world,
this is my favorite --
not just my favorite hat --
This is my favorite garment.
-Why do you wear that hat?
-When I was writing
television shows,
I picked my head,
and I lost all my hair.
I had picked all my hair away.
[ Both laugh ]
- Whippoorwills call
Evening is nigh
-Do you sing, Norman?
-I sing very well.
-What's your favorite song?
- You see a smiling face,
A cozy room, Molly and me
- Just Molly and me
- And the baby makes three
-This is me?
- We're happy in my
In my blue heaven
Just Molly and me
And the baby makes three
We're so happy
in my blue heaven
We're happy in my
- My
- Blue heaven
We're happy in my
- In my
- Blue heaven
-How about that?
People think, you know,
that, turning 90,
maybe you change,
but it's everybody else
who changes.
Suddenly, I'm extremely wise,
and everybody's
asking me for advice,
and I am sometimes applauded
for walking across a room.
But the sound and the fact of 90
has got everybody believing
I'm some kind
of special intelligence.
But, I mean,
I think about it now
as wondrous,
what I got to experience.
-You know what I like
about you, Archie?
-What's that, Maude?
-I have never been
in a situation in my life,
however tragic,
where I didn't see some comedy.
-Norman Lear has changed
the face of television,
and at least
120 million Americans
watch Norman Lear shows
every week.
-Oh, no, sir,
Master Jefferson,
you done showed me the way!
-Stop it!
Stop it!
-Say "please."
-We've gone
from straight comedy
into something else,
and that other thing is satire.
And it's never been done
on television before.
-I'm telling you that whites
should only dance with whites.
You don't believe me,
look at the movies.
-Do you have a quick answer
for the people
who say the show
reinforces bigotry?
-Yes, my quick answer is "no."
-That's the quick answer?
-I gravitate to subjects
that matter,
the things
that people talk about,
and I think
America has responded.
I think human beings
are just a little foolish.
That knits us all together.
[ Applause ]
Isn't it amazing?
I've lived my life moment
to moment, day to day,
and even though I appear 93,
I never lost my childlike view
of the world.
-[ Laughs ] Hi.
-Oh! Hello, friend.
-Oh, how are you guys?
Are you ready for tonight?
-God, I like you.
-Take your time.
Please think about this.
Make this --
I need it to be long
but brief, heartfelt.
[ Laughs ]
[ Cheers and applause ]
-He has been around
approximately forever.
He is 92 years old.
He has spent the last six
of those years
writing his memoir.
It is called "Even This,
I Get to Experience."
Ladies and gentlemen,
Norman Lear.
[ Cheers and applause ]
-You guys know each other.
There is
a mutual admiration society.
-Do we know each other?
-You have called
"All in the Family"
the best show
on television, ever.
-I think so.
My son's name is Archie.
[ Laughs ]
[ Laughter ]
-You both talk a lot
about where you came from,
about your upbringing.
You talk a lot about your dad.
Archie Bunker,
you have said,
bears no small resemblance
to your dad.
-We're good to go.
"When I was a boy," pickup one.
-When I was a boy,
I thought that if I could turn
a screw in my father's head
just 1/16 of an inch one way
or the other,
it might help him tell
the difference
between right and wrong.
My father was extremely outgoing
and affectionate,
but the underside
of his good nature
was not admirable.
Herman Lear was a man
of supreme optimism.
He went out into the jungle
each day with a shoeshine
and a smile,
pledging to come home,
his fortune made, in 10 days
to two weeks -- tops.
My father was about
to take a plane to Tulsa.
He was traveling on some kind
of business.
"Monkey business,"
said my mother,
who sensed the men
he had fallen in with
were not to be trusted.
"Herman, I don't like this,"
she told him,
but Herman, as always,
knew better.
"Jeanette," he screamed,
the veins in his neck bulging,
And off he went.
The next time I saw him,
he had a hat
in front of his face,
and he was manacled
to a detective,
and they were coming down
the steps of the courthouse.
Nobody explained to me.
Nobody ever talked to me,
explained to me.
My father simply went to jail.
At 9, I was forced
to become an adult.
But that kid
still existed inside me...
well through my life,
if not to this very minute.
I asked my mother, years later,
"Where the hell were you?
How come I have no memory
of you?"
And, inevitably,
the discussion
would end with, "Please!
Oh, please!"
I was shipped off to an uncle,
lived there for a while.
Shipped off to another uncle,
lived there for a while.
And I wind up
with my grandparents.
But I had to pay my own way.
-Hurry! Hurry!
Step this way!
The strangest sights
on the island!
It's just starting,
so hurry, hurry!
Look them over.
The lady without a head!
They're all inside!
-I held three jobs
at Coney Island.
I used to take photographs.
I had a photo booth,
and we sold a lot of pictures.
But I remember the, "Hey! Hey!
You ought to be in pictures,
little lady."
[ Laughs ]
That was the spiel.
I was obviously a striver.
I needed to be a good provider,
because that's
what my grandparents' generation
admired the most,
is a good provider.
Oh, I wanted to be that.
[ Chorus vocalizing ]
-When did you get your first
break in the business?
-Not long after I was here.
I was living with my wife
and my little girl
in one little room behind
another home in Hollywood.
And I had met a fellow
by the name of Ed Simmons,
who was married
to a cousin of mine.
And he wanted to be a writer,
and our wives went
to a movie one evening,
we were babysitting,
and we wrote some material
They came home,
and we went out
and sold it to --
We sold this parody that we
had written for 25 bucks,
but it was $25 like that,
you know, and for having fun,
for having a good, good time
laughing and working.
And then we decided
we would continue writing.
[ Typewriter keys clacking ]
and you can adjust fine-tuning
to suit your taste at any time.
-"The Colgate Comedy Hour,"
starring Dean Martin
and Jerry Lewis.
-Are you ready?
-It was the beginning
of television,
and Ed Simmons and I
became the writers
on "The Dean Martin/Jerry
Lewis Colgate Comedy Hour."
-Dean and I -- well,
I especially -- love the crew.
