Norman Lear & Kathleen Turner

Transcript for: 
Norman Lear & Kathleen Turner

MR. TERENCE SMITH

11:06:57
Thanks for joining us. I'm Terence Smith, former correspondent of PBS, CBS, and the New York Times, sitting in for Diane Rehm. Diane is out with a cold. Producer Norman Lear has spent a six-decade career addressing some of the most pressing social and political issues of our times. This week, People for the American Way, the organization he founded, is celebrating his 90th birthday, albeit a month early. Board member and actress, Kathleen Turner, will be part of this tribute, and Norman Lear and Kathleen Turner join me in the studio. Welcome to you both.

MS. KATHLEEN TURNER

11:07:38
Thank you.

SMITH

11:07:38
I wonder...

MR. NORMAN LEAR

11:07:40
Good morning.

SMITH

11:07:41
I wonder is it just the party that brings you to Washington? You don't strike me frankly as Tea Party types who come to...

LEAR

11:07:49
It's also the 30th anniversary.

TURNER

11:07:51
Yes. Of People for the American Way.

SMITH

11:07:54
And so what is planned?

LEAR

11:07:54
So that -- it's the 30th anniversary that brings us here.

TURNER

11:07:58
Our semi-annual board meeting, and the celebration of Norman.

SMITH

11:08:04
Right. Ninety.

TURNER

11:08:05
He's a good package.

LEAR

11:08:06
And Kathleen had a birthday yesterday.

SMITH

11:08:09
Well, there you go. Less -- significantly less than 90.

TURNER

11:08:13
Yes. Oh, yes. Yes.

SMITH

11:08:15
I read an interview with you, Norman Lear, in which you said that -- recently, that you felt the same as you did at 50 or 70. Do you?

LEAR

11:08:29
Well, in that feelings are not all physical. I feel a good better than I did at 50 and 60 in that way.

SMITH

11:08:39
Do you feel smarter? Do you feel smarter? Wiser?

LEAR

11:08:44
I don't know that I feel smarter as much as I do far more informed.

SMITH

11:08:51
Mm-hmm.

LEAR

11:08:53
And more sensitive, more understanding.

SMITH

11:08:58
You might remind people how you got into the business of writing the shows, the many shows that you did writing for television back in the 1950s, and exactly how that led to "Maude," and "All in the Family," and the shows that we all know so well.

LEAR

11:09:20
Well, what really led to "Maude" and "All in the Family," and all of that, I have discovered -- because I'm working on a memoir.

SMITH

11:09:26
Mm-hmm.

LEAR

11:09:27
And I was nine or ten years old when I ran into -- my father had given me a crystal set. I don't know how many of your listeners now remember the crystal set, but little cat's and a crystal, and I ran across Father Caughlin (sp?) and it hit me right...

SMITH

11:09:50
The infamous...

LEAR

11:09:51
I was 10 years old. It hit me right between the eyes. He was one of the early Nazi -- I mean, he favored the building Nazi movement in Germany. He was totally against FDR, and he hated Jews. And I as a little Jewish kid, learned suddenly -- that's the way I learned I was different, and that -- because subsequent to that, my football hero who lived in the next apartment, we were living in New York for a few moments then, basically from Connecticut, but he couldn't get into a couple of colleges because there was a Jewish quota.

LEAR

11:10:33
These things came at me, bam, bam, bam, bam, and then for other reasons and other ways, I learned there were people far less -- far more undifferent, or far more different rather, than I was. So the Constitution, the protection of the Bill of Rights loomed real large in my life early.

SMITH

11:10:59
Large and early.

LEAR

11:11:01
And early.

SMITH

11:11:02
But how did that lead then to -- that wouldn't automatically cause one to think you'd go on to write TV comedy.

LEAR

11:11:09
No. No. There were -- I grew up wanting to flick a quarter to a nephew because I had one uncle who could do that as a kid of the Depression. He called himself -- he said he was a press agent. I didn't know what a press agent was. But that turned me, when I learned what that was, toward press.

TURNER

11:11:33
The industry of...

LEAR

11:11:34
And through that...

TURNER

11:11:36
Through entertainment.

LEAR

11:11:37
Entertainment and theater and so forth. And I became -- that's the job I wanted, that's what I became. After I served in the war, I became a press agent, and ran into a fellow who wanted to become a comedy writer. So we started together.

SMITH

11:11:54
And there you have it. Kathleen Turner, how long have you known Norman Lear, and how long have you been sort of comrades in arms?

TURNER

11:12:01
Well, I've been on the board of People for the American Way for 23 years now.

SMITH

11:12:05
Wow.

TURNER

11:12:05
I know. Wow. Anyway, and I was attracted to it, and well, jumped into it really because they came to me, Norman and some of the group, came to me to ask if I would help to illustrate to the crisis that was happening in textbooks in our country, that so many of the school textbooks -- and this is still going on today of course, that are published primarily in Texas, are censored and edited in a way without supervision.

