Mary Tyler Moore had a memorable time on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which aired for seven seasons and was created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns. The brilliant delivery of her role as Mary Richards on the show was so iconic that it earned her critical acclaim and several awards, which included four Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, while the show itself won numerous accolades, including Outstanding Comedy Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards for three consecutive years (1975-1977).
Despite the success and seeming smooth run of the sitcom, Robert Levine, Moore’s widower and executive director of the upcoming documentary, Being Mary Tyler Moore, which gives some behind the scene details of the late actress’s life, has revealed that the beloved sitcom was almost rendered dead even before its first broadcast.
New Documentary reveals that ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ was almost never aired
Levine revealed in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment that the CBS top officials found the demo of the show unsatisfactory and insisted on specific adjustments to be made. “It did not test well, and the network executives came to them and said, ‘Fix it,'” Dr. Robert Levine admitted to the news outlet. “That test pilot just didn’t work in the way that the show could. Obviously, once they got all the kinks out, it definitely worked. It’s quite an extraordinary story the way we tell it in the movie.”
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The executive director of the movie also revealed that the test pilot for the series, written by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, was shot under extremely unfavorable conditions and thus had a negative influence on the result. “It’s a little bit flat,” he noted. “Clearly, the writing is there, but they were growing together as a group and were also in a tough spot [with CBS].”
Robert Levine reveals the adjustment made to the demo of ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’
The 68-year-old stated that the show creator James L. Brooks, Mary Tyler Moore, and Grant Tinker, who was Moore’s husband at the time and co-founder of MTM Productions, took action by revising the script and conducting a reshoot of the test pilot in response to the network’s request. “They really didn’t do too much,” Levine explained. “As Jim says in the documentary, they shifted some lines around and cut it down, which is what it needed. They also had Phyllis’s daughter, Bess, express affection for Rhoda, which automatically made her character more likable.”
Levine also disclosed that removing Mary Tyler Moore’s narration and allowing Sonny Curtis’s timeless theme song, “Love Is All Around,” become the overture in the final pilot was the perfect ingredient that made the show relatable to the audience. “It sets the tone for what we’re about to see,” He admitted. “We’re about to see an optimistic story about Mary’s positive future and great potential. When you set the table that way, the rest of the show feels that much better.”
Watch the trailer for the documentary below: