5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
TV pioneer Norman Lear has produced some of the greatest shows in television history. He is the creator of hits that include “All in the Family, “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times.” In the ’80s, he dropped out of television to become a full-time activist, but he hasn’t strayed too far from his first love.
SD: In your opinion, can television really be a tool of social change?
NL: I think so! Change comes from learning something new. Television is much bigger than it was back in the 70’s and now there are so many outlets that can help make positive changes. Those who can help and create change must take on that great responsibility with seriousness and pride.
SD: Are there any social issues you wish you had addressed on your shows, but didn’t?
NL: I am sure there were some I missed. There were always issues that needed to be addressed. I do like to think that I helped to bring to light some of the big problems of the day and that in a small way some were solved.
SD: How are you feeling about the success of the Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” remake?
NL: I am so grateful for the cast and the showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett. She is Cuban-American and the show is a reflection of her own family and she gets very personal about it. I think that is why she has delivered such an amazing show. I also get a kick out of seeing her family sitting out in the audience at the tapings.
SD: Your documentary “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” must have been like literally watching your life flash before your eyes. How did you feel about that?
NL: I was amazed by the finished project. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady did a fantastic job. It was easy for me, I just supplied them the life I lived, and they did the rest. They really owned it and turned out something great.
SD: A lot of your shows dealt with race. A lot of the topics you covered still seem applicable today. Why hasn’t there been more progress?
NL: The foolishness of human nature unfortunately continues. It is a shame that we still have to deal with it. I will say there definitely has been some progression and more understanding, but at a way slower paced than I or most people would like. I am happy to see major steps forward in the LGBT community. This is why activism is so important now and to our future.
For more information on Norman Lear or to purchase his new book, “Even This I Get to Experience,” visit www.normanlear.com