They've been so kind,
I pour my heart out to them
because they're wonderful
to me --
-I'm sorry. Is everything
all right in there?
I'm sorry, Mr. Lewis,
but we seem to --
-This is Mr. Lear,
one of our crew members, and --
-Are we all right?
I'm sorry, Mr. Lewis.
But something's gone wrong
in there. We're off the air.
-We're off the air?!
What do you mean,
"We're off the air"?
Why are we always doing things
that aren't right?!
-We're on!
We're on!
-Here's one of our technicians
that has been with us
for four years.
Isn't that right, Norman?
Get the mike boom
out of the way!
- Some people say a man
is made out of mud
A poor man's made
out of muscle and blood
Muscle and blood
and skin and bones
A mind that's weak
and a back that's strong
You load 16 tons,
and what do you get?
Another day older
and deeper in debt
St. Peter, don't you call me,
'cause I can't go
I owe my soul
to the company store
-"The Ford Show."
-You might call it
a comedy show.
-The following is brought
to you in living color.
- I picked up my shovel,
and I walked to the mine
I loaded 16 tons
of number-9 coal
And the straw boss said,
"Well, bless my soul"
You load 16 tons,
what do you get?
Another day older
and deeper in debt
St. Peter, don't you call me,
'cause I can't go
I owe my soul
to the company store
-It's every tobacco company
in the business.
[ Helicopter blades whirring ]
-People were dying in Vietnam.
[ Machine-gun fire ]
Nixon was escalating the war.
And we saw the demonstrations
outside the White House.
We saw the demonstrations
on college campuses --
the anti-war movement,
but exclusively
on the evening news.
You just didn't see that
in the distraction
that passed
as prime-time television.
-This is all taking place
in a period of time
where we were at probably
our greatest change, socially.
We were in the midst
of a revolution
of talking about ideas.
Mainstream television was one
of the last things to jump,
and the first person to force it
over that hill was Norman.
-You and your bloody wars.
You and your bloody wars.
I mean, look at you.
Look at you!
-If ever there was a time
in history
of this bloody country
when we needed a war, mate,
it's now --
a war
to get rid of most of them.
-You're mad!
You know that?
[ Indistinct arguing ]
-I was living in England,
and that's where I saw a show
called "Till Death Us Do Part."
I sent a tape back to Norman,
and I said,
"This'll blow your mind."
And he was the one
that came up with the idea.
He said, "Well,
why don't we do it in America?"
I said, "Geez,
we get this on the air,
it'll be a miracle."
-The show
was about a father and son.
The father was conservative.
The kid was progressive.
And I thought, "Holy,
how did I never think
about that?
That's a terrific idea.
I lived that with my father."
So I went with that relationship
and never had reason
to regret it.
-Anything interesting
in the paper?
-Yeah, 200 arrested at Vietnam
Day Peace Demonstration.
200. They should have thrown
the whole bunch of them
in the can.
-Well, I think they just
don't like the idea of America
fighting an illegal
and immoral war.
-Well, if they don't like it,
they can lump it...
take it down the road
and dump it.
-What are you --
You're saying "America --
love it or leave it?"
-That's right.
'Cause this is America,
land that I love.
-Well, I love it, too,
Mr. Bunker,
and it's because I do, I protest
when I think things are wrong.
-And stand beside her
and guide her...
-The right of dissent
is the principle
upon this country was based!
-Through the night
with the light from above.
-Listen to me.
It's in the Bill of Rights!
-God bless America,
you dumb Polack!
-You're prejudiced!
You're prejudiced!
-My home, sweet home.
-Not anymore!
I'm leaving!
- God bless America
-You're prejudiced!
[ Door slams ]
My home, sweet home
-There's a reason Richard Nixon
put Norman
on his enemies list.
To be able
to talk about real life
and real issues, forget
how controversial they are --
They're real.
That's what's so relevant.
That stuff
didn't happen in sitcoms.
-I mean, it was, you know,
as we used to say,
it's too hip
for the room, you know?
I mean, it was just too smart
and too different and too edgy,
and, you know, we thought,
"Oh, goodbye, and good luck."
And the fact is,
CBS was nervous about it.
They put on a big disclaimer
saying, you know, essentially,
"We don't have anything
to do with this show."
-The headline is "'All
in the Family' introduces
the world
to foul-mouthed Archie Bunker.
CBS rolled the dice
last night
with a new situation comedy,
'All in the Family,'
which will either be
the biggest hit
of the season
or the biggest bomb."
So, here you go.
That's what it says.
We did eight seasons.
-You know something, Archie,
just because a guy is sensitive
and he's an intellectual
and he wears glasses,
you make him out a queer.
-I never said a guy
who wears glasses is a queer.
A guy who wears glasses
is a four-eyes.
A guy who is a fag is a queer.
-You know, you're right, Archie.
You're right.
The British are a bunch
of pansies --
pansies, fairies, and sissies.
And the Japanese
are a race of midgets,
the Irish are boozers,
the Mexicans are bandits --
-And you Polacks are meatheads.
-We promise we'll get to our
guest here in just a moment.
Yes, ma'am.
You'll stand, please?
-I raised four children,
got through them
when sex was coming
into its own on television,
and now I have
a 5-year-old granddaughter,
after seeing
"All in the Family,"
asked me to explain to her
what is a vasectomy.
Um, can I just...
Uh, so?
-So it's getting
a little difficult.
-Yeah, but you're intimidated
by the question.
-Yes, I am.
-Okay, I'm not asking -- Huh?
Well, hang on a minute.
Excuse me just a moment.
Yeah. You want to stand, please?
Why can't you explain it?
What's wrong with a vasectomy?
I mean --
-Oh, wait a minute.
[ Applause ]
-The way I look at it,
can be broken into two parts,
B.N. and A.N. --
before Norman and after Norman,
He's the most
influential producer
in the history of television
because of this gigantic change
that happened when "All
in the Family" hit the air.
-CBS News
presents "Look Up and Live."
Today, "Laughter: Hurt or Heal?"
