Making It Big in 30 Minutes

Transcript: Bonus Episode, Kevin Bright and Normal Lear

Making It Big in 30 Minutes

Transcript: Bonus Episode

Kevin Bright and Normal Lear


Terri Trespicio:
Hey! It’s Terri Trespicio here, host of Making It Big in 30 Minutes. ...So. What’d you think of Season 1? Maybe you were like, Wow I didn’t know so many of Emersonians were doing such cool things. Or, Hey I know someone who should be on there, or, Um, I should totally be on there! Of course! Because you know who knows the best guests for an Emerson alumni podcast? EMERSON ALUMNI. If you’d like to be considered for season 2 of the podcast, we want to know about it. Join us over on Emerge and tell us what you’re up to! Wait--Do you not know about Emerge yet? It’s the new online Emerson community where already more than 1500 Emersonians are connecting, talking, and checking out new opportunities like...being on season 2 of the Emerson podcast! Go to emerge.emerson.edu, set up a quick profile and you’re in. And then you can access the questionnaire to be considered for the podcast. If you’re not on Emerge? You’re not on the podcast. Simple as that! Join us there now and you’ll even be entered to win a signed copy of Norman Lear’s book “Even This I get to Experience.” Now, onto the bonus episode. You’re in for a treat. Because you’re about to hear a conversation between two Emerson greats. One of them is not me, and neither is the other one. One is Norman Lear, the 6-time Emmy award-winning television and film writer and producer behind American classics like One Day at a Time, All in the Family, Good Times, The Jeffersons and more. He’s also... a Kennedy Center Honoree. A recipient of the national medal of arts, a golden globe winner, and a Peabody lifetime achievement award winner. Lear has also dedicated his life to fighting right-wing extremism and defending constitutional values like free expression, religious liberty, and equal justice under the law. The man is 98 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. He’s joined by Kevin Bright, another alum with enough Emmys to set a table with. Six of them he won for those famous David Copperfield specials (like when they made the Statue of Liberty disappear? Amazing). Bright was also one of the Executive Producers of “Friends,” for which he won scads of awards, and has since developed and produced several documentaries. These two virtual giants sat down for a virtual chat -- about their careers, but also about their close personal and professional relationship. I give you--Norman Lear and Kevin Bright, two Emerson alums who made it very big indeed. 

Norman Lear:
Did this exist when you were there? (Singing) Emerson is marching, follow the leader. Firm friends and classmates, we will always be as one in work and play. We love our alma mater. That's as much as I remember.

Kevin Bright:
Well, that's enough. You know what? I'm going to take that as our intro to this conversation, Norman. And say, you've been listening to the Emerson Alma Mater, as sung by Norman Lear, alumni from the class of 1942. And I'm Kevin Bright, I'm from the class of 1976. And this is Making it Big in 30, the Emerson College podcast for Emersonians, by Emersonians, with Emersonians, and we're here today with the great, the amazing, my idol, Mr. Norman Lear.

Kevin Bright:
I don't have to tell you about a whole list of credits. You've heard them a hundred times before, but, he's an incredible, amazing human being. The person we all wish we will be at 98-years-old. So, let's get started.

Norman Lear:
What did you say? 90-what?

Kevin Bright:
What? 98, Norman.

Norman Lear:
Oh, for crying out loud.

Kevin Bright:
Unbelievable, I know.

Norman Lear:
98 in some hours.

Kevin Bright:
Yes, in couple of hours, too. So, I just want to start off by... I think, a lot of people, when they think about you, they think about you, the writer. And, probably imagine some time when you were very young, you fell in love with the written word because you fell in love with Shakespeare and Hemingway, and decided you needed to become a writer.

Kevin Bright:
But the truth of it is, your entry to show business was you wanted to become a press agent. Why was that? How did that come around?

Norman Lear:
Well, I was a kid in the depression. So, the longest conversations we had around our dinner table, my mother, father, sister, and I, was who could afford the sneakers that the family was saving for? And could be purchased in couple, three weeks? But, my sister needed them more than I. What was it you asked?

Kevin Bright:
Press agent. How did you come around to being a press agent?

Norman Lear:
Oh, I had one uncle who used to flick me a quarter in that circumstance, when he saw me. And, he was my role model, my hero. My god, I wanted to grow up to be an uncle who could afford to flick a quarter to a nephew. I thought that was the swellest thing.

