MARY AND LOU AND RHODA AND TED by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Kirkus Star


And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic
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The juicy, entertaining and informative behind-the-scenes story of a great American sitcom that left a lasting influence on popular TV.

In this delicious history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, former Entertainment Weekly writer Armstrong (Why? Because We Still Like You: An Oral History of the Mickey Mouse Club, 2010) seems to have had the cooperation of just about everyone involved in the show’s making, and the results are riveting. Starting at the very beginning, she shows how this particular phenomenon was the result of a lot of elements coming together at the same time: a popular star, a creative team with a then-daring idea of a show about an independent woman, and, contrary to the fears of network bosses, a receptive viewership. Armstrong traces the evolution of the show, properly focusing on the creative team of James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, who knew exactly the character they wanted, what kind of comic tone they wanted to set, and were smart enough to hire great women writers who used their own lives and experiences to shape the world of Mary Richards and Rhoda Morganstern. Armstrong reveals how much of the show’s success had to do with unpredictable factors—e.g., a casting agent who happened to see Valerie Harper on stage and suddenly thought, “That’s our Rhoda." The author also gives great inside detail on all the major players in front of the camera, from the insecurities of actor Ted Knight, to the friction between Gavin MacLeod and Cloris Leachman, to a married and somewhat conservative star who wasn’t all that inclined to consider herself liberated.

For any fan of the show or TV history in general, this book is pure pleasure.

Pub Date: May 7th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5920-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2013


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Kirkus Interview
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
author of SEINFELDIA
August 22, 2016

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s new bestseller Seinfeldia is the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld —the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world. Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly 40 million Americans were tuning in weekly. In Seinfeldia, TV historian and entertainment writer Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!” “Armstrong’s intimate, breezy history is full of gossipy details, show trivia, and insights into how famous episodes came to be,” our reviewer writes. “Perfect for Seinfeldians and newcomers alike.” View video >


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