-I have to say,
I have to feel
that the laughter hurts,
that the repetition
of these stereotype terms
that we thought had died
tends to be hurtful and harmful
to the public good.
-Well, Mr. Lear?
-I've heard all these epithets.
If they had died,
where had they gone to?
Do you really believe
that "All in the Family"
resurrected them from death?
So, my mission is to entertain.
I chose to entertain with
what I consider real people.
-As everybody knows by now,
there's a television series
on the air
about a lovable bigot.
That's how they always refer
to this show and the character
that my next guest plays.
His name is Carroll O'Connor.
Will you welcome
the Archie Bunker?
[ Applause ]
How do you do?
See what happened to me?
-While you said "lovable bigot,"
I don't know about
the lovable part of it.
We're presenting
the story of a man
who's basically
a pretty unhappy guy.
You people may laugh
at him and enjoy him,
but you mustn't.
Look at Archie as a man
who could be getting
a lot more out of his life
if he didn't have
these burdens on him
and these things
that have poisoned his life.
-I loved theater.
I was attracted to people
who performed
before a live audience,
and Carroll O'Connor
walked into a room,
sat at a table,
we said our pleasantries.
We didn't get off the first page
before I knew,
my God, this was Archie Bunker.
But Carroll
is an Irish Catholic liberal,
and he was carrying this role
on his shoulders,
in his body,
in every piece of his being.
So his responsibility...
I mean, he had a lot riding
that I didn't have.
I wasn't playing that character.
And so I knew shortly into it
that he would likely be unhappy
with the script every time.
Carroll would challenge me
at the end of a reading --
"This isn't gonna play.
This isn't gonna work."
But there was
a particular episode
where everything took place
in an elevator...
...and a woman's gonna deliver a
child while they were inside it.
-[ Moaning ]
-Geez. I don't think
I can get through this.
-He didn't think
that could happen.
He wasn't gonna do it.
I wasn't gonna do it
if he wasn't gonna do it.
There was not gonna be a show.
Oh, he had his lawyer,
his manager.
Everybody that could
be involved was involved.
-Carlos, Carlos.
-S, s, s, s, s.
-All right. Hold my hand.
-I think it's the baby.
It's coming.
-Oh, no, no.
We're gonna be downstairs
in a couple of minutes.
Now wait, wait!
Hold-o! Stop-o!
-It was so, so crazy,
but, of course,
the crying would take place
someplace below him.
He would look out of the corner
of his eye,
and the camera
would be on his face
at the birth of that child,
and it was gold.
It was platinum.
-Ain't it supposed to cry
or nothing?
[ Baby crying ]
That sounds kosher.
-Come see my son.
-You got a little boy.
-What do you think
Carroll O'Connor
is doing right now?
You know, I can't help
but think about that.
Does he know this is going on?
Does he know how -- oh, God --
how much I think of him?
- Boy, the way
Glenn Miller played
- Songs that made
the hit parade
- Guys like us,
we had it made
Those were the days
- Those were the days
And you knew
who you were then
- Girls were girls,
and men were men
- Mister, we could use a man
like Herbert Hoover again
- Didn't need
no welfare state
- Everybody pulled his weight
- Gee, our old LaSalle
ran great
Those were the days
- Those were the days
[ Applause ]
-Are you wearing your hat
on the show?
-I am. I am.
Oh, yeah.
-So I won't do too much up here.
-Nothing up there.
I have to say,
I love all your shows.
-Oh, thank you.
I certainly love this one.
-[ High-pitched voice ] And
they knew who you were then
[ Laughter ]
[ Normal voice ] Come on.
You raised me.
How are you, young man?
Nice to see you.
-Tell me,
what would you like me to say?
-You can talk about
whatever you want to talk about.
You've earned it.
It's just such a pleasure.
I can't even believe.
You know,
I used to sit in my house.
You know, back then,
there was nothing to watch.
You know,
people didn't have DVR.
They didn't have
any of that stuff.
And when "All in the Family"
would come on,
it was the greatest,
just the best.
-I mean, that's the way
we feel about
the Jon Stewart show.
-This one?
-So in some ways,
I'm raising you.
Isn't that life?
-Cycle of life, man.
Cycle of life.
[ Cheers and applause ]
Where I think I learned
how to process complex thoughts,
things that I really cared about
through the lens of comedy,
was watching Norman Lear shows.
-What could make me prouder?
We were all serious people.
Comedy was our business,
but there was something
on our minds.
The news
that to be a Jew in America
was to be different
had come to me
when I was 9 years old,
just before they sent
my dad away.
-Re-creation 1-A, take one.
-When I was a kid,
I spent a lot of hours
to a crystal radio set.
-All right, Jake, let's go.
Two of you men come with us.
-They might do something
to Uncle if we don't hurry.
-And I'm alone
with this crystal set one night,
and I hear a voice,
a fellow who was known
as Father Coughlin.
-I distinguish most carefully
between good Jews and bad Jews.
In all countries,
Jews are in the minority,
but a powerful minority
in their influence,
a minority endowed
with an aggressiveness
and initiative.
This is attributable
to the fact that Jews,
through their native ability,
have risen to such high places
in radio and in press
and in finance.
Perhaps this persecution is only
the coincidental last straw
which has broken the back
of this generation's patience.
[ Cheers and applause ]
-Ladies and gentlemen,
you have just listened
to Father Coughlin
delivering one
of the outstanding addresses
of this year.
-[ Sighs ]
How the...
did I understand that?
But I did.
But I did.
It just...
It never left my mind.
Never, ever, left my mind.
[ Sirens wailing ]
It was a Sunday morning,
I was at Emerson College,
and somebody came scampering
down a fire escape
to tell us that the Japanese
had bombed Pearl Harbor.
You were automatically
excused from service
if you were in college,
so I didn't have to,
but I wanted to be known
as a Jew who served.
I wanted to battle.
I wanted to bomb.
I wanted to kill.
I was the radio operator
on a B-17.
