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December, 8, 2016

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NBC executive Grant Tinker dies at 90

NEW YORK--Grant Tinker, who brought new polish to the TV world and beloved shows including "Hill Street Blues" to the audience as both a producer and a network boss, has died. He was 90.

Tinker died Monday at his Los Angeles home, according to his son, producer Mark Tinker.

Though he had three tours of duty with NBC, the last as its chairman, Tinker was perhaps best-known as the nurturing hand at MTM Enterprises, the production company he founded in 1970 and ran for a decade.

Nothing less than a creative salon, MTM scored with some of TV's most respected and best-loved programs, including "Lou Grant," "Rhoda," "The Bob Newhart Show" and, of course, the series that starred his business partner and then-wife, Mary Tyler Moore.

"I am deeply saddened to learn that my former husband and professional mentor Grant Tinker has passed away," Moore said in a statement. "Grant was a brilliant, driven executive who uniquely understood that the secret to great TV content was freedom for its creators and performing artists. This was manifest in his 'first be best and then be first' approach."

Tinker summed it up with typical self-effacement in a 1994 interview with The Associated Press: "I just had the good luck to be around people who did the kind of work that the audience appreciates. The success just rubbed off on me."

In 1981, Tinker flourished with that low-key approach in a last-ditch effort to save NBC, which was scraping bottom with its earnings, ratings, programs and morale. Five years later, when Tinker left to return to independent production, the network was flush thanks to hits such as "The Cosby Show" and "Hill Street Blues."

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