Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, we’re paying tribute to the one-of-a-kind Norman Lear, who just celebrated his 99th birthday on July 27!
In honor of this gifted and influential televisionary, I’m sharing — with subscribers who comment below to alert me of their educational, non-commercial interest — access to the pilot script for Guess Who Died, a single-cam comedy written with Peter Tolan (Murphy Brown, The Larry Sanders Show, Rescue Me) that follows the residents of a Palm Springs retirement community. It was produced for NBC’s 2018-’19 season with a great cast that included Hector Elizondo, Holland Taylor, and Christopher Lloyd, but it was not ordered to series. (That same year, FOX went ahead with a similar project from Charlie Day called The Cool Kids.) Now, this isn’t some lost gem — although the early character work is sharp, The Cool Kids’ opener is probably funnier, for there’s some ham-fisted lip service to contemporary relevance here, and then the last two acts get bogged down by labored story beats — but it’s generally well-written and a joy to read, proof that even in his late 90s, Lear’s still got it. Here’s a sample.
Happy 99th, Mr. Lear!
Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more sitcom fun!