I was closer to the bomb bays,
so I would look down
to see them dropping
and report to the pilot,
and I remember still,
watching those bombs go down,
hundreds of them, and think
maybe the bomb
could miss the target
and think, "I don't care."
You know, "If it just killed,
I don't care."
-Well, look at us.
[ Laughter ]
Hi. [ Grunts ]
-Come and sit.
Come further into the house.
-Further in.
-It was right after the war,
but it was very kind of Carl.
-You know that this is 61 years
ago you're talking about?
-You may be right.
-You remind me,
getting out of the Army,
first thing I ever saw you
in -- "Call Me Mister."
-Yes, yes.
-And I've been trying
to find the senator song.
- Nothing is too good
for the man
Who fought for the man
who saved the day
Through the muck
and the mire
Through the flack
and the fire
The military magic
did its work
From the foreign shore,
he is back once more
Duddley-di-di, di-di
Still a jerk
-[ Laughs ]
I love it.
Very good.
You remind me of the Jews
in the mountains.
You want a bit?
Do you want a bit?
Jews came to the mountains
to get out of the heat
of New York City,
and a lot of them died.
What killed them was,
they all loved a song
called "Dancing in the Dark."
-Everybody did.
-And this is the only way
to sing "Dancing in the Dark."
Dancing in the dark
Till the tune ends
Waltzing in the dark
Soon ends
Dancing as we're dancing
in the dark
That's how high it goes.
Dancing in the dark
Already trouble.
Already --
Till the tune ends
We're waltzing in the dark
And it soon ends
[ Loudly ] And we can face
the music together!
Dancing in --
- Dancing in the dark
[ Camera shutter clicks ]
-What are we doing here?
What are we doing here?
-If you think about it, I mean,
that group of people
was basically responsible
for everything
that you laughed at
in the second half
of the 20th century.
They were friends.
I mean, it was my mother
and father, Mel Brooks,
and Anne Bancroft,
and Norman and Frances.
-I know
that they met at a party,
and there was chemistry.
By the end of the evening,
my mother was with my father.
-Frances and I
hit it off very quickly,
and we hit it off in every way
very quickly.
And it remained that.
-My mother was a feminist
who changed the lives
of many women,
and they had a wonderful
intellectual connection
and would talk
and talk and talk.
-When do we want it?
-What do we want?
-Frances was very much
engaged in the women's movement,
and I, as the father of three
daughters at that time, also.
So we all became feminists.
-Mrs. Naugatuck.
I would like a word with you.
-In a moment, madam.
Just when I've set
the chairs up.
-My husband can take care
of that.
-Oh, you can't let a man
do that, ma'am.
That's woman's work!
-Woman's work?
Mrs. Naugatuck, in this house,
there is no such thing
as woman's work
or man's work.
There is no discrimination
between the sexes.
That's what tonight's party
is all about.
-Oh, blimey.
Another Vanessa Redgrave.
-I prefer to think of myself
as a tall Jane Fonda.
-People think that I am Maude.
I'm not Maude.
Bea Arthur is Maude.
And because she and I
are both tall
and dark and strong and Jewish,
many people think
that we're alike,
and in some respects, Norman
has taken episodes in my life
and put them into episodes
on the screen for "Maude."
-It was the height
of the women's movement.
That's what fueled
the whole thing.
So that's where "Maude"
took off, which was wonderful,
because then we could tackle
any subject imaginable.
-And can I trust you
to keep a secret?
-What is it?
-[ Breathes deeply ]
I'm pregnant.
-You're kidding.
-Vivian, at age 62,
I'll be the mother
of an Eagle Scout!
-Look, there's only one
sensible way out of this.
You don't have to have the baby.
It's legal now.
-You know, she's right.
It's legal in New York State.
You better give that a thought.
-I have given it a thought.
Oh, I don't know.
I don't know.
I just don't know!
-And she left out a shot.
-She left out
"That's what I admire most
about you."
-Oh, no, no.
I don't mean for it to,
but, I mean,
there's your beginning,
and here's your finish.
-I mean, that's where
you're falling apart.
-Yeah. Okay.
-Let's try it.
-The euphemism for censor
was "program practices."
And the program practice
simply didn't want
to deal with abortion.
[ Indistinct conversations ]
From Friday to yesterday,
this thing has escalated.
Well, I just want...
-But I understood intuitively
that if I gave in
to this silliness...
...I would lose battle after
battle after battle following.
-What's your beef
against the networks?
-I spend hour upon hour
arguing with censors
about the tiniest things.
The network
often takes the position
that "Norman Lear
and the others in
the creative community," I mean,
"how can they do this?
How can they bite the hand
that feeds them?"
I consider
that the creative community
are the hands that feed.
-And they're biting your hand.
-And they're biting our hands.
-Just tell me, Walter,
that I'm doing
the right thing
not having the baby.
-For you, Maude, for me,
and the privacy
of our own lives,
you're doing the right thing.
-I love you, Walter Findlay.
[ Telephones ringing ]
[ Busy signal ]
-If you'd like to make a call...
-Your beloved, our beloved,
Beatrice Arthur!
[ Cheers and applause ]
-That episode of "Maude"
got 17,000 letters
and 65 million viewers.
And there wasn't a single state
that seceded from the Union.
[ Applause ]
-Thanks for coming
on our show, Mr. Lear.
-Please, Bob, it's Norman.
-No, no.
When I address the man
who owns the industry
I work in, I say "mister."
-Don't exaggerate, Bob.
Do you realize
I don't have a single show
on this network?
-Well, I think you're
a little too brave for NBC.
They canceled "Flipper"
because he refused
to wear swim trunks.
-What was new was that
we were engaging in reality.
They're ordinary subjects
in family life
where they affect people,
and abortion, I mean,
there's much more
political correctness now
than there was
when we were on a playing field
where we hadn't played before.
Anyway, they're telling me
I got to run.
-I'll let you know
when we're on air, sir.
I'm happy to see you again.
-Hi, Norman.
-Hey. How are you?
-Good to see you.
-Good to see you.
