Norman Lear

Even Norman Lear’s family wasn’t united after the historic Maude abortion episode.

Even in Norman Lear’s own family, the landmark abortion episode of Maude sparked debate.

The legendary TV producer and writer Norman Lear celebrate his 100th birthday with a star-studded tribute show called Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter. Lear is known for creating groundbreaking episodes of television comedies including the controversial 1972 two-part Maude episode. Lear said that his daughter “disagrees with every part of it,” implying that she shares CBS’s opposition to the plot.

Lear is seated at a table with Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Poehler, Octavia Spencer, and Jennifer Aniston, all of whom are drinking cocktails and wine as they watch clips from the first season’s “Maude’s Dilemma,” in which Bea Arthur’s feisty Maude and her husband Walter (Bill Macy) decide not to continue with a pregnancy. Macy’s Walter replies, “For you, Maude, for me, in the privacy of our own lives, we’re doing the right thing.”

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As the lights go out, Lear addresses Kimmel and company, saying, “My beautiful daughter strongly disagrees with you on that. In a myriad of ways, this young lady shines, yet she will emphatically disagree with you on that.”

That, Poehler says to Norman, is what made his work so unique. We gathered in our living rooms to watch it with others who were on a very different path than us. A dialogue was started, and it was a nice one, as Aniston puts it.

Lear claims CBS made a concerted effort to stop production of the programme and that he never wavered in his resolve to air it, even going so far as to threaten to resign on many occasions. Like Kimmel says, he too became a target of religious organisations. He was labelled “America’s No. 1 adversary” by the late preacher Jerry Falwell. How could you not be proud of that?” Lear says with a wink to Kimmel. Poehler says it’s “better than No. 2,” which is an adverb meaning “more impressive.”

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Associated Press/Eric McCandless Amy Poehler, Jennifer Aniston, Octavia Spencer, and Jimmy Kimmel in “Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter”

As Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson spread throughout television and radio, Lear recalls, “I was extremely worried about them,” adding, “That’s not the American way.”

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Throughout the show, Lear’s contemporaries repeatedly stress how much they admire his commitment to telling human tales. “[Lear] threatened to leave multiple jobs because, in the end, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about delivering meaningful stories no matter what it’s about,” Kenya Barris said in the programme. “About facing the issues that everyone is either avoiding or discussing.”

Music by Tony Danza, Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Kristen Bell, among others, is included in the programme, which also contains tributes from Rita Moreno, Rob Reiner, and Tom Hanks. On Friday, Hulu will begin streaming Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter for those who were unable to attend the celebration on Thursday.