TURNER

11:12:41
And of course, they had been cutting up "Romeo and Juliet," which to me is a great, great sin. So I was asked to do a reading to illustrate this censorship, and that was it. From then on out I was part of them.

SMITH

11:12:59
Terrific. One of the of course big, big hits that you had, Norman Lear, "All in the Family," in 1971. We have a clip from that which it might sort of set the mood. It's -- in this, Carroll O'Connor, who plays Archie Bunker, comes home from work in a great mood. He's been interviewed by the CBS Evening News. He tells his family this over dinner, and you have Edith, that's Jean Stapleton, and his -- and the daughter, Gloria, who is Sally Struthers, ask him some questions, and he argues in this with son who is, of course, Rob Reiner. So let's hear a little bit of that.

MS. SALLY STRUTHERS AS GLORIA STIVIC

11:13:44
What did you say for the cameras, daddy?

MR. CARROLL O'CONNOR AS ARCHIE BUNKER

11:13:47
Oh, a lot of things, you know. Just on the sperm of the moment.

MS. JEAN STAPLETON AS EDITH BUNKER

11:13:54
What did you tell them about Mr. Nixon?

MR. ROB REINER AS MICHAEL STIVIC

11:13:56
I hope you told them the truth.

BUNKER

11:13:58
Certainly.

STIVIC

11:13:59
Yeah, that Nixon's surrendering the country to big business.

BUNKER

11:14:01
No, I didn't tell them that 'cause that ain't the truth. I said Mr. Nixon's preserving the spirit of competition and free enterprise.

STIVIC

11:14:09
Oh, really? How's he doing that, Arch?

BUNKER

11:14:11
By keeping out Jap merchandise and forcing the country to buy American.

STIVIC

11:14:17
See, the way Nixon works it, nobody can afford to buy anything.

BUNKER

11:14:20
What are you talking about? Ain't he took the exercise tax off the cars?

STIVIC

11:14:26
That's right, Arch, I had forgotten about that. How many cars are you gonna buy?

BUNKER

11:14:31
Listen, ain't he trying to keep wages and prices from going up?

STIVIC

11:14:34
Yeah, but not profits and interest rates. Don't you see, Arch? Nixon's controlling the little man and letting the big guys run wild.

BUNKER

11:14:40
Please, he's a big guy. He didn't give himself a raise. He froze himself, too, didn't he?

STIVIC

11:14:43
Oh, yeah, yeah, he's freezing a $200,000 a year and three houses.

BUNKER

11:14:48
Listen, he knows what's best for the country. That's why he's going to China, Russia.

STIVIC

11:14:52
He knows what's best for the country, why's he coming back?

SMITH

11:14:57
Norman Lear...

LEAR

11:14:58
Nothing has changed, has it?

TURNER

11:15:00
No. I was just thinking about throwing the country to big business, yeah.

SMITH

11:15:04
I wonder if you'd write it the same way today, and by the way, did you ever hear from President Nixon on that little segment?

LEAR

11:15:12
Well, I made his enemies list.

SMITH

11:15:14
There's some -- that's one form of recognition.

LEAR

11:15:15
And there is a wonderful piece of tape where he raves -- he's talking to I forget which of the assistants, and there's a wonderful piece of tape in which he talks about how the wonderful Archie Bunker was, but why did they make such a fool, he says, of a good man. And I couldn't be prouder of anything.

SMITH

11:15:43
Kathleen Turner, it sounds like Richard Nixon, doesn't it?

TURNER

11:15:46
Oh, look, the question is also not just would Norman write such a thing today, because I think of course he would, but would it actually be played on primetime network nowadays?

SMITH

11:16:00
Mm-hmm.

TURNER

11:16:00
That's an interesting question to me.

SMITH

11:16:03
Well, obviously some of the language wouldn't, but some other language would. So things change. You know, looking back on your career, Kathleen Turner, there was the extraordinary film ten years later in 1981 "Body Heat."

TURNER

11:16:21
Oh, that was the first.

SMITH

11:16:23
And that was the first. You had been on the stage before that, but that was the first film, and you really burst onto -- into the public consciousness, I think, with that film, and I wonder -- I'd love to hear more about that, but I actually have a little -- I have a little clip from that that I'd like to play, and maybe...

TURNER

11:16:44
Okay.

SMITH

11:16:44
….maybe you'll tell us what you think so many years -- what is it, 30 years later.

TURNER

11:16:49
Yeah.

SMITH

11:16:49
In this, you play Matty, the wife of a wealthy business man who starts an affair with a sleazy lawyer. And in this scene they, meet for the second time in a bar and it goes like this.

MS. KATHLEEN TURNER AS MATTY WALKER

11:17:06
What are you doing in Pinehaven?

MR. WILLIAM HURT AS NED RACINE

11:17:09
I'm no yokel. I was all the way to Miami once.