Kevin Bright:
And probably then, a quarter was like a hundred dollars today, right?

Norman Lear:
Well, it was everything we could afford. I remember sitting on a fire escape, maybe, I don't know, a half-hour, an hour's conversation, was whether we could take the 20 or 30 cents that evening to send me down to the drugstore for a pint of ice cream, or a quart of ice cream? That's what was going on at a time when an uncle flicked me a quarter, and that's what I wanted to be. He said he was a press agent, I didn't know what a press agent was, but from my earliest moments thinking about it, I wanted to be what he was.

Kevin Bright:
Well, at your age, when somebody can deliver a quart of ice cream, that's a career that you want, right?

Norman Lear:
Yes.

Kevin Bright:
When did writing hit you? When did that come into your life?

Norman Lear:
It came into my life when my wife, my baby daughter, at the time, and I, came to California for me to become a press agent. Which I did, for a few weeks, for somebody who I can't even remember. I had a cousin here who was married to a fella by the name of Ed Simmons. One night the two women, who liked one another, went out to a movie for a dime, and he wanted to be a writer, a comedy writer.

Kevin Bright:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norman Lear:
So, he had an idea, or I had an idea, I don't remember. And that evening, while the women were at a movie, we wrote a parody to some song. And when the women came home at 10:30, I said, "You know, there are a couple of clubs open, why don't we go and see if we can sell this?"

Kevin Bright:
Wow.

Norman Lear:
And we did. We sold it for 40 bucks. 20 dollars was at least a third of what I made selling door to door, which is what I was doing at the time, and so, Eddie and I started to write together.

Kevin Bright:
In 1942, you went to Emerson College.

Norman Lear:
Yes.

Kevin Bright:
For one year, because you were drafted and went into the Army to serve.

Norman Lear:
Let me tell you how I got to Emerson College.

Kevin Bright:
Tell me about that.

Norman Lear:
Because there's a new one-woman show, called The Constitution and Me, you know that show?

Kevin Bright:
Uh-huh, we all remember that one.

Norman Lear:
Well, I enlisted in the first American Legion Oratorical Competition. That's what it was called, in my senior year in high-school. And we all had to speak about the constitution, something about the constitution. My title was, "The Constitution and Me." And I wondered in the course of my little talk, which I think was an eight or 10 minute talk, whether I as a member of a minority, Jewish, whether the constitution meant a little more to me than it might have meant to somebody else who was not a member of a minority. Whether it meant more to me as a Jew, or more to a Black person as a Black person.

Norman Lear:
Anyway, that was the subject of my... And I won the New England championship and a year at Emerson College.

Kevin Bright:
Wow.

Norman Lear:
That's how I got there.

Kevin Bright:
Wow. So, you not only got there, but you got there with a scholarship for free, paid for.

Norman Lear:
For the first year, yeah. And then we were at 130 Beacon Street, in the back, at the theater. Rehearsing on a Sunday morning, December 7, and somebody came running down a fire escape, to say Pearl Harbor had just been fired at.

Kevin Bright:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norman Lear:
And within a couple of days, I was telling my folks I'm enlisting. My mother begged me. She'd die, she said, if I served abroad. Anyway, it took me some months before I enlisted, but I finally did, anyway.

Kevin Bright:
But, after you enlisted, you were a gunner and radio operator. You flew over 52 combat missions. But most importantly, you made it home. And what do you think is the best piece of advice that you received in your time in the Army that got you through the whole thing?

Norman Lear:
The best piece of advice?

Kevin Bright:
Or what really got you through it all. And it must have been very stressful and anxious flying combat missions. What got you through it and got you to the other side?

Norman Lear:
God, I don't know. It's certainly the guys I was flying with. We were a crew of nine. In a lifetime in which I forget a lot of names and people and relationships, I remember every name of my crew. All these years later, you know? I remember my crew. We've been out of touch for a long time. I hope I have, more than I am, still around.

Kevin Bright:
That's right, that's what I'm hoping, too, Norman. What do you consider your first big success in show business?

Norman Lear:
I guess it was the Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis Colgate Comedy Hour. Ed Simmons and I wrote that.

Kevin Bright:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). At the time, it was actually, you had a record-breaking contract for 52,000 dollars to write five shows for Martin and Lewis on the Colgate Comedy Hour. That must have felt like a fortune at that time.

