Not My Job: How Considerably Does Producer Norman Lear Know About Learjets?

Norman Lear poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

There was a time, about 1975, when all the most-watched Television shows — All in the Household, Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Occasions — had a single factor in frequent: They have been made by Norman Lear. Now, at the age of 93, Lear is featured in a new documentary about his life and profession referred to as Norman Lear: Just An additional Version of You.

Click the hyperlink above to listen as we quiz Lear on Learjets, the private planes that became the should-have accessory for the extremely rich starting back in the 1960s.



And now the game exactly where people who have had a lifetime of accomplishment appreciate a few moments of something else. It’s called Not My Job. There was a time around 1975, 1976 exactly where all the most-watched Television shows – “All In The Family,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons,” “Very good Instances” and others had one issue in common. They had been developed by a single man, Norman Lear. He’s the guy who saved Television from “The Flying Nun” and produced it secure for “The Simpsons.”


SAGAL: At the age of 93…


SAGAL: Ninety-3 – there’s a new documentary about his incredible life and career. We are absolutely thrilled to talk to him right now. Norman Lear, welcome to WAIT WAIT… Don’t Tell ME.

NORMAN LEAR: Thank you, thank you, thank you.


LEAR: So far a pleasure to be right here.

SAGAL: I know. Properly, it’s early but. We’ll see what we can do. I was a single of the many individuals who grew up on “All In The Family” and all of your Television show, so it really is like you programmed my childhood. I did not comprehend many of the issues that were happening, but it was nevertheless funny, which was sort of wonderful. When you were doing all these shows, have been you worried that some of the stuff would be going over your audience’s head?

LEAR: No. I imply, not at all. What we had been undertaking was dealing with subjects and issues and so forth that families everywhere were dealing with.

SAGAL: I keep in mind saying to my grandmother what does that word mean? And she’s like I don’t know.


SAGAL: I do want to ask you ’cause I had I saw – there was a mention of this in your documentary – what was Tv like ahead of “All In The Household?” It was extremely silly, proper?

LEAR: You know, it was – you know, “Flying Nun” and “Petticoat Junction” and “Beverly Hillbillies” and so forth. The greatest issue the average family faced might have been that the roast was ruined and the boss was coming to dinner.

SAGAL: Right.

LEAR: You know, for a lengthy time, I heard folks tell me hey pal, if you got a message there’s Western Union. You do not use tv.

SAGAL: Proper.

LEAR: If that’s the greatest difficulty America faces in the shows we mention…

SAGAL: Yeah.

LEAR: …Then what is that message? The message is all correct, no financial troubles. There are no racial problems. Politically, everyone is content. That was pretty wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling message.

SAGAL: Proper. I know on the other hand, if it had been true that the worst dilemma we had was the roast was burnt and our boss was coming, that would have been excellent.

LEAR: Effectively (laughter) I just stole that. That was one particular.

SAGAL: Yeah, I know. I know.


SAGAL: So the quintessential Tv dad was, like, you know, Fred MacMurray on “My Three Sons” or Ozzie and Harriet or all these guys. And you bring in Archie Bunker. And first of all, what did the networks say?

LEAR: The network – effectively, I will tell you the most significant difficulty they had with the extremely very first show.

SAGAL: Correct.

LEAR: Archie and Edith had been at church. It was a Sunday morning. It was their their 20th wedding anniversary. Mike and Gloria – that is the young couple – who have been making a surprise brunch for them. And they came in – but initial, just before they came back back from church, which they left early because Archie hated the sermon, they – the young little ones ran upstairs. They had the property alone for the very first time, and then Mike persuaded Gloria to run upstairs with him. And they were going to make adore. As soon as they get upstairs, the door opens and Archie and Edith walk in. He’s carrying on about the minister and so forth. And the kids are gone. But they hear the door, and they come running down the stairs, buttoning up and such. And Archie says 11:30 on a Sunday morning.


LEAR: And the network stated has to go. Now, we had been through all of his vocabulary and everything else – all of these arguments. But now it is the day that the show is going to go on the air, and they wanted that out.

SAGAL: Yeah, now, what did they want out? The indication…

LEAR: They wanted him – his line 11:30 on a Sunday morning – it had to come out. Why did it have to come out? Because that was producing the audience think of what was going on upstairs.

SAGAL: Genuinely? So you could have the actors coming downstairs buttoning up their garments, indicating what they have been carrying out. So what did you do?

LEAR: The show was on – or just about to go on in New York, it was 3 hours earlier in California – when I got a telephone contact that stated the line will in. Until that moment, I was saying take the line out in New York, and I will not be right here tomorrow morning.

SAGAL: Genuinely? You threatened to quit.

LEAR: Properly, it wasn’t as brave as it sounds. United Artists had offered me a 3-picture deal to write, create and direct.



SAGAL: So what the heck?

LEAR: What the heck?

SAGAL: Did – I have to ask you some thing. You are, as we speak, 93 years old.

LEAR: I will be 94 next month.

SAGAL: Ninety-4 subsequent month.


SAGAL: So do you have any ideas for these of us who would like to arrive at 93 as spry and as productive and happy as you are?

LEAR: What occurred to me first is two easy words…

SAGAL: Yeah.

