November 14, 2013

Shirley Mitchell, Last Surviving Character From 'I Love Lucy' Dies at 94

Shirley Mitchell died on Monday, November 11th at the age of 94. She was most well-known to audiences as Marion Strong, the funny friend of Lucy Ricardo’s on the hit television show, I Love Lucy. She is believed to be the last surviving member of the cast. Keith Thibodeaux (a.k.a. "Richard Keith"), who played Lucy and Desi's son "Little Ricky," is 62. The character was based on Ball and Arnaz's real-life son Desi Jr. but he did not play the part on the show.

Mitchell, who played Lucy's friend Marion during the 1953-54 season, died of heart failure at her condo home in Westwood, CA. Mitchell’s sister-in-law, Nancy Olson, was the one who initially reported her death.

She was born in 1919 in Toledo, Ohio, and began her career as a radio star, where she met and became friends with Lucille Ball. Lucille Ball, of course, was the star of I Love Lucy, along with Desi Arnaz, a team that continues to make people laugh to this day, through reruns of the show. Mitchell's radio career included an appearance on Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve and other programs.

Mitchell joined 'I Love Lucy' for the third season and appeared in only three episodes. She played the character of Marion, a character that was originally portrayed by Margie Liszt, and who set Lucy and Ricky up on their first date. She was best known for Lucy—getting the all-girl orchestra together for "12th Street Rag," volunteering herself as emcee for their women's club beneift because she once hosted "Senior Shenanigans" at the Rappahannock School for Girls, asking Lucy how much she weighed when Lucy had promised to only tell the truth.


Throughout her career, Shirley Mitchell appeared in many television shows including The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Three’s Company, The Odd Couple, Chico and the Man, the original Dallas, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In 2012, she lent her voice to Cartoon Network's Mad, playing Betty White. She was an actress that was in high-demand throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and received roles in almost every big show from the time period.

Some of her other credits include: John Forsythe's secretary Kitty Deveraux on several episodes of Bachelor Father; neighbor Marge Thornton on Please Don't Eat the Daisies; Mae Belle Jennings, Kate Bradley's (Bea Benaderet) cousin, on Petticoat Junction; and Opal Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. She also voiced Hanna-Barbera in "The Roman Holidays."

She also appeared in a few films such as Desk Set, Jamboree, Big Business, and The War Of The Roses. Mitchell's showbiz career spanned more than seven decades.

Mitchell attended the 5th Annual TV Awards in 2007 when Lucille Ball, who passed away in 1989, was honored posthumously with the Legacy of Laughter Award.

Mitchell was the widow of Oscar-winning songwriter Jay Livingston (who died in 2001), who cowrote classic tunes including "Que Sera Sera" and "Mona Lisa." whom she married in 1992, and is survived by her two children from her first husband Julian Frieden, Scott and Brooke. She will be remembered as one of the comedic geniuses of television, and forever in the hearts of her family and friends, and anyone who watched the hit shows that she appeared on.

October 31, 2013

I Love Lucy Christmas Special to air on CBS in Color

CBS is to broadcast a rarely seen holiday episode of the classic television series I Love Lucy as well as another classic episode in color. The two newly colorized episodes of the 1950s comedy, “I Love Lucy,” include the memorable grape-stomping episode and the rarely-seen “Christmas Episode” this coming Christmas holiday.

The I Love Lucy Christmas Special will package two colourised installments of the Lucille Ball sitcom. Both episodes that will air this Christmas have been colorized with a vintage look, and the episodes will air back-to-back, according to CBS spokeswoman Kim Izzo-Emmett.

The first half-hour will be the show's 1956 'Christmas Episode', which mixed clips from the past with original scenes of Lucy (Ball) and Ricky (Desi Arnaz) reminiscing about the birth of their child. “The Christmas Episode” first aired in December 1956, but was not included in the series’ long history of reruns, according to Izzo-Emmett. The episode, previously thought to be lost, was rediscovered in 1989 and follows the Ricardos and Mertzes as they recall the arrival of the Ricardos’ son, Little Ricky.

'Christmas Episode' will be followed by 'Lucy's Italian Movie', which includes the iconic scene of Lucy struggling to stomp grapes. The episode most popularly known as the grape-stomping episode is actually titled “Lucy’s Italian Movie.” The episode, chosen by television critics as one of the top 10 Lucy shows, follows the Ricardos and Mertzes as they visit Rome and a local vineyard.

The “I Love Lucy Christmas Special,” will air on Friday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

“I Love Lucy” aired on CBS from Oct. 15, 1951 until May 6, 1957, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as the Ricardos’ friends and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz.

September 23, 2013

Stage version of 'I Love Lucy' adds little new to beloved franchise

Not the brilliant character created by Jamestown native Lucille Ball, who charmed her way into millions of Americans' hearts on the '50s television show that bore her name, but the full-color version now creaking across the stage of the 710 Main Theatre. 

