Forty years after “All in the Family” won its 22nd Emmy Award in 1979 — tying the record for most wins as Best Comedy Series (4) held by “The Dick Van Dyke Show” — it’s back in the derby thanks to ABC’s surprise-hit reboot: “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.'” Now it competes for Best Variety Special (Live) and could follow in the footsteps of a huge TV event that took America by surprise last year and triumphed five times at the Emmys: “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
What’s behind the blockbuster success (10 million viewers!) of the new “All in the Family/ Jeffersons,” which ran the risk of turning off modern TV viewers with painful memories of bombastic racism, misogyny and homophobia of yore?
“The big surprise to the audience was that nothing has changed” in the intervening years in America, insisted pioneering producer Norman Lear at the ABC FYC event for Emmy and guild voters on June 1. “It’s the language you can hear in a school parking lot today.
“Am I right? he roared at the Q&A audience, then demanded: “Well, say it!” They cheered.
Anthony Anderson, who played Uncle Henry in the new production, described Lear “as the most important TV producer in the history of television. It was because of Norman Lear’s work in TV 40-plus years ago that we are able to have a successful show called ‘Black-ish’ on the air right now, tackling the same subjects.”
Anderson competes in the supporting movie/mini acting categories along with Jovan Adepo, Anthony Anderson, Ian Barinholtz, Will Ferrell, Stephen Tobolowsky, Marla Gibbs, Jackee Harry, Ellie Kemper and Kerry Washington. Competing in lead races are Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Wanda Sykes and Jamie Foxx.