MIAMI — Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos is traversing the world deploying a $6 billion programming budget as part of Netflix’s massive global rollout. But given the chance to conduct a Q&A with Quincy Jones and Norman Lear, Sarandos couldn’t help but make time for a stop in Miami on Wednesday at NATPE for the session with two living legends.
The Q&A covered Jones and Lear’s formative years, career milestones, latest projects and backstage insights into their work. Here are 12 things we learned from the session:
- “Stifle yourself” — Archie Bunker’s famous retort to his “All in the Family” wife, Edith, came from Lear’s father, Herman.
- Jones was once stabbed in his hand with a switch blade after veering into the wrong neighborhood while growing up in the south side of Chicago in the 1930s.
- Jones went to London in 1968 in an effort to secure the rights to “Til Death Do Us Part” and “Steptoe and Son” — shows that would become massive U.S. hits a few years later for Lear’s company as “All in the Family’ and “Sanford and Son.” Jones wrote the jazzy theme song for the latter series.
- When Lear was 8, his father went to jail for attempting to sell fake bonds. “That’s the night I learned the foolishness of the human condition,” he said.
- Jones and Lear worked together on the 1973 Duke Ellington TV special “We Love You Madly.”
- Jones met the Beatles in England before the Fab Four made their first trip to the U.S. in 1964. He bet John Lennon and Paul McCartney that they would bomb in the States.
- Lear’s secret weapon during his 1970s and ’80s peak as a producer? “A flock of women who carried the weight of every single show as assistants and associates,” he said.
- Frank Sinatra left one of his favorite rings to Jones in his will. “He was bipolar,” Jones said of Sinatra. “He loved you or he would roll over you with a Mack truck in reverse.”
- When he was producing the 1985 charity single “We Are the World,” Jones had 46 megastars in the recording studio and time for only 21 solos. “Bette Midler was pissed,” he said.
- As a kid Lear wanted to be a press agent, inspired by an uncle who survived the Depression with a little pocket change. “He could flick me a quarter once in a while. I wanted to be an uncle who could afford to flip a quarter,” he said.
- Jones has a motto: “You can’t get an A if you’re afraid of an F.”
- Lear is no fan of Donald Trump. “Archie Bunker was afraid of progress. Donald Trump sees himself as a progress. I think the American people see him as the middle finger of their right hand, and they’re saying to the establishment everywhere ‘F— you.’ “
Sarandos shared a few personal insights during the Q&A as well. For one, he wore out his copy of Michael Jackson’s 1979 smash album “Off the Wall,” which Jones produced. “As a white guy who couldn’t dance very well in high school, that was my jam,” he said. And Sarandos demonstrated a sense of humor when Lear joked about the fact that he is producing a contemporary take on his 1975-1984 sitcom “One Day at a Time” for a company’s whose name he couldn’t remember.
“You know, you won’t get ratings from them on that show,” Sarandos responded.