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|Index||13 reviews in total|
James L. Brooks (As Good as it Gets, Terms of Endearment) was one of the
producers and acted as executive producer of the fabulous series. Edward
Asner (Mary Tyler Moore Show, Down on the Waterfront) played Lou Grant in
spin off of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. The editor of the L.A. Tribune.
Nancy Marchand (Dear God ) Margaret Pynchon was the big boss and owner of
the newspaper. She would show up occasionally with her good advice, a
walking cane, and wearing a very expensive suit. Although she was the head,
she was very nice. Mason Adams (From the Earth to the Moon) was Charlie
Hume, Managing Editor. Robert Walden (All the President's Men) Joe Rossi,
was a reporter. Linda Kelsey (The Midnight Man) played Billie Newman
McCovey who was a very smart reporter.
The most interesting thing about this show was the serious journalism they
engaged in providing for the audience. The issues raised on the show were
very current. It raised some controversy which might have affected the
future existence of the show. It was an outstanding series. It was nice to
see Lou Grant more mature in his carrier as a journalist. The series was
nominated for and won the most prestigious awards in the U.S. such as:
Golden Globe, American Cinema Editors, USA, Directors Guild of America,
USA, Human Family Educational & Cultural Institute, USA, Won Humanitas. The
series was done by very intelligent people and demonstrated that television
can be good when the people doing the show are bright. Unfortunately this
not always the case. Good shows like Lou Grants are not readily available.
An earlier reviewer's "bleeding heart" references suggest a right-wing
orientation. Perhaps this explains his sweeping but unsubstantiated
comments concerning how this show's episodes were developed. "Lou
Grant" was created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, the
writer-producers behind "Mary Tyler Moore," and Gene Reynolds, the
force behind the TV incarnation of "M*A*S*H," who became the sole
Executive Producer in the second year. Younger producers under Reynolds
included Seth Freeman from "The Waltons" and Gary David Goldberg.
However convenient it may be for people with an agenda to think
otherwise the producers, not the star, dictated the content. There's no
evidence Edward Asner ever suggested a single storyline, and plenty of
testimony crediting others.
The entire MTM library was sold several times after Grant Tinker divested himself in order to run NBC. The likelihood of ever again seeing this fine show, which won 16 Emmys, two Humanitas prizes, and the Peabody Award, is absolutely zilch. Write to 20th Century Fox Television if you'd like the chance to see it, but don't expect to get anywhere.
When I first heard about this show twenty six years ago (God, time flies), I thought this would be an extension of the show it spun off from, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". What a surprise it was when this show turned out to be probably the greatest newspaper dramas in television history. The show wasn't afraid to take on controversial issues and even though it was a drama, it still had its lighter moments. Also, even though Ed Asner was the lead, it was more of an ensemble and the whole cast was great. This was an exceptional show and it is a lost classic.
In the final episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore
Show"(CBS-TV:1970-1977),when everyone but idiotic anchorman Ted Baxter
was fired from station WJM-TV in Minneapolis in 1977,Mary Richards and
her fellow casualties were left reeling. It was a bittersweet finale
for the beloved series after seven seasons. Then Mary's old crusty
boss,station news director Lou Grant,made a smooth transition. Within
weeks,he had blown Minneapolis and snagged a good job in Los Angeles as
the city editor of The Tribune. That's right:Lou Grant went from the
glamour and glitz of TV news(such as it was at bumbling WJM) to embrace
print journalism. At The Tribune,the formerly comic Lou(still played by
Edward Asner)got serious about news. What resulted was "Lou Grant," a
superlative drama series that became one of the greatest dramatic shows
ever to embrace the mid-1970's. This was a grand series that arrived in
the blazing afterglow of Watergate coverage and the rehealing from the
aftermath of the Vietnam War. The bracing message of that era: Two
dogged reporters(and a newspaper that backed them up)could change the
world-and earn the public's adoration.
