Tuesday 2 January 2007

Mr. Lou Grant

It was a brilliant Toronto Sun promotion, pitched to the public with a straight face.

The Toronto Sun, in need of a city editor, decided to hire Mr. Lou Grant as senior city editor.

The appointment of Lou Grant, formerly of American television and newspaper newsrooms, was announced in the business section on Page 59 of the March 9, 1979, Toronto Sun.

The "Toronto Sun Appointment," with a photo of Lou Grant below, read:

"J. Douglas Creighton, publisher, is pleased to announce Mr. Lou Grant has accepted the position of Senior City Editor.

Mr. Grant brings a distinguished career spanning electronic and print journalism to this newly-created editorial position.

He comes to Toronto from the Los Angeles Tribune and has worked on many major metropolitan dailies, including the Herald, the Globe, the News, the Chronicle, the Times and the Examiner.

For seven years, he was News Director of WJM-TV in Minneapolis where his highly acclaimed news operation captured several Teddy Awards.

As Senior City Editor he will exercise full editorial control and will report to Managing Editor Ed Monteith."

Lou Grant arrived for work on March 23, 1979, and looked quite at ease sitting at city desk until pesky Peter Gross from CITY-TV started directing him to do this and that for the camera.

After 15 minutes of Peter Gross in his face, Lou was looking like his grumpy old self at WJM-TV and the L.A. Trib.

Lou was surprised that his appointment created a stir among some readers who lambasted the Sun for hiring an American editor, rather than a Canadian.

With day one on the job out of the way, Lou attended a welcome-to-the-Sun cocktail party and got to mingle with Creighton, Peter Worthington and staffers from all floors.

So it was a shock to many the next day when Creighton announced Lou was fired. He was too disruptive to the flow of the newsroom, with the TV cameras and all, said Doug.

Lou made his exit and flew back to L.A.

And the Sun, for the benefit of readers who didn't know it was a clever promotion, got back to reality.

The reality all along was veteran actor Ed Asner, whose Lou Grant character on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and the Lou Grant series paid his bills and won awards, was a great sport.

Ed met with Peter Worthington in Los Angeles earlier in the year to discuss the Lou Grant stunt and agreed to do it while in Toronto during a film shoot.

The hiring of Lou Grant and booking the SkyDome for a lavish Toronto Sun 20th anniversary staff party rank among the most memorable one day events in Sun history.

Classic Sun.

Lou Grant Day also created the ultimate Odd Couple in the newsroom and at the reception: outspoken leftist Ed Asner and outspoken cap C conservative Peter Worthington.

But Ed's day in the Sun obviously made an impression. He dropped by the Sun to say hello a couple of times while filming in Toronto.

And CITY-TV's Peter Gross was not invited.

Those were the days, my friends, we thought they'd never end.

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