Lou Grant (TV series)

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 series was the third spin-off of the sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Lou Grant was created by The Mary Tyler Moore Show co-creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, along with Gene Reynolds.

Lou Grant
Created by
Based onLou Grant
by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns
Developed byLeon Tokatyan
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes114 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Allan Burns
  • James L. Brooks
  • Gene Reynolds
Running time4648 minutes
Production company(s)MTM Productions
Distributor20th Television
Original networkCBS
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 20, 1977 (1977-09-20) 
September 13, 1982 (1982-09-13)
Preceded byThe Mary Tyler Moore Show
Followed byMary and Rhoda

Lou Grant won 13 Emmy Awards, including "Outstanding Drama Series" twice. Asner won the 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

Lou Grant works as city editor of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune daily newspaper, a job he takes after being fired from the WJM television station 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. References to Grant's oftentimes excessive drinking, which had been an ongoing comic theme on Mary Tyler Moore, were deemphasized on the new show.

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). 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, Richard Schaal and Julie Kavner.

The episodes often had Grant 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 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 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.


Lou Grant was a spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Unlike The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which was a 30-minute sitcom, Lou Grant was a one-hour drama.

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 situation comedy 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. 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. For a list of episodes, see List of Lou Grant episodes.


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 the subject of much controversy. Asner served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, in which capacity he opposed U.S. policy in Central America, working closely with Medical Aid for El Salvador. It has been Asner's consistent position that his political views, as well as the publicity surrounding them, were the root causes for the show's cancellation.[2] CBS denied that the cancellation had anything to do with politics, citing a fall in ratings for the last two seasons.[3]

Home media

Shout! Factory has released all five seasons on DVD in Region 1.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 22 May 24, 2016
The Complete Second Season 24 August 16, 2016
The Complete Third Season 24 November 22, 2016
The Complete Fourth Season 20 February 21, 2017
The Complete Fifth and Final Season 24 March 13, 2018


  • Daniel, Douglass K. (1996). Lou Grant: The Making of TV's Top Newspaper Drama. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815626756.
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