September 29, 2011

I Love Lucy Exhibits Across Country

Lucy lovers can find lots to enjoy this fall as the sitcom celebrates its 60th anniversary, the same year Lucille Ball would have turned 100. Here are the main events:

• “Lucille Ball at 100 & ‘I Love Lucy’ at 60” at The Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles; 323-464-7776; www.thehollywoodmuseum.com. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays-Sundays through Nov. 30. Admission: $15 adults; $12 seniors and children under 12

• “We Love Lucy” screenings at The Paley Center, 25 W. 52 St. (between Fifth & Sixth Avenues), New York, 212-621-6800; or 465 N. Beverly Dr., Los Angeles; 310-786-1091; www.paleycenter.org/2011-we-love-lucy-screenings-2. Sept. 28 through Oct. 30 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays); $10 adults, $8 students and seniors, $5 under 14.

• “Lucy: A Tribute” at Universal Studios Orlando: An indoor walk-thru attraction located in the Hollywood backlot area; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, park admission starts at $85; www.universalorlando.com.

• Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, 10 W. Third St., Jamestown, N.Y.; 716-484-0800; www.lucy-desi.com. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $10 adults, $9 age 60 and up, $7 ages 6 to 18.

• The Desilu Playhouse, 2 W. Third St., Jamestown, N.Y., 716-484-0800; www.lucy-desi.com. Admission: $10 adults, $9 age 60 and up, $8 for Lucy-Desi Museum members, $7 ages 8-18; $15 for dual admissions to museum and playhouse

• “I Love Lucy: The Untold Story,” a play by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of “I Love Lucy” creator-producer-writer Jess Oppenheimer, at SPERDVAC Old-Time Radio Luncheon and Program, Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn, 4222 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, Calif. Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5$50, including three-course luncheon and four shows. 877-251-5771, www.sperdvac.org

September 23, 2011

The Lucy Show - 'The Official 5th Season' Includes 'Lucy in London'

The release of the 4-disc set of "The Lucy Show, Season 5" is verified for December 6th.

It's The Lucy Show's fifth hilarious season, as Lucy manages to find trouble everywhere she goes...from Las Vegas to London! New to DVD, this 4-disc set contains all 22 uproarious episodes from the fifth season. And it includes the "Lucy in London" special, a new Documentary, Outtakes and more! All episodes have brilliantly restored color picture and audio. Guest stars include: Carol Burnett, John Wayne, comedic icon George Burns, Paul Winchell, Phil Silvers, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Sheldon Leonard, and Mel Tormé!

Confirming reports, CBS DVD and Paramount Home Entertainment formally announced a December 6th release of The Lucy Show - The Official 5th Season. Running 562 minutes, the 4-DVD set will include all 22 regular episodes. Plus, the "Lucy in London" telefilm special, which aired in the show's timeslot between the 6th episode ("Lucy Goes to London ") and 7th episode ("Lucy Gets a Roommate") of the season, is included on this set!

Be sure to visit the Everything Lucy Store to pre-order your copy today!

September 22, 2011

I Love Lucy Exhibits Tell Story of a TV Classic

From New York to California to Florida, fans can hit the road to celebrate the anniversary of the show that starred Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

As we approach I Love Lucy’s 60th anniversary in October, with the episode, The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub, loyal Lucy fans have plenty of places to celebrate, from Lucille Ball’s birthplace 100 years ago in Jamestown, N.Y., to Los Angeles, where the famed redhead became TV’s Queen of Comedy.

“She’s more than just an icon,” says Bruce Bronn, president and CEO of Unforgettable Licensing in Chicago, which represents Ball’s estate (Desilu, too), and CBS, which owns I Love Lucy. “She’s a symbol of America.”

Bronn works directly with CBS and Desilu, too as their agent, and must give permission every time you see an image of Ball and her first husband and TV co-star, Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz. With CBS and Desilu, too, he signs off on all officially sanctioned public events, and this year there are plenty.

Let’s start our Lucy tour in Jamestown, located about eight hours by car north of New York City.

The official Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center opened here in 1996, seven years after Ball died at age 77. The museum and its nearby Desilu Playhouse are treasure troves of Lucy memorabilia. Visitors can view video clips, walk through replicas of I Love Lucy sets and see original costumes from the classic sitcom, which originally ran from Oct. 15, 1951 to May 6, 1957.

“We have the professor’s … cello costume donated by Pepito, the Cuban clown who appeared in the  I Love Lucy pilot,” said Susan Ewing, a staff writer at the center.

