‘American Masters’ to produce doc on Norman Lear

Detropia filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady will profile the life and career of sitcom legend Norman Lear (pictured) for an 'American Masters' doc that will premiere on PBS in fall 2016.
June 4, 2015

PBS biography strand ‘American Masters’ will profile sitcom legend Norman Lear (pictured) in a documentary that will broadcast in fall 2016.

Produced by Loki Films and public media outlet Thirteen, American Masters: Norman Lear (working title) will draw upon the All In The Family, Good Times and Maude creator’s personal archives to tell his life story, from his childhood and early career to his success in Hollywood and social activism.

The film will also explore how his career emerged from and reflected a period of social change by tackling taboo subjects such as race and politics. Friends and collaborators set to appear in the doc include George Clooney, John Amos, Marla Gibbs, Louise Lasser, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Russell Simmons and others.

The film is being directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, whose credits include the feature docs Jesus Camp and Detropia.

“Today as a new ‘golden age’ of television is being proclaimed, it’s a perfect moment to examine the life and storied career of the key originator of brave and meaningful entertainment,” said Ewing in a statement.

Added Lear: “It’s astounding to be a subject of ‘American Masters’ when in your heart you know you are still only nine years old.”

The 93-year-old recently joined a chorus of indie docmakers in criticizing an attempt by PBS and flagship station WNET to move independent documentary strands ‘POV’ and ‘Independent Lens’ out of primetime to make way for arts programming. Execs eventually decided to keep both series in primetime, but air more high-profile films on different nights.

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