WALKER

11:17:12
There are some men, once they get a whiff of it, they trail you like a hound.

RACINE

11:17:17
I'm not that eager.

WALKER

11:17:20
What's your name, anyway?

RACINE

11:17:21
Ned Racine.

WALKER

11:17:22
Matty Walker.

RACINE

11:17:26
Wow. You all right?

WALKER

11:17:27
Yes, I'm fine. My temperature degrees high, around 100. I don't mind. It's the engine or something.

RACINE

11:17:35
Maybe you need a tune-up.

WALKER

11:17:37
Don't tell me, you have just the right tool.

RACINE

11:17:40
I don't talk like that.

WALKER

11:17:49
How'd you find me, Ned?

RACINE

11:17:54
This is the only joint in Pinehaven.

WALKER

11:17:58
You shouldn't have come. You're going to be disappointed.

SMITH

11:18:02
That's a great line, Kathleen Turner, about your temperature running a little high.

TURNER

11:18:08
Yeah. I think one of my favorite lines from that film is when she says, you're not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.

SMITH

11:18:22
That film must have had a huge impact on your career.

TURNER

11:18:27
Boy, it changed -- oh, yeah. It changed everything. But I think, you know, we really pushed what were then the limits in filmmaking on sexuality, and that's what we wanted to do.

SMITH

11:18:41
This is Terence Smith. More coming up with Kathleen Turner and Norman Lear.

TURNER

11:20:22
It did, it did. It was my first film and I had come back -- actually I had come back here to Washington right after that to the Arena Stage where I was doing "Titania and Hippoyta" in a "Midsummer Night's Dream." And then the film opened and then, gosh, it got kinda crazy for a while.

SMITH

11:20:45
Sold out some seats, did you?

TURNER

11:20:46
I think we did, yep.

SMITH

11:20:49
Well, that's terrific. You know, we have some folks sending in emails here. And there's one very interesting one that I want to put to Norman Lear. Patricia writes, "What happened to television in the 1980s? Where did the socially provocative programming go? Was it because of Reagan?" She said she stopped watching. She says, "I admire the way Archie portrayed Americans before the political correctness took over and I am a liberal," says Patricia Huffman. What did happen in the '80s? Do you think there was a Reagan influence?

LEAR

11:21:40
I think what happened in the '80s started a little bit earlier, but it certainly escalated in the '80s. The name of the game became give me a hit Tuesday night at 8:30 as Wall Street insisted. There's no villain -- there's no one villain here. But as we became more and more married to the notion that a corporation must make more money this quarter than it did last quarter, that had to be at the expense of every other value. And broadcasting, which just another group of corporations now, certainly -- you know, the networks are the least part of the entities that own them.

LEAR

11:22:30
And the name of the game is the news must be a profit center, a big profit center. It didn't used to be when I came into television. And if the show isn't rating -- we gotta find the hit Tuesday night at 8:30 at the expense of everything else.

SMITH

11:22:49
I think that's true. Kathleen Turner, do you watch much television?

TURNER

11:22:53
Well, what I watch now I don't -- I almost never watch network, you know, CBS or ABC or NBC or anything. I watch HBO, Showtime, maybe TNT or USA. I find that the -- I'm not very interested in the network shows. I find like most major studio films now incredibly predictable, as though I knew the line before they say it. It's formulaic to me now.

SMITH

11:23:26
It is formulaic and yet the more adventurous programming it seems...

LEAR

11:23:31
I think it's the golden age of television drama.

SMITH

11:23:33
Right. And it's -- but it's on cable television.

TURNER

11:23:36
It's on cable, yes.

SMITH

11:23:38
It's on HBO, it's on USA, et cetera.

TURNER

11:23:41
Yeah.

SMITH

11:23:41
And some of those shows are really breaking the mold. Are they not, Norman Lear?

LEAR

11:23:49
Extraordinary. Extraordinary. I -- it would take a lifetime to watch all that's good.

SMITH

11:23:56
Well, what do you like? What have you seen?

TURNER

11:23:58
Steven Colbert Show, you know, which I just think is one of the most brilliant thing, you know, possible.

SMITH

11:24:05
He is incredibly quick.

TURNER

11:24:07
Wonderful.

SMITH

11:24:09
And that is a form of what they call -- he and Jon Stewart call fake news, and yet it's news.

TURNER

11:24:15
Except for its -- yes.

SMITH

11:24:17
Well, their fake news makes the best commentary on the real news that exists on television today.

SMITH

11:24:26
Are there -- but going back to your earlier point, are there dramas or comedies now that you watch that you like, that you think are...

LEAR

11:24:33
Well, I try desperately to keep up with the "Breaking Bad" and the "The Wire" and "Upstairs Downstairs" -- the new "Upstairs Downstairs"...

TURNER

11:24:43
The Downton -- "Downton Abbey," yeah.