You all right?
-This is a television camera.
Here's Norman,
and here's Bea.
Just think what Norman Lear
will be able to do with this.
-Does it worry you, the kind
of spying that could go on?
-The kind of lack of privacy
that could come
from all of that?
-It does bother me.
-Now all of the eavesdropping...
-Well, that's exactly
what he was talking about.
-There is a tendency for people
when they get older
to stop asking questions,
and they're not
learning anymore.
And Norman, I can guarantee you,
the conversation will mostly be
him trying to ask questions.
He's interested in people
and life,
not just in telling stories,
but interested in humankind.
-When I was
about 13, 14 years old,
it cost a nickel to ride
all day on the subway.
When the train slipped
into 125th Street Station,
you could almost reach out
to touch the tenement windows.
They were
largely black families,
and I related to it somehow.
My bumper sticker reads
"just another version of you."
And that is my belief.
We are just versions
of each other.
-214, take three, mark.
[ Clapboard clicks ]
- Good times
- Any time you need a payment
- Good times
- Any time you need a friend
- Good times
- Any time
you're out from under
- Ain't we lucky we got 'em
Good times
-There weren't
any African-Americans
on TV at that time to speak of,
with the exception of,
well, "Amos 'n Andy."
If I wanted to see someone
that looked like me
on the screen,
it was usually Sidney Poitier
in the movies.
That was about it.
Honey, what happened?
Did you graduate?
-Has a pig got knuckles?
-[ Screaming ]
-Well, this is supposed
to be a party!
Let's get it on!
-Oh, James.
It's beautiful.
-Ain't it?
You are now looking
at a skilled laborer.
No more busting my back
on the loading dock at Brady's.
This means good pay, good jobs,
and goodbye, 79-cent muscatel,
and hello, $1.50 champagne!
[ Cork pops ]
[ "Ain't No Mountain
High Enough" plays ]
-The vibe couldn't have been
better going into the show.
was enjoying themselves.
Everybody was having
a great time.
Then something changed
with the adult players...
[ Music stops ]
...because a sense
of responsibility
to their audience,
to their race,
descended on them.
-Esther, in the first act,
you're the one
who says to...
to Thelma...
-..."What's the matter with --
If you don't have
the same interests, honey,
there's something wrong."
I mean, in effect,
that's what you're saying.
You recognize that they don't
have the same interests.
-No, I'm saying
that it's not necessary
to have the same interests.
-Well, I don't follow.
She's upset that she doesn't
have the same interests,
so you say, "Okay."
-There were lines
that were dropped on you
that were meant for you to say
because you were black.
And I had to see
behind all of that foolishness
and say, "No, no, no, no, no.
I can't say that."
But yet, some of the things
I was saying in the beginning --
-Yeah, but to do that
is to ignore completely
what's happening.
-Right, right.
-And it's...
-Esther and I both
had assumed the responsibility
of being the first
black family on TV,
and I was worried
about what people would think.
I didn't want to be seen
in a role
that was gonna disparage
and denigrate a black family.
I wasn't gonna do it.
I wanted it to be right.
-She's the fuse
that sets off Kid Dy-no-mite!
-Once he said "dy-no-mite,"
there would be a space
of maybe half a page,
10, 15, 20 seconds,
which can be an eternity
in television,
where the writers
wouldn't have to write.
"Just let him say 'dy-no-mite,'
and we can coast for a while."
-Well, I don't know
about Kid Dy-no-mite!
It grates on my nerves.
I couldn't stand it.
To make him the most
popular black in America,
in these United States, was...
a way of putting us all down.
from The Chicken Shack!
-I insist
that you can have comedy
without buffoonery.
[ Indistinct conversations ]
-John ain't here.
-He's sick,
but he'll be in tomorrow.
So we have a guy
who's been standing in.
What's his name?
-We had to do the show
for 26 weeks,
and it had to be good.
But we couldn't deal
with this reaction
of actors being upset
with the script all the time.
It was extraneous
to the needs of a show
that had to be done every week.
Where's Thelma?
-And so I sat everybody down
and said,
"These are decisions
I'm gonna have to make.
I'm not black,
but I am a father,
I am an uncle,
I am a brother, I'm a son.
I'm all of those male things
that John is,
and I don't think
there's any difference.
You guys know the language,
the behavior, the...
But we share the same feelings.
-He said, "John, don't take this
quite so seriously."
He said,
"You've got a wonderful role.
Enjoy it."
But I was taking it extremely
personally, to the point
that the writers
got tired of their lives
being threatened over jokes
and scriptand punch lines.
My thing was, take the crap
out, or let's fight.
[ Knocking ]
[ Tape rewinding ]
- Revolution has come
Time to pick up the guns
-One day, three members
of the Black Panthers
stormed into my offices at CBS,
saying they'd "come
to see the garbage man."
"Good Times" was garbage,
they said,
and on they ranted.
Shows nothing
but a white man's version
of a black family.
-Who you supposed to be?
-I'm Michael, J.J.'s brother.
-The character of J.J.
is a put-down.
Every time you see a black man
on the tube,
he is dirt poor,
can't afford nothing.
We got black men in America
doing better than most whites.
-Get yourself together, blood.
We got to move.
-I said, "Hold on,
hold on, hold on.
Okay, let's talk."
And that may have had as much
to do as anything else
with the, "Why don't we
make 'The Jeffersons'?"
- Fish don't fry
in the kitchen
Beans don't burn
on the grill
Took a whole lot of trying
Just to get up that hill
As long as we live,
it's you and me, baby
There ain't
nothing wrong with that
Well, we're moving on up
-I wanted to get off my chin,
but whatever.
- To the East Side
- Moving on up
We finally got
a piece of the pie
-"Good Times" was,
you know, it was cool.
I mean, it was an insight
into a loving family.
You get to like them,
get to speak like them.
"Good Times"
was for white people.
For white people
to get to know them
and maybe sympathize with them,
maybe love them,
maybe see them in the street
and want to talk to them.