Among her favorite displays: Ball’s gold 1972 Mercedes donated to the museum by Laurence Luckinbill, actor and husband of Lucie Arnaz, Ball’s daughter. “It has her monogram, LBM, on the driver’s side door,” Ewing said. (Ball married comedian Gary Morton in 1961, after she and Arnaz divorced in 1960.)

Fans can reenact classic Lucy bits on the set replicas, Ewing says.

“People can do the ‘Vitameatavegamin’ commercial right there in the playhouse. That’s a pretty popular feature of the playhouse. Everybody wants to be Lucy,” she says. “We’ve done grape stomping. One year we did a competition to see how many snails people could eat at one time.”

Each August during Ball’s birthday week, the museum holds Lucy Fest: The Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy. This year was special, as attendees celebrated the star’s centennial.

“We had a huge celebration,” Ewing said. “We believe we have set a Guinness Book of World Records, having the most people dressed as Lucy Ricardo in one place — 915. Men, women and children. And a dog. There was a dog dressed as Lucy, in blue polka dots.”

Every year, up to 30,000 people trek to the Lucy-Desi Museum, which is open 12 months a year. “We’re just a little south of Buffalo,” said Ewing, a Jamestown native. “We’re in the snow belt. If you’re a Lucy fan and you get here in the winter, we’ll be here for you. Just dress warm.”

A museum memento not seen on television: the desk belonging to I Love Lucy’s creator-producer-writer, Jess Oppenheimer. Atop the desk is Oppenheimer’s original Rolodex, opened to Ball’s phone number.

“I just love that,” Ewing said. “When I see the desk and think what came from that creative talent, that’s amazing, too,.”

Oppenheimer, who owned 10 percent of I Love Lucy, died in 1988. His son Gregg, who donated the desk and Rolodex, has carried the Lucy torch ever since.

“Nobody compares to Lucy,” said Oppenheimer, who finished his father’s autobiography, Laughs, Luck … and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time. “You had this superb cast, you had great writing, timeless stories. There’s not a lot of cultural references that people won’t understand.”

Beginning in the early 2000s, Oppenheimer spent seven years restoring the series for DVD. Now, he directs public re-creations of old-time radio shows at conventions and Lucy festivals. On Nov. 5, he will direct his own play, I Love Lucy: The Untold Story, based on dad’s book. Longtime Lucy actresses Janet Waldo (Peggy, the teenage neighbor who develops a crush on Ricky Ricardo), Shirley Mitchell (Lucy Ricardo’s friend Marion Strong) and Doris Singleton (nearsighted Caroline Appleby) will appear in the play, to be performed at a benefit in North Hollywood, Calif.

The play coincides with a major Lucy exhibit at the nearby Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles: Lucille Ball at 100 & “I Love Lucy” at 60. On display through Nov. 30 are scripts, costumes and memorabilia spanning Ball’s entire film and TV career. Oddities include the autographed plaster cast Ball wore after breaking her leg in a 1972 ski accident.

The Paley Center for Media, located both in Los Angeles and New York City, also is celebrating Ball with “We Love Lucy” public screenings through Oct. 30. Most of the programs are also available year-round for personal viewing at the center’s library.

Even Florida has a tourism stop for Lucy fans: Universal Studios in Orlando with its long-running Lucy: A Tribute exhibit, which screens classic TV clips and displays props from I Love Lucy and costumes worn by Ball.

Oppenheimer on why I Love Lucy is still hugely popular after six decades: “The main thing is it’s funny. There was never anything deep or ironic. The humor was never dry.”

September 19, 2011

Here's Lucy - Season 5 DVD Update

MPI Home Video's planned DVD release of another Lucille Ball program, Here's Lucy - Season 5.

Currently there is no release date and MPI only describes the same sort of bonus material that has been including with all of their releases of this program: "exclusive featurettes and videotaped introductions by Lucie Arnaz, Desi Arnaz Jr., guest stars and production personnel; unreleased home movies and behind-the-scenes footage; 'Let's Talk to Lucy': long-lost radio shows where Lucy interviews celebrities; bloopers, promos, commercials and other special footage."

Keep in mind, too, that this packaging may not be final and could be subject to change. Stay tuned for updates about this title when MPI makes it official.

Season's 1 through 4 are available and can be found through the Everything Lucy store. Be sure to visit an get your DVDs today!

September 13, 2011

From Jamestown, N.Y. to Hollywood: 'I Love Lucy' celebrates 60 years with exhibits across the nation

As we approach I Love Lucy’s 60th anniversary in October, loyal Lucy fans have plenty of places to celebrate, from Lucille Ball’s birthplace 100 years ago in Jamestown, N.Y., to Los Angeles, where the famed redhead became TV’s Queen of Comedy.