Norman Lear:
Well, it was a fortune for somebody who still remembered how long it took to decide whether we were going to get a pint of ice cream.

Kevin Bright:
Yeah. That made a big impression. Who were some of your early mentors in show business? And what lessons did you learn from them?

Norman Lear:
Well, there's one fella who comes to mind. His name was Roland Kibbee, and he was a writer, and I wrote, this was the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. And, one of the guys who had been a stage manager, these were the stage managers on the Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Norman Lear:
John Rich, who became a very well-known director. We worked together for years. Arthur Penn, who was a huge name following. Bud Yorkin, and Bud Yorkin and I became partners. And, what was your question?

Kevin Bright:
The question was who were your early mentors and what were the lessons that stuck with you?

Norman Lear:
Bud was doing the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show on television. I don't know if you, at your age, remember Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Kevin Bright:
You know, this is where we overlap, Norman. Because, believe it or not, our 30-some odd years difference in age, I produced a Tennessee Ernie Ford special for Joe Katz in the late 60s.

Norman Lear:
Oh, for crying out loud.

Kevin Bright:
Yeah, so, we overlap with Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Norman Lear:
When I coined the phrase, you may have heard of it, "It's a small world." This is the kind of thing I had in mind.

Kevin Bright:
Wow, wow. When you started out, you were really writing sketch comedy. What attracted you to move over to situation comedy?

Norman Lear:
I got...interesting question, I remember so well. Eddie and I were doing the Martha Ray Show in New York. And, I'm trying to remember his name, a good friend, a comedy writer. Stayed with us for a couple of days, visiting New York, flew in from California. He was doing the Joan Davis show. Joan Davis was a comedian way back, and he had a piece of the show, which didn't exist in live television.

Kevin Bright:
Wow.

Norman Lear:
And, he was being divorced, and all his wife wanted in that divorce, was his Joan Davis rerun money. And I'll never forget that. And I was in the same situation, or about to be in the same situation. I couldn't forget, gosh I wish I could remember his name. It was as simple as Joan Davis rerun money. He was having such a difficult time. And that's when I said to myself, "I've got to do a situation comedy, and own something."

Kevin Bright:
Right. So the first half hour you created in 1959, was called The Deputy. And it starred Henry Fonda. Was that a comedy?

Norman Lear:
That was with Roland Kibbee. That's where my mentor...

Kevin Bright:
Oh, okay. Oh, so you did that with Roland, Deputy?

Norman Lear:
Did that with Kibbee when I was still in California. This was before All in the Family, and before, I think it was before Martin and Lewis. No, no it was after Martin.

Kevin Bright:
No, it's after Martin and Lewis.

Norman Lear:
Yeah.

Kevin Bright:
It was after Martin and Lewis. Did it star Henry Fonda?

Norman Lear:
It starred Henry Fonda.

Kevin Bright:
Is that right?

Norman Lear:
Henry Fonda, yes.

Kevin Bright:
And what was that like? I mean, for current people, that's Jane Fonda's father.

Norman Lear:
Yes. And a glorious actor, and wonderful man. He was a deputy. I remember he ran a gun shop, sold guns. And somebody came in and wanted to buy a handgun, in the first episode.

Kevin Bright:
Wow.

Norman Lear:
And he wouldn't sell the handgun, he would sell, because they were too dangerous. He only sold rifles.

Kevin Bright:
That was in an episode in 1952?

Norman Lear:
Yes.

Kevin Bright:
Unbelievable.

Norman Lear:
Yeah.

Kevin Bright:
So, you could just move that over now, and somebody would say, "Oh, look at Norman, he's advocating gun control again. He's at it again." From 1960 to '68, you wrote on various sitcoms and variety shows. But then in 1968, you started developing All in the Family. And All in the Family premiered in CBS in January of 1971. But it started out as a show called Justice for All. And then it morphed into a second pilot called Those Were the Days.

Kevin Bright:
After failing two times, what made you stick with that show?

Norman Lear:
I loved the show. I grew up with a father who, for example, would, on a Sunday, say, "Jeanette," to my mother, "We're going out for chinks tonight." And I would say, "Dad, do you have to..."

Kevin Bright:
Norman, I heard that expression in my house, too.

