Grant Tinker

Executive / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his five-hour Archive interview, legendary television executive Grant Tinker (1926-2016) describes his first encounter with NBC, as one of the company's first interns back in 1949 and recounts his work as part of NBC radio. He comments on his move to advertising agencies McCann-Erickson and Benton & Bowles, where he served as an executive working with television programs. Tinker recalls his involvement with The Danny Thomas Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, among others and discusses working with Sheldon Leonard and meeting Mary Tyler Moore, whom he would later marry. He outlines co-founding MTM Enterprises, a successful production company known for the critically acclaimed programs The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Lou Grant, The White Shadow, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere. He also discusses his return to and rise at NBC television, to the position of chairman and CEO, and shares a bit of trivia about the NBC chimes. Morrie Gelman conducted the interview on April 8, 1998 in Bel Air, CA.

"That was the boutique aspect of MTM. There was nothing we HAD to do because we had thousands of people on the payroll. We just did the things that appealed to us, some of which didn't appeal to others, so they became failed pilots or whatever."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Grant Tinker on the creation of MTM
Grant Tinker on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show
Grant Tinker on creating the environment of MTM
Grant Tinker on the NBC chimes
Grant Tinker on his soothing effect on colleagues at NBC and "first be best, then be first"
Grant Tinker on his affinity for multi-camera shows
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and education; on growing up during the Depression; on how his mother being deaf impacted him; on loving books and listening to the radio; On Darthmouth and the Air Corps; on wanting to work in publishing after graduation
On his start in broadcasting at NBC radio as the first trainee; on working at Radio Free Europe; on returning to the U.S., heading West; on meeting Allen Ludden and creating College Quiz Bowl for radio; on starting in television

Chapter 2

On working in radio and developing New Talent USA; on leaving radio to become vice president of program development at McCann Erickson; on agencies' involvement in television series; on Revlon and the Quiz Show scandals; on working for ad agency Warwick & Legler; on Charles Revson of Revlon
On working for Benton & Bowles advertising; on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show; on his divorce from his first wife and second marriage to Mary Tyler Moore; on heading West Coast Programming at NBC

Chapter 3

On how the Quiz Show scandals changed the relationship between advertising agencies and television shows; on shared advertising on The Dick Van Dyke Show; on ad agencies breeding future television executives; on his relationships with multiple television shows while at Benton & Bowles advertising agency
On Mort Werner bringing Tinker back to NBC after his time at Benton & Bowles; on NBC and shows he was associated with in the 1960s; on David Wolper's contributions to syndication

Chapter 4

On his colleagues at NBC; on how NBC got Get Smart; on turning down Bewitched   for NBC; on the MCA-Universal-NBC link; on developing movies for television
On NBC's The Name of the Game; on his allegiance to The Dick Van Dyke Show;  on the TV business landscape at the time of The Dick Van Dyke Show; on his transfer to New York and breaking his contract to return to California; on working for Universal

Chapter 5

On leaving Universal and working for William Self, head of 20th Century Fox Television; on the creation of MTM and the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
On casting The Mary Tyler Moore Show;  on fighting Mike Dann to get The Mary Tyler Moore Show  on the air; on the pilot testing poorly; on CBS and NBC Executives and Paul Klein's least objectionable programming

Chapter 6

On establishing MTM Productions; on network executives he worked with while he was at MTM - Bob Wood, Mike Dann and Fred Silverman; on The Mary Tyler Moore Show garnering numerous Emmys and the end of the series
On Lou Grant and its cancellation after four years; on Steven Bochco and Bruce Paltrow; on MTM being known for comedies during its early years

Chapter 7

On running MTM Productions with his staff: Arthur Price, Stu Irwin and Mel Blumenthal; on the end of his marriage to Mary Tyler Moore, but continued friendship with her; on returning to NBC in 1981 and his regrets about leaving MTM; on working with Brandon Tartikoff; on the shows that saved NBC
On 1983's record number of Emmy nominations for NBC; on his controversy with TV Guide; on speaking at Harvard University; on firing Howard Stern; on his confrontation with Judd Hirsch at the Emmys; on his Chairman's council; on his soothing effect on colleagues at NBC and "first be best, then be first"

