Norman Lear Reveals Potential Changes to 'One Day at a Time' for Latino Remake

The prolific TV writer appeared at TCA ahead of his 'American Masters' docu.
Art Streiber

Norman Lear offered new updates on a possible Latino remake of One Day at a Time at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Saturday.

News of the project first broke in January, but Lear teased some potential changes to the classic sitcom when he appeared to tout his upcoming American Masters documentary, set to premiere on PBS in 2016.

One Day at a Time, which ran on CBS from 1975 to 1984, starred Bonnie Franklin as a divorced single mother raising her two daughters (Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli).

The prolific writer and executive producer said the updated version would also include the maternal grandmother as a central character, so as to showcase three generations of Latino women, and may shift from being centered on two daughters to a son and a daughter.

"I just love the idea because I don’t see enough of that representation on the air any place," said Lear. "There isn't enough of it and I think it's a rich idea."

Added Lear with a laugh: "In a couple weeks, call me and I'll let you know whether it's happening."

(However, he appeared very surprised to hear the news of a Good Times film reboot in the works from Black-ish creator Kenya Barris.)

When asked which one of his less successful shows he would choose to reboot, Lear pointed to the short-lived 1994 sitcom 704 Hauser, which centered on a black family that moved into Archie Bunker's former house in Queens. The sitcom specifically centered on the tension between the liberal working-class father and his conservative activist son, who is dating a white Jewish girl.

"I wish that had succeeded because we had a lot of things to talk about in that situation," said Lear.

Lear also fielded several questions on the current state of TV, and more specifically, the current state of TV sitcoms.

"I love Modern Family," said Lear. "They have a lot to say about a lot of situations but it doesn’t talk about some of the things that we dealt with and I think it's because they don't elect to do that."

Lear's many groundbreaking series, including All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Sanford and Son and many others, famously dealt with controversial topics such as race and abortion.

However, he also admitted he doesn't have time to watch as much TV as he'd like. "There's great drama and some great comedy on television today and I can't see it all. I'm always hearing about shows I missed that people I respect and care about are watching," Lear said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Saturday.

"Maybe our greatest exploit in America is excess. We are so excessive. There is so much to watch, so much to buy. So much they're selling. I wish they would sell the value of the country as much as they sell the rest of it."

American Masters: Norman Lear premieres in 2016 on PBS.