We got ratings. It isn't that they won't quarrel with you, or say you're always right. But as long as you stay strong and the ratings are good and you're reasonable - I don't think we fought unreasonably. We basically won that right.
That's the heart of it: My shows were not that controversial with the American people. They were controversial with the people who think for the American people.
Life is made up of small pleasures. Happiness is made up of those tiny successes. The big ones come too infrequently. And if you don't collect all these tiny successes, the big ones don't really mean anything.
We did an episode on Good Times which came out of a newspaper article about the incidence of hypertension in black males being higher than whites, and increasing. So we did a show in which James, the father on Good Times, had hypertension.
Life goes on pretty much the same way. I've been working on a couple of films on the side. You may see some more. You may even see another television show.
But you know, my dad called me the laziest white kid he ever met. When I screamed back at him that he was putting down a race of people to call me lazy, his answer was that's not what he was doing, and that I was also the dumbest white kid he ever met.
I guess because the shows were activist in their own way - the marriage of my public activism and my career activism, you know - people understand me very well. They also understand there's a very strong bipartisan part in all of this.
It crossed our minds early on that the more an audience cared - we were working before, on average, 240, live people. If you could get them caring - the more they cared, the harder they laughed.
At great, great remove sit the head of General Electric, the head of News Corp, the head of Viacom, or the head of this giant international corporation that wants these ratings.
Granted, the writers, directors, producers, and that community make a great deal of money. But they might be choosing to do a whole lot of other things for the living they make.
But it also became the experience, or was the experience, of the writers who were attracted to this kind of humor. They're all men or women who come from the same kind of experience in their own lives.
In the area we're discussing, leadership begins on Madison Avenue, on the desks and in the offices of people who spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying what will get them ratings.
I wanted to just do a one-act play for 26 minutes, with commercials at the beginning and end. For years, I couldn't get my way. They wanted to interrupt three times.