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Four decades after Sanford and Son ended its six-season run, legendary TV producer Norman Lear is returning to NBC.
The network has handed out a sizable pilot-production commitment to Lear’s long-gestating comedy Guess Who Died. Lear and prolific producer Peter Tolan (Rescue Me) will co-write the script and exec produce the single-camera comedy.
The project, which Lear has been championing for more than seven years, is described as a humorous and inspiring look at the shared joys and challenges we all experience at any stage of life. NBC notes the potential series is inspired by Lear, 95, and his secret to longevity: to continue learning and growing — but especially when society expects you to slow down. It’s based on Lear’s personal experiences and will be told in partnership with Tolan’s authentic and irreverent voice.
Read more: Norman Lear, Creative Until You Die
Sony Pictures Television Studio, Tolan’s studio-based The Cloudland Co. and Lear’s Act III Productions will produce. Lear, Tolan and Act III head of production and development Brent Miller will exec produce.
Should Guess Who Died move to series, it would be Lear’s second show currently on the air, joining Netflix’s One Day at a Time reboot, which is now in production on season two.
Lear has frequently discussed Guess Who Died publicly. He most recently organized a table read for it at the Austin Film Festival last year — featuring June Squibb, among others — that was recorded by CBS Sunday Morning. (Watch below.)
The New York Times also produced a documentary short following Lear’s efforts to get the potential show on the air. (Watch below.)
“I think it may have sold the show because it attracted a tremendous amount of interest, including a couple of sources that want to put it on,” Lear told IndieWire earlier this year of the attention placed on Guess Who Died.
All told, Lear has produced more than 30 TV series including All in the Family (which won four Emmys), The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time and Good Times. On the feature side, he earned an Oscar nomination for 1967’s Divorce American Style, as well as 1987’s The Princess Bride.
Sony TV-based Tolan, meanwhile, counts Outsiders, The Larry Sanders Show and Murphy Brown among his credits. He is repped by CAA and Schreck Rose.
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