Ed Asner's Lou Grant leaves a lasting legacy for journalists

News broke over the weekend that the actor Ed asner deceased at the age of 91. His acting career was undoubtedly illustrious, and hi...

Ed Asner as Lou Grant

News broke over the weekend that the actor Ed asner deceased at the age of 91. His acting career was undoubtedly illustrious, and his political activism is also remarkable. And while my sons know him best for his role as Santa Claus in the favorite of the season Elf, he also has a fairly significant journalistic legacy, given his role as Lou Grant, the uncompromising boss of the newsroom whose influence on cultural and social mores cannot be overlooked.

Analyzing the influence of fictional characters is a delicate matter. Not only is the practice purely subjective, but the credit for the legacy is shared between a creative team of writers, producers and the actor. Other than that, Lou Grant’s character in The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a tough but fair journalistic leader. But he was also someone from the bigger generation (who wasn’t afraid to drink alcohol at his desk and ask interview questions that would get him fired today) who was adaptable and supportive. the beginning of the modern feminist movement embodied by the titular role played by Mary tyler moore.

Viewers discovered Lou Grant’s character in the iconic show’s first episode, in a scene showing a job interview. Asner’s portrayal of the TV news boss on WJM-TV, a fictional local news show in Minneapolis, was by turns cranky, pragmatic, and skeptical of everything that came before him. Her job interview with Moore, an aspiring employee, included questions about age, religion and marital status that would now be considered taboo. Moore treats them with humor and grace. The music video is best known for Asner’s performance of “you got sperm” followed by “I HATE spunk.” The dynamic between the two characters over seven seasons was wonderfully set in motion from that first encounter, which you can see below.

When Mary Tyler Moore pass A few years ago, many remembered her pioneering role as a single woman who placed a remarkable career ahead of the domestic roles traditionally expected of women. Never before has a TV show emphasized these priorities, and it was duly commended for it. Lou Grant’s gradual acceptance and appreciation of his character’s independence is also worth mentioning, as it signaled viewers that this was not just normal, but commendable.

One of the most remarkable facets of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was Lou Grant’s evolution over seven seasons from 1970 to 1977. And yes, I’m old enough to remember watching every Saturday night episode on CBS during this series, which was followed by an equally awesome The Bob Newhart Show and The Carol Burnett Show. It was the golden age of clever comedy programs named after their main actors.

But many overlook Asner’s more serious turn in the hour-long newspaper drama. Lou Grant. Asner played the role of the editor of the fictional newspaper Los Angeles Tribune, and his character necessarily evolved from the boss of the WBGN news, who was played for comedic effect. The show was clever, beautifully delivered, and featured storylines that presented both ethical dilemmas for a media outlet, but also the role newspapers play in local government, broader politics, and industry. It’s no exaggeration to say that season five of Thread shares some DNA with Lou Grant, a largely unrecognized relic from the late 1970s.

Yes, the dramatic portrayal of local and journalistic issues was pretty two-dimensional compared to the high-end drama series we’re all used to over-watching. Corn Lou Grant was a lot smarter than he should have been, as was the title character, who showed skill and nuance to balance local coverage with the publishing industry.

My memories of Ed Asner playing Lou Grant might be clouded. They are one with the terrible nostalgia of watching TV with my family and laughing out loud, funny, well-written comedy (cheers to James brooks!) My dad, who passed away when I was 17, shared a similar look to Lou Grant’s, a fact that I’m sure features in my emotional reaction. It’s no coincidence that I own a t-shirt with the WJM-TV logo and one with Lou Grant’s face a la Che Guevara. No excuses.

But one cannot underestimate how influential Asner’s portrayal of Lou Grant, both in a three-camera sitcom and an hour-long drama, has been with many senior journalists. He was tough but fair. Principle but adaptable. Willingness but able to laugh at the nonsense of life (like the funeral of beloved Chuckles the Clown.)

Lou Grant not only embraced the career of Mary Tyler Moore, but also served as a mentor, at a time when this sort of thing was often mocked. Above all, he wanted to treat people as equals and tell their stories fairly.

At a time when journalistic integrity is increasingly difficult to achieve, this is a legacy worth celebrating.

This is an opinion piece. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Ed Asner's Lou Grant leaves a lasting legacy for journalists
Ed Asner's Lou Grant leaves a lasting legacy for journalists
Newsrust - US Top News
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