- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2009

“So, who here thinks I look like Nancy Pelosi?” asked actress Mary Tyler Moore, looking like a taller, leaner version of the speaker of the House as she waded through scores of admiring fans at the VIP reception before a luncheon at the National Press Club.

As TV news producer Mary Richards on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77) on CBS, Miss Moore, 72, famously portrayed series television’s first never-married working woman, trailblazing a path for a generation of female journalists in a field then still dominated by men.

“I feel a special kinship with you,” she told the crowd, made up of young (and not so young), disproportionately female media professionals who were inspired by Mary Richards.

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, 88, told us she enjoyed watching the show because it made working in television “seem so glamorous, but there’s a big difference.” She was referring to the contrast between the show’s tidy, familial WJM-TV newsroom in Minneapolis and the harsh reality of the sometimes rough-and-tumble news business.

“You look gorgeous,” Miss Moore exclaimed as she gushed over Miss Thomas, also known as a pioneer for women in the field of broadcast journalism. The two embraced each other warmly and gamely posed for photographs.

“I watched you as a child,” burbled a rhapsodic April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.

“Oh, don’t say that. Don’t you have any feelings?” Miss Moore joked, affecting hurt feelings about the reference to her age but clearly warmed by the hero-worshipping Mary Richards wannabes surrounding her.

“Meet the Press” executive producer Betsy Fischer resisted the notion that her current boss, “Meet” host David Gregory, could be typed as a Lou Grant type. (Mr. Grant, of course, was Mary’s hard-bitten station manager, who always tried to throw a wet blanket on Mary’s sunny optimism.) “But there are a lot of Mr. Grants in Washington,” Ms. Fischer was quick to concede.

Lots of Ted Baxters too, we think. Ted was the vain but lovable nightly news anchor at the station.

Ms. Fischer told us “Meet the Press” will have some sort of special tribute to the late Tim Russert, the longtime moderator of the show, to commemorate his sudden death a year ago this June from a heart attack.

Mary would cover the new Obama administration “like a conservative,” Miss Moore told Green and Glover. “She would be very fair and thoughtful in the wisest sense of the word.”

What would Mr. Grant advise her to do? “Oh, I am sure he would have something gruff to say.”

Miss Moore told the Press Club audience that although she portrayed an icon of women’s independence, she was reliant on daily medications and shots “just to stay alive” because of her long-time struggle with type 1 diabetes.

Miss Moore, whose memoir, “Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes,” was released this spring, says she was diagnosed with diabetes as an adult but children with the disease have special challenges.

Miss Moore, the international chairman of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, has testified before Congress in support of more funding for research into diabetes, which has no cure and affects 24 million children and adults in the United States.

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover, e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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