Lou Grant


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About

Created by executive producers Gene Reynolds with James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, this series drew on the comedy character of the executive producer of TV news in the long-running Mary Tyler Moore Show. But it transformed that comic persona into a serious, reflective, committed newsman at a major metropolitan newspaper.

As he developed the concept for the series, Reynolds drew on his experience with researching the TV series M*A*S*H. He haunted Toronto newspaper offices to learn first-hand how they operate, how principals interact, procedures for processing news stories, what issues trouble professional newsgatherers, how they thrash out the daily agenda to be distributed to the mass public. From tape-recorded interviews came the seeds of storylines and snatches of dialogue to capture the flavor and cadences of newspeople in action.

The series sought weekly to explore a knotty issue facing media people in contemporary society, focusing on how investigating and reporting those issues impact on the layers of personalities populating a complex newspaper publishing company. The program served as a vehicle for dramatic reflection, analyzing sometimes bold and sometimes tangential conflicts in business practices, government, media, and the professions. Topics treated dramatically included gun control, invasion of privacy, confidential sources, child abuse, Vietnamese refugees, news reporting vs. publishing economics. Mingled with each episode's issue was interplay of personalities, often light-hearted, among featured characters.

Reynolds risked undercutting issue-oriented themes by importing Ed Asner from the long-running comedy about a flaky TV newsroom to act as city editor of a daily newspaper. Asner not only effectively adapted the original comedic character to the serious role of Lou Grant; off-screen the actor spoke out increasingly about social and political issues possibly causing some audience disaffection in its final years.

The series (1977-1982) received critical acclaim for exploring complicated challenges involving media and society. It received a Peabody award in 1978, Emmy awards in 1979 and 1980 for outstanding drama series, plus other Emmies for writing and acting during its five years on the air. Yet it never ended any season among the top-20 most popular primetime programs. First scheduled the last hour of Tuesday evenings (10:00 P.M.), in the second and following seasons it was aired on Mondays at that time. It enjoyed strong lead-in shows M*A*S*H and One Day At a Time; but competing networks scheduled Monday night football (ABC) and theatrical movies (NBC), both at mid-point when Lou Grant came on. Scheduling was thus probably a "wash" as a factor; audiences were perhaps deterred more by the substantive issues explored which called for attentive involvement, unlike more passive TV entertainment.

Lou Grant is also significant in the history of MTM Productions as the "bridge" program between comedies such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and later, more complex dramas such as Hill Street Blues. Few independent production companies have had such visible success in crossing lines among television genres. The transformation of Asner's character, then, and the focus on serious social issues pointed new directions for the company and, ultimately, for the history of American television.

-James Brown

CAST

Lou Grant................................................ Edward Asner  

Charlie Hume ..........................................Mason Adams

Joe Rossi.............................................. Robert Walden  

Billie Newman McCovey............................. Linda Kelsey

Margaret Pynchon................................ Nancy Marchand  

Art Donovan.............................................. Jack Bannon

Dennis "Animal" Price............................ Daryl Anderson  

National Editor (1977-1979)......................... Sidney Clute  

National Editor (1979-1982)..................... Emilio Delgado  

Foreign Editor (1977-1980)................... Laurence Haddon  

Financial Editor (1978-1979)........................ Gary Pagett

Adam Wilson (1978-1982)........................ Allen Williams

Photo Editor (1979-1981)................................ Billy Beck

Carla Mardigian (1977).......................... Rebecca Balding

Ted McCovey (1981-1982)............................... Cliff Potts

Linda (1981-1982)........................ Barbara Jane Edelman

Lance (1981-1982)..................................... Lance Guest

PRODUCERS

Allan Burns, James L. Brooks, Gene Reynolds

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

110 Episodes

CBS

September 1977-January 1978   Tuesday 10:00-11:00

January 1978-September 1982   Monday l0:00-11:00

FURTHER READING

Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr, and Tise Vahimagi, editors. MTM-"Quality Television." London: The British Film Institute, 1984.