"The Jeffersons"
was for black people.
angry to some degree --
"The Jeffersons"
represented the American Dream
for black people.
-Oh, hi.
-Uh, George,
this is Diane Stockwell.
Diane, this is my husband,
-Do both of y'all live here?
Some place, ain't it?
I didn't know
the Jeffersons had a couple.
-A couple of what?
-A maid and a butler.
You two.
-Yeah, they must be real rich.
-Hold it, Diane.
We are the Jeffersons.
-[ Coughing ]
[ Laughs ]
-You're right, Louise --
He's a great joker.
-I don't remember the first time
I saw George Jefferson,
but I do know
what I got from him.
He taught me how to walk.
George would poke his chest out,
let you know --
"I ain't no punk,
and I'm as good as you."
It wasn't even necessarily
out of anger
as much as it was,
"This is real.
Are you blind?"
-George, why do we have
to fight so much?
If we have a problem,
why can't we just
talk it through
like Tom and Helen?
They don't fight.
-They don't fight
'cause they're scared to fight.
-What's that supposed to mean?
-You know damn well
what it means.
If you two ever really
started going at one another,
inside of five minutes,
he'd be calling you ...
-Don't say it.
-He said it.
-It was so progressive then.
It was such a smart, insightful,
and important dialogue.
And Norman Lear was part
of the healing
in what he gave us.
-As a producer
of television shows,
I and my fellow producers
are constantly testing
and experimenting
with new concepts.
-Hello, Norman.
-Ah, Weiskopf.
Tell me, sir...
what is new with the new series?
-The father
is a union organizer.
-A union organizer.
-The mother is his boss,
the president
of a large steel company.
-But the father is proud,
and they live on his money.
-Now, the daughter is a nun,
and their son
is a gay state trooper.
-Norman is a hell of a salesman,
and when he's got
that selling light on,
he's hard to say "no" to.
And, of course,
he's a fountain of ideas.
-See that glow?
-What glow?
Do you mean the waxy
yellow buildup?
-What do you mean?
It is a little yellow, isn't it?
-Norman was enjoying
a hell of a run.
At one point, he had 6
of the top 10 shows on the air.
It was a house of hits.
I mean, he's irrepressible.
He's unstoppable.
-Well, I want
to congratulate Norman Lear.
I understand that he just
sold his acceptance speech
as a new series.
[ Laughter ]
-"Mary Hartman,"
"All in the Family,"
"The Jeffersons,"
"Maude," "Good Times."
Some people are saying
Lear is doing too much,
he's spreading
himself too thin.
Why so much?
-Why so much?
you're 10 times the man I was.
[ Laughter, applause ]
-Once more for the boss.
-Oh, geez.
-Boy, Norman's always
in here, man.
-Okay, cast.
-Good to see you.
We don't have to nail down
a story this meeting.
[ Intercom buzzes ]
I'm sorry.
Good night, love.
See you tomorrow.
-Goodbye, and thank you.
-They just sent her over.
-I had a show on the air.
I had another show on the air.
Yes, no.
It required another ear.
So I grew another ear.
It required a broom up my butt
so I could sweep the floor
at the same time.
I love the expression
"...or go blind."
I didn't know
whether to...or go blind.
[ Laughs ]
There was a moment when
I had five families on the air
and one in Encino
on Mooncrest Drive.
The families on the air
needed me
for every breath they took.
The family on Mooncrest Drive
seemed to get along just fine
with limited me.
I think I was too busy
struggling to be
a good provider.
-My dad was extraordinarily busy
during those years --
the TV years.
He would be in the zone
and in his office,
barricaded for a couple of days.
And then he emerges with
this beautiful piece of writing.
He was so, you know,
at the top of his game.
But my mother was not
a great fan of Hollywood.
You know, certain things
are expected of mothers
that are not expected
of fathers,
especially in that generation.
So they had
a difficult marriage.
At some point, my mother
rented an apartment,
and nobody knew where it was.
Nobody had the address.
But she didn't come home
one night.
-I was going
from building to building.
It was a small apartment,
entirely furnished by its owner
but for some photographs
and a rug I recalled us buying
years before in Morocco.
Frances was lying on it.
And her [Sighs]
Choking back a scream,
I'd reached for a pulse
I could not detect
while the super called 911.
In the emergency room
at Cedars-Sinai,
the first doctor to see her
said she was just minutes away
from leaving us.
When I left the hospital,
Frances was in a private room
and out of danger.
She was manic-depressive.
We -- It was...
We didn't know
she was manic-depressive
until she was 50.
And our marriage was so --
We were having
such a difficult time.
She wanted to move to New York.
I didn't want to move
to New York.
And, at some point, she left.
-Around the time that Norman
and Frances split up,
Norman sat up and said,
"I have an announcement
that I want to make."
-The great Norman Lear, the king
of situation comedy, leaves,
and without
a whole lot of notice.
And he asked me to come over
and basically
take over the shows.
And for me,
it was as if the Pied Piper
said to me, "I'm leaving.
Here's my flute.
Good luck."
-Norman, why are you
quitting the business
of television comedy?
-Well, I'm not so much quitting
the business as leaving it.
But we figured it out,
and it comes
to 16 television series
and 700 hours
of prime-time television.
It's hard
for me to say the words,
it stuns me so.
And I've loved it.
I've had a marvelous time
doing it.
I just want to exercise
some other muscles.
-I was not thinking
I was leaving
the entertainment business.
I was thinking it's
all the entertainment business.
- Onward, Christian soldiers
-I'm sick and tired
of hearing
about all of the radicals
and the perverts
and the liberals.
It's time for God's people
to come out of the churches
and change America.
-We have
a threefold responsibility.
Number one -- get people saved.
Number two -- get them baptized.
Number three --
get them registered to vote.
-Looking at the things
that Jimmy Carter supports,
I'm not sure
that Jesus Christ...
well, I know that Christ
would not support that platform.
-Praise God.
Let's be happy about this.
-We've got to raise up an army
of men and women in America
who call this nation back
to moral sanity and sensibility.