Anti-press fulminations from the Nixon administration were largely nullified by scandals and disgrace in the White House. It was only later that an anti-media crusade took hold,drawing the battle lines between the press and the government,and breeding suspicion among much of the citizenry. It was later,as well,that newspapers were obliged to adapt to emerging,unimagined challenges:new media platforms,"citizen journalists",and information-dispersing gadgets with global reach that anyone could buy. The Trib reporters were spared these distractions and identity crises. For them,news still took the form of ink on paper,preferably with comics,crosswords puzzles,and horoscopes were part of the deal. The zeitgeist of "Lou Grant" was set forth in the clever opening sequence and this show celebrated it. Sure it may seem primitive that,in its first season,Trib reports were getting information and their sources with pencil and paper and banging out their stories on the typewriters. But "Lou Grant" was breaking ground from its debut on September 20,1977 producing 114 episodes for CBS-TV until the series finale on September 13,1982. Produced under Mary Tyler Moore's production company,MTM Productions.
Reconfiguring a half-hour sitcom into a hour long drama was risky. The show dared to populate "Lou Grant" with a full-out ensemble cast which not only included Ed Asner,but also Robert Walden who played driven young investigate reporter Joe Rossi;Mason Adams as Managing Editor Charlie Hume;Linda Kelsey as reporter Billie Newman determined to make good in what was at the time a male-domination profession along with another ambitious young girl reporter Carla Mardigian portrayed by Rebecca Balding(who lasted one season). Also on board was the glorious Nancy Marchand(later,of course Tony's craven mother on "The Sopranos")was Mrs. Pynchon,who was the genteel owner of the Trib. Taking full advantage of its news-oriented setting,this was a brilliant series that dealt with issues ranging from nuclear accidents to religious freedom,media ethics and civil and social rights. This was a big-hearted series that won 13 Emmys,two Humanita Prizes and a Peabody award among many honors. This was drama-comedy hybrid that emerged from the series creators:James L. Brooks and Allan Burns(the writers-producers from "Mary Tyler Moore"),along with Gene Reynolds(who was not only the principal behind the TV incarnation of "M*A*S*H",but also was the producer of such shows as "Room 222"). This was a series that broke ground in the way television dramas are depicted and to this day it still holds the title some 30 years later.
In the UK this series was not networked, but in the regions of the country it was shown it collected a devoted following. Ed Asner played his roll with gusto, but with help from the excellent cast, the show began to resemble more of a documentary than a drama, as it bravely tackled contemporary social issues and concerns. American import shows had never been like this, living a fantasy world of copsnrobbers, witches and talking horses, but this was perhaps the start of a new wave? which would include shows like 'Quincy' and 'Soap'. It was apparent when this was being run in the UK that the American far right did not like the show one bit! regarding it as wet liberalism . However in countries where it was shown, it possibly showed a compassionate side of America in which it did have concerns for the ' loosers ' as well as the winners in life. Theme tune must be a classic also? Don't think it could be made in the USA today?
Judged by 1977-82 standards, this show was peerless.
Today, it's a bit "dated" in certain ways. But these elements actually make it a valuable portrait of its era.
Talented cast, right down the line. Terrific writing. Skillful, sensitive directing. Highly relevant. Courageous. And one of TV's all-time-best role models in the lead.
Every Emmy -- & there were MANY -- was fully deserved. Also the Peabody, the Humanitas, & all the other awards it won.
Each season was as strong as or stronger than its predecessor; this is one show that was NOT running out of steam.
In fact, during the Reagan Years, we needed it more than ever! (Would have loved to see its take on Iran-Contra.)
Shame on CBS for bowing to pressure because of Asner's politics and the show's oft-controversial scripts.
LOU still shines.
Waiting impatiently for (legal) DVD release!
Immigration reform, hate crimes against gay people, teen pregnancy,
illiteracy, eminent domain, Ponzi schemes, etc. If I stop here and ask
you to finish this, you might conclude with a summary about Bernie
Madoff or other recent event.
But these are just some of the many subjects shown weekly on Lou Grant from 1977 to 1982. The stories are over 30 years old but amazingly still every bit as relevant in today's society as they were then. And just as amazing was the incredible risk Mary Tyler Moore's MTM Enterprises took when she transitioned to producing a hard-hitting drama from 2 decades of comedy experience. After winning 3 Golden globes, 23 other awards, and 61 various nominations (IMDB 2012), the show has proved worth the risk in a big way.
