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Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Lewis’

Those Were the Days: Norman Lear’s Memoir Pubs Today

“This is, flat out, one of the best Hollywood memoirs ever written… An absolute treasure,” raves Booklist in a starred review of Norman Lear’s memoir, Even This I Get to Experience.

NormaLearCoverThe creator of such iconic and unprecedented hit shows as “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons,” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” Lear reinvented television comedy in the ‘70s. At one point, he had nine shows on the air, and at their peak, his programs were watched by 120 million people a week.

Now, Lear is telling his story, from his Depression-era days growing up with a dad sent to jail for scheming to sell fake bonds, to becoming the highest-paid comedy writer in the country, working for Danny Thomas, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Martha Raye, and George Gobel. A member of a B-17 bomber crew in WWII, Lear made it onto Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List” and was presented with the National Medal of the Arts by President Clinton.

Dave Itzkoff, writing about Even This I Get to Experience in the New York Times, cites Lear’s influence on Roseanne Barr, Rob Reiner, and Trey Parker. Itzkoff quotes Parker, creator and producer of “South Park” with Matt Stone, as saying that Lear’s work “had an immeasurable impact on that show and its satirical, scared-cow-slaughtering sensibility.”

Now, in his book out today from Penguin Press, we all can read of the events and people that had an immeasurable impact on Norman Lear, and shaped his sensibility.

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CIA’s Secret Role in George Orwell and Graham Greene Adaptations

WILMIG.jpgConspiracy theorists of all stripes have hypothesized for years about the CIA’s influence through political revolutions, propaganda, and the manipulation of politicians. One writer has uncovered the government agency’s shady influence on classic novel adaptations as well.

Author Hugh Wilford‘s new book, “The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America” reveals how the CIA influenced popular culture in a variety of unexpected ways. In a long Commentary essay, for instance, the CIA’s influence on films, art, and publishing is laid out in amazing detail. The CIA dealt with every corner of culture, from a New York Times publisher to the producers of a Jerry Lewis picture.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: “In addition to providing most of the funding for an animated film version of Animal Farm, George Orwell‘s anti-Stalinist fable, the CIA planted an operative inside Paramount Pictures … Another operative worked directly with the writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz to shape the film version of Graham Greene‘s novel The Quiet American.”