American TV Database Wiki
Lou Grant
Opening title
Format Drama
Created by Allan Burns
James L. Brooks
Gene Reynolds
Starring Edward Asner
Robert Walden
Linda Kelsey
Mason Adams
Jack Bannon
Daryl Anderson
Nancy Marchand
Rebecca Balding
Composer(s) Patrick Williams (majority of episodes)
Artie Kane ("Pills")
Miles Goodman
Hod David Schudson
Les Hooper
James DiPasquale ("Bomb")
Shirley Walker
(incomplete listing)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 114 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Allan Burns
James L. Brooks
Gene Reynolds
Running time 46–48 minutes
Production company(s) MTM Productions
Original channel CBS
Audio format Monaural
Original run Template:Start dateTemplate:End date
Preceded by The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Related shows Rhoda

Lou Grant is an American television drama series starring Ed Asner in the titular role as a newspaper editor. Unusual in American television, this drama series was a spinoff from a sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Aired from 1977 to 1982, Lou Grant won 13 Emmy Awards, including "Outstanding Drama Series". Asner won the Emmy Award for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" in 1978 and 1980. In doing so, he became the only person to win an Emmy Award for both "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" and "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series" for portraying the same character, recognizing his work on this series and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Lou Grant also won two Golden Globe awards, a Peabody award, an Eddie award, three awards from the Directors Guild of America, and two Humanitas prizes.

Broadcast history[]

Lou Grant was a spinoff from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and premiered on CBS in September 1977. Unlike The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which was a 30-minute situation comedy, Lou Grant was a one-hour drama.

Lou Grant ran from 1977–1982 and consisted of 114 episodes. It is one of four shows in the history of American television to have the distinction of having episodes that finished both first and last in the ratings during its run, the others being AfterMASH, Cheers, and fellow Mary Tyler Moore spinoff Rhoda. Template:Citation needed

The theme music for the series was composed by Patrick Williams.


Lou Grant worked at the fictitious Los Angeles Tribune daily newspaper as its city editor, a job he took after the WJM television station fired him. (Though Mary Tyler Moore Show viewers were introduced to the character as a television news producer, the character noted many times that he'd begun his career as a print journalist.) This Lou Grant was somewhat different from the character he had played in the former Mary Tyler Moore series, in that the comedic nature of his interactions with others was toned down, given the more serious and dramatic nature of the material. The rest of the main cast included Robert Walden and Linda Kelsey, who played general-assignment reporters Joe Rossi and Billie Newman, respectively (Kelsey joined the show in the fourth episode, replacing Rebecca Balding, who had portrayed reporter Carla Mardigian during the show's first three episodes); Mason Adams, who played managing editor Charles Hume, an old friend of Lou's who had convinced him to move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles; Jack Bannon, who played assistant city editor Art Donovan; Daryl Anderson, who played photographer Dennis Price, usually referred to as "Animal"; and Nancy Marchand, who played the widowed, patrician publisher, Margaret Pynchon, a character loosely based on real life newspaper publishers Dorothy Chandler of the Los Angeles Times and Katharine Graham of The Washington Post. Recurring actors who played editors of various departments included Gordon Jump and Emilio Delgado. Asner won two Emmys for his portrayal of Lou; Marchand won Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" four of the five years the series ran; Walden, Kelsey, and Adams all received multiple nominations for supporting Emmys.

Despite the show's connection with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, none of that series' other regular characters ever appeared (and were not referred to onscreen); the only other "crossover" character was MTM recurring character Flo Meredith (Eileen Heckart) (Mary Richards' aunt), a churlish veteran journalist with whom Lou had had a brief fling while in Minneapolis, and who appeared on a single episode of Lou Grant.

The episodes often had Lou assigning Rossi and Billie to cover news stories, with the episode's plots revealing problems of the people covered in the stories as well as frustrations and challenges reporters experienced to get the stories. The younger reporters were frequently seen returning to Lou for guidance and mentorship over some of the hard questions and moral dilemmas they were experiencing as they worked on their stories. The series frequently delved into serious societal issues, such as nuclear proliferation, mental illness, prostitution, gay rights, child abuse, and chemical pollution, in addition to demonstrating coverage of breaking news stories, such as fires, earthquakes, and accidents of all kind. The series also took serious examination of ethical questions in journalism, including plagiarism, checkbook journalism, entrapment of sources, staging news photos, and conflicts of interest that journalists encounter in their work. There were also glimpses into the personal lives of the Tribune staff.

Gene Reynolds, James L. Brooks and Allan Burns were executive producers, and Gary David Goldberg was a producer.

Many of the episodes in the first season were based on incidents described by Gay Talese in his history of his former employer The New York Times, The Kingdom and the Power. Talese was unaware of this fact more than a decade after the show was canceled.


NOTE: The highest average rating for the series is in bold text.

Season Rank Rating
1977-1978 Not in the Top 30
1978-1979 #30 19.7
1979-1980 Not in the Top 30
1980-1981 #27 19.1
1981-1982 Not in the Top 30


The cancellation of Lou Grant in 1982 was the subject of much controversy. Reportedly, the series had significant enough ratings in its last season to be renewed (it was in the ACNielsen top ten throughout its final month on the air), but CBS declined to renew it largely because of controversies created by Asner in using both the series and his presidency of the Screen Actors Guild as political soapboxes. Asner's outspokenness in directly opposing the U.S. government's intervention in El Salvador created problems for the network with its advertisers. Asner also gave one press conference, not long before the show was cancelled, in which he was asked whether he would support free elections in El Salvador even if those elected were communists. Asner responded that if that was what the voters chose in a free election then he would have to support it.


Lou Grant won several critical honors during its run, including 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Peabody Award, and two Humanitas Prizes.


  • Douglass K. Daniel, Lou Grant: The Making of TV's Top Newspaper Drama, Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

External links[]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).