Norman Lear:
Yes. Oh my god. And I would say, "Dad, you're going out for Chinese dinner, why do you have to word it that way?" He of course, never stopped. So, when I heard about a British show called 'Til Death Us Do Part, which featured a father and son who argued about everything under the... I thought, oh my god, that's my father and me. And so, that's what motivated me to do that.

Kevin Bright:
All in the Family, as you said, was based on a British sitcom. And, your second hit, Sanford and Son, was also based on a British sitcom. Steptoe and Son. What is the biggest challenge in adapting a British show for an American audience?

Norman Lear:
I can't answer because I didn't view it as a challenge. It was just another idea.

Kevin Bright:
I guess I ask that because-

Norman Lear:
What started Steptoe and Son was Bud and I were in Las Vegas, and fell in love with a lounge act. And that Lounge Act was what's his face?

Kevin Bright:
Red Fox.

Norman Lear:
Red Fox. And, I mean we just couldn't get over him. And the woman who represented 'Til Death us Do Part, which became here, All in the Family, also represented a show called Steptoe and Son. And so, she showed us that. We had just come back. I mean, coincidentally, it's so wonderful, the luck here. We had just come back from Las Vegas, having fallen in love with Fred Sanford, eager to do something with him, and now we run into Steptoe and Son. So that's how that came about.

Kevin Bright:
That was just perfect casting. And I think just continues today to amuse me to no end, watching Red Fox. He's just a one of a kind comedian. In 1974, you founded T.A.T. Communications. Which went on to be one of the most successful....

Norman Lear:
You know what TAT stood for?

Kevin Bright:
Go ahead and tell us, yes. I know, but tell us what it stood for.

Norman Lear:
I loved a Yiddish expression, called Tuchus Offen Tisch. Tuchus is ass, so-

Kevin Bright:
And what does that mean?

Norman Lear:
Put your ass on the table. That was a colloquial way of saying I want your word. You word is ass on the table.

Kevin Bright:
But, it's a very appropriate title for a company where in a certain way, that's what you were doing at the time. You were taking a step of no longer just being a writer/creator. Now you're managing this huge production company.

Norman Lear:
Yes, yeah. Well that's the way I felt about it, and that's what triggered that title.

Kevin Bright:
What did you find from your success as a writer, that carried over into helping you in this new role, managing this big company and multiple shows, what as a writer helped you manage that?

Norman Lear:
I'd probably, in the area of understanding a little bit better, that anything is possible.

Kevin Bright:
That's right.

Norman Lear:
With the use of the imagination, anything is possible. Although, I'm living in a time when I wake up every morning and think of what's happening in my country and realize, having spent my life in an industry that uses its imagination, depends on its imagination, none of us ever imagined what is happening now.

Kevin Bright:
No, no. This is really, you couldn't write this one.

Norman Lear:
No, nor could you have conceived of a character that, as this moment, happens to live in our White House.

Kevin Bright:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, when you're talking about conceiving of something, is there a process that you have when you're creating a show, that starts from the idea to the first draft of the script, how does that process work for you?

Norman Lear:
I don't know. It's much more like waking up every day and getting to it. Whatever is required of you that day. Life is a collaborator, each day is a collaborator.

Kevin Bright:
It's true.

Norman Lear:
It asks of you something. And, leaning into it, delivering that something, is a collaboration.

Kevin Bright:
In speaking of today, in 1980, you founded People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, for the purpose of counteracting the Christian Right organization, the Moral Majority. Which was founded in 1979. Here we are, 40 years later, and the battle rages like never before. What do you think we can do to maybe advocate some peace between Americans and bring us together? What might do that? If the pandemic couldn't do it, what could bring us together now? Is there any thought on that?

Norman Lear:
Yes, absolutely. On the third of November, vote.

Kevin Bright:
That's right.

Norman Lear:
I think that the answer to your question is observable. In the last couple of days, in the long lines that we've seen on the tube, of people waiting to vote this early, this early...

Kevin Bright:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I can't wait until the polls open here, physically, October 30, that's when I'm going to vote in person, because I really believe, as much as there's danger out there with the pandemic, I believe that those of us that can, must show up in-person, and make our statement in the booths. And not wait for the votes to be counted in the absentee.

Norman Lear:
You know, I feel that way, too. Had that long conversation with family that convinced me, you're on a cane, Norman, it's a long.

