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At the spry age of 98, Norman Lear has been a longtime advocate for sustainability in Hollywood. During the second episode of <em>Variety</em>‘s Sustainability in Hollywood event presented by Toyota Mirai…
At the spry age of 98, Norman Lear has been a longtime advocate for sustainability in Hollywood.
During the second episode of Variety‘s Sustainability in Hollywood event presented by Toyota Mirai, the writer-producer spoke with senior TV editor Michael Schneider about how his wife Lyn Lear started the movement, his involvement in politics and why environmentalism shouldn’t be politicized.
Before the age of the internet, Lynn added that it was difficult for writers to do research on environmental issues. “We had the resources of the Sierra Club and Conservation International and these other organizations, so the writers would come to us and we would hook them up with the right people to learn about these issues,” she said. “But everybody was interested. Everybody started to see that these were important issues and the timing was really right.”
In 2000, the couple also toured around all 50 states with a copy of the Declaration of Independence. This experience, Norman added, inspired him to further advocate for democracy and continue telling stories that spotlight different social issues.
“The most amazing thing was to be in some small town in their city hall or wherever, the library, wherever the document was positioned, and there would be a line around the block,” he said. “Largely parents with their children, just to spend 10, 12, 14 seconds in looking at the document before they had to move off to let the guy behind them. But it was so lovely and solemn and it’s such a great family occasion.”
And the duo continues their contribution by producing films displaying the impact of climate change. Lyn, for instance, is collaborating with director Lucy Walker on a film titled “Bring Your Own Brigade,” on the aftermath of wildfires in California, Brazil and Australia.
“Now look where we are. When you walk outside, it was like a heat wave, like an oven hitting you in the face with 110 degree weather,” said Lyn on how climate change has become a pressing issue. “So it’s going to force us. I mean, we can’t make it political or keep it political for too much longer.”
Lear’s conversation was followed by a sustainability in storytelling panel featuring Fisher Stevens, director of “Before the Flood;” Louie Louie Psihoyos, director-producer of “The Gamechangers” and “The Cove;” Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of global scripted content and documentary films at National Geographic; Bruce Miller, executive producer of “The Handmaid’s Tale”; and director-producer Alethea Arnaquq-Baril.
Psihoyos echoed the importance of creating content that will lead to immediate, meaningful action. While the filmmakers do not have control over the audience’s reaction, he is hopeful that today’s politically active young people will affect change over time.
“I’ve seen this happen, but it takes about 10 years. These big environmental changes, scientific changes, and I’ll put plant based diet into, they take about 10 years to get hold of it,” he said. “And I think you’re going to see a huge shift because of the documentaries, because of the narrative films that are being done because of the people, the activist, the 10% pushing the masses towards that — that utopia that we want be and where the world’s just a slightly better place than we left it.”