USA TODAY - One Day at a Time' producer Norman Lear's new career at 94 — podcasting

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 16:27
USA TODAY - One Day at a Time' producer Norman Lear's new career at 94 — podcasting

'One Day at a Time' producer Norman Lear's new career at 94 — podcasting

By Jefferson Graham 

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — It's never too late to start a new career.

Just ask TV/movie legend Norman Lear. At age 94, the producer of such classics as "All in the Family," "One Day at a Time," "The Jeffersons" and "Sanford and Son," is now a podcaster, running a talk show for the very first time.

His show, "All of the Above," with Norman Lear, is heard on the Podcast One network, which beams its shows to Apple Podcasts and the Podcastone app. It's a talk show run by the longtime liberal advocate, and features many of his long-time friends and associates. Guests have included actors Amy Poehler, Martin Sheen and this week, "Veep" and "Seinfeld" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The show "allows me to gab," he says. "I like talking, I like listening, I like interactions."

Even with his long career, which began by writing jokes for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, he's never hosted his talk show. Until now.

At age 94, he says taking on new assignments like this gives him something to look forward to when he goes to sleep.

"I like going to bed with something on my mind for the next day, I like waking up to that."

Beyond the podcast, Lear is still very active in show business. He is producing for Netflix a revival of "One Day at a Time," the 1975-1984 series about a divorced woman starting over with her two teens in Indianapolis. It's now seen from the perspective of a Latino family.

As one of the few survivors in an industry that doesn't tend to have longevity, Lear is experiencing a new revival of interest. GQ just called him "The Comedy Godfather of Television," PBS gave him the full "American Masters" treatment, and he's featured in an upcoming June 5 HBO documentary about other 90-year-old show biz legends, including Carl Reiner, Betty White, Mel Brooks and Dick Van Dyke.

Norm Pattiz, the founder of Podcastone, says getting Lear to start podcasting "is a huge deal for us." "He's an inspiration to all of us," showing how to continue to be active as a senior, and as a Hollywood institution, "he's a national treasure. Who wouldn't want to talk to Norman? He has incredible access."

All of the Above debuted in May, and it's early, but audience wise it's seeing downloads in the "mid six figures, and growing every week," says Pattiz. "We expect it to be one of our most listened to shows."

After dabbling in radio, TV and movies, the medium of podcasting was a new one for Lear. "I didn't even know what a podcast was," when it was suggested, and he hasn't listened to any since he started the show.

But he does love getting notifications on his iPhone, and like many of us, grabs for the smartphone every morning when he wakes up, primarily to check in with his kids, who live on the east coast.

His home is full of TV set-top boxes--he has Apple TV and Roku, but as a producer, he's not a fan of binge watching or viewing on streaming TV.

"I'd like the curtain to come down, and everyone to come back next week. It makes for better shows."

But that's not the way the world is now, he admits.