Jimmy Kimmel, Rob Reiner and All 5 Broadcast Networks Pay Tribute to Norman Lear: ‘A Titan of This Industry’

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Jimmy Kimmel, George Clooney and Quinta Brunson, among others, are mourning the death of Norman Lear, who died on Tuesday at 101.

Meanwhile, in a rare recognition of what Lear meant to the entire television industry, all five broadcast networks — CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX and The CW — will simulcast an on-air in memoriam card tonight at 8 p.m. ET to honor the late legendary TV writer and producer.

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In addition to being confirmed by Variety, Lear’s death was announced Wednesday morning on his social media accounts.

“It is obviously silly to want more time with a person who outlived a whole century but losing Norman Lear, even at 101 years old, feels unfair. His bravery, integrity and unmatched moral compass were equaled by his kindness, empathy, and wit,” Kimmel said in a statement to Variety. “Even at 101, Norman cared as much about the future, our children, and planet or as anyone I have ever known. He was a great American, a hero in every way and so funny, smart, and lovely man you almost couldn’t believe it. The privilege of working alongside Norman and the opportunity he gave me and my wife to get to know him and his beautiful family has been among the great honors and pleasures of my life. We were all very lucky to have him.”

In his statement to Variety, George Clooney wrote: “It’s hard to reconcile that at 101 years old, Norman Lear is gone too soon. The entire world of reason just lost its greatest advocate and our family lost a dear friend. A giant walked in his shoes.”

Jane Fonda also commented to Variety, “Today is a very sad day. Norman Lear, a man who meant a lot to many on a personal level and who changed the face and soul of American comedy, has passed. My heart is heavy. I loved Norman.”

Tyler Perry reflected on the experience he had meeting Lear: “Just before I left, I asked, ‘At 100 years old what are you looking forward to?’  Without any hesitation he said, ‘Tomorrow.’  It was such a simple but powerful lesson to live your life fully one day at a time.” He added that his shows like “One Day at a Time” and “All in the Family” were “the only thing that brought laughter and joy to me as a child, who was living a daily nightmare.”

“A hero and someone who inspired me to try and bring as much laughter to the world as he bought to the little boy that I was. You sir are truly one of one!  I’m so glad we were on the planet at the same time.  Thank you for your example. Rest in peace my dear friend, I thank God for you. My prayers are with your family,” Perry said in a statement to Variety.

Lear’s legacy will be studied and celebrated at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y. (the birthplace of “I Love Lucy” legend Lucille Ball). Lear was among the center’s major philanthropic supporters.

“Norman Lear revolutionized the television landscape, pushed societal boundaries and transformed our culture with groundbreaking comedies that addressed serious issues and offered sharp social commentary while being remarkably funny — appealing to broad audiences for over five decades,” Journey Gunderson, executive director of the center, told Variety. “He was a creative pioneer and true genius, who believed strongly in the power of laughter to unite us, and supported the non-profit mission of the National Comedy Center. We are proud to celebrate his extraordinary work for generations to come.”

Brent Miller, president of production at Act III Productions, wrote in a statement to Variety: “It has been an absolute privilege and honor to be one of Norman’s many collaborators and partners. It has been thrilling and inspiring. He pushed us and inspired us every day to make entertainment that mattered. I will miss Norman’s wisdom, wit and friendship deeply. With the help and support of our partners at Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as many other talented collaborators — writers, actors, executives and crew — we were fortunate enough to make television history, over and over again.”

Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment Tony Vinciquerra commented in a statement to Variety, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend Norman Lear. A Founding Father in our industry, Norman and the shows he created defined what great television could be.  Always entertaining, impactful, and fearless in addressing society’s most complex and difficult issues through humor, shows like ‘All In The Family,’ ‘The Jeffersons’ and ‘One Day at a Time’ set the standard for modern television audiences and paved the way for just about every great situation comedy or drama that has followed since. Norman will forever be recognized among the great television legends, and we are honored to have had him as part of the Sony family.”

In a statement, The Writers Guild of America wrote, “Norman Lear’s commitment to storytelling and social justice made him a pioneer in television. His ability to use humor to combat racism and prejudices showed his sense of decency. And his charitable work exemplified what it means to use your influence to make the world a better place.”

The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger also released a statement on Lear’s death: “There are no words to fully express the monumental impact and legacy that Norman Lear leaves behind. He was an icon and the brilliant mind behind countless timely and meaningful shows that were full of heart and humor. He wasn’t afraid to take risks and was one of the most influential storytellers in television history. His passion went far beyond the screen as a veteran, philanthropist and social activist. Our hearts are with his wife, Lyn, his children and all those who knew and loved him. Norman, we thank you for the beautiful stories that transformed our industry and for making us laugh along the way.”

Other celebrities expressed their reactions on social media.

Calling Lear his “second father,” Reiner sent his condolences to Lear’s family on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Brunson reposted the statement announcing his death from Lear’s account, writing: “My Goat. What a life. Rest well, Norman Lear.”

Stewart commented: “Goodnight Norman. Love you. Thanks for raising me.”

Brown also took to X to express her reaction to his death: “This is such sad news to wake up to. What a titan of this industry. And he was always so lovely when I got to spend time in his presence. I know 101 is a LONG life, but still…this one hurts.”

Jeremy O. Harris reflected on the time he spent with Lear, writing: “You were always so kind and curious with new writers and it’s one of the great honors of my life to have gotten to know you even a bit. Your whole family was full of gems and that’s bc you were a crown jewel.”

Lear was an esteemed film and TV writer-producer who was known for conceptualizing the hit 1971-1979 television sitcom “All in the Family,” about a working-class family living in Queens, N.Y. He also played a critical role in championing inclusivity by developing shows that represented Black families with sitcoms like “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times.” Lear ended up becoming a major player in the television landscape of the ’70s and ’80s. He went on to develop other television series like “Maude,” “One Day at a Time” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”

Aside from his socially-conscious work in entertainment, Lear was heavily involved in advocacy work. In 1980, he founded People of the American Way, an organization dedicated to defending democracy by campaigning against the voter suppression of Black men and organizing civil disobedience demonstrations to raise awareness of voting rights.

In 2000, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism honored Lear with the naming of its entertainment research-focused Norman Lear Center, describing Lear as a “pioneer of a more candid, socially realistic genre of television programming and a champion of democratic values.”

For his achievements in entertainments, Lear was awarded a place in the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame, the 1999 National Medal of Arts, a lifetime award from the Producers Guild of America and multiple awards from the Writers Guild of America. He was also the subject of the 2016 documentary “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You,” which covered Lear’s life and work.

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