Norman Lear, Common, Shonda Rhimes to explore inequality in Epix documentary series

Super-producers Norman Lear and Shonda Rhimes will team with celebrities including Amy Poehler and Common for a documentary series on Epix exploring inequality, the network announced Tuesday. 

The series, "America Divided," will feature celebrity correspondents including Lear, Common, Poehler, Zach Galifianakis and America Ferrera investigating aspects of social, economic and political division. The series will premiere on the premium cable network in fall 2016. 

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"We thought this was an amazing opportunity to help raise the level of the dialogue and focus the conversation on the inequities that exist in our country," Epix Chief Executive Mark S. Greenberg told The Times. 

"It’s all of deep concern and paramount interest," added Lear, the producer behind such socially conscious, provocative sitcoms as "All in the Family," "Good Times" and "Maude. "The whole subject is a great part of my life."

Lear and Common will executive produce with Rhimes. The series was created by Lucian Read, Solly Granatstein and Richard Rowley, who previously collaborated on Showtime's climate change documentary series "Years of Living Dangerously." 

The series will air in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, but Lear, long associated with liberal politics, insists it is not advancing any particular agenda. 

"I never think of myself as coming at it from any place but love of America," he told The Times. "I’m not there to doubt anybody’s patriotism and I don’t think I have to wear a button to prove I’m an American and I care. This kind of involvement says much more than that button."

The series will be made available at a later date on Hulu, Amazon and Sony Vue, widening its reach beyond the Epix subscriber base, Greenberg said. 

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