Mary Tyler Moore Cast Reunites CBS Special
By Josef Adalian
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Television's raging love affair with all things retro continues as CBS brings back the cast of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" for a one-hour reunion special set to air next month.
The special is the latest effort by CBS and other networks to pack their May ratings "sweeps" with nostalgic programming following the jaw-dropping success of last November's "Carol Burnett Show" special on CBS.
ABC on Thursday announced plans for an hour-long "Laverne & Shirley" special to be produced under the "Entertainment Tonight" banner. ABC also will reunite the stars of reality granddad "That's Incredible!" for an hour-long special, salute 50 years of "American Bandstand" and air two branded clip-fests produced in association with TV Guide and E! Entertainment Television.
Last week, CBS unveiled an hour-long 50th-anniversary salute to "The Honeymooners" and a two-hour tribute to the network's storied Television City studios.
Fox also is developing some retro-specials that could air in May -- including a possible "Three's Company" reunion -- while NBC is devoting the entire month to a celebration of its 75th anniversary as a radio and TV broadcaster, airing a slew of reunions and highlight shows.
The "MTM" reunion special, which began taping Thursday for broadcast at 10 p.m. May 13, will reunite Moore with co-stars Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Cloris Leachman and Georgia Engel.
Moore, serving as host, will reminisce with her fellow cast mates about their days working together on the Emmy-winning CBS smash, which aired from 1970-77.
The show also will honor late "MTM" star Ted Knight with a segment featuring memorable moments from his role as egocentric anchor Ted Baxter.
Special executive producer Gary Smith came up with the idea of having Moore interview her former co-stars one-on-one, giving a more intimate feel to the hour.
"We've all seen people sitting on a couch talking about, 'Do you remember this or that,"' Moore told Daily Variety. "We do have some of that in this special, but Gary had the idea of doing a more introspective analysis of who we are as actors and how that (impacted) our characters."
Moore said the result should be a special that's "fresh and different" from previous reunion shows.
Smith believes the hour will be "very personal," giving viewers "a sense of what Mary felt while she was doing this show. They really were like family for her."
Moore and Smith are exec producing the spec, which is from Fox Television Studios via Foxstar.
The "MTM" special will go head-to-head with ABC's "TV Guide Presents the 50 Best Shows of All Time," an hour-long countdown tied to the magazine's 50th anniversary.
As for ABC's "'Entertainment Tonight' Presents: 'Laverne & Shirley' Together Again," the hour-long special will include interviews with Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams and many of the show's other regulars, along with previously unseen outtakes.