SMITH

11:24:44
"Downton Abbey."

LEAR

11:24:47
I find I just can't find the time to watch them all. And I ache to watch them all. I tell myself that I will have the complete sets at some point.

TURNER

11:24:56
Right.

LEAR

11:24:57
And I'll have to sit still in one place and I'll spend those years watching these shows.

SMITH

11:25:04
Have you watched "Mad Men"?

LEAR

11:25:07
I'm addicted to "Mad Men," yes.

TURNER

11:25:09
Oh, now I have to -- I actually got the first season on Netflix, you know, in order to -- 'cause I was way behind. I was so angry I thought I was going to break the television. It just infuriated me. I haven't been able to turn it on again.

SMITH

11:25:24
Was it -- what part of it?

TURNER

11:25:26
Oh, it's so offensive to women. It just -- I just...

SMITH

11:25:28
Well, of course.

LEAR

11:25:29
Well, but that's the way it was.

TURNER

11:25:29
I mean, I know, I know, I know, but I can't stand it.

SMITH

11:25:33
I mean, this is -- they're depicting 1960, '61, '62. And, Norman Lear, it rings true to you for that era?

LEAR

11:25:42
Oh, absolutely. As a matter of fact, if that was 1962, we are only at 1964 now.

TURNER

11:25:51
Yeah. We've gone back to 1964.

SMITH

11:25:56
I have another clip here and this is from the show that you, Norman Lear, did, "Maude," a very, very big hit that broke some new ground at the time on the issues of abortion and other things. This is from 1972 and it's the first season, a two-parter, "Maude's Dilemma." Maude was the first TV character at that point to choose abortion, which was legal in New York. And Maude's daughter Carol in this segment argues for the procedure.

MS. ADRIENNE BARBEAU AS CAROL TRAYNOR

11:26:36
You know, I've been thinking, there is no earthly reason for you to go through with this at your age. You know it, I know it, Walter knows it.

MS. BEA ARTHUR AS MAUDE FINDLAY

11:26:44
I don't want you to talk -- just don't talk about it now, please.

MR. BILL MACY AS WALTER FINDLAY

11:26:46
I didn't say anything but now that you mentioned it, it's legal in New York now, isn't it?

TRAYNOR

11:26:51
Oh, of course it is, Walter. Mother, I don't understand your hesitancy. When they made it a law you were for it.

FINDLAY

11:26:57
Of course, I wasn't pregnant then.

TRAYNOR

11:27:00
Mother, it's ridiculous. My saying this to you, we're free. We finally have the right to decide what we can do with our own body.

FINDLAY

11:27:08
All right. Then would you please get yours into the kitchen?

TRAYNOR

11:27:12
You're just scared.

FINDLAY

11:27:13
I am not scared.

TRAYNOR

11:27:14
You are and it's as simple as going to the dentist.

FINDLAY

11:27:17
Now I'm scared.

TRAYNOR

11:27:22
Mother, listen to me. It's a simple operation now. But when you were growing up, it was illegal and it was dangerous and it was sinister. And you've never gotten over that. Now you tell me that's not true.

FINDLAY

11:27:35
It's not true. And you're right, I've never gotten over it.

TRAYNOR

11:27:44
It's not your fault. When you were young, abortion was a dirty word. It's not anymore. Now you think about that.

SMITH

11:27:55
Norman Lear, that debate in this country is far from over.

LEAR

11:28:01
You know, on that show people don't remember -- and this was a suggestion of the network 'cause we had great fights about this, obviously they didn't want it on at all -- but a lovely man, William Tankersley (sp?) was the head of program practices then. And there -- Maude had a friend, we hadn't seen her before or since, who had five children and was pregnant and would no more think -- and was poor, but -- you know, broke. She could not afford this sixth child, but she could no more think of ending that pregnancy than, you know, anything.

LEAR

11:28:43
And she went on and had the -- but understood her friend, who at age 50 and under her circumstances and so forth, knew the child she might birth would not have a reasonable life. And they both understood each other, which I thought was the heart and is today the heart of understanding.

TURNER

11:29:04
Yeah, I'm chairman of the board of Advocates for Planned Parenthood USA Federation of America. And so much of what we're fighting today is really more an issue of women's healthcare than simply abortion. I mean, we certainly must hold on to a woman's right to choose whatever medical procedure she wants for her body. But most of the attacks nowadays are aimed not just at abortion but truly at women's healthcare and, you know, our overall health system for women.

SMITH

11:29:43
You are now on the stage or have been and will be again playing a remarkable woman...

TURNER

11:29:53
A wonderful woman.

SMITH

11:29:54
...a late woman Molly Ivins in a play called "Red Hot Patriot," the kickass humor of Molly Ivins.

TURNER

11:30:04
Yes.

SMITH

11:30:05
You're bringing it, I believe, to Washington, is that correct?

