Mary Tyler Moore, 'All In the Family' to stage reunions on CBS next month

January 17, 1991|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles

"At first, I said it can't be done, because the memory of the show is too pure and respected," Mary Tyler Moore said yesterday. "But now I'm all for it."

Mary's coming back. So is Lou. So is Archie, Edith and Meathead, too.

CBS yesterday rolled out its February "sweeps" ratings strategy: reunions and retrospectives of shows that have earned a spot in our national memory.

On Feb. 16, CBS will air the "All In The Family 20th Anniversary Special." On Feb. 17, Carol Burnett will host "The Very Best of The Ed Sullivan Show," and on Feb. 18, the network will offer "Mary Tyler Moore: The 20th Anniversary Show."

Moore, Ed Asner and three producers from the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" met with television critics to promote the special here yesterday. Norman Lear and Rob Reiner also held a press conference to promote the "All In The Family" reunion.

Allan Burns, one of the show's creators, said that originally the show called for Mary Richards to be divorced. "We thought that in 1970 we could do a show about divorce, which had never been done," Burns said.

But Burns said CBS vetoed the show because they thought viewers would be confused and think that Richards had been divorced from Rob Petrie, the character played by Dick Van Dyke in "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which had just ended its run. Moore played Laura Petrie, Rob's wife in that CBS show.

Burns said that he and co-creator James Brooks told CBS they would show her ex-husband in an early episode and people could see it wasn't Dick Van Dyke.

"But the research guy from CBS said there were three or four things viewers wouldn't tolerate: divorced people, people from New York, people with mustaches and Jews," Burns said.

During the "All In The Family" press conference, Reiner said he can't shake the "Meathead" tag put on him by Archie Bunker.

"Think about it," Reiner said, "who hung that name on me? An ignorant racist [Archie Bunker]. It wasn't Gore Vidal. And, yet, everybody accepts it." Yeah, Meathead.

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