“She’s more than just an icon,” says Bruce Bronn, president and CEO of Unforgettable Licensing in Chicago, which represents Ball’s estate (Desilu, too), and CBS, which owns I Love Lucy. “She’s a symbol of America.”

Bronn works directly with CBS and Desilu, too as their agent and must give permission every time you see an image of Ball and her first husband and TV co-star, Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz. With CBS and Desilu, too, he signs off on all officially sanctioned public events, and this year there are plenty.

Let’s start our Lucy tour in Jamestown, located about eight hours by car north of New York City. The official Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center opened here in 1996, seven years after Ball died at age 77. The museum and its nearby Desilu Playhouse are treasure troves of Lucy memorabilia. Visitors can view video clips, walk through replicas of I Love Lucy sets and see original costumes from the classic sitcom, which originally ran from Oct. 15, 1951 to May 6, 1957.

“We have the professor’s ... cello costume donated by Pepito, the Cuban clown who appeared in the [I Love Lucy] pilot,” said Susan Ewing, a staff writer at the center.
Among her favorite displays: Ball’s gold 1972 Mercedes donated to the museum by Laurence Luckinbill, actor and husband of Lucie Arnaz, Ball’s daughter. “It has her monogram, LBM, on the driver’s side door,” Ewing said. (Ball married comedian Gary Morton in 1961, after she and Arnaz divorced in 1960.)

Fans can reenact classic Lucy bits on the set replicas, Ewing says.

“People can do the ‘Vitameatavegamin’ commercial right there in the playhouse. That’s a pretty popular feature of the playhouse. Everybody wants to be Lucy,” she says. “We’ve done grape stomping. One year we did a competition to see how many snails people could eat at one time.”

Each August during Ball’s birthday week, the museum holds Lucy Fest: The Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy. This year was special, as attendees celebrated the star’s centennial.
“We had a huge celebration,” Ewing said. “We believe we have set a Guinness Book of World Records, having the most people dressed as Lucy Ricardo in one place — 915. Men, women and children. And a dog. There was a dog dressed as Lucy, in blue polka dots.”

Every year, up to 30,000 people trek to the Lucy-Desi Museum, which is open 12 months a year. “We’re just a little south of Buffalo,” said Ewing, a Jamestown native. “We’re in the snow belt. If you’re a Lucy fan and you get here in the winter, we’ll be here for you. Just dress warm.”
A museum memento not seen on television: the desk belonging to I Love Lucy’s creator-producer-writer, Jess Oppenheimer. Atop the desk is Oppenheimer’s original Rolodex, opened to Ball’s phone number.

“I just love that,” Ewing said. “When I see the desk and think what came from that creative talent, that’s amazing, too,.”

Oppenheimer, who owned 10 percent of I Love Lucy, died in 1988. His son Gregg, who donated the desk and Rolodex, has carried the Lucy torch ever since.

“Nobody compares to Lucy,” said Oppenheimer, who finished his father’s autobiography, Laughs, Luck ... and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time. “You had this superb cast, you had great writing, timeless stories. There’s not a lot of cultural references that people won’t understand.”

Beginning in the early 2000s, Oppenheimer spent seven years restoring the series for DVD. Now, he directs public re-creations of old-time radio shows at conventions and Lucy festivals. On Nov. 5, he will direct his own play, I Love Lucy: The Untold Story, based on dad’s book. Longtime Lucy actresses Janet Waldo (Peggy, the teenage neighbor who develops a crush on Ricky Ricardo), Shirley Mitchell (Lucy Ricardo’s friend Marion Strong) and Doris Singleton (nearsighted Caroline Appleby) will appear in the play, to be performed at a benefit in North Hollywood, Calif.

The play coincides with a major Lucy exhibit at the nearby Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles: Lucille Ball at 100 and “I Love Lucy” at 60. On display through Nov. 30 are scripts, costumes and memorabilia spanning Ball’s entire film and TV career. Oddities include the autographed plaster cast Ball wore after breaking her leg in a 1972 ski accident.

The Paley Center for Media, located both in Los Angeles and New York City, also is celebrating Ball with “We Love Lucy” public screenings through Oct. 30. Most of the programs are also available year-round for personal viewing at the center’s library.

Even Florida has a tourism stop for Lucy fans: Universal Studios in Orlando with its long-running Lucy: A Tribute exhibit, which screens classic TV clips and displays props from I Love Lucy and costumes worn by Ball.

Oppenheimer on why I Love Lucy is still hugely popular after six decades: “The main thing is it’s funny. There was never anything deep or ironic. The humor was never dry.”

