Oh, Ed

Hollywood icon Ed Asner to receive lifetime achievement award

On Thursday, July 21, at 1 p.m., My Friend Ed, a documentary about Ed Asner premieres. Asner will hold a Q-and-A after the screening.
On Thursday, July 21, at 1 p.m., My Friend Ed, a documentary about Ed Asner premieres at Long Island International Film Expo in Bellmore. Asner will hold a Q-and-A after the screening.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant, Up and Elf. If you haven’t already guessed what all of these television shows and films have in common, it’s one name: Ed Asner. The American film, television and voice actor is being honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Long Island International Film Expo, and if you think that means the end of a long and successful career then guess again. He’s not done yet.

“I’m not through. I’ve got a ways to go but it’s nice, especially since the folks of Long Island are such entertaining types,” said Asner on his nomination of the prestigious award.

Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner

One of Hollywood’s originals, Asner got his big break when he landed the role of Lou Grant, the blunt but lovable newsman on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which aired for seven years before Asner’s character got his own spinoff series, Lou Grant, which lasted five years.

“I loved them all,” said the Emmy award-winning Asner, who didn’t play favorites to episodes on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. “Being the wonderful comedian that I am, I identified totally with whatever was created for Lou Grant and it became a hit. It was a very comfortable place to be.”

Asner has been in the business for a long time. Now, he said Hollywood is “more chaotic than it used to be and much more disorganized and crowded.” In recent years, Asner has been loved by many as Santa Claus from Elf and as a voice-over actor who lent his voice to Carl Fredricksen from Up.

The actor provided the voice of grouchy Carl Fredricksen in Up.
Disney’s Up
The actor provided the voice of grouchy Carl Fredricksen in Up.

“It was wonderful,” said Asner on voicing Fredricksen, the grumpy curmudgeon widower who befriends a young scout on his adventure in his traveling balloon house. “The animators expressed pleasure with the choices I was giving them, and the direction by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson was always excellent. I never felt at a loss.”

When asked about some of the most intriguing projects he has been involved with, Asner responded, “Oh Christ, I don’t know,” and it’s true. With such a long and prosperous career making so many beloved characters come to life, it’s hard to pick just one.

“So much of the good stuff I did was done in Canada. I almost feel like Canada is a good luck charm for me,” said Asner. “I did A Case of Libel, The Family Man and we did part of Elf in Canada. It all resonates well with me.”

Asner is also a known activist and is passionate about wildlife, gun control and autism. His son is the project director for Autism Speaks, and Asner appears at any event related to the disorder.

Asner as Santa Claus in Elf.

“It can’t be talked about enough because it’s pandemic, and it needs as much publicity as it can get so people are reassured,” said Asner. “There’s much to be done and to me, there’s so much space to be carved out so people can have decent productive lives.”

As for his upcoming projects, Asner is a cast member of Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“It’s filmed in a Canadian city that has a great deal of charm,” he said. “I’m also working on producing with my partner Maggie Grant, and I have hopes that one of them will finally take off.”

Asner considers Long Island a break from the city and will be back to accept his award at the Expo, which is held from July 13-21 at the historic Bellmore Movies at 222 Pettit Ave., Bellmore.

Read more about the Long Island Film Festival lineup, featuring a screening and Q-and-A with Ed Asner.

19th Annual Long Island International Film Expo

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Jennifer Fauci
Jennifer Fauci is the former managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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