Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classicby Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
"Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's deft weave of social history and sharp entertainment reporting explains how [The Mary Tyler Moore Show] made the world safe for Lena Dunham" (Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls)—the making of a classic and groundbreaking TV show, as experienced by its producers, writers, and cast.
When writer-producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns dreamed up an edgy show about a divorced woman with a career, the CBS executives they pitched replied: “American audiences won’t tolerate divorce in a series’ lead any more than they will tolerate Jews, people with mustaches, and people who live in New York.”
Forty years later, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of the most beloved and recognizable television shows of all time. It was an inspiration to a generation of women who wanted to have it all in an era when everything seemed possible.
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted tells the stories behind the making of this popular classic, introducing the groundbreaking female writers who lent real-life stories to their TV scripts; the men who created the indelible characters; the lone woman network executive who cast the legendary ensemble—and advocated for this provocative show—and the colorful cast of actors who made it all work. James L. Brooks, Grant Tinker, Allan Burns, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel—they all came together to make a show that changed women’s lives and television itself. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted is the tale of how they did it.
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Meet the Author
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She writes about pop culture for several publications, including The New York Times Book Review, Fast Company, New York‘s Vulture, BBC Culture, Entertainment Weekly, and others. She grew up in Homer Glen, Illinois, and now lives in New York City. Visit her online at JenniferKArmstrong.com.
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If you're a fan of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW or even just interested in how a TV show is created, nurtured and maintained, they you will love this book. Far from an instant classic sitcom, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW surmounted numerable hurdles (apathetic TV executives, dismissive early reviews, a shaky pilot shooting that had to be redone, lackluster initial ratings) before it became the classic we appreciate today. This is filled with the kind of fascinating behind-the-scenes stories that you usually find in books by Peter Biskind (EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS and DOWN AND DIRTY PICTURES among others). Jennifer Keishin Armstrong starts with the show's two head producers James L. Books and Alan Burns and their determination to create a comedy that was smart and hip and about a 30 year old woman who was (gasp!) not married and never had been. Early on they decide that a show about a woman needs female writers and so they began seeking and nurturing female writers to the show. Over the course of the book, we follow the lives of the producers, the writers and the cast as they work to create magic. This is a wonderful book; a fast read and obviously an affectionate tribute to the TV show.
I enjoyed this book. It has excellent details regarding the cast, crew, and the whole process of the show itself.