Chapter 8

On his team that resuscitated NBC; on leaving NBC in September 1986 to return to TV production on the West Coast, just as GE bought RCA; on Jack Welch naming Bob Wright President of NBC; on his theory on broadcasting
On life after leaving NBC and how the economy of the business had changed; on GTG and GNET; on making a deal with CBS; on his shows WILU and TV 101; on industry affairs and ageism
On the key to programming success; on the future of commercial networks 

Chapter 9

On the future of independent production companies; on advertising; on cable and the 500 channel universe; on the role of network executives; on his time at MTM
On some of the individuals he has worked with over the years; on "Hill Street Station"

Chapter 10

On some of the individuals he's worked with during his career; on the three wonderful women that have been a part of his life
Shows

90 Bristol Court

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Grant Tinker on NBC's 90 Bristol Court

Andy Williams Show, The

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Grant Tinker on representing The Andy Williams show while at Benton & Bowles

Bewitched

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Grant Tinker on turning down Bewitched for NBC 

Bob Newhart Show, The (1972-78)

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Grant Tinker on the creation of The Bob Newhart Show at MTM

Cheers

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Grant Tinker on Les Charles and Glen Charles - creators of Cheers

Dean Martin Show, The

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Grant Tinker on Greg Garrison producing The Dean Martin Show

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

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Grant Tinker on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show
Grant Tinker on CBS' James T. Aubrey canceling The Dick Van Dyke Show after its first season, and Sheldon Leonard's reaction
Grant Tinker on Mary Tyler Moore getting cast on The Dick Van Dyke Show and shared advertising on the show
Grant Tinker on his allegiance to The Dick Van Dyke Show 

Get Smart

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Grant Tinker on how NBC got Get Smart

Hill Street Blues

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Grant Tinker on Hill Street Blues

I Spy

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Grant Tinker on Sheldon Leonard wanting to do I Spy

Lou Grant

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Grant Tinker on MTM's Lou Grant

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Grant Tinker on the creation of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Grant Tinker on the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Grant Tinker on The Mary Tyler Moore Show garnering numerous Emmys (29 total); on the end of the series

Name of the Game, The

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Grant Tinker on NBC's The Name of the Game

Paris

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Grant Tinker on Bruce Paltrow and Steven Bochco's shows before MTM's successes

Room 222

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Grant Tinker on meeting James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, through leaving Universal for Fox

Taxi

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Grant Tinker on his confrontation with Judd Hirsch at the Emmys

White Shadow, The

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Grant Tinker on the success of MTM's The White Shadow
Topics

Emmy Awards

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Grant Tinker on The Mary Tyler Moore Show garnering numerous Emmys (29 total) - the most for one show, ever
Grant Tinker on his confrontation with Judd Hirsch at the Emmys

Media Consolidation

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Grant Tinker on Jack Welch buying RCA

Minorities

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Grant Tinker on diversity on television in the 1960s
Grant Tinker on the lack of diversity in television

Quiz Show Scandals

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Grant Tinker on Revlon and the Quiz Show scandals
Grant Tinker on how the Quiz Show scandals changed the relationship between advertising agencies and television shows

Technological Innovation

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Grant Tinker on NBC moving to color television

Women

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Grant Tinker on the lack of diversity in television
Professions

Television Executive

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Grant Tinker on leaving MTM to become Chairman of NBC
Genres

Comedy Series

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Grant Tinker on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show
Grant Tinker on CBS' James T. Aubrey canceling The Dick Van Dyke Show after its first season, and Sheldon Leonard's reaction
Grant Tinker on how NBC got Get Smart
Grant Tinker on the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Drama Series

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Grant Tinker on Lou Grant
People

Don Adams

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Grant Tinker on how NBC got Get Smart

David Adams

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Grant Tinker on NBC's David Adams

Edward Asner

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Grant Tinker on casting The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Grant Tinker on Lou Grant's Ed Asner
Grant Tinker on Ed Asner