Kevin Bright:
It's a long wait. It's going to be a long wait.

Norman Lear:
So, we voted by mail.

Kevin Bright:
In 1985, you sold T.A.T. Communications. And with it, you sold the rights to all those iconic shows you created in the 70s. And in effect, you were leaving television at the height of your success to focus on advocacy and filmmaking. And that's kind of like Michael Jordan leaving basketball at the height of his skills, to play baseball. Why did you decide to sell T.A.T. at the time? And all those shows that you had created that were your babies?

Norman Lear:
Would you believe, it's so strange, I've never been asked that question.

Kevin Bright:
Wow.

Norman Lear:
And now, I have to reflect on why did I sell it? It just felt like, or I felt the need to stretch in other directions. When did I do Come Blow Your Horn?

Kevin Bright:
Come Blow Your Horn was before that. This was before you did all the movies with Rob Reiner that you produced. Including Fried Green Tomatoes was something that you did, also, after.

Norman Lear:
Yeah.

Kevin Bright:
But it was a lot of focus on filmmaking, and of course, it was a lot of focus on advocacy.

Norman Lear:
I remember the desire, in these words, to stretch in other directions.

Kevin Bright:
I think we all get to that point of, for me, after Friends ended, I felt that need, also. But for me it took me to documentary filmmaking, and I found a tremendous outlet in that, since I started doing it. So, I understand what you were feeling at the time. After forming the, later on, in 1989, just four short years later, you returned to television, what was different about 1990 compared to 1970 when you started Al in the Family? What had changed in television when you went back?

Norman Lear:
I don't know that anything changed in television. We were doing the same thing, I love theater, so pretty much everything I've done on television has been in front of a live audience. To feel that theatrical experience. There's nothing like watching an audience go forward.

Kevin Bright:
That's for sure.

Norman Lear:
They tend, as one, to rise out of their seats and come forward a little bit, and then come back into their seats again. And then, there is no more deep, spiritual experience for me than that.

Kevin Bright:
I'm with you, it's the greatest barometer, and it's a feeling that's hard to describe because you've been working on something for a week or two, trying to get it right, and that's the moment of validation, really, it's so great that we have those studio audiences because otherwise, we'd be doing comedy in a void. And, laughing doesn't feel so good in the void. You need that audience.

Kevin Bright:
When you returned to television in the 90s, you produced three shows. They didn't have the kind of success that the shows had in the 70s. Did that-

Norman Lear:
What were they, again?

Kevin Bright:
What, the three shows during that time?

Norman Lear:
Yeah.

Kevin Bright:
Well, one of them was Powers that Be.

Norman Lear:
Oh, right. That was, I loved that show, and we did that extremely well.

Kevin Bright:
Well, let's talk about that. Because that's where you and I connect again. We first overlapped at Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Norman Lear:
Yes.

Kevin Bright:
But Powers that Be came about because you met two young writers from New York, Marta Kaufman and David Crane.

Norman Lear:
Yes, yes. And they became...

Kevin Bright:
Tell me how that happened.

Norman Lear:
That became your partners.

Kevin Bright:
They then became my partners, that's right.

Norman Lear:
I think that was the first thing we did together...

Kevin Bright:
That's right.

Norman Lear:
And they did a brilliant, brilliant job. Do they still work together at all?

Kevin Bright:
No, no. They're doing separate shows now.

Norman Lear:
A long time, for a long time.

Kevin Bright:
Yeah, the three of us, after Friends, I think everybody, as you said, had a desire to do their own thing and go their own way, so, the three of us have been doing us. And, Marta very successfully, with Grace and Frankie...

Norman Lear:
Oh, yes.

Kevin Bright:
Which is a show that she's doing. And David has had his own success with a show he did with Matt LeBlanc afterwards. So everything has worked out great, but I want to thank you for discovering them. Otherwise, instead of being here talking to you, I might be in some hallway with a mop and bucket now. So, thank you for discovering Marta and David and bringing them to California.

Norman Lear:
And I might have been behind you filling a second bucket.

Kevin Bright:
We would have made a good team. That place would have been spotless, Covid-ready, for sure. One of the cool things that I found out about you, Norman, is you made an appearance on South Park in 2003, and you also went to a South Park writer's retreat. Can you tell us a little bit about, the students, they love that show. Can you tell us a little bit about Matt Parker and Trey Stone and what your relationship was like with them?

