Live From New York Book Excerpt

MARILYN SUZANNE MILLER, Writer: Other than Herb Sargent, I was the television veteran of Saturday Night Live, which is to say I had worked in TV for two and a half or three years, and I had started on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, having had the sort of Lana Turner-ish Schwab's discovery made of me by Jim Brooks, aided and abetted by Garry Marshall. So I was writing Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda at twenty-two, and I was on the staff of The Odd Couple.

I met Michael O'Donoghue and Anne Beatts through a friend when I was doing Rhoda and living in New York. When Lorne was putting the show together and asked me to be a part of it, I had an overactive thyroid and was living with this guy I really wanted to be with. So I told Lorne, "I can't do the show because I want to get married, but you've got to hire this guy O'Donoghue, because he's brilliant." Lorne of course had his own access to the Second City people and already knew Chevy, which had nothing to do with Michael. So thanks to me, Michael O'Donoghue got hired.

ANNE BEATTS, Writer: I was living a very sort of style-based existence with Michael O'Donoghue, which was severely crimped by the fact that he'd quit the Lampoon and we were completely broke. Michael was rather laid low by the whole experience. At one point I had achieved this thing where we had a gig doing restaurant reviews for the Village Voice - every reporter's dream, right? And free meals. And it was Christmastime and Michael and I cowrote a review of Luchow's, this restaurant where Diamond Jim Brady had gone to romance Lillian Russell. It was very Christmassy because it had a giant Christmas tree in the middle of it. Anyway, Michael insisted on putting some reference to Hiroshima and the Nazis into the review. The Village Voice did not go for this, especially in a restaurant review. Michael quit in a huff and we lost the gig. And I was like, "Oh, no." We were at the bail-out point when Lorne showed up and offered first Michael and then me jobs on Saturday Night Live. And I turned it down because I had sold a book: Titters, the first collection of humor by women. I said, "I can't do this stupid television show." And then a friend of mine was like, "Are you crazy? You have to do it." And thank goodness I did. So then Michael and I were working on it together.

DICK EBERSOL: NBC set up a meeting for eight o'clock in the morning. And Lorne said, "Dick, eight o'clock?!? You know I can't function at that hour." I said, "Lorne, it's breakfast. We've got to do it."

BERNIE BRILLSTEIN: Lorne said, "I can't get up." I said, "Lorne, this is the one time I'll call you and get you up."

DICK EBERSOL: So he came to this breakfast, I don't know if he'd even been to bed, and he's sitting with these two guys who, despite whatever nice things they did for me, I have to give the title of "stiffs." They're basically asking if Connie Stevens is going to do the show. Lorne goes into his best BS. When it's over they say, "Well, he's awfully young. But okay - you can have him." The next morning I bring in Ohlmeyer, who's more akin to their world, and they liked him very much. But Roone would not let Don out of his contract at ABC, and it would be almost two years before NBC got Don away from them.

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