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Ghost Canyon

'American Masters — Norman Lear'
(Norman Lear / DVD / NR / 2016 / PBS)

Overview: Largely responsible for the explosion of bold American television in the 1970s, writer/producer Norman Lear's name is synonymous with the sitcom. 'American Masters — Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You' combines stories from his turbulent childhood and early career with his groundbreaking TV success (All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude) and social activism.

DVD Verdict: For those not immediately in the know, Norman Lear is an American television writer and producer who produced such 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Maude. As a political activist, he also founded the advocacy organization People for the American Way in 1981 and has supported First Amendment rights and progressive causes.

Largely responsible for the explosion of bold American television in the 1970s, writer/producer Norman Lear’s name is synonymous with the sitcom. The first documentary about the 94-year-old television legend, 'American Masters — Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You', premieres nationwide Tuesday, October 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). PBS Distribution will also release the film on Blu-ray, DVD (of which I am reviewing for you here today) and Digital HD the same day with additional bonus features.

Norman Lear once stated, “At 93, I waited half my life to see myself in the cinema. And the smartest decision I ever made was to put my trust in directors, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.” You see, 'American Masters — Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You' is chock full of beautiful anecdotes from the great man - and also some behind the scenes reveals about his life and his loves; cinematic and personal both.

The documentary also features colorful stories from Lear's family, friends and collaborators, including John Amos, Mel Brooks, George Clooney, Alan Horn, Louise Lasser, Bill Moyers, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, and Russell Simmons.

Simply put, Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady show how a poor Jewish kid from Connecticut became one of TV's most successful producers. And boy, do they do a splendid job of it. In the world of television programming, there is BN (Before Norman) and AN (After Norman), and the timeline is not only obvious, but also important. Norman says he worked to deliver "serious people comedy … we had something on our mind". The proof of his influence is that he was able to inspire TV viewers to further discuss and consider the issues he found important. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

What do a 92 year old Jew and the world of Hip Hop have in #Common?
Mary Hartman Breakdown
Mary Hartman Casting
Not Yet Dead
Bill Moyers on Norman Lear
The Shrink and Syndication