James T. Aubrey

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Grant Tinker on CBS' James T. Aubrey canceling The Dick Van Dyke Show after its first season, and Sheldon Leonard's reaction

Joan Bennett

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Grant Tinker on MCA's head of television Jennings Lang

Steven Bochco

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Grant Tinker on Steven Bochco
Grant Tinker on Steven Bochco

James L. Brooks

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Grant Tinker on the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Mel Brooks

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Grant Tinker on how NBC got Get Smart

Charlotte Brown

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Grant Tinker on writer Charlotte Brown

Allan Burns

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Grant Tinker on the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Robert Butler

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Grant Tinker on Robert Butler, director crucial to Hill Street Blues' success

Glenn Gordon Caron

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Grant Tinker on Glenn Gordon Caron

Marcy Carsey

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Grant Tinker on the success of Carsey Werner productions

Glen Charles

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Grant Tinker on Les Charles and Glen Charles

Les Charles

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Grant Tinker on Les Charles and Glen Charles

Dan Curtis

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Grant Tinker on Dan Curtis

Stan Daniels

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Grant Tinker on Stan Daniels

Michael Dann

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Grant Tinker on paying tribute to Mort Werner
Grant Tinker on Mike Dann's reaction to The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Grant Tinker on CBS executive Mike Dann

Dave Davis

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Grant Tinker on MTM staff - Dave Davis

Dick Van Dyke

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Grant Tinker on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show

Bob Elliott

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Grant Tinker on working for Bob and Ray's agent, John Moses

Norman Felton

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Grant Tinker on Norman Felton bringing shows from MGM
Grant Tinker on Norman Felton

Bob Finkel

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Grant Tinker on producer Bob Finkel

Greg Garrison

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Grant Tinker on Greg Garrison producing The Dean Martin Show

Gary David Goldberg

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Grant Tinker on Gary David Goldberg

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Grant Tinker on Leonard Goldenson's part in the industry moving West
Grant Tinker on Leonard Goldenson

Julian Goodman

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Grant Tinker on mixed feelings Julian Goodman, former NBC News President

Ray Goulding

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Grant Tinker on working for Bob and Ray's agent, John Moses

Lawrence K. Grossman

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Grant Tinker on Larry Grossman, former NBC News President

Valerie Harper

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Grant Tinker on casting The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Grant Tinker on the family setting of The Mary Tyler Moore Show  
Grant Tinker on Valerie Harper

Buck Henry

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Grant Tinker on how NBC got Get Smart

Judd Hirsch

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Grant Tinker on his confrontation with Judd Hirsch at the Emmys

Paul King

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Grant Tinker on Paul King

Robert E. Kintner

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Grant Tinker on turning down Bewitched for NBC

Paul L. Klein

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Grant Tinker on NBC Executive Paul Klein and lowest objectionable programming

Ted Knight

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Grant Tinker on the family setting of The Mary Tyler Moore Show  

Michael Kozoll

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Grant Tinker on Michael Kozoll

Jennings Lang

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Grant Tinker on MCA's head of television Jennings Lang, inventor of movies for television
Grant Tinker on running into Jennings Lang and going to work for Universal

Bill Lawrence

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Grant Tinker on the success of Bill Lawrence

Cloris Leachman

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Grant Tinker on the family setting of The Mary Tyler Moore Show  

Sheldon Leonard

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Grant Tinker on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show
Grant Tinker on CBS' James T. Aubrey canceling The Dick Van Dyke Show after its first season, and Sheldon Leonard's reaction
Grant Tinker on first meeting Sheldon Leonard; on casting Mary Tyler Moore in The Dick Van Dyke Show
Grant Tinker on Sheldon Leonard wanting to do I Spy

Allen Ludden

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Grant Tinker on meeting Allen Ludden and creating College Quiz Bowl for radio
Grant Tinker on friend and colleague Allen Ludden

John Mitchell

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Grant Tinker on turning down Bewitched for NBC; on his friendship with John Mitchell