Looking for Lucy

Lucy lovers can find lots to enjoy this fall as the sitcom celebrates its 60th anniversary, the same year Lucille Ball would have turned 100. Here are the main events:

“Lucille Ball at 100 & ‘I Love Lucy’ at 60” at The Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles; 323-464-7776; www.thehollywoodmuseum.com. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays-Sundays through Nov. 30. Admission: $15 adults; $12 seniors and children under 12

“We Love Lucy” screenings at The Paley Center, 25 W. 52 St. (between Fifth & Sixth Avenues), New York, 212-621-6800; or 465 N. Beverly Dr., Los Angeles; 310-786-1091; www.paleycenter.org/2011-we-love-lucy-screenings-2. Sept. 28 through Oct. 30 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays); $10 adults, $8 students and seniors, $5 under 14.

“Lucy: A Tribute” at Universal Studios Orlando: An indoor walk-thru attraction located in the Hollywood backlot area; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, park admission starts at $85; www.universalorlando.com.

Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, 10 W. Third St., Jamestown, N.Y.; 716-484-0800; www.lucy-desi.com. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $10 adults, $9 age 60 and up, $7 ages 6 to 18.

The Desilu Playhouse, 2 W. Third St., Jamestown, N.Y., 716-484-0800; www.lucy-desi.com. Admission: $10 adults, $9 age 60 and up, $8 for Lucy-Desi Museum members, $7 ages 8-18; $15 for dual admissions to museum and playhouse

I Love Lucy: The Untold Story, a play by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator-producer-writer Jess Oppenheimer, at SPERDVAC Old-Time Radio Luncheon and Program, Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn, 4222 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, Calif. Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5. $50, including three-course luncheon and four shows. 877-251-5771, www.sperdvac.org

September 01, 2011

Book Review: Lucille Ball FAQ by James Sheridan and Barry Monush

While Lucille Ball (1911-1989) made her name in television, she began her illustrious career in film. The movie was Roman Scandals (1933), and starred Eddie Cantor. She was later signed as a contract player with RKO Studios, which she would one day own. All of these facts and more are contained in a handy, one-stop tome titled Lucille Ball FAQ.

One thing is certain, the career of Lucille Ball was a long and influential one. There was definitely no shortage of intriguing aspects of her life for authors James Sheridan and Barry Monush to discuss.

The book opens with a fairly succinct timeline of her life. This in itself is instructive, as Miss Ball's career path strayed from the typical Hollywood success story quite significantly. For one thing, although she started out at a relatively young age, Lucy did not really hit her stride until the age of 40, and the debut of I Love Lucy in 1951. By then she had already married Desi Arnaz twice. The first attempt lasted from 1940-1944. She then remarried him in 1949, which lasted until 1960.

Thanks to the very public nature of the Arnaz-Ball union, Lucy will always be paired with him in the public mind. But it was actually her marriage to entertainer/business manager Gary Morton that lasted the longest. Shortly after her divorce from Desi was finalized in 1960, Lucy married Gary and the two were together until she passed in 1989.

I Love Lucy was probably the most influential show in television history. And while Lucy gets most of the credit, Desi was something of a behind-the-scenes genius. He pioneered the use of the three-camera shoot and of recording the program before a live studio audience. For decades I Love Lucy was considered the greatest TV show ever made; it has only recently been usurped by Seinfeld.

An interesting fact from the book concerns the I Love Lucy movie that never was. When the show took off, there was talk of stringing three episodes together with a bit of additional footage to make a coherent story, and releasing it to theatres. This never happened however, as the pair filmed The Long, Long Trailer (1953) instead. The movie is practically a three-episode I Love Lucy story without the Mertzes. It is definitely a period piece and worth seeing for fans of Lucy and Desi.

When the show and marriage ended, Lucy went on to star in The Lucy Show (1962-1968). Then came Here's Lucy (1968-1974), which also featured her children Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz. These later programs were never ground-breaking, but always amusing. Her final film appearance was in the title role of Mame (1974). In 1986 there was an ill-advised return to TV with the disastrous Life With Lucy. There was really no reason for doing it, and her strong resistance to the project proved to be prescient. Still, she gave it a shot, and wound up slightly tarnishing her legacy.

Then again, Lucille Ball could never really do any wrong in the eyes of her millions of fans. She had reached legend-status in Hollywood long before Life With Lucy, and that will never change. I remember the reaction to her death in 1989. It was treated like the passing of a head of state.

At 450 pages, there is a ton of information contained in Lucille Ball FAQ. For fans of the iconic performer, there is simply no better source for everything Lucy.

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