Norman Lear ‘44 to receive The Carol Burnett Award for decades of television work

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Photo: Courtesy/Emerson College

Norman Lear ’44

By Juliet Norman, Opinion Editor

Statue-guardian of the Boylston Place Alley Norman Lear will be the third recipient of the annual Carol Burnett Award at the Golden Globes. The award recognizes Lear’s work in television spanning several decades.

Lear, who achieved remarkable success in producing and screenwriting, attended Emerson for about two years until he dropped out in 1942 to join the U.S. Army. After serving in World War II, Lear launched his professional career in which he helped produce more than 20 hit television shows.

The Carol Burnett Award, a lifetime achievement award named after the actress and star of “The Carol Burnett Show,” was created in 2018 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to honor those who have exhibited “outstanding contributions to television on or off the screen.” 

Burnett accepted the inaugural award in 2019, followed by comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres, who took home the award in 2020. The award is paired with the ceremony’s other lifetime achievement award, the Cecil B. de Mille Award, for achievement in film, which will be presented to Jane Fonda this year.

This isn’t the first time Lear’s work has been celebrated by the award show. His 1971 sitcom “All in the Family” secured eight Golden Globes while it was on air, setting a record for Best Comedy Series. 

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Most recently, Lear produced the Netflix Original-turned CBS family sitcom “One Day at a Time,” a retelling of Lear’s 1975 version with the same title, but this time with an all Latinx cast. 

Lear is also set to serve as executive producer for the animated revival of the 1974 sitcom “Good Times,” premiering on Netflix later this year. Many of his older popular sitcoms have celebrated diversity in their storylines, such as “Maude” and “The Jeffersons,” the first television series to depict an interraccial married couple in the U.S.

Ali Sar, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), called Lear one of the most prolific creators of this generation.

“His career has encompassed both the Golden Age and Streaming Era, throughout which his progressive approach [to] addressing controversial topics through humor prompted a cultural shift that allowed social and political issues to be reflected in television,” Sar said in a statement.

Lear will be given the award during the Golden Globes’ 78th ceremony, which will be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The ceremony will air Feb. 28 on NBC at 8 p.m. EST.

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