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'Blessings' For Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore, best remembered for her work on two well-loved sitcoms, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," has a new dramatic role.

On Sunday night, Moore stars as an 82-year-old widow in a CBS television movie, "Blessings."

Moore tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler she read "Blessings" long before the script was offered to her.

She notes, "Without even thinking that I would be playing that. I mean, you know, for my age, mid-60s to..., 82 it is a stretch. But I thought I could handle it, especially after doing 'The Gin Game' with Dick Van Dyke where I played a woman in her early 80s. I was just so challenged and fascinated by this script, which takes you through some emotional things and some funny things. But primarily it doesn't tie up every little frayed ending into a neat little bow and it leaves you gasping."

And the make-up Moore says is "unbelievable. She did such a fabulous job. The woman used to paint on my face, which you can see and, more importantly than anything, is the overall effect. But on a big screen, if you saw it, you would see extraordinary workmanship and maybe it's better you don't see it."

The movie is based on a best-selling novel by one of Moore's favorite authors, Anna Quindlen.

Moore plays Lydia Blessing, a reclusive heiress who, along with young ex-con Skip Cuddy (played by Liam Waite), decides to raise an infant left abandoned on her property.

About Waite's character, Moore tells Syler, "He just feels such a connection to this child and he wants to give the child something of what he didn't get enough of himself and he's played by Liam Waite who is a wonderful actor. He is going to be so hot. I bet you before the year is out, you have him sitting in this chair and Kathleen Quinlan is in it, who plays my daughter, though she was not old enough to do it, but we managed it. We played on some lines."

Moore says she likes Lydia Blessing's rigidity and the way the arrival of the baby makes the character reassess life. But, Moore explains, the believability of the story was also important to her.

Moore starts rehearsals this month for the Broadway production of a new Neil Simon play, "Rose's Dilemma."

Asked what she likes to do best, comedy or drama, Moore says, "I like them both. Up until 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' I had done drama and pretty poor drama at that. I mean, I was good, but with serious stuff."

Off the screen, Moore has worked extensively with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and also with animals.

She notes, "Well, with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, of which I am the chairman, we are really excited now. We are on the brink of a new test to devise a chemical that will prevent blindness and retinopathy and kidney failure, led by Dr. Michael Brandly, who is himself a diabetic and has been for 40 years. It's exciting because the drug has been used in Europe for a long time for other purposes. So if this works out, we got big stuff coming."

Moore was sporting leopard-print boots the matched her scarf, and Syler asked the actress to show them off. Moore noted that the boots were hard to put on.

Laughing, she pointed out the zipper at the back of the boots: "There is a zipper back here, and I can't get it up, and my husband has to try to get it up. And he works up a sweat in so doing."

You can see "Blessings" Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on CBS

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