Still in Love with Lucy
by Thomas Watson
Monday, August 25, 2003
Dear Fellow Lucy Fans,
Kudos and applause to producer Kurt Fethke for last night's offering on Bravo -- "Desilu," a special documentary offering a unique in-depth look at the business relationship and personal lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The two-hour production was a compendium of interviews and film clips, tracing for the first time the growth of the Arnazes' TV empire, and the effects it had both on their marriage and on the TV industry.
Included in the interviews were many of the "usual suspects" -- including longtime Lucy friends and co-workers like Carole Cook, Robert Osborne, Carol Burnett, Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Pugh Davis, Bob Schiller, Dann Cahn, Ann Miller and Edie Adams...
But we also got to hear from Lucy's lawyer Art Manella, Desi's attorney Dixon Dern, Desilu executives Bernie Weitzman, Herbert F. Solow and Ed Holly, fellow actors like Richard Crenna, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, and Larry Anderson. Many of these folks were appearing on a Lucy-related film for the first time.
How great to see film clips not only from I Love Lucy, but from such other Desilu hits as Our Miss Brooks, December Bride, Desilu Playhouse, The Ann Sothern Show, Guestward Ho!, and The Untouchables. We also saw the opening titles from such programs as Whirleybirds, The Sheriff of Cochise, and The Texan, which were very popular in their time and contributed to the overall Desilu success story. The film showed how Lucy was forced to take over the presidency of the studio in 1962, and how the studio later developed such new hits as Mission: Impossible, Mannix, and Star Trek.
Which is not to say the Arnazes' personal lives were overlooked. Lucy's brother Fred Ball filled in a lot of information about Lucy's childhood, and the Arnazes' daughter Lucie told about their later lives. As one "TV Guide" columnist warned, the last 15 minutes of the film were both heartwarming and sad, as Lucie told about Lucy and Desi's last telephone conversation, and we saw a tearful Lucy being saluted at the 1986 Kennedy Center Honors.
All in all, a very complete telling of the business side of Lucy and Desi's lives -- and a long-overdue valentine to two people who contributed so much to American television. Bravo, Bravo... and bravo Kurt, director Marshall Flaum, and all the others involved with this fine production.
For more on this special, here are the comments of our resident reviewer, TV historian Stuart Shostak:
"The Desilu Story" - A Review by Stuart Shostak
Light the Candles...
Get the ice out... Roll the rug up... Mame's on her way!
Yes, at long last, the "Mame" soundtrack is being issued on CD! It's hard to believe, but Lucy's last motion picture was made 30 years ago, and Rhino Handmade, a division of Rhino Records, is celebrating by re-issuing a remastered soundtrack. We do not know yet whether the disc will contain any "bonus material," but Rhino is famous for including bonus tracks and previously-unreleased "extras," so we will keep our fingers crossed!
Rhino Handmade releases are normally priced in the $19.95 range, plus shipping, and are often available only from the Rhino Handmade web site. They do not post the releases on the site until they are actually available, so keep on the lookout. The web site address is:
Have a great week, everybody!
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Original materials © 2003 Lucyfan Enterprises. All rights reserved.
"I Love Lucy" is copyrighted by and a registered trademark of CBS Worldwide, Inc.
Images of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz used with permission of Desilu, too, LLC.
Licensing by Unforgettable Licensing, Northbrook, Illinois.