Gitlin, Todd. Inside Prime Time. New York, Pantheon, 1983.

Schatz, Thomas. "St. Elsewhere and the Evolution of the Ensemble Series." In Newcomb, Horace, editor. Television: The Critical View. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Schudson, Michael. "The Politics of Lou Grant." In Newcomb, Horace, editor. Television: The Critical View. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Tinker, Grant, and Bud Rukeyser. Tinker in Television: From General Sarnoff to General Electric. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Highlights
Ed Asner on critical and popular response to Lou Grant
02:30
James L. Brooks on co-creating Lou Grant
04:02
Allan Burns on the creation of Lou Grant and making the show a drama rather than a comedy
05:01
Gene Reynolds on his favorite episodes of Lou Grant
03:52
Grant Tinker on MTM's Lou Grant
09:03
Gary David Goldberg on writing for Lou Grant
03:19
Who talked about this show

Edward Asner

View Interview
Ed Asner on how the series Lou Grant came to be
01:49
Ed Asner on the difficulty of making the transition from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Lou Grant
02:33
Ed Asner on the subject matter in Lou Grant
00:44
Ed Asner on casting Lou Grant
02:58
Ed Asner on the Lou Grant creative team
01:32
Ed Asner on critical and popular response to Lou Grant
02:30
Ed Asner on favorite Lou Grant episodes
01:22
Ed Asner on being identified with Lou Grant and his fame
04:07
Ed Asner on the cancellation of Lou Grant and his stint as President of the Screen Actor's Guild
03:56
Ed Asner on the cancellation of Lou Grant and his politics
17:40

James L. Brooks

View Interview
James L. Brooks on basing the editor for Lou Grant on CBS News editor John Merriman and using experiences with Merriman as fodder for The Mary Tyler Moore Show
02:08
James L. Brooks on co-creating Lou Grant
04:02

Allan Burns

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Allan Burns on the creation of Lou Grant and making the show a drama rather than a comedy
05:01
Allan Burns on Ed Asner's political activism and how it affected Lou Grant
04:18

James Burrows

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James Burrows on directing Lou Grant
01:21

Richard Crenna

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Richard Crenna on directing Lou Grant, starring Ed Asner
04:09

Charles Dubin

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Charles S. Dubin on directing Lou Grant with Ed Asner and Nancy Marchand
01:19

Michael J. Fox

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Michael J. Fox on working on Lou Grant
00:19

Gary David Goldberg

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Gary David Goldberg on writing for Lou Grant
03:19

Russell Johnson

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Russell Johnson on guest-starring on Lou Grant
00:20

Gene Reynolds

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Gene Reynolds on becoming involved with Lou Grant and the pilot episode
02:11
Gene Reynolds on putting "Lou Grant" in a dramatic setting on Lou Grant
03:49
Gene Reynolds on doing research for Lou Grant
01:05
Gene Reynolds on Nancy Marchand playing "Mrs. Pynchon" on Lou Grant
00:40
Gene Reynolds on James L. Brooks and Allan Burns' contributions to Lou Grant
02:52
Gene Reynolds on Edward Asner as "Lou Grant" on Lou Grant and the rest of the cast
05:50
Gene Reynolds on shooting the pilot of Lou Grant and shooting the show
02:41
Gene Reynolds on the directors of Lou Grant
01:55
Gene Reynolds on the ratings of Lou Grant
00:30
Gene Reynolds on the look of Lou Grant
01:28
Gene Reynolds on specific episodes of Lou Grant
06:50
Gene Reynolds on his favorite episodes of Lou Grant
03:52
Gene Reynolds on the cancellation of Lou Grant
02:13

Jay Sandrich

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Jay Sandrich on the one week he worked on Lou Grant and how it was not difficult to go from comedy to drama
01:07

Ralph Senensky

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Ralph Senensky on directing Ed Asner in Lou Grant
00:54

Abby Singer

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Abby Singer on being production manager for Lou Grant
01:01

Grant Tinker

View Interview
Grant Tinker on MTM's Lou Grant
09:03

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