I call that the moral majority.
- Amen
Any time.
-It isn't the Moral Majority.
It is the religious New Right.
The Reverend Falwell
is very good at what he does,
and he somehow manages to
push himself so far to the front
that attention must be paid.
I was concerned about what
I was seeing on television --
the proliferation
of TV evangelical ministers
mixing politics and religion.
Thundering with the Bible!
You know,
calling this a Christian nation
and waving it like it was a bomb
or a bomb threat.
So I thought,
"I want to take the flag
and the Bible back
for all of us,
and the way I know how to do it
is television."
[ Cheers and applause ]
-I'm the one
that they're singing about.
Yeah, I'm the Stars
and Stripes Forever.
Star-Spangled Banner.
You can call me Old Glory,
but let's just keep it simple.
Just call me Flag.
Oh, say, can you see?
A little flag humor.
You know, I'm 204 years old.
People say, "Flag,
how do you stay so young?
Is it jogging?"
"Is it tennis?"
It's waving.
[ Laughter ]
-Norman was gonna do
a comedy movie
about the rise
of the religious right,
and then he realized
that it was much deeper.
This was not just a movie,
and this wasn't just something
that was funny.
And that's
why he decided to retire
from his successful
television shows
to really devote his life
to activism.
The Constitution's ban
on the establishment
of an official religion
and its guarantee
of the free exercise of religion
are clear and unchallengeable.
The separation of church
and state, pluralism,
and free debate,
and the struggle
against intolerance --
We must nourish them all
if we are to preserve
the American way.
-It was in the fall of 1978
that he told me
he was gonna found
People for the American Way
and told me what the substance
of the organization would be,
what its purpose was.
And I said to him,
I said, "Look, Norman,
you're a wealthy
Hollywood Jewish liberal."
Those who will, and do, disagree
with you
are powerful entities
and you could be headed
for a rough ride here.
-I would like to know
if Mr. Lear believes in God.
Perhaps he does,
but there are many of us,
after so many vicious,
distorted attacks
Bible-believing Christians,
who wonder maybe he's
on an anti-Christian kick.
-You are not opposed --
Let's clear up
a popular misconception.
You are not opposed
to fundamentalists
getting involved in politics.
Oh, not at all.
I'm not opposed
to any American anywhere
speaking his mind
or her mind at any time.
-Does it bother you to be viewed
as you are by some
as the embodiment
of anti-moral,
anti-Christian America?
-Yeah, well,
of course it bothers me,
but it bothers me far more
when hundreds of thousands,
perhaps millions of Americans
are persuaded to vote
a certain way,
or it's suggested that if
they don't vote a certain way,
they are demonic, satanic.
They are in league
with the devil.
They are not one
of God's people.
Jerry Falwell sent out a mailing
in which he called me
"the number-one enemy
of the American family
in our generation."
That's a quote.
And I started to get
some death threats.
So it was serious stuff.
-George Orwell said
the most important thing
is to see what's obvious
and tell us about it.
And that's what Norman did.
He became the first
purely American response
to an un-American strain
of bigotry.
I cannot, you know...
I cannot overemphasize
what a patriot this man is.
-An original copy of
the Declaration of Independence
is making news --
sold at auction yesterday
for more than $8 million.
-Jesus, you don't have room
for this story.
I mean, there's no way.
-He didn't call me and ask me,
"What do you think, pal?"
He called me and said,
"Guess what!
I own the Declaration
of Independence!"
And I said, "Norman,
I thought we all do."
He said,
"I'm gonna make sure you do."
-He pulls out
this big glass thing,
and there's the Declaration
of Independence.
And you're like -- I can't
believe it was for sale somehow.
But he felt
he had such a responsibility
to make sure that kids saw it
and understood
from where they came
and what this meant and what
these people were fighting for.
[ Cheers and applause ]
-Go, U.S.A.!
-The Declaration of Independence
is right here in Utah
and will be available
for viewing throughout the games
thanks to Norman Lear.
-So, sweetheart,
how does it feel to be married
to a man 25 years older?
-It makes a difference now
more than it used to.
-Did you tell them
how the sex gets better
and better and better?
-Oh, especially the one
in the spring, right?
-[ Laughs ]
-I was doing my dissertation
on fundamentalism at the time,
and when I heard about
People for the American Way,
I was just very interested
in what he was doing
and what that was all about.
I was like, "Norman Lear.
I thought
he was short and bald."
You know, no, I didn't expect
him to be as tall as he was
and kind of as handsome
and charming.
But we went out for lunch,
and that's sort
of where it all happened.
It was very clear to me
that I wanted to have children,
and I said,
"When you marry a younger woman,
it sort of comes
with the territory.
So you have to decide."
-I remember sitting
at a caf with my father,
and my dad said,
"So, guess what.
We're pregnant.
And it's twins!"
And I almost fell into my soup.
- A buzzard took a monkey
for a ride in the air
The monkey thought that
everything was on the square
The buzzard tried to throw
the monkey off of his back
The monkey grabbed his neck
and said, "Now, listen, Jack"
Straighten up and fly right
Straighten up
and fly right
-Yes, I have my son!
-I see me in that camera.
- Cool down, Papa,
don't you blow your top
Ain't no use in diving
What's the use of jiving?
Straighten up and fly right
Cool down, Papa,
don't you blow your top
Fly right
-Good night, sweetheart.
[ Smooches, blows ]
[ Cheers and applause ]
-[ Breathes deeply ]
Um, okay.
I have this class at my school.
I remember this one girl saying,
"You know what?
My family is so weird.
My dad is 67."
And all I remember
myself saying is,
or thinking to myself is,
you know, "My dad's 80."
[ Laughter ]
My dad has been a senior citizen
ever since I was born.
[ Laughs ]
I knew my father
was older than most --
than all -- very early.
I liked it.
I feel like
it's kind of a cool thing
to have in your pocket.
He's the most important person
in my life, for sure.
-Oh, I don't do refolding.
I'm sorry.
[ Indistinct conversation ]
This next one's
gonna be completely...