TURNER

11:30:07
I'm bringing it to the Arena Stage. I think we open August 28 and run through October 28. You know, she was so politically savvy and so practical and so funny that I want to introduce this commons sense liberalism, yes, to anyone I can before the elections, so there.

SMITH

11:30:35
There was another outspoken Texas woman portrayed on the stage here at the Kennedy Center not too long ago in the play...

TURNER

11:30:45
One of my best friends, Holland Taylor.

SMITH

11:30:47
Right. And she wrote and performed Ann, the story of Ann Richards. And so there's something of a little trend here to Texas women, strong Texas women.

TURNER

11:30:57
Well, it seems so. I know. I didn't know she was doing that and she didn't know I was working on Molly. It just sort of happened at the same time.

SMITH

11:31:08
Norman Lear, when you look at the different issues that you raised in television programs that you wrote and produced over the years, and if you were to do one now, is there an issue that would jump out at you that you'd want to get at?

LEAR

11:31:27
There is and I wrote the script about a year ago. It's about your generation and mine, Kathleen's generation, your generation. I'm assuming we're a three -- any over 55 up to 105, 107, people in retirement, the elderly. And ask me the title.

SMITH

11:31:53
What is the title?

LEAR

11:31:54
Guess who died? And I love it. A number of people that related to networks and cable networks and so forth have loved it. Nobody will put it on.

SMITH

11:32:08
They simply don't believe there's an audience for it?

LEAR

11:32:10
It's still an 18 to 39 prejudice -- a demographic prejudice, despite the fact that our numbers increase all the time. We probably have the most expendable incomes and we have talent galore.

SMITH

11:32:31
And a film, "The Best Marigold Hotel."

TURNER

11:32:35
"The Most Exotic Marigold."

SMITH

11:32:37
I'm sorry, "The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel" is showing that there is an audience for real characters who have real problems in their life and who are not 18 to 34.

TURNER

11:32:52
Oh, what a cast that is.

LEAR

11:32:54
But they're all people for the American way.

SMITH

11:32:59
Kathleen Turner, how did you get into the political activism that you've referenced here? And what drove you to that and what drives you now?

TURNER

11:33:10
Well, I think essentially I was brought up by parents who believe very firmly that it is our job -- everyone's job to be aware of other people's needs, and those who are more fortunate to be able to help others in less fortunate situations. And so that was always an element of my upbringing. When I was 11 I was volunteering in Caracas, Venezuela at an orthopedic hospital, you know, this sort of thing once a week.

TURNER

11:33:48
So it's a natural progression for me but now as I have so much wonderful exposure through my body of work, through my time, you know, of the work that I have done as an actress, I've gotten such a wide range of opportunities to meet people and situations. It only makes it more imperative to me to be involved with issues I believe in.

SMITH

11:34:17
I'm Terence Smith. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us, call us at 1-800-433-8850 or send an email to drshow@wamu.org. Find us on Facebook or send us a Tweet. The theater today, I'd ask both of you this, is in a very tough economic climate. And I wonder how you see it today as something that is breaking new ground or trying to stand pat?

LEAR

11:35:05
The question motivates me to give you an answer that is directly related to the question but I think more and more that when the world saves itself -- and it requires saving, and I'm not talking in a religious sense -- the door will be opened by the arts. And the politicians and the policies and so forth will follow, music, painting, architecture, theater. And the best example I know of a gift to sanity in our time is the Book of Norman running now.

SMITH

11:35:50
And usually successful.

LEAR

11:35:51
And usually successful, but it is an absolute gift to sanity, although 100 percent comedy.

TURNER

11:35:59
Yeah, something I've never quite been able to understand, when this country started to say that it wasn't important to teach civics anymore, you know, the responsibilities and the rights of being a citizen, that the arts were unnecessary, that this was all luxury that could not be afforded. What I don't understand from this thinking is that what we have from previous cultures that preceded us are the arts. We have the writings, we have the paintings, we have the architecture, we have the music. This is what survives in a civilization. And this is what we should be responsible for passing on.

LEAR

11:36:39
And the man who Governor Romney has chosen to advise him on judicial appointments is Robert Bork who has said of the Civil Rights Act that it was unsurpassed ugliness and has said of the First Amendment that it does not protect music, art...

TURNER

11:37:03
Or literature.

LEAR

11:37:04
...or literature.

SMITH

11:37:06
And the government of course has been, what's the right word, cherry in its support of the arts. And I think that is only more prevalent now in this congress. Coming up, your calls and questions for our two guests Norman Lear and Kathleen Turner. We'll be right back.

SMITH

11:40:05
Welcome back. I'm Terence Smith sitting in for Diane Rehm. And I have the pleasure of being in the studio with Norman Lear, the great producer, and Kathleen Turner, the great actress.

LEAR

11:40:18
Thank you.

SMITH

11:40:18
And so it is a pleasure to have you and we have any number of people calling in who wanna talk to you. For example, Gail is in Washington, D.C. Gail, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."

