Not since Chuckles the Clown croaked has there been this much hubbub around a newsroom.

And it involves a former Pantagrapher, name of Ed Asner.

Before we address that claim, we'll simply note that for a certain generation of news folk, of which we are a member, the name Ed Asner carries a lot of weight.

When word came down earlier this week that Asner would be coming to town in February with a one-man show at the BCPA ("A Man and His Prostate," Feb. 24), those of us who remember him as his TV alter-ego Lou Grant ... well, we, kinda lost it.

As in: LOU GRANT? IN THE FLESH AND BALDING PATE? 

Asner's legendary character — gruff as he was lovable, and vice versa — worked two sides of the TV journalism fence.

First, it was as news director of WJM-TV for seven seasons of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," where he famously greeted Moore's Mary Richards with the declaration, "You have spunk. I HATE spunk!"

Then, post-"MTM Show," came Lou's subsequent five-season hitch as city news editor for the (fictional) Los Angeles Tribune in the drama-skewing, hourlong "Lou Grant."

Though he first earned his stripes in the electronic journalism trenches, it was while leading the print charge from 1977 to 1982 that Ed's Lou forever endeared himself to a generation of ink-stained newsfolk.

Now, about that "former Pantagrapher" claim: After decades of assuming that our Pantagraph was the newspaper world's ONLY Pantagraph ... now we know better.

Pre-"Lou Grant," Ed Asner held the title of features editor for, we kid you not, The Pantagraph.

Which, as it turns out, is the OTHER one in the world: the school newspaper published during his tenure at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City.

Ed, can we talk?

Sure hope so; stay tuned.

Forever Young: Before letting go of Asner's ties to us, we would be remiss in ignoring another one.

Namely this: That a Class of 1960 Bloomington High School grad named Roger Young guided many of Asner's greatest performances during his tenure as house director for "Lou Grant," winning several Emmy directing awards along the way.

Young went on to direct the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Tom Selleck, Michael Keaton and Ben Kingsley in projects both big-screen and small.

In a number of interviews with us over the years, he's repeatedly maintained that among his proudest achievements was his work on "Lou Grant."

Even so, we're betting that even Young didn't know he was directing a guy who once worked for a real newspaper bearing his own hometown paper's moniker.

Gallery hopping: Head on over to 1305 Morrissey Drive this Sunday (Nov. 19), from 2 to 5 p.m., to check the new digs of local artists Jan Brandt and Jeannie Breitweiser.

Though they've occupied the space since midsummer, they've settled in to the point that they can now celebrate with an official grand opening.

Two exhibits will be unveiled, "Bio-Lab #13," through Jan. 15, featuring a Brandt-designed textile installation; and "Reciprocity," through Nov. 27, a collaborative project by Brandt, Breitweiser, Marlis Burke and Natalie Wetzel.

Brandt and Breitweiser "have been friends for years," formerly occupying adjacent studios on Bell Street, a half-mile north of their new home, a former residence owned by Jack Grady of neighboring Grady's Pizza.

In its former lives, the building has housed everything from a pawn shop to a tortilla shop to a palm-reading emporium.

"We decided to branch out into a new location that offers a light and airy environment and is more accessible to guests," says Brandt. "Also, there's air conditioning, which the old place didn't have!"

"With the ton of windows, we have wonderful natural light and fresh air, and it's easily accessible, with plenty of parking," adds Breitweiser. 

In the new home, Brandt's art studio and The Guest Room at Jan Brandt Gallery are housed upfront, while Breitweiser's Studio B is in a lower space in what looks like would have been the garage, with a big double door that goes up and has a screen over it.

After spending 25 years as a licensed interior designer, Brandt returned to ISU in mid-life and earned a BFA with an emphasis in printmaking. She opened her first gallery at the Bell Street location and exhibited more than 900 artists.

Breitweiser also hails from the interior design world, having owned her own business a number of years. She's known for her set decorating and props acumen on the local theater scene having worked for Heartland Theatre, Prairie Fire Theatre, IWU's Opera Department and The Pantagraph's Holiday Spectacular.

Both women say the "celebrating the idea of changing life's direction to follow one's passion, no matter what age."

Dan Craft is Pantagraph entertainment editor. He can be reached at 309-829-9000, Ext. 259 or via email at dcraft@pantagraph.com 

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