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HFPA in Conversation: Laughter Lengthens Life, Says Norman Lear

TV legend Norman Lear has written, produced, created, or developed TV Shows for over 70 years. This Sunday, at the 78th Golden Globes, he will be awarded the Carol Burnett Award, for outstanding contributions to television on and off the screen.

Mr. Lear told HFPA journalist Scott Orlin that he is excited to be associated with Carol Burnett. “I owe her weeks or perhaps months of my life because I believe that laughter adds time to one’s life, and my God have I laughed at Carol Burnett.”

He is grateful to receive the award. “I love to hear lifetime achievement. For all those mornings I woke up excitedly going to work or harassed, concerned about whatever the hell we were working on that week, looking to make something brighter and funnier. But they were great years.”

For over a decade he’s been working with his business partner, producer Brent Miller. They have been retooling some of the iconic shows with a modern sensibility like One Day at a Time. Now they are working on a Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman remake with Emily Hampshire. “On Mary Hartman we talked about everything we could think of. And that’s what we will be doing again. Times have changed, so subjects have changed.”

But has humor changed in 70 years? “All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, they are playing today like they played then. They don’t have the same platform, the same stages, there were far bigger stages when they were on the first time, but there’s always some of them playing around the country on the net somewhere. And they make me laugh today.”

Listen to the podcast and hear how he started his career as a comedy writer; what kind of comedy he was listening to and watching when he was a kid; how was his childhood ; what is his opinion about the humor column he used to write for his high school paper; how he learned to fly a plane; what kind of salesman he was; how he met Jerry Lewis and how was it working on The Colgate Comedy HourHenry FondaAlfred Hitchcock gave him; how the TV show All in the Family got picked up in its third incarnation; was he aware that he was pushing social and political boundaries?; why was flushing a toilet a big deal back then on TV and what he remembers about filming the scene in the elevator where a woman is giving birth; what is he most proud of on All in the FamilySanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good TimesLive in Front of a Studio Audience