GAIL

11:40:34
Hello everyone. How are you?

TURNER

11:40:36
Hello.

LEAR

11:40:37
Hello.

GAIL

11:40:37
This is such a privilege for me, I have to tell you. Mr. Lear, first of all, happy birthday. I can't believe you'll be 90.

LEAR

11:40:43
Thank you. Neither can I.

GAIL

11:40:45
Several years ago I was the voice over for your annual gathering here in D.C., People for the American Way. It was so much fun. You were wonderful. Everything was wonderful.

LEAR

11:40:55
Well, come tomorrow night.

GAIL

11:40:57
I will come tomorrow night.

LEAR

11:40:58
Good.

GAIL

11:40:59
Do I need an invitation? I need an invitation.

LEAR

11:41:01
You have the invitation right now.

GAIL

11:41:03
Well, thank you very much. I would love it.

LEAR

11:41:05
I'm very serious about it. Call People for the American Way.

GAIL

11:41:08
I will call. Thank you so much.

LEAR

11:41:10
Okay.

GAIL

11:41:11
And we really need your voice. Progressives really need to keep hearing your strong forceful voice, so thanks for all your great work. And if I may say two other things very quickly, Kathleen Turner, my husband and I saw you perform on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" As Martha you were fabulous.

TURNER

11:41:26
Thank you. And, Terence Smith, this really goes back decades. I was an intern at the New York Times, Washington bureau when I was very, very young.

LEAR

11:41:35
Well, you covered a lot of ground here.

GAIL

11:41:37
I have.

SMITH

11:41:37
I'm sure you were an outstanding intern.

GAIL

11:41:42
I was a good intern.

SMITH

11:41:43
Thanks so much for your call, Gail.

GAIL

11:41:44
Thank you so much. I appreciate it all. And I will call People for the American Way. And we have the same cause. I'm with the YWCA USA, so we are fighting for the same rights.

LEAR

11:41:53
Good. See you tomorrow.

SMITH

11:41:54
Terrific. Thank you very much. Let's go now to Mike in Dallas, Texas. Mike, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."

MIKE

11:42:04
Hi, thank you. I just wanted to thank Mr. Lear for the many years of great entertainment that he's brought us and helping to make us laugh and helping to make us think, and the wonderful gift of discovering and letting us know about Carroll O'Connor who I still marvel at today. He was one of my favorite actors. This guy could act with just his eyes. If you were to bound up his whole face, he could do the entire production with only his eyes. It's amazing. I loved Carroll O'Connor. And I hope that you'll be around many more years to give us some more (unintelligible)

LEAR

11:42:38
Thank you very much. I wish you to have every hope.

SMITH

11:42:42
I'm sure you want that. But tell us about Carroll O'Connor as an actor.

LEAR

11:42:48
Carroll O'Connor as an actor, it may -- I don't know which came first, the idea to do the great close-ups came from me or it came from his face and my reaction to his every expression. But if you look at "All in the Family" compared to any of the current shows, you will find these faces on giant close-ups all the time where those great reactions came from. Probably started with that glorious face of Carroll's. Interestingly enough, because his name was O'Connor, because he's clearly Irish, everybody said, you have to name him as an Irishman. If it comes up, he's Irish.

LEAR

11:43:36
I said, no, I'm not gonna make a bigot of any particular race or religion or, you know, it's just not gonna happen. And that's the...

SMITH

11:43:49
Hence...

LEAR

11:43:49
...magic of theater and good performance is nobody ever raised the question.

SMITH

11:43:54
Hence the name Archie Bunker which was sort of neutral and...

TURNER

11:43:58
American.

LEAR

11:43:58
Yes, yes.

SMITH

11:43:59
...and American and not particularly identifiable. Kathleen Turner, you were a young woman. Did you watch "All in the Family" and enjoy it?

TURNER

11:44:09
Yes, when I could. Oh, yeah, when I could. I actually had lived outside the country until 18 because my father was a diplomat. So I came back to the United States in '72, '73. So I actually was actually catching up on American culture through "All in the Family." I mean, to me it was, oh, this is what's going on here, because I was so out of touch.

SMITH

11:44:37
And I believe it was one of those stints abroad when your father was alive and in the diplomatic corp. that you were in London, that you got interested in the theater and...

TURNER

11:44:49
Oh, yeah.

SMITH

11:44:50
...what you saw and heard.

TURNER

11:44:51
Yeah, when I -- I moved to London when I was 13 I suppose and, yes, that was when it crystallized that I could make a career as an actress, was what I saw.

SMITH

11:45:05
Let's go to Rosie in Birmingham, Ala. Rosie, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."

ROSIE

11:45:13
Good morning.

SMITH

11:45:14
Good morning.

ROSIE

11:45:15
It's amazing that both of you are there. Kathleen, before I got to see "Body Heat," there were a young man that came to my job and he goes, you gotta go and see this movie. She reminds me so much of you.

