The Emmy Awards are this Sunday, and as good as the acting may be, it’s really about what they’re saying. Writing can make or break a sitcom. And it always helps when the writer can get into the mind of all kinds of people. A criticism so often heard about Hollywood is the lack of diversity, especially in the writers’ room. Even now, in 2017, there aren’t that many women at the table so imagine what it was like in the early ‘70s. Susan Silver was there. Silver wrote for shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and Square Pegs. She sheds details of those days in her latest book, Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets and Sitcoms, and gives us the juicy “behind the scenes” view.
I AM THRILLED INTO CAPITAL LETTERS!
This great interview in print and on podcast brought the book up to #9 on the Amazon Kindle list! Very appreciative…hope you enjoy.
‘Mary Tyler Moore’ writer tells all about her life among Hollywood’s A-listers
By Stephanie Nolasco
Published August 24, 2017
When TV director Garry Marshall helped Susan Silver land a writing gig on a sitcom called “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in 1971, she thought nothing about bringing the leading lady to life.
“I thought I wasn’t allowed to make anything up,” Silver told Fox News. “That’s how naive I was. So I went in with stories from my own life. And they thought I was so brilliant! I wasn’t.”
Silver, one of the original writers behind the hit show about a news producer living in Minneapolis, relied on her own personal misadventures, which inspired new episodes. Silver insisted it worked because other women could easily identity with them. She described her tales in her new memoir, titled “Hot Pants in Hollywood.”
“Every woman I know loves their best friend more than anything, but you don’t necessarily want to have them in your workplace, too,” said Silver. “When Rhoda [Valerie Harper] lost her job and there was a position available at the station, Mary kind of hesitated… I think we all have those feelings. I just pitched stories from my own life.”
The one idea Silver did not come up with was the concept of having a character who was single.
“It started out that she was supposed to be divorced,” said Silver. “And the network said, ‘No, no, we can’t have a divorced woman because they’ll think she divorced [former co-star] Dick Van Dyke, because she had been the wife on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’”
And not all of Silver’s past experiences made it on the screen. Before she took on the role, the comedy writer from Wisconsin attended UCLA where she befriend a poet who would go on to become a rock star.
“[Jim Morrison], he was my pal,” she described. “Jim Morrison was not the guy that we know from The Doors in college. He was very preppy… He had that little bowl haircut. He was very shy. He was a poet. And we used to hang out in the theater department of UCLA. He always had these poems.”
Silver recalled how Morrison befriended a biker name Max Schwartz, who ultimately became a prominent beatnik poet in San Francisco. She claimed it was Schwartz who inspired Morrison to take on a new look.
“[Schwartz] wore a lot of leather and had long hair,” she recalled. “I believe Jim took his persona, I really do. Because that’s the kind of persona he developed. He was so shy, quiet, and clean cut. But years later when I saw Jim at the Troubadour, it was like who’s that? It was another person.”
Silver also told us about an unwanted encounter with another future star. In 1963, a family friend, who was managing a new comedian named Bill Cosby, suggested he could drive her home after attending a party for “Hootenanny,” a musical variety show on ABC. It was one of Cosby’s first TV appearances. She revealed how Cosby seemed interested in giving her a chance to collaborate with him.
“He said, ‘I’ve just done my first album. Would you like to work on my second?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding? Of course I would,’” she said. “I was so excited. We got to my apartment and he lunged at me and I did the Lucille Ball, falling out of the car with my legs up in the air.