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June 29, 2006


Tom Quigley

I saw Mary Tyler Moore, who was still America's sweetheart at the time, receive her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was standing on the podium waiting for Johnny Grant and the other invited speakers to finish their remarks when she was suddenly dive-bombed by three or four wasps (the flying kind, not the ethnocentric species). Maybe they, along with you, Ken, already knew something about her that the rest of us had yet to find out about. -- BTW, saw Ringo two years ago when he was touring, and you're absolutely right. Sheila E. steals the show...

Joshua James

Mary doesn't have the best rep in theatre, either - But damn it, she made wearing slacks okay on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW! Oh well. Sigh. BTW, a friend of mine who is a professional stage manager worked on a show with Loretta Switt and stated, without exaggeration, that the woman was crazy. My friend is not given to pronouncements such as these (SM's like to project a worldly, I've-seen-everything perception) but backed up the statement with ancedontal empirical evidence. If only have of what she said was true, the woman needed professional help. I caught the show, Ken - pretty awesome - if you had a chance to do it again, would you have gone with Kathy Bates?Kathy Bates and Mary facing off? That'd be cool!

The Curmudgeon

An interesting and eclectic post -- but I'm so glad you've mentioned baseball (even though, as a life-long Chicagoan, I can't stand the Twinkies... which means, among other things, that I'm scared of Joe Mauer.Is there any chance you could address here how you managed to also become a baseball broadcaster in the midst of M*A*S*H (say, you're right, writing that out is a big pain...) and all your other writing successes?


Sheila E. is part of a VERY talented music family. Her uncle's name is Alejandro Escovedo, who records as a solo artist and is one of America's unknown treasures. In fact, he's a step above treasure. What's better than treasure? Alejandro Escovedo....remember the name and pick up one of his albums if you love music. A good one to start with is "A Man Under the Influence". Buy it. Buy it now.


Ringo was charming and it was “far out” hearing those Beatles songs sung by “the actual guy” but he wasn’t the best musician on stage. In fact, he wasn’t even the best drummer on stage.I once heard on NPR a segment where a rock critic(*) played clips of the Beatles with Pete Best on drums back-to-back with the same songs with Ringo on drums. It was astonishing. Ringo may not have been any better at playing the drums, but he was a far better drummer. The band just worked much better with him in it. Chalk it up to his Ringo-ness or something.(* It might have been Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick, whom I've also heard do the same thing with early Elvis clips. The upshot of the Elvis demonstration was that Elvis really became Elvis when he added back some R&B and slowed down his tempo -- compare his breakneck cover of Blue Suede Shoes with the more measured pace of Don't Be Cruel.)

Poodle Head

I like this post!It sounds like one of Burt Lancaster's columns in "Sweet Smell of Success"!!!you giving Sidney Falco to work?man, I can't WAIT to eat a big bowl of ice-cream while reading about MTM!!


Ken,I finally got to see the "My 1st Time" episode, and may I say what a handsome man you are. You look so much younger than I expected for a man who was successfully writing for TV in the 70's. Wow!!

Poodle Head

"you giving Sidney Falco to work?"no, this is not a mistake. It is my tribute to the late Vito Scotti.

Tom Dougherty

Uh...got an ETA on that book, Ken? No pressure or anything, but I usually read on my lunch break, and it's already 11:45.Oh- and did you see the eps of That 70s Show with MTM as a TV harpy colored with a generous marbling of Cruella DeVille? THAT must have brought on the shakes.

poor man

Ken, thanks for the MASH memories. Any chance of some more anecdotes from working on Cheers?Thanks.


The scene when the woman suffocates her child because she is afraid if Hawkeye still haunts me

Beth Ciotta

Have a great time with Ms. Boosler. Between the two of you that show ought to be a hoot.Adored the breakdown of GOODBYE RADAR. Each character saying goodbye in one sentence--brilliant. Sad to say I missed THE FIRST TIME hence your purple shirt. I'm sure you looked fab. 'Cookinblonde' confirmed. Um, so you guys are telling me that Laura Petry/Mary Richards is not a real-life nice-girl?? I so hate when illusuions are shattered. *sigh* Looking forward to your fave M*A*S*H anecdotes. Woo-hoo!


masb being trounced by three's company is not surprising. Its always the case. Brain dead and "simple" comedy tend to win out over war comedy.Ken, have you ever considered writing a BOOK about TV COMEDY? about the craft? and your experiences in writing for cheers and mash? i know i would buy it.You spoke about tiny moments. Can you give more examples from your writing of Mash? Or Cheers?I just re watched a mash episode where dr winchester saved a patient's legs but the patient was still devastated because it wasn't his legs he was worried about losing, it was his hands, for he was a concert pianist, and he was bitter when winchester told him that he will never recover full dexterity in his right hand. Winchester later made a speech to him about how the gift was not just in his hand but inhis heart, mind, soul...it was pretty touching. The patient was a guy who eventually played a law student in the paper chase. After all these years, i still get a lump in throat watching mash!thanks for sharing with us your mash experiences, and please, KEEP THEM COMING!

The Master

Regarding Ringo and musicianship: I was present at a 1992 taping of an episode of "Dame Edna's Hollywood" at NBC in Burbank. Ringo was the "Bandleader", mostly so Edna could say "Ringo Starr is twirling his baton in my vestibule." Ringo stood in front of a band waving a baton about. Out of camera range sat another man with a baton and a music stand with all the music they were using on it. He actually conducted the band, who had to watch him around Ringo and his flailing baton.Caught your "My First Time" appearance. I had utterly forgotten "Mary", though I'm sure I saw every episode broadcast.Loretta Swit IS crazy. She may not have been back during MASH, but I wrote a never-sold movie project with her about 14 years ago, and she's, let us say, not a warm woman, nor a sane one. She has talents as a story editor, but she is seriously off-the-planet. I think my favorite moment was when she rejected a plot point in a gay-themed subplot on the basis that it would offend gay people, whose thought-processes she explained to me at some length. Having been actively homosexual for then-30 years, I found being lectured on what gay people think by a straight woman curiously un-illuminating.

Paul Duca

Ken..will David wake up at 4 in the morning as well, because the two of you are THAT much in synch?

Ken Levine

CookinBlonde,You made my week. Poor man,More CHEERS anecdotes are coming.Andrew,Someday I do hope to write a book...if there's enough interest. As for a "how to" book, Alex Epstein and Lee Goldberg both have covered that subject very well. Check 'em out.

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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