TURNER

11:45:30
Oh.

ROSIE

11:45:31
And I was like, what's the title of the movie? He goes, "Body Heat." And...

TURNER

11:45:37
And you went, oh, thank you.

ROSIE

11:45:39
And I'm thinking, okay, what does this woman do in the movie? But I saw it. And every time I see that movie or I've seen that movie, I think, okay, what did he see in her character? But I wanna say this, it's amazing that you are there with Mr. Lear. Mr. Lear...

LEAR

11:46:00
Yes, ma'am.

ROSIE

11:46:00
...you may not remember, but many, many years ago I was probably about 15 or 16 and I loved "Maude," I loved "All in the Family," I watched "Good Times" and I sat there and I wrote you a letter and told you, Mr. Lear, I hate "Good Times" because of -- and I gave you all of the reasons why. And it was amazing. I never expected to hear from you. You sent me an application and offered me to write a movie or write a series and send it to you. I never acted on it. But I was impressed that you listened to me. And then I was looking for my favorite station on the radio. And this particular station kinda caught my attention and I stopped. I've never listened to this show before.

TURNER

11:46:57
Oh.

ROSIE

11:46:57
And there is Norman Lear. And I've told people before. I've said, I wrote him and he wrote me back.

SMITH

11:47:04
Well, that's a terrific story.

LEAR

11:47:07
That's a great story.

SMITH

11:47:08
That's a great story, Rosie. Thank you so much.

LEAR

11:47:10
Nice to run into you again, Rosie.

SMITH

11:47:11
Yeah, thank you.

ROSIE

11:47:12
And I wanna tell you happy -- wish you a happy birthday.

SMITH

11:47:14
Okay.

LEAR

11:47:14
Thank you.

ROSIE

11:47:16
And also to you, Kathleen Turner.

TURNER

11:47:17
Thank you.

TURNER

11:47:17
And to let you know, Mr. Lear, I'm 54 now and I have written my first script.

SMITH

11:47:24
Well, there you go.

LEAR

11:47:25
Well, you have an open invitation...

TURNER

11:47:26
Good for you.

LEAR

11:47:26
...to send it to me.

ROSIE

11:47:28
I would love to. If you could -- if you would, tell me how I would be able to do so.

SMITH

11:47:33
I think we can do that through the producers on the broadcast and we'll do it.

ROSIE

11:47:37
Okay.

SMITH

11:47:37
Thank you for your call, Rosie, very, very much.

ROSIE

11:47:39
Thank you. Bye-bye.

LEAR

11:47:40
Bye.

SMITH

11:47:41
I wonder, you both are active in what can broadly be called the progressive movement. What do you think of the state of that movement right now in American politics? We're obviously in an election year. Kathleen Turner?

TURNER

11:48:01
All right. I'll go first. I think in many ways it is as solid as it ever has been. One of the problems with being more liberal, more progressive is we don't organize as well. We're not as rigid as say a tea party group that tells its group, its people what it will think and what it will do. We don't react very well to that sort of thing, so it makes us seem a little less organized, but our hearts are true.

SMITH

11:48:35
And so message discipline is not the strength of the movement, Norman Lear?

LEAR

11:48:38
I would say the movement is in certain regards quite timid. Years ago we seeded the best conversation going. What's it all about, Alfie? We seeded God, we seeded values, we seeded moral values, we seeded family values, we seeded all of that stuff to the right as if it doesn't belong to us also. Not belongs to us, but belongs to us also. And we have for too long ignored that best conversation going. And they own it.

SMITH

11:49:16
Here's an interesting email from Steve in Charlotte who addressed to you, Norman Lear, what challenges, he asked, did you face by introducing the country to George Jefferson and Fred Sanford? Was it a problem? Was it tough developing black characters and getting them accepted broadly on television?

LEAR

11:49:40
Well, it was tough to start with. As soon as, you know, the adage, nothing succeeds like success, as soon as "Sanford and Son" and one of the great clowns of the world, Red Fox.

TURNER

11:49:57
Red Fox, yeah.

LEAR

11:49:59
...lit up that show, it was easier to get "Good Times" on. And when "Good Times" was on, the only reason there was "The Jeffersons" was because the black press was complaining that why couldn't -- why can't we see a upwardly mobile black family. And so they gave us license to create "The Jeffersons." And it successfully...

SMITH

11:50:23
And a great deal...

LEAR

11:50:24
...succeeded.

SMITH

11:50:25
And a great deal followed from that.

LEAR

11:50:28
Mm-hmm.

SMITH

11:50:28
"The Cosby Show" and others that came along and portrayed such a family. Here's a call from Amy in Greensboro, N.C. on that subject of investment in the arts. Amy, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."

