Updating "Lou Grant" | Bleader

Monday, January 19, 2009

Updating "Lou Grant"

Posted By on 01.19.09 at 12:25 PM

Remember Lou Grant? The CBS show back in the late 70s sharpened the edges of Mary Richards's irascible but lovable boss on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and turned him into the hard-hitting city editor of the "Los Angeles Tribune," a paper more fictional then than some employees of the Los Angeles Times would say it is today.

At any rate, Joe Flint of the Paley Center for Media has written a funny piece imagining a Lou Grant updated for our age (h/t Romenesko); on this show there'd be no need to cast the roles of a managing editor (Charlie Hume) and an assistant city editor (Art Donovan), since these days "we all need to do more with less" and Lou Grant would be doing their jobs too.

As for ace investigative reporter Joe Rossi, he'd be reassigned to the entertainment beat, because "gossip and celebrities are what moves papers off the shelves."

My problem with Lou Grant back then was that the Tribune, serving a vast metropolitan area, seemed to consist of roughly two reporters (Rossi and Billie Newman) and one photographer (the "Animal"), who covered all the big stories. Now I realize that the Tribune was simply 30 years ahead of its time. Back then I teamed up with my friend Scott Jacobs -- both of us refugees from the Sun-Times --  to submit to the show a script we called "Rossi Crosses the Street." In the course of the hour, Rossi, who spends most of the program whispering into the phone, wrangles a job for more money from the competition and then wrangles his way back to the Tribune for even more money. The producers, failing to realize that this was the most realistic script they would ever get, turned it down.

Nowadays, of course, reporters don't cross the street because the other side of the street is a big hole in the ground. And if he tried, Rossi would return to his old desk and find an intern sitting there blogging.

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