That's not to say that Sirena Irwin, who plays the rehydrated version of Lucille Ball's famous character, is not a gifted impersonator. Or that Bill Mendieta, who plays Ricky Ricardo with no shortage of talent or charm, is not the spitting image of Desi Arnaz. 

It's just that this new touring production of "I Love Lucy Live on Stage," which originated in Los Angeles and inaugurated the 710 Main Theatre's first full season on Thursday night, has very little to offer beyond a sort of colorized photocopy of the original. 

The show, adapted from original "I Love Lucy" episodes by Kim Flagg and Rick Sparks, is pleasant enough for those seeking a simple replay of their childhood television viewing experiences, but bound to disappoint anyone looking for a uniquely theatrical experience. 

Aside from a few tossed-in flourishes, the 140-minute, intermissionless production is a faithful reproduction of two "I Love Lucy" episodes: "The Benefit," in which Lucy convinces Desi to perform at a fundraiser; and "Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined," which features a botched jitterbug performance between Lucy and a suave dance instructor. 

The episodes themselves are sterling examples of comic writing, full of wonderfully absurd situations and humor that carries a reassuring vaudevillian ring. In the production's threadbare conceit, theatergoers themselves are cast in the roles of a studio audience for "I Love Lucy," and subject to the harmless, reheated humor of a set manager played by the charming Mark Christopher Tracy. 

Between scenes, we're treated to an increasingly bizarre and unsettling series of product advertisements for Brylcreem and Alka-Seltzer that are loaded with comic potential themselves but end up as misplaced punctuation marks. The same goes for a strange musical medley inserted between episodes that seems to come out of nowhere and serves no discernible purpose. 

Other musicals that consciously exploit the profit potential of baby-boomer nostalgia at least have the decency to throw in some extra value. Take "Jersey Boys," in which we get to peer into the personal lives of Frankie Valli and company while being treated to rousing performances directly aimed at our brains' nostalgia centers. 

Perhaps an even better model for how to do a show like this right is another Los Angeles export, "Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara," which uses Louis Prima and Keely Smith's charming music and comedy act as a lens through which to view their complex relationship. 

But this "Lucy" has none of that insight. It's merely a memory bath that reanimates familiar characters in a way that actually makes the show's pioneering comedy seem more old-fashioned than it actually is. 

Many moments in the original show, thanks largely to Ball's remarkable talents as a comedian and performer, still strike the viewer as surprisingly and even shockingly modern. But this color-by-numbers production, by contrast, seems utterly trapped in its era. 

email: cdabkowski@buffnews.com 

___ 

(c)2013 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.) 

Visit The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.) at www.buffalonews.com 

September 03, 2013

Graffiti Artist Paints Lucy Mural For Tattoo Shop

Something Beautiful Tattoo & Piercing will soon be showing off its latest artwork, but this time it isn't on someone's skin.

Robbie and Sarah Mills, owners of Something Beautiful recently brought graffiti artist Victoriano "Iano" Rivera to Jamestown to create a mural of Lucille Ball on the side of their shop. Iano, a 22-year-old artist from Colorado, has been practicing graffiti art for roughly six years.


"I picked up my first spray can when I was 16," Rivera said. "I didn't really get serious about it until I was around 19, though."

"We're art people," Mills said. "We love tattoos, we love beautiful things. I have this big blank wall, so I figured I might as well do something with it. I saw a bunch of other people with their murals of Lucy and figured that we could do something, too. I'm really stoked for this to be finished."

The mural is not the first time the Mills family has done something Lucy related at the shop, either. During the Lucy Comedy Fest this year, the Millses ran a special for fans looking to be permanently adorned with images from Ball's eponymous television show.

Rivera said that he first heard of the opportunity when a friend mentioned to him via Facebook that Mills was looking for a graffiti artist for a mural project.

"My friend told me to call, so I did just to see what was up," Rivera said. "I showed Robbie some artwork and he seemed to be really into it, and now I'm here."

According to Mills, the only payment that Rivera requested for the work was his plane ticket to come to Jamestown and the cans of spray paint that he would be using to create the artwork. A piece the size of the mural on the side of the Something Beautiful Tattoo & Piercing generally takes between 12 and 16 hours of work to complete, Rivera told The Post-Journal.

"I usually just work straight through when I start a piece," Rivera said. "I don't like to leave them unfinished for too long."

For more information about Something Beautiful Tattoo & Piercing, located at 1690 Foote Ave. Extension, call 708-6365 or visit them on Facebook. To see more artwork from Victoriano Rivera, visit instagram.com/DATYUNGSATEN

August 22, 2013

Sale of ‘I Love Lucy’ Dress Drives Gains for Artfact

Last month the famous polka dot dress worn by Lucille Ball in "I Love Lucy", which was sold at auction by the auction house, Profiles in History for $140,000 increased the revenues of Artfact.

Profiles in History is one of many such houses that is a customer of Artfact, a Boston-based company that designs platforms, software, and e-commerce applications for the online auction industry.