Mary Tyler Moore

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Grant Tinker on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show
Grant Tinker on Mary Tyler Moore getting cast on The Dick Van Dyke Show
Grant Tinker on the development of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Grant Tinker on the family setting of The Mary Tyler Moore Show  
Grant Tinker on stars wanting to work within the environment of MTM
Grant Tinker on the end of his marriage to Mary Tyler Moore, but continued friendship with her

John Moses

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Grant Tinker on agent John Moses

Lorenzo Music

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Grant Tinker on Lorenzo Music

Bob Newhart

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Grant Tinker on stars wanting to work within the environment of MTM

William S. Paley

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Grant Tinker on CBS founder Bill Paley

Bruce Paltrow

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Grant Tinker on Bruce Paltrow

Tom Patchett

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Grant Tinker on Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses

Arthur Price

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Grant Tinker on his number two at MTM Enterprises, Arthur Price

Carl Reiner

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Grant Tinker on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show

Charles Revson

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Grant Tinker on meetings with Charles Revson of Revlon

Gene Reynolds

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Grant Tinker on Lou Grant producer Gene Reynolds

Lee Rich

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Grant Tinker on meeting Lee Rich at Benton & Bowles and supervising shows
Grant Tinker on Lee Rich fighting networks 
Grant Tinker on paying tribute to Mort Werner
Grant Tinker on paying tribute to Mort Werner

Jay Sandrich

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Grant Tinker on casting and crewing up for The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Thomas W. Sarnoff

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Grant Tinker on Lew Wasserman's deal with Thomas Sarnoff at NBC
Grant Tinker on Tom Sarnoff

Robert Sarnoff

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Grant Tinker on Robert Sarnoff

Herbert S. Schlosser

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Grant Tinker on working with Herb Schlosser at NBC

Irwin Segelstein

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Grant Tinker on meeting Irwin Segelstein at Benton & Bowles and supervising shows
Grant Tinker on Irwin Segelstein

William Self

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Grant Tinker on working for William Self, head of 20th Century Fox Television

Sid Sheinberg

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Grant Tinker on MCA's lawyer Sid Sheinberg

Fred Silverman

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Grant Tinker on CBS Executive Fred Silverman
Grant Tinker on CBS executive Fred Silverman
Grant Tinker on NBC executives Brandon Tartikoff and Fred Silverman

Frank Stanton

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Grant Tinker on CBS' Frank Stanton

Jules Stein

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Grant Tinker on Jules Stein and Lew Wasserman

Howard Stern

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Grant Tinker on firing Howard Stern

Jay Tarses

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Grant Tinker on Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses

Brandon Tartikoff

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Grant Tinker on NBC executive and friend, Brandon Tartikoff

Danny Thomas

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Grant Tinker on the development and sponsorship of The Dick Van Dyke Show
Grant Tinker on Mary Tyler Moore getting cast on The Dick Van Dyke Show

Ray Timothy

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Grant Tinker on Ray Timothy

Lew Wasserman

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Grant Tinker on Lew Wasserman giving up MCA and keeping Universal Studios
Grant Tinker on Jules Stein and Lew Wasserman

Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver

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Grant Tinker on paying tribute to Mort Werner
Grant Tinker on Pat Weaver

Ed. Weinberger

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Grant Tinker on Ed. Weinberger

Jack Welch

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Grant Tinker on Jack Welch buying RCA

Tom Werner

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Grant Tinker on the success of Carsey Werner productions

Mort Werner

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Grant Tinker on Mort Werner bringing him back to NBC after Benton & Bowles; on Werner's death; on his role at NBC
Grant Tinker on how NBC got Get Smart

Ethel Winant

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Grant Tinker on casting agent Ethel Winant

David L. Wolper

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Grant Tinker on David Wolper's contributions to syndication

Robert D. Wood

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Grant Tinker on CBS Executive Robert D. Wood canceling the rural comedies on CBS to take on what would become historically important shows
Grant Tinker on executives he worked with while he was at MTM

Bob Wright

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Grant Tinker on Jack Welch's decision to make Bob Wright President of NBC after Tinker's departure

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