TV icon Norman Lear celebrates his 100th birthday Wednesday with some big news befitting the legend: ABC has revealed plans to celebrate Lear’s centenary with a prime-time special this fall. Variety has learned exclusively that ABC will broadcast “Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter” on Thursday, September 22 at 9 p.m. ET.
The two-hour special will honor the life and legacy of Lear, including his work as a producer, activist and philanthropist. The list of celebrity guests and music performers slated to appear in the special and Lear tributes will be announced at a later date.
The special will come just ten days after the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, which Lear—the oldest TV nominee and already Emmy Award winner—plans to attend in person. Lear, who won two Emmys in recent years for his special “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” with Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, was nominated again this year for the third edition, which aired last year and remakes “Diff’rent.” Strokes” and “The Facts of Life”.
“Norman’s illustrious career is respected by many, and we are honored to celebrate his legacy with this special night of entertainment,” said Craig Irwich, President of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “We’ve been fortunate to work with Norman on a number of projects over the years, and it’s only fitting that his 100th birthday is being celebrated by the biggest names in Hollywood raising a glass to toast, perhaps gently roasting, a TV icon.”
Done + Dusted – who, by coincidence, is executive producing the Emmys again this year with Reggie Hudlin (for NBC), and is set to produce the Lear Special, along with Walt Disney Television Alternative. The executive producers are David Jamey, Brent Miller, Raj Kapoor, and Eric Cook.
“I’ve always believed that music and laughter added time to my life,” Lear said in a statement. “I’ve seen a lot in 100 years, but I never imagined America would have a front row seat at my birthday celebration. Thank you ABC. Thank you, Done + Dusted. Until this, I got to experience.”
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Born in 1922 in New Haven, Connecticut, Lear attended Emerson College before serving during World War II and flying 52 combat missions over Europe. His early television career included “The Colgate Comedy Hour” and “The Martha Raye Show”. Later, with his partner Bud Yorkin, he was behind many of the most popular shows of the 1970s, starring in “All in the Family”. Later, this included “Good Times”, “The Jeffersons”, “Maude” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” among others.
As a production mogul, he ran Tandem Prods. With Yorkin, later TAT and then Embassy Pictures with Jerry Perenchio. Lear went on to make films such as “The Princess Bride” and “Fried Green Tomatoes”.
In 1980, in response to the rise of the radical religious right, he founded People For The American Way to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values such as freedom of speech, religious freedom, equal justice before the law, and the right to meaningful participation. in our democracy. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, much of his interest was on advocacy and philanthropy. He and his wife Lynn bought a rare original copy of the Declaration of Independence and took it on a road ride for much of the next decade.
Lear sold the document and focused on writing his memoir, Even These I Get To Experience, which was published in 2014. Meanwhile, production began on a documentary about Lear’s life, “Just Another Version of You.” At that time, with production partner Brent Miller, Lear became active again as an executive producer. His critically acclaimed reimagining of “One Day at a Time,” EPed with Gloria Calderón Kellett and Mike Royce, ran for four seasons on Netflix and then Pop TV. Then came Live in Front of a Studio Audience, which won an Emmy in a special category for two consecutive years.
Read more: How Norman Lear, the king of television, stays relevant as he approaches 100
Lear and Miller are based at Sony Pictures TV, where Act III Prods operate. Make a deal until his 100th birthday.
Lear is the 2017 Kennedy Honorary Center. Recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1999 and the Peabody Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016; And part of the inaugural group of inductees into the Academy Television Hall of Fame in 1984. He has won six Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.