Read an Excerpt: 'Cloris'

I concluded later that his antipathy toward me had grown out of my unwillingness to associate myself with his political activities. But in speaking to his son one evening, I realized it wasn't politics. He was unhappy that I had talked in public about the terms we'd agreed on for a sexual encounter and why that encounter didn't happen. I thought it was funny, and I still do, but if Ed feels otherwise and he happens to read this far in this book, I want him to know that if I hurt him I am deeply sorry, and I love him just as much as I did when we were on the show. And, if he still thinks he can "make the weight," we might put that sumo match together again.

On Mondays we gathered to read the script. The next two days we'd stage the show, and late on Wednesday Jim Brooks and Allan Burns, the show's other cocreator, would watch a run-through. After it they'd give us suggestions; Jim's were especially creative, fresh, and unexpected.

From then on, right up to the filming on Friday afternoon, when we did two performances in front of audiences, we were constantly fed new revisions. So often as we were filming I'd be tossing away my revised script with my left hand as I was opening the door with my right to enter the set, and spout the lines I'd just thrown away.

Mary didn't need a lot of rehearsal, but Valerie Harper and I were from the stage, and rehearsal was essential to us, so we'd meet at lunch. We didn't actually rehearse as we ate, that is, we didn't run lines. We discussed, swapped ideas, and decided how we'd handle a scene. Then we'd get in front of the cameras and make magic. My character, Phyllis, as I said, had a runaway ego. She did as she liked and didn't withhold her opinions, whether they were asked for or not. From the beginning, Phyllis and I were doppelgängers: I behaved off camera much as I did in front of the camera. Being late was my most pronounced behavioral "diversion," but it wasn't the only one. What crinkled the cast and crew more than my tardiness was my disregard for the rules. To me, it wasn't being disobedient, I was an artist living an artist's life, and I didn't have to obey rules created by others. I was being Peck's bad boy. Peck's Bad Boy is the self-explanatory title of a movie I'd seen when I was a child.

During the show, I often did television interviews. One night I was on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson ... Let me go back a step. The month before the Johnny Carson appearance, I had an interview in my trailer on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Following my directions, my assistant had made a tasty lunch for the female interviewer and me. The interviewer was interested in how I'd come to create the dish and what my views were on diet and nutrition. I said I wished that people who were gaining too much weight could sample what we were having for lunch, because it was tasty but not fattening.

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