Lou Grant (TV series)

Last updated
Lou Grant
Created by
Based on Lou Grant
by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns
Developed byLeon Tokatyan
Country of origin United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes114 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Allan Burns
  • James L. Brooks
  • Gene Reynolds
Running time4648 minutes
Production company MTM Productions
Distributor 20th Television
Original network CBS
Audio format Monaural
Original releaseSeptember 20, 1977 (1977-09-20) 
September 13, 1982 (1982-09-13)
Preceded by The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Followed by Mary and Rhoda

Lou Grant is an American drama television series starring Ed Asner in the title role as a newspaper editor that aired on CBS from September 20, 1977, to September 13, 1982. The third spin-off (after Rhoda and Phyllis ) of the sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show , Lou Grant was created by James L. Brooks, Allan Burns, and Gene Reynolds.


Lou Grant won 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series twice. Asner received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1978 and 1980. In doing so, he became the first 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. 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.

Summary and setting

Ed Asner, Nancy Marchand and Mason Adams (1977) Lou Grant cast 1977.JPG
Ed Asner, Nancy Marchand and Mason Adams (1977)

Lou Grant works as city editor of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune daily newspaper, a job he takes after being fired from WJM-TV in Minneapolis at the end of the sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show . (Grant mentions several times on Mary Tyler Moore that he had begun his career as a print journalist.)

Given the shift from comedy to drama in this show, the nature of Grant's interactions with others is toned down. Often abrasive and overbearing in MTM, Grant more often assumes a firm-but-fair persona in this series. References to Grant's occasional excessive drinking, which had been an ongoing comic theme on Mary Tyler Moore, were de-emphasized on the new show. Usually shown as rumpled and carelessly dressed on MTM, Grant is usually dressed neatly if not stylishly on the new series, wearing ties in the office and sport jackets outside.

The rest of the main cast includes: general-assignment reporters Joe Rossi (Robert Walden) and Billie Newman (Linda Kelsey) (Kelsey joined the show in the fourth episode, replacing Rebecca Balding, who had portrayed reporter Carla Mardigian); managing editor Charles Hume (Mason Adams), an old friend of Lou's who has convinced him to move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles; assistant city editor Art Donovan (Jack Bannon); photographer Dennis Price (Daryl Anderson), usually referred to as "Animal"; and widowed, patrician publisher Margaret Jones Pynchon (Nancy Marchand), a character loosely based on a composite of real-life newspaper executives 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; Peggy McCay had a recurring role as Charlie Hume's wife Marion.

Despite the show's connection with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, none of that series' other regular characters ever appeared (or were even referred to).

Grant never discusses his previous job in Minneapolis other than general references to having earlier lived in much colder wintertime climates. In both series, Grant mentions having worked in Detroit earlier in his career.

The only MTM character ever seen on Lou Grant was Flo Meredith, a churlish veteran journalist (and Mary Richards' role model and honorary aunt, played by Eileen Heckart) with whom Lou had had a brief fling while in Minneapolis. However, lead actors from other MTM shows did appear in guest roles as other characters, including Jane Rose and Julie Kavner.

The episodes often had Grant assigning Rossi and Billie to cover news stories, with the plots revealing problems experienced by the people being covered as well as the frustrations and challenges faced by the reporters as they worked to get the story. The younger reporters are frequently seen turning to Lou for guidance and mentorship over some of the hard questions and moral dilemmas they experience as they work on their stories. The series frequently delved into serious social issues, such as nuclear proliferation, mental illness, prostitution, gay rights, domestic violence, capital punishment, child abuse, rape, and chemical pollution, in addition to demonstrating coverage of breaking news stories such as fires, earthquakes, and accidents of all kinds.

The series also undertook 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.


When The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended its run, that series' co-creators and producers, James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, had a commitment to create a new show starring Ed Asner. They decided that it was easier to retain the popular Lou Grant character and make it a spinoff series. Mary Tyler Moore had already established that the character had a previous newspaper career. Brooks and Burns' decision to make the spinoff series a one-hour realistic drama instead of another 30-minute sitcom was influenced by the 1976 film All the President's Men , and how that movie depicted the operation of a major newspaper. [1]

Gene Reynolds, who was producing the TV show M*A*S*H at the same time, was also brought on as a co-creator and executive producer. Reynolds, Brooks and Burns had previously worked on the series Room 222 , and Lou Grant made occasional reference to Walt Whitman High School, the setting of Room 222. Gary David Goldberg was a producer for the series. The theme music Lou Grant was composed by Patrick Williams.

Broadcast history

Lou Grant aired on CBS from September 1977 to September 1982. A total of 114 episodes were produced. In the second half of the 1990s, in syndication, the show was carried on cable TV's A&E Network.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRank
First airedLast aired
1 22September 20, 1977 (1977-09-20)March 20, 1978 (1978-03-20)36
2 24September 25, 1978 (1978-09-25)May 7, 1979 (1979-05-07)30
3 24September 17, 1979 (1979-09-17)March 24, 1980 (1980-03-24)
4 20September 22, 1980 (1980-09-22)May 4, 1981 (1981-05-04)27
5 24November 2, 1981 (1981-11-02)September 13, 1982 (1982-09-13)38


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.

Asner won two Emmys for his portrayal of Grant; Marchand won an Emmy 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.


The cancellation of Lou Grant in 1982 was controversial. Asner served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, during which he voiced opposition to U.S. government policy in Central America and worked closely with Medical Aid for El Salvador. Up until his death in 2021, Asner consistently stated his position that his political views, as well as the publicity they attracted, were the root causes of the cancellation of the show. [2] CBS denied that the cancellation had anything to do with Asner's politics, citing a fall in ratings for the last two seasons. [3] The show's ratings had fallen from an average 19.6 rating over the previous three seasons to 16.6 in its final year, finishing the season 43rd among primetime network series. [4]

Home media

Shout! Factory has released all five seasons on DVD in Region 1. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Home media releases of Lou Grant
DVD NameEp #Release Date
The Complete First Season22May 24, 2016
The Complete Second Season24August 16, 2016
The Complete Third Season24November 22, 2016
The Complete Fourth Season20February 21, 2017
The Complete Fifth and Final Season24March 13, 2018

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