“You know, when people ask me about work I started, I didn’t start anything. I’ve been following others… And now we find some following me. And that’s as it should be.” – Norman Lear
On Thursday, October 4, the College will honor writer, producer, and Emerson alum, Norman Lear. Lear is a legend, hailed for changing the face of American entertainment, creating landmark television shows like The Jeffersons and All in the Family, and producing beloved Hollywood films like the cult classics, Fried Green Tomatoes and The Princess Bride.
At age 96, Lear is a prolific Emersonian to this day. In 2014, Lear penned his first book, Even This I Get to Experience, which Booklist called “flat out, one of the best Hollywood memoirs ever written.” Lear hosts the podcast, “All of the Above,” which features conversations on topics ranging from comedy to politics with guests like Julia Louis Dreyfus, Jordan Peele, Rashida Jones, RuPaul, and Judd Apatow. In 2017, Lear received the prestigious Peabody Award for creating sitcoms that tackled tough issues and brought racial, gender, and socioeconomic diversity to TV screens at a time when shows were overwhelmingly white and middle class. A true pioneer, Lear continues to create change through the power of writing and conversation.
Seventy-three years after leaving Emerson to fight in World War II, Lear will return to campus for a celebration of his life’s work and the dedication of a sculpture in his honor, which will live on Boylston Place (the alley). Other Emerson luminaries, including Kevin Bright who has spearheaded Norman Lear Day, will be on campus for the celebration.
The celebration also launches an endowed scholarship fund to benefit Emerson students; following the Depression, Lear himself was only able to attend Emerson after winning a scholarship. Established by Emerson College, The Norman Lear Scholarship Fund will enable Emerson to admit exceptionally motivated and gifted new students from first-generation, lower socioeconomic, underrepresented, and underserved backgrounds, and who have an interest in pursuing a career in writing for theatre, television, or film, or in the field of writing itself. Scholarship recipients will be selected and awarded by the Office of Financial Aid in partnership with the Office of Student Success in Fall 2019.
What to Expect on Norman Lear Day, Thursday 10/4:
- Starting at about 5 p.m. the Emerson Channel will livestream coverage of the dedication ceremony and festivities, including musical, comedy, and spoken word performances by students. Tune in on emersonchannel.org/watch, emerson.edu/live or the College’s Facebook page.
- Students are also invited to celebrate Norman Lear Day by enjoying “taste of Boston” food samplings in the Dining Center during the dinner period. In addition, students can also enjoy dinner in the Bordy between 4:30 pm and 7 pm. Details are forthcoming and will be shared next week on EmConnect and in the Dining Center.
- Center Stage and Backstage Cafe will be closed all day on 10/4. Paramount Café and the Max will be open during regular hours.
- Access to the 25 Walker entrance will close at 2:30 pm and will re-open October 5. Access to the Dining Center will be through the Boylston St entrance.
- There will be additional traffic and noise in the alleyway throughout the day on the 10/4 while the event setup is taking place and during the program from 5 pm. to 5:45 pm.