Norman Lear certainly isn’t resting on his laurels.
On July 27 — Lear’s 83rd birthday — the sitcom icon announced a $115 million investment in Australia-based Village Roadshow Pictures, which has been a co-financing/production partner with Warner Bros. for 25 years.
In exchange, Lear’s new consortium acquires 50% of Roadshow’s film and distribution entities; the deal will expand Roadshow’s production slate, including more low-budget projects.
Though the announcement was short on specifics, it would be a surprise for the very active Lear to remain a passive investor.
While he’s known as one of the most influential TV producers ever, he’s also been involved in features, including “Cold Turkey,” “Come Blow Your Horn,” “The Princess Bride,” “Stand by Me” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.”
And the deal reunites Lear with Warners prexy Alan Horn, who worked with him from 1973 to 1986.
Along with Jerry Perenchio and Bud Yorkin, Lear and Horn helped revolutionize the TV biz via such landmark shows as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons” and “Sanford and Son” before going their separate ways — Horn to Castle Rock, Lear to Act III.
In that guise, Lear’s been involved in owning movie theaters and buying the Concord and Stax record labels. He’s also founder of influential People for the American Way; an owner of one of the 25 original copies of the Declaration of Independence; and the namesake of the Norman Lear Center at USC, which explores the convergence of entertainment, commerce and society.