Mary Tyler Moore TV show praised by city council; criticized by house owner

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MPR’s Connie Goldman reports on the differing opinions of the Mary Tyler Moore TV show, which is set in Minneapolis.

Councilman John Derus says he loves the Mary Tyler Moore show because it takes place in Minneapolis and it gives the city free advertising. Other cities must buy time, but we don’t have to pay anything, it shows different scenes of city. To recognize the show for the PR work it's done for the city, the Minneapolis City Council passes resolution thanking the show for being a good show and using Minneapolis for its base.

Mrs. Clayton Giese is homeowner of house used in show. Paula Giese recounts on crew shooting with Mary Tyler Moore before show was on the air and how show has had negative effect for her. She says people come to the door all the time asking if Mary Tyler Moore lives there, and sightseeing bus tours come by. She doesn’t like the way the show depicts Minneapolis.

Segment opens with theme song from Mary Tyler Moore TV show.


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SPEAKER 1: Mary Tyler Moore.


(SINGING) Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well, it's you girl, and you should know it. With each glance and every little movement, you show it. Love is all around, no need to waste it. You're gonna make it after all.

JOHN DERRIS: I love the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I think it's a funny show. I think that all the people in it are great. I like it so much because it was recorded in front of a live audience, but especially because it takes place in Minneapolis. And it gives us all kinds of free advertising. You see on television, Ontario, Georgia, different cities across the United States are constantly buying TV time and plugging their own cities.

And we get this for nothing. They come in, they pan in on the opening shots as Minneapolis-Saint Paul and a shot of the mall. And it shows different scenes in Minneapolis, the lakes, the houses right over here by Lake of the Isles, I guess. I thought it would be a great idea if we recognize the fact that they were doing so much for us in PR work. And so we sponsored a resolution through the city council thanking the Mary Tyler Moore Show for being such a good television show and using Minneapolis for its base.

CONNIE GOLDMAN: Alderman John Derris' resolution was unanimously adopted by the Minneapolis City Council. The essence of the proclamation read something like this. Whereas, the Mary Tyler Moore Show is an imaginatively produced series, has captured and reflected the feel of the city of Minneapolis, and has established a real empathy for an identity with its people and places. Therefore, be it resolved by the city council of the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota that the council and the people of Minneapolis extend congratulations and many thanks to the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

But one Twin City resident is a little less enthusiastic, Mrs. Clayton Giese, the homeowner whose residence was used in the filming of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

MRS. CLAYTON GIESE: Well, I understand that the producer of the show simply drove around this area, and looked at different houses, and said, zonk, that one. At any rate, that's what he told me. He came to the door, and knocked, and said, would you like to have your house on television? And I said, sure, sure, put the house on television. I don't care. Go away, don't bother me. And so he said, OK, sign here, which I did.

And so the next day, they were there with a crew out in the street. And Mary Tyler Moore came in and out the front door about 9,000 times in different costumes. I paid very little attention to this because I was on the phone. There was a crowd of neighborhood kids and stuff, but the show wasn't on the air. So it was a kind uh, while they're shooting it for TV.

Mary Tyler Moore apprehensively said hello to me, I think, when she first came in the door. And she had this look on her face, are you going to ask me for an autograph or some damn thing like that? And I said sort of hello and went on talking on the phone. And then she went out the door, and came back in the door, and went out the door, and came back in the door. I mean, I think we were on different wavelengths really.

CONNIE GOLDMAN: Do you think that that publicity for the city of Minneapolis has done personally any advantage?

MRS. CLAYTON GIESE: Oh, hell, no. I mean, we have-- excuse me, heck, no. We have-- people are coming to the door all the time saying, does Mary Tyler Moore live here? There's this bus that comes past the door. And it did us some bad, I guess I could say. I think the conductors of the scenic tour, this is a Mary Tyler Moore house. I got annoyed because there were weeds growing on the bus stop, which the city used to cut. And the city doesn't cut them anymore.

Well, this inspector said, you got to cut those weeds by the fence. And so I had to go through really heavy homeowner, taxpayer, housewife, government interfering with us private citizens number to be allowed to keep my little blue weeds with their pretty little flowers along the fence, offensive though that may be to those who are coming to look at the house that Mary Tyler Moore lives in.

But the funny thing about that show is that it's really not about Minneapolis at all. I mean, here's this one physical landmark. And then there's the montage at the beginning where she's driving along. And you can look and say, there's Nicollet Mall, a flash of it. But it really could be anything. It could be any department store anywhere.

The show doesn't have, well, distinctive events that are characteristic of the city. Perhaps they might, but somehow I can't quite-- it's an escapist show. And it's not likely that Mary Tyler Moore is going to take on pollution in Lake Calhoun or something like that. Although it'd be interesting to see an escape show that was done that way. But I mean, it's plastic city USA. And I guess I don't think that's such a good image for Minneapolis.


CONNIE GOLDMAN: This is Connie Goldman, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the city of Mary Tyler Moore.



Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

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