Norman Lear has a lot of irons in the small screen fire with his new Sony Pictures TV deal but a new version of All In The Family isn’t one of them.
“I have no intention of doing All In The Family again,” the legendary producer told Deadline today at TCA, “I promise you that. “ And the Carroll O’Conner led iconic series may not be the only Lear legacy not coming back, at least in a recognizable form. He added emphatically, “ no Maude or any of them. We did that.”
“However, there are ideas that we were working on at that same time that were bubbling in the same creative pipeline and that’s part of what I’m looking at now,” long time activist Lear asserted. “I’m looking at ideas you’ve never heard of,” the One Day At A Time executive producer said of the true nature of the July 27 announced two-year first look agreement with SPT. “I have about 100 ideas that go back 30 or 40 years, some only 12 years or 10 years. These are the ideas that we’ve had and nurtured for the longest time that we will imagine or reimagine.”
In the announcement last week, SPT noted that their latest arrangement with Lear and his Act III Productions had an “option to re-imagine titles from his extensive library including All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, to name a few.” Which means in the bottom line of the industry, no one never ever says never and a reimaging can take a lot of forms.
Of course, based on the UK show Until Death Do Us Part, the January 1971 premiering AITF was not only a ratings hit for most of the seventies but also a voice in the larger social and political discourse thanks in great part to O’Conner’s bigoted Archie Bunker character and the reactions he enflamed. Already well mined for more, so to speak, the multiple Emmy winning series spawn spinoffs in Maude and The Jeffersons. AITF also had sequel of sorts in the four season running Archie Bunker’s Place, which debuted in 1979.
With ODAAT now in production on its third season on Netflix, the streaming service would seem like a natural landing spot for the new-ish projects from Lear and his Act III partner Brent Miller – something they think so too. “I think we want to go everywhere and if Netflix chooses us and opens up those doors, I would be ecstatic,” Miller told me today, noting that potential outlets and the projects themselves are in very early stages. The ODAAT EP also said that the Lear’s legacy has its own looming issues that Act II Productions are seeking to sidestep with the option deal with SPT. “Even if you significantly reimagine them in terms of say race or gender, it’s tough to go up against a Carroll O’Conner, Bea Arthur or John Amos,” Miller pointed out. “They are defining to those shows in a way that One Day At A Time didn’t have to deal with except for the notion of Schneider.”
Pat Harrington Jr portrayed the extremely particular superintendent in the original ODAAT’s 1975 to 1984 run. Under the same name but now as the owner of the building that the now LA set sitcom takes place in, Todd Grinnell plays the character in the 2017 Netflix launching reimagined ODAAT.
Lear’s clarification followed a ODAAT panel today at the Beverly Hilton based TCA including the Kennedy Center Honors winner, his producing partner Miller along with cast members Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, Isabella Gomez, Stephen Tobolowsky, Marcel Ruiz and EPs Mike Royce and Gloria Calderon Kellett.