The success of Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon recently inspired me to assess the ten best movies about television. TV has been a fertile source of entertainment for filmmakers. The TV turf is also a popular setting for TV shows, and there have been some all-time great shows about the tube. Here are nine that I think warrant special recognition -- in no special order.
1. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
It all started at WJM-TV in Minneapolis. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the perfect sitcom blend of home and work, and work happened to be the local TV news team. As Mary Richards, the associate producer, Mary Tyler Moore was the single girl America loved because she was real, funny, gorgeous and lovable. At work, the news was mangled nightly by Ted Baxter, the quintessential news reader anchorman who loved every dulcet tone of his voice and had no idea what he was reporting. In perfect irony, when the show came to an end, most everyone at WJM -- Lou Grant, Murray Slaughter, Sue Anne Nivens, Mary -- were fired. Only Ted was spared!
I didn't know Tim Russert on a personal level. I rarely even saw him in his own element as host of NBC's Meet the Press. However, when he suddenly died last Friday, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the fact that he was a huge presence on television, particularly during this year's Presidential election. It made Russert feel like he was a part of the family.
So it has been with many television personalities that have left this earth before their time. It's the intimacy of the industry and the fact that this person has come into our homes night after night, week after week, that the unexpected death of these personalities hits us much harder than, say, movie stars. Unfortunately, there have been a number of these surprising deaths over the last few decades. Here are 12 such deaths that affected millions of television viewers.
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