Friday, June 15, 2018
Carrie Snodgress, Edie Adams, BOTNS alum Jed Allan...David Letterman? Hey, I want to see this movie!
*Lou Grant aired 5 seasons and 114 episodes, all on CBS, Tuesdays at 10 the first season and Mondays at 10 the remainder of the run.
*The Los Angeles Times' Dorothy Chandler was indeed an inspiration for Nancy Marchand's Margaret Pynchon, in addition to The Washington Post's Katharine Graham.
*You can decide for yourself, but Ed Asner still says Lou was canned for political reasons. He talks about it in this article from two weeks ago. In a May 1982 New York Times article, we read:
A spokesman for CBS said ''Lou Grant'' would be canceled ''reluctantly'' because of a ''sharp decline in audience response.'' In each of the three seasons preceding 1981-82, he said, the show averaged a 32 share and a 19.6 rating. This season, the share dropped to 27 and the rating to 16.6. ''Lou Grant'' and ''WKRP in Cincinnati'' have consistently received high critical acclaim.
In September, when the final episode aired, Times critic John O'Connor added some perspective:
The overriding viewpoint could probably be described as liberal. And in his private life, Mr. Asner was prominently associated with liberal causes. Some critics speculate that these political aspects hastened the demise of the series. CBS insists that sagging ratings were the culprits (although reruns of the show have been placing in the top 10 over the summer). There is undoubtedly a bit of truth in both theories. Meanwhile, however, television has lost one of its worthier efforts. That is the unsettling bottom line.'
*Click here for the 1982 SNL sketch starring "Lou Grant" as he does the weather after being fired from CBS!
*The "real-life" Art Donovan was a Baltimore Colts Hall of Fame defensive tackle and frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman. He made an infamous appearance on the 1994 WWF King of the Ring pay per view as a color commentator.
*Marvel Comics published The Human Fly from 1977-1979. The character was based on real-life daredevil Rick Rojatt. Check out this week's YouTube playlist for more on Rojatt!
*Emilio Delgado is best known as Luis on Sesame Street, but he appears in 19 Lou episodes as Ruben Castillo.
*Gordon Jump is in 6 episodes as National Editor at the Los Angeles Tribune.
*Included among Asner's record 7 Prime Time Emmys is the distinction of being the first to win a major comedic and dramatic acting award for the same role. Uzo Aduba matched that feat for Orange Is the New Black--sort of. She achieved the double because the series was submitted as a drama instead of a comedy after its first season. Asner won different awards for the same character in two completely different programs.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
We follow up our Mary Tyler Moore Episode with a look at its dramatic spinoff Lou Grant. When a tunnel collapses, Lou gets the "L.A. Tribune" team in high gear while managing fragile egos, a TV-loving intern, a human fly, an unhappy assistant editor, a nut job, and...Swedes? Yes, Gilligan's Island comes up, too.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
OK, maybe there is, but is there one more flat-out adorable?
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong details the creation of this classic show opener. Co-creators Jimmy Brooks (OK, that's James L. Brooks to me) and Allen Burns hired an Iranian director, Rexa Badiyi, to handle it. After directing documentary films in Iran, Badiyi emigrated to the USA and got into television. Other shows he directed opening credit sequences for: Hawaii Five-0 and Get Smart.
Does this guy know how to make a title segment or what?
Later, he directed episodes of BOTNS subjects like The Incredible Hulk and The Six Million Dollar Man, plus many other possible future podcast subjects.
Badiyi was responsible for the concept as well as the visuals, and it was he who thought of the climactic hat toss. Armstrong writes that the beret was meant to symbolize rebellion and "girlish dreams of European sophistication." It wasn't a contrived move, though; the beret was one Moore happened to bring with her.
The weather was freezing cold--hey, it was Minneapolis in February--when Badiyi told Moore to run out in traffic and toss her hat with glee. As Armstrong says, the raw footage didn't stand out to anyone, but edited together with the final freeze frame, it was gold. Burns told the director, "You son of a bitch. You made this work."
In season 2, the opening would change somewhat--the lyrics to Sonny Curtis' theme song were modified, and Mary Tyler Moore ditched the fur coat after getting involved in animal rights--but the essential spirit of the fantastic sequence remained throughout the series' run and is one of the reasons the show is still famous.
Friday, June 8, 2018
Remember, our official YouTube Channel has episode-specific playlists for all of our past shows!
*Third-season opener The Good-Time News premiered Saturday, September 16, 1972, at 9:30 P.M., airing against The Streets of San Francisco and a broadcast of 1967's In the Heat of the Night. The rest of CBS' lineup that night: All in the Family, Bridget Loves Bernie, The Bob Newhart Show, and Mission Impossible.
*Nancy Walker did Bounty ads from 1970-1990, according to Wikipedia.
*Rhoda spun off in 1974 and was a ratings smash for its first two years, even beating its parent show many times, but it tailed off after that. The ratings decline is generally attributed to the decision to split up Rhoda and her hubby, who married in season 1 to spectacular viewership.
*Phyllis lasted two seasons (75-76 and 77-78) and started very strong but declined in its second season. Cloris Leachman won a Prime Time Emmy (one of 8 in her career) for Lead Comedy Actress for this series.
*WJM-TV in Minneapolis is where Mary works as Associate Producer of the 6:00 news show, with Lou as Producer (at the time of this episode we cover) and Murray the writer. Wikipedia says he's the head writer, but I'm not sure how many other people are writing the copy that anchorman Ted Baxter reads.
*Lou dates Mary in season 7's Lou Dates Mary. Jack Cassidy's appearance as Ted Baxter's brother is in season 2's Cover Boy. Cassidy was the original choice for Ted, and the role was reportedly written with him in mind, but he turned it down. And while we're at it, Gavin MacLeod originally read for the part of Lou but asked for the chance to read for Murray before he left.
*Theme song writer/performer Sonny Curtis played with Buddy Holly, then became frontman for a version of The Crickets after Holly's death. He is a Rock Hall of Fame member via the sidemen category as a result of his affiliation with the band. His other most famous hit? He wrote I Fought the Law, recorded by the Bobby Fuller Four.
*The S.S. Minnow left Hawaii before the weather started getting rough.
*Although The Mary Tyler Moore Show did not do well in broadcast syndication, it did do well for Nick at Nite in the 1990s.
*Other TV shows set in Minnesota include Coach and Little House on the Prairie as well as Rocky and Bulliwinkle.