Out of the ghetto, into the mainsheets
By Terry Mattingly
(Copyright) The Quill:
The Society of Professional Journalists
anuary of 1983
As was often the case, Lou Grant was working on two problems at once. At first the problems seemed unrelated.
The Los Angeles Tribune had lost its religion editor. City editor Grant had searched far and wide and, of course, no one was interested in the position. After all, what self-respecting journalist would want to be stuck with the religion beat?
Problem number two was how to get rid of lazy, often-drunk, no-good reporter Mal Cavanaugh. All through this episode of Lou Grant the management of the Trib had been trying to find a way to get Cavanaugh to resign.
Then, a spark of inspiration. The script is simple:
LOU: Congratulations, Mal. You're the Trib's new religion editor.
Lou sits back beaming. The information seeps in a bit slowly on Cavanaugh, who blinks at Lou.
CAVANAUGH: Religion editor?
LOU: That's right, Mal. And I can't think of a better man to interview the clergy ... take ministers to lunch.
CAVANAUGH: Are you kidding?
LOU: Detail the theological frontiers in this country and abroad.
CAVANAUGH: That stinks! Before you stick me with a lousy job like that, I'd quit.
LOU: Quit? You haven't even given it a chance. You can't quit.
CAVANAUGH: The hell I can't. Just watch me.
Grant's newsroom associates beam as Cavanaugh storms out.
The television audience is left with the impression that Grant's problems are over. The religion editor spot is still empty, but who cares?