There were so many moments of inspiration from Thursday night's Los Angeles Premier of Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's movie, Norman Lear -- Just Another Version of You that I woke up thinking about it the next morning. I wondered how it could be possible to reach the age of 93 and still find the anticipation, not to mention the stamina, of going to bed every night and looking forward to that next morning's delicious cup of coffee. That's just what Norman Lear told a packed audience during a Q&A immediately following the movie at the WGA Theater last night.
When you listen to Norman Lear speak, it's like a masterclass in humanity. He is confident, compassionate and remarkably sensitive to those voices that have the most difficulty being heard. There is no confusion, nor is there any need to decipher, or unscramble sentences in order to make sense of them, and that's because Norman Lear truly is just another version of us, although a far more experienced version of most of US, and an US without the Emmy's, Academy Award Nomination, star on the Walk of Fame and a National Medal of Arts Award. To be fair though, when you finish watching this incredibly entertaining movie, it becomes clear that awards are a bi-product of an industry that Norman Lear chose early on in life. The intention of Norman Lear has always been to push the envelope of consciousness and to reach further than his grasp, somehow pulling us all along with him... even still.
Arguably the greatest influential American television writer and producer of all time, Norman Lear is responsible for such legendary 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Maude.
Through his unstoppable vision, Norman Lear single-handedly pioneered the inclusion of controversial topics in Primetime Television by virtue of delivering those "wake-up calls" through the miracle of laughter. Abortion, homosexuality, women's rights and a host of other previously uncharted television sitcom topics were battlefields that plagued a mission to educate (without spelling it out) but never conquered it.
Thursday night, Norman Lear showed no signs of slowing down on his journey to encourage thought provoking conversations with each other. Respectfully, and often with a playful repartee, Norman responded to various questions from an esteemed audience that included Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, among numerous others.
Not so surprisingly, one of the questions asked was, "What are your views on Donald Trump's presidential candidacy?" Hearkening a classic Norman Lear response and with absolute conviction he replied, "I think of Donald Trump as the middle finger of the American right hand, and it's saying, 'This is the kind of leadership you give us? Fuck you!' And Trump just happens to be the one who represents that middle finger."
Certainly no stranger to political opinion or for the love of his country, Norman Lear (along with his wife Lyn) purchased one of the first published copies of the Declaration of Independence in 2001, but not as collectors of American Historical memorabilia, rather with "the intent to tour the document around the United States so that the country could experience its 'birth certificate' personally."
While it seemed that every question asked had an answer that either made me laugh, say "wow," or wipe away a falling tear, there was one moment that really stood out for me during the Q&A and that was when one of the filmmakers was explaining what she got out of working with Norman Lear. She said, "to simply give a shit."
So there I was yesterday morning, sipping my own delicious cup of coffee, wondering what it all means to be 93 years of age. That's when I decided to do what everyone in the modern world does -- I Googled the number 93! What I found pretty much summed up the Norman Lear Legend:
93 is the numerical equivalent for the Greek word Agape, which means love.
Norman Lear has lived his amazing life with love in charge and with just as much importance, because he just simply gives a shit ... about everything!