AMY

11:50:47
Thank you. I just wanted to thank both of you, Mr. Lear and Kathleen, for being the voice that challenges the social norm. But Greensboro did quite the opposite of many municipalities several years ago. They began investing in the arts, theater, music, galleries, and really promoting this and making Greensboro kind of the hub in North Carolina for this cultural and artistic Mecca almost and they have seen measurable increase in economic growth because of this, and wanted to know if you guys knew about it or what you thought about that.

TURNER

11:51:30
Is the School of the Arts there?

AMY

11:51:33
There is a School of the Arts.

TURNER

11:51:34
'Cause I think I've been down there and done a master class for you all.

AMY

11:51:38
Hum?

TURNER

11:51:39
I think I've done a master class there in my travels. But I think you make a very good point and it's very encouraging point that, as you say, becoming a Mecca for the arts has also been economically profitable.

LEAR

11:51:56
That's great news for America. How do we get that word out more?

SMITH

11:52:01
But that support for the arts that she is talking about is local and not national.

LEAR

11:52:07
Mm-hmm.

TURNER

11:52:07
Doesn't have to be.

LEAR

11:52:09
And it is also the most healing and nothing brings us together across the globe like the arts.

TURNER

11:52:21
Mm-hmm.

SMITH

11:52:24
Kathleen...

AMY

11:52:24
Thank you for your time.

SMITH

11:52:25
You bet. Thank you so much for your call.

LEAR

11:52:26
Thank you for your call.

SMITH

11:52:28
We appreciate it. Kathleen Turner, you've mentioned that, I mean, we knew that you're going to play Molly Ivins coming up soon. Is there another role in shows that you've seen or that you know is out there that you'd love to play right now?

TURNER

11:52:43
Oh, well, I am. I do have my role -- I do have a role after Molly that I'm already working on because I'm taking the next step in personal challenge perhaps is the right way to say. I'll be directing and playing the lead in my next production which is "The Killing of Sister George." We'll be taking it to the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Conn.

SMITH

11:53:09
Terrific. I'm Terence Smith and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's take another call. Nara is in Houston, Texas. And, Nara, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."

NARA

11:53:25
Good morning everybody.

TURNER

11:53:27
Good morning.

SMITH

11:53:27
Good morning.

LEAR

11:53:28
Good morning.

NARA

11:53:28
Good morning. I moved to America about 20 years ago. And one of the first things I kinda discovered America through was "All in the Family" and some of the movies that Kathleen Turner starred in, so she is my idol. You're my idol for many years.

TURNER

11:53:48
Thank you.

NARA

11:53:50
But one of the things that I kind of discovered here is that not so easy access to foreign movies. And in local theaters in you can find very rarely one theater maybe in town that will show foreign movies. I don't know why it is this way that every movie theater -- well, most likely maybe because if it's money making movies more found to be the movies there will show the movie that's making more money. But I would like to see something in America that will bring more foreign movies because there's so many wonderful movies.

TURNER

11:54:24
Well, I'll tell you something that I find very hopeful, very encouraging nowadays, is the independent filmmaking that due to a lot of the technology, the development and technology, filmmaking can be done much less expensively and much more -- with much more access to -- and now but the difficulty has always been, as you've pointed out, in the release, how do we get the films out there, be they're foreign or anything that isn't the product of a major studio. Now we have -- oh, I think I just had an independent open and you can download it on iTunes, on ViOS, on On-Demand, on, you know, all -- so access is so much greater now that I think that is most encouraging and will allow for a bigger -- a much wider variety of topics and treatments.

SMITH

11:55:21
Norman Lear, do you see that as well?

LEAR

11:55:23
No, I agree. I think there's much more attention being paid right now to documentaries and inexpensive films and so forth. My wife sits on the board of the Sundance Film Festival, so I'm hearing a great deal more than other years about the amount and also the value, the excitement around films that come from kids everywhere.

SMITH

11:55:51
Independent films.

LEAR

11:55:52
Yeah.

SMITH

11:55:52
That festival in Park City, Utah has now -- I mean, it's the launching pad for a fair number of the films.

TURNER

11:56:03
Yeah.

SMITH

11:56:03
Well, listen, I wanna thank Kathleen Turner and Norman Lear who have been there, who have come in and talked with us this morning, who are here to celebrate his birthday, a very big birthday, and a very big birthday for People for the American Way.

LEAR

11:56:20
At the Kennedy Center tomorrow evening.

SMITH

11:56:22
Well, there you go. All right. Thank you both.

TURNER

11:56:25
Thank you, Terence.

SMITH

11:56:26
I'm Terence Smith sitting in for Diane Rehm. Thank you for listening.

ANNOUNCER

11:56:33
"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth, Nikki Jecks, Megan Merritt, Susan Nabors and Lisa Dunn. The engineer is Erin Stamper. Natalie Yuravlivker answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales. Call 202-885-1200 for more information. Our email address is drshow@wamu.org. And we're on Facebook and Twitter. This program comes to you from American University in Washington. This is NPR.
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