Norman Lear:
I fell in love with South Park.

Kevin Bright:
Do you have a favorite character?

Norman Lear:
And my son was thinking about writing, and anyway, I just knew I wanted to meet those guys. And I called and brought my son and met with them, and fell in love with each of them. As a matter of fact, Trey Parker invited me to come to Hawaii, and officiate at his wedding, which I did.

Kevin Bright:
Wow.

Norman Lear:
Which I did.

Kevin Bright:
Fantastic. Do you have a favorite South Park character?

Norman Lear:
What's his face?

Kevin Bright:
Everybody loves Cartman.

Norman Lear:
Oh my god, yes.

Kevin Bright:
Let's see. In 2017, look how we've come this far. You rebooted One Day at a Time. And replaced the all original white cast with a Latino cast, starring the incredible Rita Moreno.

Norman Lear:
Yes.

Kevin Bright:
Who we both love.

Norman Lear:
And Justina Machado.

Kevin Bright:
That's right. How did the idea come about to do that reboot that way?

Norman Lear:
I have a young partner, Brent Miller, who one day said to me, as simple as that. "What do you think about a Latino version of One Day at a Time?" How could I not say... What a good idea.

Kevin Bright:
So, nothing was fleshed out, it was just the overall concept of what if we made it a Latino show?

Norman Lear:
Yes, yes.

Kevin Bright:
Unbelievable. And...

Norman Lear:
But then came Gloria Calderon Kellett, who was herself Cuban. And her partner Mark Royce. And they were the heroes who made it come to life.

Kevin Bright:
One Day started on Netflix and then it went to POP TV. And now it's back on CBS.

Norman Lear:
Yes.

Kevin Bright:
And it has gotten tremendous accolades and reviews. Is this a time where, finally, quality wins out over ratings? That this show just is not going to go away because it is too good?

Norman Lear:
Well, we have to wait for that answer.

Kevin Bright:
I'm trying to make a prediction on your behalf.

Norman Lear:
I know it is going to be on Monday night again.

Kevin Bright:
Yeah.

Norman Lear:
And the following Monday night, because they ran two last Monday, and two at two succeeding Mondays. And then, we have to start afresh. And the question is whether we will be picked up to produce more episodes.

Kevin Bright:
So, if you are picked up to produce more, how will this pandemic affect the way you approach the writing on the show? Let's imagine it's still going to be going. Everybody's feeling that this is still going to be here for another six months, how do you feel it's going to affect your writing?

Norman Lear:
We would use the pandemic...the pandemic would be a fact of life for that family, that television family. As it is for all of us. And how they react to it would depend on the children and the grandmother, Rita. Justina, all of them. By the way, have you seen Justina on Dancing with the Stars?

Kevin Bright:
No, I have not.

Norman Lear:
Oh my god, is she good.

Kevin Bright:
Oh, okay. You may finally make me watch that show, then. That's a good reason to. In 2020, you took home your sixth Emmy award for Live in front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear's All in the Family and Jeffersons. How do you think those shows have aged, and did you hear any interesting comments from people who may not have seen the original shows?

Norman Lear:
Well, the comments that were most attractive were how current they seemed. To have an audience see a show that was done originally 40-some years earlier, and to have them say, it's just like it could've been written and produced today. But that's a reflection on its humanity, which doesn't change. We are the same foolish...the foolishness of the human condition persists throughout our history. So, the clothing changes, the physical situation changes. But, the behavior is pretty much the same.

Kevin Bright:
Well, speaking of that foolishness. Over your lifetime, you've seen so many major shifts in the cultural landscape. What do you see as the biggest challenges for creators, writers, directors, that for the next 10 years? What is going to be the biggest challenge for them in creating new shows?

Norman Lear:
I think the biggest challenge is the fight that goes on within. First of all, getting up to do it. Nobody ever gave a writer better advice than George S. Kaufman, I think, who simply said, "Write." The best advice to a writer is write.

Kevin Bright:
Well, what concerns me about the future is the way the world now kind of focuses on two sets of facts. That there's kind of two versions of what happens in the world. So, comedy used to be for everybody. Entertainment used to be universal for everybody. You told a good story, you told a good story. Are we going to have to be...is there going to be Fox-style entertainment and CNN-style entertainment and comedy? Is entertainment going to be affected by this whole politicization of everything?

