Norman Lear sits in his Vermont vacation home on his 99th birthday, surrounded by friends and family. It’s been a good birthday, as far as 99 goes, not that he’s had any other 99th birthdays to compare it to. His daughter hands him another gift box, this one wrapped in peach. “Open it, Dad,” she urges. “It’s from TBS.” Lear fumbles with the bow and peers inside. His face drops almost imperceptibly. “Oh,” he says. “It’s a reboot of one of my classic series.” I have a few of these already, he thinks. Should I send it back? No. He clears his throat, he smiles. “What a nice gesture.”
Yesterday in a statement on his birthday, legendary sitcom producer Norman Lear revealed that TBS is rebooting his 1970s series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman starring Schitt’s Creek’s Emily Hampshire. “The kick of kicks as I turn 99 today is learning that TBS is developing ‘MHMH’ and will allow us to make a new version of it starring Emily Hampshire,” Lear said in a statement. “As someone who believes his 99 years on this planet is owed to the amount of laughter he enjoyed through the years, here’s to the next 99. Bless you all!”
Hampshire, who played Stevie on Schitt’s Creek, will star as an updated version of the title character, originally played by Louise Lasser in a soap opera send-up that earned a cult following. According to Variety, Hampshire will also co-write and executive produce alongside Letterkenny creator Jacob Tierney. This all seems well and good, exciting even, until you read the new log line: “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is about a small-town woman who feels like a nobody in every aspect of her life until she suddenly becomes a ‘verified’ social-media somebody after her nervous breakdown goes viral.” There’s gotta be another way of doing this. Happy belated, Norman Lear.