Jimmy Kimmel pays emotional tribute to Norman Lear’s ‘genius’

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Norman Lear, seated right, opposite Jimmy Kimmel during the “Live to Studio Audience” special in 2019.


An emotional Jimmy Kimmel paid tribute to the late producer Norman Lear at the top of his ABC show Wednesday night, calling him “one of the most important and impressive people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

Kimmel, having teamed up with the producer, who died Tuesday at his home at the age of 101, on ABC specials “Live in front of a studio audience” He praised Blair as “a genius who brought us some of the greatest television shows and characters of all time.” He proceeded to list several of them, such as “All in the Family” and “Maude,” adding, “It’s an amazing list, and he was an amazing guy. He changed situational comedy in the best possible way.”

Kimmel continued: “Everyone who works in television or even watches it owes it a great debt,” noting, “101 years, and somehow that was not enough.”

After reading an amusing thank-you card that Lear had sent him, the host said that Lear didn’t like to say goodbye but “to be continued,” so he ended his speech simply by saying, “to be continued.” After that, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” continued to display an on-screen disclaimer before the show that mirrored the CBS program — skittish about how viewers would respond — that ran before the first episode of “All in the Famiy” in 1971.

Kimmel appeared alongside Lear on “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” which featured actors performing live versions of episodes of Lear’s classic sitcoms, including “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.”

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Lear became the oldest person ever to win or be nominated for an Emmy Award, at the age of 98, for producing the specials with Kimmel.

Tributes poured in for the producer throughout the day following news of his death. All of the broadcast networks displayed a commemorative card honoring Lear to kick off their prime-time lineups Wednesday night, which showed his photo and simply read, “Thank you for making us all a family.”

Separately, Lear’s widow, Lynn Lear, sent a message to the Sentinel Awards, an event that honors television writers whose work addresses important issues. The awards are presented by Hollywood, Health & Society, which is based at the Norman Lear Center, a research center that Lear brought to the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Lear was proud of the center, Lynn Lear wrote, “and he didn’t want us all to be sad. He wanted us to celebrate the important performances you’re honoring tonight, and most of all, he wanted us to laugh.”

in Interview 2020Lear said he never thought of his shows as “edgy”, despite their groundbreaking aspects, noting that “we were simply dealing with problems that exist in our culture.”

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