-Here, guys.
Fold them.
[ Laughter ]
-Wait, wait, wait.
Which word had three syllables?
-"Even This,
I Get to Experience."
-Little word.
-"Even this..."
-That's two syllables.
-"The man who" and "hat."
-It's a book.
-It's a book.
-Oh, yeah.
It's about...
-"The Man Who Mistook His Wife
for a Hat"
[ Cheers and applause ]
-Wow, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,
whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!
-That's a good --
That's a good name.
-My family is the greatest joy
in my life.
But I look back over the years,
and I think I realize
that each of us is responsible
for our own happiness.
And that's the great journey
in life --
learning that you have to find
the satisfaction yourself.
[ Sighs ]
It's hard to be a human being.
[ Chuckles ]
Remember, you heard it here.
It goes back, in my life,
to a grandfather.
If you got a minute, I'll tell
you about my grandfather.
My grandfather
loved this country,
stood holding my hand so tightly
it hurt on street corners
when a parade went by.
And I'd look up --
When the flag came by,
I'd look up at his face,
and a tear
would be coming down his cheek.
And he wrote Presidents.
He was an inveterate
letter writer to Presidents,
and every letter
started with "My dearest,
darling Mr. President."
My immigrant grandfather.
He was a man
who wrote the President
every single month of his life.
He used to write, "My dearest,
darling Mr. President,
don't you listen to them
when they say such and such."
And every letter started
"My dearest, darling
Mr. President."
[ Laughter ]
"Don't you listen to them
when they say such and such
and so-and-so."
And when he disagreed with them,
the letters
started the same way --
"My dearest, darling
Mr. President,
didn't I tell you last week..."
"I wrote you.
I said that you should..."
But he got answers.
Every once in a while,
I would run down
the three flights of steps,
York Street,
New Haven, Connecticut,
and there's
the little white envelope
that said White House.
[ Echoing ] White House.
He got letters
from the White House.
And my 9-, 10-year-old heart
would just...
[ Tapping chest ]
I couldn't get over it.
That wasn't true.
I made that up.
I had a great friend.
Arthur Marshall was his name.
And he had a grandfather
who wrote the President
"My dearest, darling
Mr. President."
I adored that,
and I guess out of some need,
I adopted it.
Or, more honestly said,
I stole it...
because I think now
I just needed
that father figure,
and if he didn't
exist in reality,
he certainly existed in my head.
I did what I had to do.
You know, I needed that --
to believe in that, and I did.
-Will you stifle?!
Yeah, you.
Gloria, you married the laziest
white man I ever seen.
-Did you ever think
that possibly your father
just might be wrong?
My old man used to call people
the same things
as your old man,
but I always knew he was wrong.
So was your old man.
-No, he wasn't.
-Yes, he was.
-He wasn't.
-Your father was wrong.
-Your father was wrong!
-Your father is the man
that comes home,
bringing you candy.
Your father is the first guy
to throw a baseball to you...
and take you for walks
in the park,
holding you by the hand.
My father held me by the hand.
Oh, hey...
my father had a hand on him,
now, I'll tell you.
He busted that hand once,
and he busted it on me
to teach me to do good.
My father, he shoved me
in a closet for seven hours
to teach me to do good,
'cause he loved me.
He loved me.
How can any man that loves you
tell you anything that's wrong?
-[ Voice breaking ]
Oh, son of a bitch
Was that good.
[ Sighing ] Oh.
Meanwhile, my father
was about to take a plane
to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"Herman, I don't like this,"
she told him.
"I don't want you
to see those men."
That was
just past my 9th birthday.
This had to be the moment
when my awareness
of the foolishness
of the human condition was born.
-Straight ahead for me.
[ Camera shutters clicking ]
Straight ahead for me.
-This is Norman's book.
-Hello, hello.
-It's such an honor to meet you.
You don't even know
how I feel about you.
It's beyond the beyond.
-Like all of you,
I've known the voice of Norman
my whole life,
and his voice
was in my living room,
on every night, when I grew up.
And the whole time,
we were laughing.
Do you know how hard that is?
Do you know how...hard
it is to make people laugh?
To tackle big issues
and get big ratings?
It's so hard that people
don't even do it anymore.
[ Laughter ]
[ Cheers and applause ]
Please help me congratulate
the winner
of the PEN Center U.S.A.
Lifetime Achievement Award...
Norman Lear.
[ Cheers and applause ]
-Thank you.
Here is where I am today --
a nonagenarian
in what the doctors tell me
is excellent health
looking down my arm
and wondering,
as I peck away
on my computer,
what my father's hand is doing
hanging out of my sleeve.
My family, nuclear and extended,
brings me nothing but joy.
I go to sleep each night,
anticipating and delighting
in the great taste of the coffee
I will be drinking
the next morning --
something I have done
almost 30,000 times.
And having looked back
with new eyes
on all the lives I've been
so fortunate to have led,
I've learned,
as hopefully you now will,
who I was as I scrambled
to get here from there.
Even this, I get to experience.
[ Cheers and applause ]
I thank you.
Let's go to the wrap party.
Like any good film
or any good play,
you don't know what's there
until you get to it,
and isn't that
what we're talking about
when we're talking about life?
We, none of us,
know where it leads.
-Here he is, at 93,
thinking about,
"What's my next big hit?"
I mean, he doesn't think
death is the last act.
-All right,
let's get!
[ Woman laughs ]
My name is Norman Lear.
[ Cheers and applause ]
Laughter, you know,
just has to add time.
You know, if lifting weights
or running, you know,
can add time, oh God,
how laughter can add time.
Laughing, myself,
and watching others.
That was my life.
Oh, yes.
[ "Sixteen Tons" plays ]
- Some people said
a man is made out of mud
-"Norman Lear:
Just Another Version of You"
is available on Blu-ray and DVD.
To order, visit
or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
- You load sixteen tons,
and what do you get?
Another day older
and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don't you call me
'cause I can't go
I owe my soul
I owe my soul
I owe my soul
To the company store