Lou Grant and The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Lou Grant (1977-1982)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)
Type: Spin Off

   Of the three spin offs of The Mary Tyler Moore show, Lou Grant may have been the most unusual and the most successful. While spin off Rhoda may have started out more successfully I think Lou Grant in the long run did better. It didn't end up having its basic premise and plot points tinkered with and weakened the way Rhoda did.

   When The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended, it was only natural to try to spin off one of the characters into a new show (Rhoda and Phyllis had both spun off before the end of the series). News Producer Lou Grant was the character chosen. At the end of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and everyone else who worked in the newsroom of TV station WJM were fired... all except for bumbling news anchor Ted Baxter, the one character who actually deserved to be fired. The characters said their tearful goodbyes and left WJM singing "It's A Long Way To Tipperary" on their ways to uncertain futures. For Lou Grant that future lay in Los Angeles.

   The series Lou Grant put Lou in the job of city editor for the Los Angeles Tribune. This was the rare case of a sitcom spinning off a drama series (the only other example I can even think of is M*A*S*H spinning off Trapper John, M.D.). Lou worked for his old friend Charlie Hume and constantly came to loggerheads with the paper's owner Margaret Pynchon who had very different views from Lou's. But even though they disagreed in their views, Lou and Mrs. Pynchon did like and respect each other.

   Other reporters for the paper included Billie Newman and Joe Rossi. The paper's photographer was named Animal. His name fit his general dress and appearance.

   The series used the newspaper as a way of telling topical stories about current issues of the day. Oddly enough for a show that regularly dealt with issues of current events, it might have been canceled by CBS because of its star Ed Asner's views on some of those events. Asner himself as well as others said that Lou Grant was dropped from the CBS lineup because of Asner's outspoken expression of his views. Not only would canceling the series allow CBS to distance itself from Asner and his views, a celebrity with a series gets more media attention for his views than a celebrity looking for work. As long as you don't have a current project, you aren't necessarily a going concern to the public. CBS said it canceled the show simply due to low ratings. Which story was the truth? Maybe both. If Ed Asner's views were honking off the powers that be at CBS and the ratings were slipping, there would certainly be less motivation to keep the show going. I mean, if the show was #1 with a bullet, I think CBS would have put up with a lot. Or if Asner hadn't been as outspoken, they might have been happy to overlook slipping ratings.

Other Mary Tyler Moore Show Crossover Links
The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Phyllis
The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda

Click here to return to main Crossover List

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