What is The Norman Lear Center?

The Lear Center is a multidisciplinary research and public policy center exploring implications of the convergence of entertainment, commerce, and society. Based at the University of Southern California, the Lear Center builds bridges between eleven schools whose faculty study aspects of entertainment, media, and culture. Beyond campus, it bridges the gap between the entertainment industry and academia, and between them and the public. Through scholarship and research; through its programs of visiting fellows, conferences, public events, and publications; and in its attempts to illuminate and repair the world, the Lear Center works to be at the forefront of discussion and praxis in the field.

How long has the Lear Center been around?

We officially launched on January 24, 2000, with a story in The New York Times.

What is the relationship between the Lear Center and the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California?

The Norman Lear Center is located at the USC Annenberg School and its director, Martin Kaplan, holds the Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society.

Does the Lear Center offer courses?

The Lear Center does not offer courses, but we do offer information about entertainment-related coursework across the University. Go to the Curriculum section of our Website for information on undergraduate and graduate degree programs available at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, and for a full listing of entertainment-related courses across the University.

Who is Norman Lear?

The Lear Center was named for television writer, producer, and director Norman Lear, a pioneer of a more candid, socially realistic genre of television programming and a champion of democratic values. The founding of the Center celebrates the artistic innovation of such Lear shows as All in the Family, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and The Jeffersons; his willingness to take extraordinary creative and commercial risks in the name of quality; his passion for wrestling with issues of conscience while building a remarkable entertainment career; and his leadership in founding People for the American Way to defend core First Amendment freedoms, and the Business Enterprise Trust to celebrate businesses that advance the public good while achieving financial success. To find out more, visit Norman Lear’s official website at normanlear.com or read our bio by clicking here.

How can I get in touch with Norman Lear?

The best way to contact Mr. Lear is by sending an email to us at enter@usc.edu.

Who is Martin Kaplan?

The Director of the Lear Center is Martin Kaplan, former Associate Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard, a Marshall Scholar to Cambridge University, and a Stanford Ph.D., he has been an Aspen Institute program officer; a federal education staffer; a Vice President’s chief speechwriter; a Washington journalist in print, television, and radio; a deputy Presidential campaign manager; a Disney Studios vice president of motion picture production; and a film and television writer and producer. For a full bio, click here.

How is the Lear Center funded?

The Lear Center was founded with a $5 million gift from Norman Lear, but most of its active projects have been funded by other entitites, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Ford Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for the Public Domain, the Carnegie Corporation and the California Endowment.

Does the Lear Center work with other organizations?

Yes, we often partner with other organizations, including the Writers Guild, the Center for Excellence in Government, the Artists Rights Foundation, the Center for the Public Domain, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the League of Women Voters, Americans for the Arts, and the Los Angeles Opera. If you are interested in collaborating with the Lear Center, please contact us at enter@usc.edu.

Does the Lear Center issue grants or fund external projects?

The Lear Center often partners with other organizations on joint projects, events and publications, but it does not issue grants or provide funding for external projects.

Are Lear Center events open to the public?

Many of our events are open to the general public. Whenever possible, we also archive our events online on this site and on Youtube. See our Events page for details. If you would like to be added to our local mailing list, email us at enter@usc.edu.

How can I find out about new events, projects, and publications?

We update this site regularly, so please come back to see what’s new. We also have two email lists — one for people in the Los Angeles area and another for everyone else. People outside of the LA-area receive notices about new Lear Center publications and projects; local residents also receive invitations to our events. If you would like to be added to either list, please email us at enter@usc.edu.

How should I contact The Norman Lear Center?

You can reach us via email (enter@usc.edu), phone (213.821.1343), or fax (213.821.1580). Our mailing address is

The Norman Lear Center
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0281