A comedy special made CBS offer Mary Tyler Moore a thirteen-episode deal for the Mary Tyler Moore Show

Looks like the special helped Moore make it after all.

By the time Mary Tyler Moore finished her run on The Dick Van Dyke Show, it wasn’t immediately clear when or if we’d ever see her on our television screens again. However, it was actually the love and appreciation that she got from her fans that led her into the next venture that was sure to change her life: The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

According to Sally Bedell Smith’s book, Up The Tube: Prime-Time TV and the Silverman Years, The Dick Van Dyke Show ended by Van Dyke’s choice, as he had decided to move on from the show in 1966. After this, Moore departed from television to go to Broadway before starring in a few different films. However, in 1969, Van Dyke was starring in a comedy special on CBS and invited Moore to co-star with him.

Apparently, the reunion was wildly popular, and Moore’s stage presence was just as powerful as ever. More importantly, the reunion gave CBS executives an idea. Smith wrote, “When the show earned both big ratings and rave reviews, CBS offered Moore a tantalizing commitment deal. If she would do a series, they would guarantee to buy thirteen episodes for the 1970 season.”

You might notice that there’s one thing missing from this series proposition: A plot. CBS was so confident in Moore’s success and promise as an actress that they were willing to sign on for thirteen episodes with nothing assured but Moore’s presence in the series. At that point, Moore’s husband Grant Tinker, former programming chief of NBC, teamed up with Moore’s manager, Arthur Price to hire James Brooks and Allan Burns, two writers tasked with creating a series for Moore to star in. There, Brooks and Burns slowly conceived the bones of what would become The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

This doesn’t mean that the show went off without a hitch from conception to production. Brooks and Burns originally planned for Mary Richards to be a divorcee, which CBS executives balked at. After a meeting with executives had gone awry, Brooks and Burns told CBS programmer Alan Wagner that they wanted to quit.

Still, Wagner and Tinker worked together to reach a compromise. It was decided that Mary Richards would come to Minneapolis after a broken engagement, not a marriage. Executives also tried to push back at other aspects of the show, like the Minneapolis setting, but Tinker persevered and eventually won the battle to keep many elements of the show true to the vision of Brooks and Burns.

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11 Comments

LoveMETV22 5 months ago
" By the time Mary Tyler Moore finished her run on The Dick Van Dyke Show, it wasn’t immediately clear when or if we’d ever see her on our television screens again."
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Fortunately we did. "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was/is a great sitcom. Glad they decided to do a documentary on her life and career.
"Being Mary Tyler Moore."
top_cat_james_1 5 months ago
The special "MeTV Staff" is referring to is DICK VAN DYKE AND THE OTHER WOMAN, and is from 1969, not 1966. CBS did not wait four years to put TMTMS on the air. Stellar research as usual, guys! You quote from a book, and still can't get it right.

Complete special here:
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5xgc7e
i think what they meant is that it was 4 years between DVD & MTM!
Whaaa? That's not what they implied at all. They got the year of the special wrong, which screws up the timeline ( and couldn't even bother to name the special!). The supposed genesis of this article is from a book that they either misquote or didn't read. Just poor research and writing all the way around.


I was refering to the 2 sitcoms, but you are right about DVDATOW being in 1969! I just barely remember watching it when I was 10!
Cougar90 5 months ago
In the 1970 new shows issue (A must buy at my house) they still had Mary as divorced.
cperrynaples Cougar90 5 months ago
I assume you mean TV Guide! I have this year's preview issue, it's horrible! But yes Mary Richards was going to be divorced until everyone assumed that she divorced Dick Van Dyke! PS I've seen the rough version of Mary's interview with Lou and you can tell why it was reshot!
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 5 months ago
Yes. The "rough" version is just that....Interesting to watch though. LOL! There is a website that features a lot of those promo and rough takes. Can't think of the name @ the moment.... although most of the videos on that website are on their own embedded video player.
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 5 months ago
Well, I can tell you I saw the first take of the interview on YouTube! As I remember, it didn't have the "spunk" joke!
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 5 months ago
I've seen two of that outtake on Youtube, same interview though. One is a side by side comparison of the original compared to the actually aired. The other is a network promo for the episode.
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 5 months ago
They're all pretty interesting though.
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