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.