TV Legend Norman Lear Says The Black Panthers Inspired This Famous Sitcom

In the 1970s, sitcom creator, writer and producer Norman Lear ruled the airwaves with groundbreaking shows like Good Times, All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Some might argue that today's TV networks can't possibly live up to the high standards set by those shows, but Lear would disagree. "This is - for me - the golden age," Lear said during an interview earlier this month with CNBC's Carl Quintanilla.

And his favorite shows might surprise. Near the top of Lear's list is South Park, the controversial cartoon featuring foulmouthed kids spouting scathing criticisms of American culture. "The guys - I'm losing my dear friends' names - who do 'South Park.' I love what they do," the 94-year-old icon said. The show's creators - Trey Parker and Matt Stone - undoubtedly appreciated the praise. 

Lear also opened up about the inspiration for some of his shows - including a visit from the Black Panthers that led to "The Jeffersons."

"The Black Panthers had visited me about 'Good Times' and were criticizing the fact that the main [character] had to hold down sometimes three jobs to make a living. 'There are black people doing better than that,' [the Panthers said]. We were going to do a show called 'The Jeffersons' and it was that visit and that pressure that prompted us to make [George Jefferson] a very successful fellow."

Lear also called "Jeffersons" star Sherman Hemsley a "gift from the gods."

He also had some advice for today's TV viewers: grow up and stop watching shows on your phones. "I don't think it's very adult walking around looking at performance on a cellphone," Lear said.

Here's the full interview.

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