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Lou Grant: The Making of TV's Top Newspaper Drama (Television and Popular Culture) Paperback – January 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The Lou Grant show ran from 1977 to 1982 and became the most popular newspaper drama ever broadcast on television. Journalists at the fictional Los Angeles Tribune strove to question authority while covering issues as thoroughly as possible. Daniel chronicles character development, plots (often reflecting real news of the day, from Vietnam vets and inner-city school violence to political corruption and homosexuality, although abortion and school busing were avoided), and censorship issues, coming from the CBS Program Practices department. Daniel provides plot summaries for all 114 episodes and delves into several of the 23 newspaper dramas that premiered (though most failed) during the three decades prior to this award-winning Mary Tyler Moore production. For five seasons, Lou Grant and his colleagues delivered a weekly dose of dramatic realism; this book serves as an indispensable tool for appreciating its impact on the newspaper genre and television drama as a whole. Jennifer Henderson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Television and Popular Culture
  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press (January 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815603630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815603634
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,249,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My latest book, "Tough as Nails: The Life and Films of Richard Brooks," available now from, combines two of my lifelong interests: writing and film. (Check out the Facebook page 'Tough as Nails Richard Brooks.')It's my second biography -- actually, my third, if you count the fictional TV character Lou Grant from the series of that name. I also wrote a biography, published in 2007, of "60 Minutes" correspondent Harry Reasoner.

That would make an interesting threesome to meet over lunch: Lou Grant, the tough but lovable city editor; Harry Reasoner, the exceedingly smart and witty writer and broadcaster; and Richard Brooks, himself once a reporter and later a novelist and screenwriter who turned to directing. I doubt I could get in a word -- and probably wouldn't want to do much but listen anyway.

Richard Brooks -- "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Elmer Gantry" and "In Cold Blood" are among his two dozen films -- was a great subject for a biography. First of all, no one has written about his life until now. I interviewed nearly forty people who knew him, worked in his films, loved him and at times hated the guy. I also reviewed his papers, at the motion picture academy archive, and files from MGM, 20th Century-Fox and other studios. Mr. Brooks lived according to his rules -- and his rules included decency and truth but also toughness and hard work.

Putting together the puzzle that was Richard Brooks' life challenged me as a writer and as a researcher. I've been writing since I attended journalism school at Kansas State University and worked on the K-State Collegian. In the years since, I have worked mainly for The Associated Press as a writer and editor. For several years I taught journalism at Kansas State and my other alma mater, Ohio University. Today, I'm back with the AP, in the Washington bureau.

Writing more than the day's news allows me a chance to be creative. I suppose nonfiction sets up familiar boundaries -- facts, you could call them -- and gives me a direction to follow. I admire novelists for their ability to create a world that can operate according to their imaginations. But nonfiction has its creative elements, too, and I am trying to master them.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The series "Lou Grant" was one of the few bright lights on late 1970s/early 1980s TV, which was dominated by particularly mindless escapism without substance. In contrast, it succeeded in taking a comedic character from one of the best intelligent sitcoms to grace the TV screen ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show") & made him the dramatic lead in a serious hour-long series, all without losing the essence of the character. That in itself was remarkable -- but even more so when you look at the series itself, which used the newspaper format to look at society & and its cutting-edge issues via personal stories & material drawn from the headlines.

Author Douglass Daniel does a fine job of setting the show in context: first by briefly examining the various TV shows dealing with journalism, and then by looking at the series as it was developed. From there he offers an in-depth analysis of its three seasons, looking at every episode in varying degrees. While he's clearly a fan of the series, he's quick to note when certain points are either glossed over or unrealistic; at the same time, he reminds us that this was a TV series, and a certain allowance must be made for dramatic licence.

Did the series have a liberal viewpoint? Well, of course it did, in that it followed Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, and other notable examples of crusading journalism by just a few years. The investigative reporter was one of the heroes of the day; and just as in real life, there was plenty of corruption & mendacity to be found in the halls of power -- political, corporate, religious, etc. Sadly, that hasn't changed. But the series wasn't so much about Grand Statements as it was about very human stories. The issues were illuminated in terms of their impact on individuals.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was excited to find something on this old favorite show, but this book was terrible. A few nuggets of insight here or there, but mostly didn't tell me anything that wasn't already pretty broad knowledge. I got halfway through the first chapter and skipped ahead to chapter 2. Didn't make any sense. Here you have a book about the Lou Grant show and the entire start of the book is about every other newspaper show that ever aired. Bizarre choice. Interviews with the actors came off flat...just surface stuff. It's only about 150 pages...don't be fooled at least half the pages are appendix.
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2 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mediaman on January 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It's great that someone decided to tackle Lou Grant as the subject of a book--but Douglass Daniel was the wrong person to do it. The former college teacher and current flagrant liberally-biased AP reporter (who famously was caught distorting 2008 presidential campaign stories to make Obama look good) uses the same lop-sided touches in crowning the Lou Grant series the greatest ever about journalistic ethics. But how can a man with such low ethical standards do a fair job writing a book on the subject?

The book starts fine, with the history of journalists on fictional television. But even in the first chapter the author can't quite get it right. He lists what he claims are all the TV series about journalists through 1977, yet there are a number that are excluded. There is no mention of The Doris Day Show, Shirley's World, My World & Welcome to It, That Girl (probably the other longest-running series with a reporter with a weekly starring role), and even Superman. These are mostly comedies, so maybe he doesn't like that genre--or maybe he didn't want to include magazine reporters as journalists (which most of those others were). Yet he certainly included series that had wire service reporters that don't work for a newspaper, so these others needed to be included. Also, why did he stop at 1977 and not include more recent series (since the book was published in 1994!). From the start the book is incomplete and biased.

The author acts as a cheerleader for the program instead of objectively seeing the flaws in it. The simple premises of the series is so unbelievable that it's hard to swallow, that a failed TV newsman from a low-rated station in a city like Minneapolis would somehow return to print journalism as the city editor in Los Angeles.
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