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When Rob Lowe played Sam Seaborn on NBC's The West Wing 15 years ago, the show was watched by 20 million people a week. His most recent series, the Fox sitcom The Grinder, got great reviews, but frequently struggled to get to a mere million viewers. Lowe reflects on his decades in television, and what's next for his career now that The Grinder, which he both starred in and produced, has been canceled.

Photo: Rob Lowe as Dean Sanderson on The Grinder, courtesy of Fox

Producers:
Kaitlin Parker

Hollywood News Banter 7 MIN, 55 SEC

Indiewire executive editor Michael Schneider joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.

  • Even though the television model is changing, the annual upfronts in New York are still expected to bring in $9 billion worth of advertising money.
  • At the broadcast presentations this year, what's old is new again as the networks turn to familiar intellectual property, hoping to re-do it in some form and make a splash in a crowded landscape. Familiar titles include Lethal Weapon, McGyver, Taken and Prison Break.
  • High points at the presentation included ABC's Designated Survivor and NBC's comedy The Good Place. Shows that look like they could be tough sells are two of ABC's high-concept comedies, Imaginary Mary and Downward Dog.

Guests:
Michael Schneider, Indiewire / Variety (@Franklinavenue)

Rob Lowe: The Grinder 19 MIN, 25 SEC

Rob Lowe is a true veteran of the business. He was an 80's heartthrob thanks to movies like St. Elmo's Fire and About Last Night.

He's been in many network TV shows, including The West Wing, in which he played White House communications director Sam Seaborn. Younger fans may know Lowe as Chris Traeger, "LIT-erally" the most upbeat city manager ever in NBC's Parks and Recreation.

Now Lowe is wondering whether his most recent show, the Fox sitcom The Grinder, will be his last for a broadcast network. In the ratings-challenged series, Lowe played Dean Sanderson, an actor famous for playing a super slick lawyer in a sudsy drama, also called The Grinder.

The premise of the sitcom version of The Grinder is that Dean's show has been cancelled. So he heads home to Boise, Idaho, hoping to reconnect with his father and brother, played by William Devane and Fred Savage. They are real lawyers whose jobs are not exactly glamorous. Dean is convinced that the ploys that worked on his series can work in real life.

The sitcom The Grinder got a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it struggled to find an audience. When we sat down with Lowe, he was still awaiting word on the fate of the show, but he knew things weren't looking good. Despite its low ratings, the show had dedicated fans--several thousand of them have already signed a Change.org petition, urging a streaming outlet like Hulu or Netflix to pick the series up.

When he sat down with us, Lowe reflected on his long career in the industry, how deciding to be sober changed his life, and why he hates being called "a hunk."

Guests:
Rob Lowe, actor and producer (@RobLowe)

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