Thursday, April 18, 2024

Norman Lear Turns 99, Sells New “Mary Hartman” to TBS with “Schitt’s Creek” Star Emily Hampshire


Norman Lear turned 99 yesterday and started his 100th trip around the sun! Happy Birthday, Norman. He is amazing.

To celebrate his birthday, Lear sold the new version of “Mary Hartman, MaryHartman” to TBS as a  revival of the 1975 soap opera parody.

“The kick of kicks as I turn 99 today is learning that TBS is developing ‘MHMH’ and will allow us to make a new version of it starring Emily Hampshire,” Lear said in a statement. “As someone who believes his 99 years on this planet is owed to the amount of laughter he enjoyed through the years, here’s to the next 99. Bless you all!”

I think they found the right person to play poor Mary. Emily Hampshire, who played Stevie on “Schitt’s Creek,” has been tapped for the Louise Lasser role. She’s terrific and an excellent choice.

They still have to cast the rest of these iconic roles. It would be a little genius to get Mary Kay Place to play Mary’s mother. She was the original Loretta Haggers, clueless aspiring country singer. Mary Kay’s dry wit would be a perfect nod to Dody Goodman, who played the role originally.

The key casting will be Loretta herself. Mary Kay never played her as campy or stupid, just clueless and earnest. The comedy came in the writing. Another actress who seems like she should be in this show is Julie Hagerty. Maybe they can find something for her.

Will the new Mary Hartman be like the old one? You know, the novelty of surprise is gone. When the show debuted in 1975, I’m told it was addictive. (I wasn’t born yet!) But we’re always open to new things.

Lear was right on the cutting edge with “Mary Hartman” after his run of hit comedies were all over the TV, from “All in the Family” to “Maude” and “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times” and “One Day at a Time.” And all those premises remain fresh as ever.

PS This photo was take a couple of years ago up at Ross House in Laurel Canyon by Leah Sydney. I almost never have my picture taken with celebrities. But I was so honored that Norman agreed to it.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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