I didn't have the education or knowledge of world events (such as it is) to appreciate the show's content when it first aired. But I'm glad I rediscovered and watched these episodes while in a nostalgic mood. Now, I can greatly appreciate how progressive MTM and her staff were in the production of Lou Grant and its relevance to today's events.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'd love to see Lou Grant on DVD soon,it was only shown in some areas
of the UK but Channel 4 ran it in the 80s and I loved it. Looking now
at the "Mary Tyler Moore Show",Ed Asner's terrific performance
throughout,as the complex Lou Grant,was a character,crying out for a
spin off and what a great idea to turn a sitcom character, into a
dramatic lead! I loved the relationship between Mrs Pynchon and Lou,I
love it,in early episode when Lou is waiting for a bus to view a
house,Mrs Pynchon says she can drive him here,he says its too out of
her way,she agrees and drives off!
I was surprised when Carla was replaced by Linda Kelsey as Billie,I liked her but read the powers that be,thought she was too young,so wanted an older actress for the Tribune's female reporter.
Rossi was a great character,not likable but complicated too,maybe Lou saw something of himself deep down in Rossi,and liked him although he'd never admit it.
Another great MTM studio production from the 70's taking the major risk
of re-setting a familiar comedic character - the boozy, boorish TV
editor Lou Grant as the central character in a 50 minute topical drama
set in a major city news-room.
Like its MTM comedy predecessors, likewise invariably named after one character "Lou Grant" of course isn't just about Lou, it's more about the interplay with an ensemble of strong, supporting characters. Better yet, the plot-lines were literate and credible slices of real life, often centring on corruption in high places, with the leg-work being done by the two bright young reporters Joe Rossi, played by Robert Walden and Billie, played by Linda Kelsey. Also in support are beatnik photographer Animal, presumably named after one of the Muppets, the style-conscious sub-editor Art Donovan and at the top end of the paper, its matriarch publisher Mrs Pynchon and her right hand man, Charlie Hulme. Edward Asner in the title role did a fine job re-inventing himself as the pugnacious but principled title character. The whole programme could have failed if his character had failed its transition but this was never in doubt right from the first episode I've recently re-watched.
The plots invariably involved some sort of moral dilemma for one of the characters, not unnaturally given the post-Watergate interest in newspapers and their role in exposing dirty deeds done in high places. Critics might argue against the show's occasional bleeding-heart liberalism, but I remember it just as high quality US drama and staying up till well after 11 o'clock to watch it in the days before video recorders.
In its wake came other MTM hit series like "Hill Street Blues" and "St Elsewhere" but I think I enjoyed this series even better than those. Bad fashion sense aside and even conceding the much lesser role that newspapers play in news dissemination today, I don't think this show has aged much at all, a testimony to good writing and good acting all round.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode is what makes Lou Grant a truly exemplary television drama
(from any era). It also makes routine, mediocre TV shows look even
worse than they are, because the bar is set so high with an episode
like this. Again, story editor April Smith writes a top script, and it
features some very thorough research about what happens when a strike
occurs, especially one involving a large city newspaper. The strike of
the real-life Washington Post is referenced in this episode and I'm
sure Ms. Smith used that event as one of the main inspirations here.
What gets me, is that many years later, strikes like this still occur.
In Hollywood, the writers guild has gone through similar ordeals, complete with scab writers and negotiations where the major studios are careful not to give the store away to the unions (most recently involving royalties on home video and streaming). It should be noted that SAG (the screen actors guild) has had several strikes, too, and that Ed Asner was the president of SAG during production of this series.
I think it's significant that as Lou, Ed does walk the picket line toward the end of this episode. But what's really great is that April Smith shows the more human side of this situation, that neither side is a true villain, and that eventually there has to be a compromise on the numbers. I liked the scene where Lou tells Rossi to leave, when Rossi's temper flares and he purges the story he's working on as the strike begins. And I thought the part where Billie gets injured was very realistically staged. Also worth noting are the historical aspects of this story, in terms of where print media was and how technology was evolving. There are several scenes where we see how news layouts are being done and how the process is being modernized.
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