Grant Tinker life and biography

Grant Tinker picture, image, poster

Grant Tinker biography

Date of birth : 1952-01-11
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Stamford, Connecticut, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-09-06
Credited as : Television producer and chairman and CEo of NBS, co-founder of MTM Enterprises, was married to Mary Tyler Moore

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Television executive Grant Tinker chronicled his career in his 1994 autobiography, Tinker in Television. Co-authored with longtime friend and colleague Bud Rukeyser, the book provides a behind-the-scenes look at television through Tinker's recollections of four decades in the business. The Dartmouth College graduate began his association with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) as a management trainee in its radio department in the late 1940s. He then spent several years with two New York City advertising firms but returned to NBC in the early 1960s. In his memoir Tinker discusses the years when, as a programming executive, he was involved with such shows as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and I Spy. He also notes that during this period he wed actor Mary Tyler Moore. He was known as "the man who saved NBC" during his tenure at the network.

Tinker and Rukeyser also chronicle the creation of MTM Enterprises. Tinker and Moore began this television production company--using her initials as the name--in 1970, a time when there were few independent television studios. The new venture quickly gained success with an Emmy-winning situation comedy The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as well as other widely watched, prime-time programs of the 1970s such as Lou Grant and WKRP in Cincinnati. In his book, Tinker recounts the methods and strategies that he and his staff used to create and sustain such popular shows; he includes anecdotes from colleagues in their own words.

In Tinker in Television, the executive describes how 1981 proved pivotal both personally and professionally. His marriage to Moore--his second--had ended as had his day-to-day involvement with MTM. Yet that year he was rehired by NBC as head of the network's television division in a last-ditch attempt to save it. The memoir describes Tinker's reentry into and remodeling of an enterprise that industry experts had dismissed as both a creative and fiscal failure. Within five years, Tinker turned NBC into a critical success on solid financial ground, increasing ratings and revenues with such shows as Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, The A-Team, and The Cosby Show. Tinker left the top post in 1986 to begin a new venture. His separation came at a time when General Electric (G.E.) had just purchased the network. "The book's best section by far is Mr. Tinker's biting criticism of NBC's new owner, the General Electric Company," asserted New York Times Book Review writer Bill Carter. Carter was referring to Tinker's assertion that G.E.'s business attitude toward the network appeared to be "if it ain't broke, break it."

In the following portion of the book, Tinker describes his post-NBC activity--the creation of another independent studio, GTG Entertainment, formed in conjunction with the Gannett Newspaper Corporation. Noting that the project did not fare as well as his earlier feats, Tinker speculates on the reasons why. Carter praised the last few pages of Tinker's career reminiscence and termed many of the executive's anecdotes "engaging, especially tales of boneheaded intrusions into programs by network meddlers." Yet, the critic characterized Tinker and Rukeyser's effort as "the autobiography of a gentleman, marked by plenty of grace and charm and not quite enough good storytelling." Carter concluded that "when Grant Tinker decides to throw some leather, he packs a real punch."

Family: Born January 11, 1926, in Stamford, CT; son of a lumber supplier (father); married Ruth Byerly (marriage ended, 1962); married Mary Tyler Moore (an actor, producer, and director), 1963 (divorced, 1981); children: (first marriage) Mark, two other sons, one daughter. Education: Graduated from Dartmouth College, 1949.

Louella Parsons Award, Hollywood Women's Press Club, 1986; Governors' Award, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1987, for achievements broadcast nationally in prime time.

Producer and television executive. National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (NBC), New York City, management trainee, 1949, affiliated with radio program department, 1949-54; McCann-Erickson Advertising Agency, New York City, affiliated with television department, 1954-58; Benton & Bowles Advertising Agency, New York City, affiliated with television department, 1958-61; NBC-TV, New York City, vice president of West Coast programming, 1961-67; chair of board and chief executive officer, 1981-86; Universal Television, Hollywood, CA, vice president, 1968-69; Twentieth Century-Fox Television, Hollywood, vice president, 1969-70; Mary Tyler Moore (MTM) Enterprises (independent television production company), Studio City, CA, president, 1970-81; independent producer, Burbank, CA, 1986--; GTG (Grant Tinker-Gannett) Entertainment, Culver City, CA, president, 1987--. Also worked for Radio Free Europe.


* (With Bud Rukeyser) Tinker in Television (autobiography), Simon & Schuster (New York), 1994.

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