Still in Love with Lucy
by Thomas Watson
Monday, April 8, 2002
Dear Fellow Lucy Fans,
Thanks for your nice e-notes regarding last week's updates. It's good to be back!
Video? Video? Wherefore Art Thou, Video?
The Columbia House I Love Lucy DVD project seems to be in limbo right now, which is a shame, considering all the publicity the DVD format is getting these days. The LA Times yesterday reported that total sales of DVDs last year reached $4.6 billion, more than doubling their 2000 sales. There are about 20 million DVD players now in people's homes, a figure that is expected to double by the end of this year... And some of the most popular items on the DVD software market are packages of old (and current) TV series. Fox recently released the first season of M*A*S*H all in one boxset, and two weeks ago Columbia Tri-Star Home Video released the first season of All in the Family in a similar package.
As for our Lucys, Columbia House -- a mail order video-of-the-month club -- has released five discs so far. Each contains four episodes, plus a lot of nice extras -- deleted scenes, related radio broadcasts, etc. (Most of these "extras" are courtesy of consultant Gregg Oppenheimer.) Columbia House has promised to continue the series, but so far has not started production on disc #6 -- so no one knows when a new batch will be released.
Paramount Home Video, which produces the I Love Lucy VHS tapes that are in the stores, will re-release the Columbia House DVDs -- in new Paramount packaging -- beginning in July. The Paramount versions will retail for $14.95, although many of the larger stores are expected to sell them for much less. (The Columbia House releases are priced, with shipping and handling, at twice that!) Paramount has had a great deal of success with packaging their Star Trek series on home video, so we hope that if Columbia House, for whatever reason, does not continue with their DVD project, Paramount will step in and finish the series.
It's So Tasty, too...
Gregg Oppenheimer, by the way, will be guest speaker at a special "50th Anniversary celebration" honoring I Love Lucy's Vitameatavegamin episode next month. The event will be held in Tucson, Arizona, on Friday, May 17th, at 8PM at the Berger Performing Arts Center (1200 West Speedway). "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" will be screened, along with deleted scenes from other episodes. There will also be a Lucy look-alike contest. Gregg will be selling and signing his book, "Laughs, Luck & Lucy," with all proceeds going to the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation. Tickets for the special event are $15, and are available by calling (520) 529-4946.
Speaking of Anniversaries...
CBS had so much success last fall with its I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary Special and its Carol Burnett out-takes reunion that it has scheduled yet another journey down memory lane, this one honoring the 50th anniversary of its CBS Television City studios in Los Angeles. Ms. Burnett will serve as host.
CBS: 50 Years from Television City will air Saturday, April 27, from 9-11PM. The studio, of course, was "home" to some of the greatest variety shows of all time, including not only that of Ms. Burnett, but the shows of Sonny & Cher, Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, Red Skelton, etc. It was the west-coast home of the dramatic anthology Playhouse 90, and, in the 1970s, housed such popular sitcoms as All in the Family and The Jeffersons.
Lucy performed at TV City many times -- but always on somebody else's show. None of the Lucy shows per se were produced there.
The November, 1952 opening of the studio (at Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in LA) was celebrated with a live network special that included the stars of all the major CBS programs of that year. Desi Arnaz performed "live" in the show, but Lucy's contribution was on film: the very-pregnant redhead watched the special at home like the rest of us!
NBC will also get into the anniversary business with its own 75th Anniversary celebration, set for Sunday, May 5, 8-11PM. To commemorate the occasion, the network has released a new book, "Brought to You in Living Color." It's beautifully produced, but emphasizes the post-1970s era (as opposed to the early years)... Buy it if you are into TV history -- but if you are looking to augment your Lucy collection, you can skip it -- the lady (who was a guest countless times on the programs of Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Johnny Carson, etc.) is not even mentioned in the book's index!
The Frank H. Boos Gallery in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, will host an auction of celebrity autographs collected over the years by columnist Shirley Eder. Ms. Eder is apparently willing to part with some of these treasures, and yes, Lucille Ball autographs are included. Also mentioned in the advance publicity are such stars as Frank Sinatra, Ginger Rogers, Barbara Stanwyke, Mae West, Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, etc., etc. Included will be signed photos, letters, holiday cards, art works, movie posters, movie press packets, Playbills, etc. The gallery has promised to send us an inventory list as soon as it is available.
The auction is scheduled for May 15-16. The Boos Gallery is located at 420 Enterprise Court, in Bloomfield, Michigan. Their phone number is (248) 332-1500. For more information, visit their web site at www.boosgallery.com
And that's about it for another Monday... Thanks again for the notes... And have a great week!
PS: Almost forgot -- The Jamestown Museum's web-site (www.lucy-desi.com) is temporarily disabled. If you need to send a message to the museum or to Ric Wyman, you can send it to our fan-club e-mail, and we will forward it to Ric's home. Many thanks!
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