LEAR: …Possibly as basic as any two words in the English language – more than and next.

SAGAL: More than and subsequent.

LEAR: And we don’t pay adequate attention to them.

LEAR: When something is more than, it is over…

DICKINSON: Oh my God, I love that.

SAGAL: Yeah.

LEAR: …And we are on to subsequent.

SAGAL: Proper.

LEAR: And if there have been – there was to be a hammock in the middle…

SAGAL: Yeah.

LEAR: …Between over and subsequent, that would be what is meant by living in the moment.

SAGAL: Correct.

DICKINSON: That’s brilliant.

SAGAL: That is quite great.

DICKINSON: That is brilliant.


LEAR: I reside in this moment.

SAGAL: Norman Lear, we have asked you here to play a game we’re calling…

BILL KURTIS: What’s That, Up In The Sky? It’s A $ 20 Million Toy.

SAGAL: So you are Norman Lear, so we believed we’d ask you about Learjets, the famous private planes that became the need to-have accessory for the really wealthy beginning back in the ’60s. Answer 2 out of three properly, you will win our prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Television legend Norman Lear playing for?

KURTIS: Kate Vanderzee of Lincoln, Neb.

SAGAL: All appropriate, so you prepared to do this?

LEAR: I’m prepared.

SAGAL: All correct, here’s your very first question about Learjets. It is, in fact, about Bill Lear, the inventor of the Learjet. He was an remarkable entrepreneur and inventor. He invented a lot of other things in addition to the jet, such as what? A, the single-serve fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt cup, B, the 8-track tape player, or C, the silicone breast implant?



SAGAL: You are going to say that Norman Lear invented the silicone breast implant.

LEAR: No, William Lear.

SAGAL: Oh, I am sorry. You happen to be Norman Lear.


SAGAL: I usually get you two confused…


SAGAL: …Which is why my – the tv shows I watch are terrible and my plane does not fly.


ADAM BURKE: Can we all appreciate that the 93-year-old knows who he was?

DICKINSON: Yeah, I enjoy that.


SAGAL: Who’s correcting whom? So you’re going to say that Bill Lear, William Lear is the guy who designed the silicone breast implant?

LEAR: Yes.

SAGAL: No. In fact, it was the 8-track tape player. It is accurate. It was a adhere to-up. He invented the very first sensible auto radio.

LEAR: Yeah, that’s what I thought. But every single time I say it, it comes breast.

SAGAL: Funny how that operates.


DICKINSON: You still got it. You got it.

SAGAL: Is that what you told the network censors? I meant to say what you wanted. It came out incorrect. All correct, you still have two far more possibilities, Norman. Here we go. Mr. Lear was known for his sense of humor, considerably like you, I guess. And he when demonstrated his sense of humor by carrying out what? A, naming his daughter Shanda, as an Shanda Lear…



SAGAL: …B, marketing a plane for his rich buyers with windows that had been specially treated so you couldn’t see the poor far beneath you, or C, sewing in a whoopee cushion into the pilot seat on every new plane.


LEAR: Shanda Lear.

SAGAL: You happen to be correct.



SAGAL: It is accurate. He has a daughter – still does. She’s still about. Her name is Shanda Lear. Wikipedia says her complete name is Crystal Shanda Lear, but I never think that.



SAGAL: All proper, this is fascinating. So if you get this one proper, you win our prize. The Learjet became renowned in the 1960s because Frank Sinatra purchased one particular and flew all his Rat Pack pals around the world on it. Sinatra loved private jets. He would only fly in them, but he was a small weird about how he traveled.

He did which of these? A, he liked to dress as a flight attendant and served drinks, B, he stocked the galley with only canned franks and beans which he liked to consume cold, or C, he was truly terrified of flying so he had photographs of nation roads taped to the windows?


SAGAL: You happen to be going to go for C, that he actually was up in the air but he had photographs of country roads taped to the windows?

LEAR: Yeah.

SAGAL: You happen to be going to stick with that answer that…

LEAR: That is all I’ve got.

SAGAL: Really?


SAGAL: Sadly, the answer was the canned franks and beans. Apparently, he was known for his straightforward tastes in meals. He didn’t want anything fancy. He just would sit there and consume canned meals…

DICKINSON: That sounds…

LEAR: I don’t think it for a second.

SAGAL: Genuinely?


DICKINSON: That sounds really nasty, trapped in a plane.

BURKE: Is there something higher than sitting on a Learjet consuming franks and beans listening to Frank Sinatra on an eight-track player?

KURTIS: Nothing at all better. Bill, how did Norman Lear do on our quiz? Norman got two incorrect, 2 out of 3. But if we issue in his 93-year-old handicap, he’s a winner.



SAGAL: Norman Lear is the television legend behind shows like “All In The Family,” “The Jeffersons,” “Great Instances” and many other individuals that you grew up loving. The documentary about Norman Lear’s life “Just Another Version Of You” is out next week.

Norman Lear, thank you so a lot for every little thing you did and…

LEAR: Thank you so much…

SAGAL: …And for being with us.

LEAR: Bye.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.


SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill Kurtis floats up, up and away. It’s the Listener Limerick Challenge. Contact 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We’ll be back in a minute with much more of WAIT WAIT… Never Tell ME from NPR.

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