American Masters: Norman Lear
October 25 at 9pm on CET
Largely responsible for the explosion of bold American television in the 1970s, writer/producer Norman Lear’s name is synonymous with the sitcom. The first documentary about the 94-year-old television legend, American Masters — Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, combines stories from his turbulent childhood and early career with his groundbreaking TV success (All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude) and social activism. The documentary also features colorful stories from Lear’s family, friends and collaborators, including John Amos, George Clooney, Alan Horn, Bill Moyers, Rob Reiner, Phil Rosenthal and Russell Simmons, as well as cinéma vérité moments with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Jon Stewart, Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham.
Breaking down the fourth wall to create an evocative collage where past and present intermingle, Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp, 12th & Delaware, DETROPIA for Independent Lens) reveal a psychologically rich man whose extraordinary contributions emerge from both his personal story and his own self-professed childlike view of the world. Just Another Version of You traces how a poor Jewish kid from Connecticut started writing for The Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, created All in the Family and became one of TV’s most successful showrunners. All character-driven, with theatrical sets and live audiences, Lear’s TV series changed not only the face of national television but the content of national discourse. Bringing provocative subjects like war, poverty and prejudice to 120 million viewers every week, Lear proved that social change was possible through an unlikely prism – laughter – and created some of the greatest moments in television history.