Norman Lear:
I think it's going to reflect the times and in that sense, will reflect the political assortments as each of the characters express themselves, politically. Any comedy I will be involved in will hope to stay current. I'm not interested in doing anything historic, I'm interested in what we're waking up to think about today.

Kevin Bright:
Well, what are you most passionate about these days?

Norman Lear:
The election coming up and seeking to help any way I can to get everyone to vote.

Kevin Bright:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). You hear that, Emersonians? Everybody. All of us. We're all voting.

Norman Lear:
All of us. Certainly Emersonians.

Kevin Bright:
That's the edict from Norman Lear.
What message does Norman Lear have for a younger generation that is witnessing so much conflict in the world? What words of inspiration do you have for our current students in terms of carrying on and making it in the film and television industry today?

Norman Lear:
I would say pay attention to two little words that we ordinarily don't pay enough attention to. Over and next. When something is over, it is over. And, you and we are onto next. If there was a hammock in the middle of those two words, that would be the best way I can describe or voice the expression living in the moment.

Kevin Bright:
And I love the image of you, in that hammock. Smoking a nice big, Havana cigar.

Norman Lear:
Oh, yes. If there was no other reason to believe in God, it would be Havana Leafs.

Kevin Bright:
Well, there's some people who would talk about another leaf, Norman, but we'll leave that over to the side.

Norman Lear:
But, in any event, the fact of all of our lives is, everybody who is listening to us, it took every split second of each of our lives to get to this moment. There isn't anyone listening to me that didn't cost them every split second of their lives to hear me mouth what I'm mouthing now. And so, that moment could not be more important. That was last moment, now this is the next one, this is it.

Kevin Bright:
And hopefully that next moment is going to be a sweet moment.

Norman Lear:
Yes.

Kevin Bright:
That's what we're always looking for. Sweetness in life.
So, last question. At the age of 98, you still have a bucket list. And at the top of that bucket list is the desire to be a singer, maybe to record an album. What put singing at the top of your bucket list?

Norman Lear:
It's just that I can't think of anything that would give me more pleasure than to have a light on me and music behind me, and a sea of faces that I am making smile or dream as I sing. What could be more fulfilling than looking at a sea of faces that are responding to your singing?

Kevin Bright:
I have a feeling that either I or somebody is going to make that dream come true, because it sounds like delicious evening at the Geffen to me, Norman, you singing. But, can you give us... We started this show off with a little singing. Maybe it would be a good way to bring it to an end. What would be the first single off of a Norman Lear album?

Norman Lear:
What the hell was the big song from Carousel? The big love song.

Kevin Bright:
People Will Say We're in Love?

Norman Lear:
No.

Kevin Bright:
Oh. Carousel.

Norman Lear:
Carousel. Was People Will Say We're in Love Carousel?

Kevin Bright:
No, but I cheated, I asked you that the other day, if you had a single from the album what would it be, and you said People Will Say We're in Love.

Norman Lear:
Oh, well I'll stick with that.

Kevin Bright:
So, let's stick with that. What would a little bit of that sound like?

Norman Lear:
I may be coming in on the middle of this, I don't know.

Kevin Bright:
That's okay, doesn't matter.

Norman Lear:
Don't bouquets at me, don't please me folks too much. Don't laugh at my jokes too much, people will say we're in love.

Kevin Bright:
Alright. A minor duet between two Emersonians. Norman, thank you so much.

Norman Lear:
Kevin Bright, I loved this. I love this.

Kevin Bright:
I love this.

Norman Lear:
And my memories of Emerson College are glorious. It's only one year, it took a war to tear me away from Boston and Emerson. But, the memories of it are so deep and so keen and so lovely, and I'm crazy about you. And I don't care who knows it.

Kevin Bright:
That's right. And, I'm the same. And as you know, there's now a statue of you on the Emerson College campus, nothing will ever tear you away from Emerson College, Norman. You will always be an Emersonian.

Norman Lear:
That's the truth, that heart, that is the truth

Kevin Bright:
That's it. Norman Lear and Kevin Bright saying goodbye, everybody.

Norman Lear:
Goodbye, everybody!

Kevin Bright:
See you next time.

Norman Lear:
Bye, bye.