During the primetime run of the show (1977-1982), Edward Asner became increasingly vocal on behalf of various liberal political causes. Although the series had slipped in ratings by 1982, many critics speculated that the actor's politics played a major role in the show's cancellation.
When the series aired on CBS on Monday nights, journalism classes would dismiss early, so that the faculty and students could watch the new episodes and discuss them in class.
The producers of the show wanted to air a final episode that dealt with the paper going out of business. They actually interviewed reporters from real newspapers that closed in order to prepare for this episode. The show was taken off the air before that episode could be filmed.
During the run of the show, the reporters switched from using typewriters to VDTs (video display terminals). The brand name was taped over on all of the computers.
A spinoff of the sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, this is one of the only dramatic series in American TV history to originate from a comedy series.
The show Room 222 takes place at the fictional Walt Whitman High School. The old building at Los Angeles High School, which was used for the exterior of Walt Whitman High, collapsed in the 1971 earthquake. The new building on that spot was used as the exterior for Whitman High in this series.
The Trib uncovered numerous scandals in the small city of Newton, California. Newton is the name of an LAPD district, but there is no city of Newton, California.
Mrs. Pynchon, the widowed owner of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune, was based on Katherine Graham, the real widowed owner of the Washington Post, and on Dolly Schiff.
When CBS canceled the series in 1982, NBC considered picking it up, but ultimately decided against it. Grant Tinker, who was chairman of NBC at the time, later commented that the reason the network passed on the show was because they judged it as "a little tired".
This is the only show to feature Adam (Allen Williams) in a major role and to give him guest-star billing. (Adam appeared in the opening credits of every show from season 2 to the end, although he doesn't get a listing. He's the one who asks over the phone: "How much money was missing ... was it over a thousand dollars?"
This show and the next one do NOT feature Robert Walden (as reporter Joe Rossi), except in the opening credits. Walden was holding out for a salary raise (he told an interviewer that the initials of the production company, MTM, really stood for "Mighty Tight Money"). With a Screen Actors' Guild strike looming, the company went ahead and filmed the two completed scripts without using him -- or paying him. Walden returned to the set, along with the rest of the cast, when the strike ended. After the two shows were in the can and Walden was sidelined without any income at all (except for rerun payments), one of the producers said of Walden: "Bobby is a hell of an actor, but a lousy poker player. He just overplayed his hand."
The press room, where the old reporter Driscoll works, is the "roll call" set from "Hill Street Blues."
Up to this point in the season, "Lou Grant" had been drawing high ratings, usually ranking in the top 20 or 25 each week and sometimes better -- quite good considering that its lead-in, "House Calls," was all but canceled due to weak ratings (it finally left the air on March 29). But all shows from this one to May 24 finished in the bottom 20 of each ratings chart and often in the bottom 10. Nobody could figure out why, although series star Edward Asner was getting heavily involved in politics and promoting what appeared to be a Marxist revolution in El Salvador (this might have put off some viewers but he believed it put off network programming executives much more). CBS-TV held out hope until mid-May before giving up and renewing "Cagney and Lacey" (with major cast changes of its own) to fill the time slot, a highly controversial decision because "Cagney and Lacey" had been a total failure in a three-week spring run. (When "Cagney and Lacey" ran a full season in 1982-83, the season average was lower than "Lou Grant" had pulled for 1981-82, although far higher than "Lou Grant"'s spring 1982 tallies.) To add insult to injury, reruns of "Lou Grant" in the summer of 1982 (against NBC baseball) soared to the tops of the ratings again, although this had happened every summer since "Lou Grant" had moved to Mondays.
This show about the possibility of a nuclear war breaking out was heavily hyped by CBS-TV, which up to this point had desperately wanted to keep the highly acclaimed "Lou Grant" on the schedule for the following season -- until the ratings came in. The numbers -- a 10.3 rating and and 18 share -- don't mean much to audiences in the 21st century, which no longer counts percentages of homes tuned into the show -- but they were unbelievably bad for 1982, below the ratings of numerous already-canceled shows and about even with the playing-out-the-string "Mork and Mindy." CBS gave up on "Lou Grant" and canceled it as soon as the programming chief read the numbers and walked around the corporate offices (he later said even his proposal for a 13-show half season drew no supporters), running two more shows in May and two more in late summer just to burn them off.