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MTM At SXSW: Lena Waithe & Mary Tyler Moore’s Husband Join For HBO Documentary About One Of Entertainment’s All-Time Greats – SXSW Studio

James Adolphus, Lena Waithe, Debra Martin Chase, and Dr. S. Robert Levine at the Deadline Studio at SXSW Film and Television Festival held at the Thompson Hotel on March 12, 2023 in Austin, Texas.


Section: Documentary Spotlight

Director: James Adolphus

Logline: With unprecedented access to the Mary Tyler Moore Estate, friends, family, and colleagues, Being Mary Tyler Moore constructs an intimate mosaic of Mary’s sixty-year career in show business. The film reveals a complex icon, full of compassion, empathy, and inspirational abilities, despite battling her own demons. 

Panelists: James Adolphus (director/producer); Lena Waithe (producer); Debra Martin Chase (producer); Dr. S. Robert Levine (executive producer, subject, and widower of Mary Tyler Moore)

Distributor: HBO Documentary Films

Premiered: Monday, March 13; Next screening Wednesday, March 15 7 p.m. CT at Alamo Lamar

Key Quotes: Dr. Levine: “A number of people after Mary died had come to me and they asked about doing a biopic of her and I just said no. And it was, I think, an April 2018 cover story of Vanity Fair that featured Lena [Waithe]. And she just mentioned as part of the interview that she’d really loved to do something about Mary. And that moved me because here is someone who’s coming up in the business, who’s completely different than Mary and yet is influenced by her. And I wanted a new voice to tell Mary’s story.”

Lena Waithe: “I found myself really fascinated by the fact that she was in two very important television shows and really occupied two very different spaces for women. And I really was curious about who she was, who was the woman behind these iconic characters. And reading her memoir [After All] and seeing more of her work outside of television was really inspiring to see the versatility, to see the vulnerability in the work.”

James Adolphus: “It’s an incredible challenge to tell someone’s story — someone like Mary…. She’s an incredible icon. It was intimidating at first, but the archives opened up and we spent a number of months digging in and looking for a way to express the thesis of the film, the thesis that was expressed in Mary’s book [After All]. It was a challenge to find that, but we were able to.”

Debra Martin Chase: “I watched Mary in real time. The Mary Tyler Moore Show influenced the direction of my life. And I think the fact that the three of us, three Black artists, have come together to make this documentary speaks to the universality of her legacy, of her importance, of who she was.”

RELATED: SXSW 2023: All Of Deadline’s Movie Reviews

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