Artfact said its July auction revenues increased by 142 percent on a year-to-year comparison basis. The number of transactions that were conducted on Artfact platforms was up sharply from July 2012.

“As Artfact continues to shape the future of the online live auction marketplace, making auction items more accessible and scalable to a global audience, we have seen a surge in bidding activity from collectors and dealers around the world,” Artfact CEO Rob Weisberg said in a statement. “Our roster of auction house partners also continues to grow as more houses embrace millions of online bidders coupled with increased demand delivered by Artfact’s online marketplace. This combination of bidder growth and new auction houses has driven Artfact’s robust growth.”

August 20, 2013

Memories of Her Big Sister, Vivian Vance

By GARY HERRON, Observer staff writer

Who didn’t love Lucy in the 1950s? Or even in reruns of “I Love Lucy,” which premiered in 1951, and ran ad nauseum for several decades.

Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball starred in the old sitcom, which just wouldn’t have been the same without the couple’s next-door neighbors and traveling companions, Fred and Ethel Mertz.

All four are long gone, and not many realize that the woman who portrayed Ethel Mertz, Vivian Vance, always called Albuquerque her hometown — even though she was born July 26, 1909, in Cherryvale, Kan., and attended high school in the Jayhawk State.
Why the loyalty to New Mexico?

Let’s ask someone who should know: her younger sister, Lou Ann Graham, who talked about her sibling on the Albuquerque Little Theatre stage for about an hour on July 31.

That’s the very same ALT stage where Vance got her start, back in 1930 – and one of the reasons Vance was so fond of the Duke City. Even after her first Broadway role, in the 1932 musical “Music in the Air,” she returned regularly.
Of course, her family, including Graham, was then living in Albuquerque — their father ran a store on the northwest corner of Broadway and Coal — and Vance was always close to her family. One sister married legendary New Mexico high school football coach and one-time Lobo Ralph Bowyer.

Graham recalled one amusing incident in which Graham, Vance and the Bowyers were eating at a restaurant in Cuba, N.M. Vance noticed a waitress kept glancing at their table and, when the waitress approached, muttered, “Here we go,” expecting a request for an autograph. Not to worry: “Aren’t you Ralph Bowyer?” the inquisitive waitress asked.

Vance’s days as Ethel were mostly what the 100 or so ALT visitors wanted to hear, and Graham had plenty of stories, plus a 33-minute video to show them. According to Lucille Ball in her autobiography (“Love, Lucy,” 1996), Vance and her were “extraordinarily compatible” once Vance had been selected to play Ethel Mertz in 1951.

Vance was “actually much younger” than her TV husband, William Frawley, and didn’t mind portraying Ethel in “dowdy clothes, no false eyelashes or eye makeup, and hair that looked as if she had washed and set it herself. But she drew the line at padding her body to look fatter.”

Graham, who attended Albuquerque High and the University of New Mexico, before living in France, San Francisco and other locations, is back “home” in the Duke City. She’s understandably proud of her sister, who was much more than Ethel Mertz, and had once been an understudy to Ethel Merman.

“Many people think she never did anything but Ethel Mertz,” Graham said. Maybe that’s because the role was played perfectly by Vance, who was always scheming with Lucy while trying to be the voice of reason, receiving four Emmy nominations for best supporting actress — and winning once, in 1954. (That Emmy is encased on a wall of ALT.)

After “I Love Lucy” ended, Ball starred in “The Lucy Show,” again with Vance — this time still her best friend but named Viv — on board. Many years and roles later, Vance’s body was ravaged by terminal breast cancer, and she wanted her sister nearby. Graham was called and told, “Vivian wants to die and she wants you there. In 1979, people didn’t do that,” she said.

“It took three weeks and she never lost her sense of humor,” Graham said, telling another humorous incident in which a nurse asked Vance, “Is there anything I can get you?” and Vance replied, “Yeah, another body.”

After she died, on Aug. 17, 1979, her ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay.

“I could go on for another week with stories about my big sister,” Graham said, who touted Vance as a good decorator, someone who loved to garden, loved to cook and “tried to be our second mother … She was always very generous.”

For more on the late Vance, visit Graham’s website, vivianvancescrapbook.com.

August 06, 2013

Lucille Ball Would be 102 Today - Happy Birthday Lucy!

Happy birthday Lucille Ball! Though the beloved comedienne and actress passed away at age 77 in 1989, she would have turned 102 if she lived today.


Even though she is no longer with us, Ball is still a big part of America's pop culture. We still "love Lucy" even today.

There are still "I Love Lucy" comedy festivals. In fact, The Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy met just this past weekend in Jamestown. You can still see Ball's influence on television today. Sitcoms today greatly benefit from Ball's brand of comedy. "I Love Lucy" is just as funny in today's world. The show still airs on the Hallmark channel and reruns of the show are just as funny today as they were back then. Ball is still a relevant part of the pop culture conversation. The Library of Congress even put together an exhibition in honor of "I Love Lucy's" 60th anniversary.

Lucille Ball's Polka-dot Dress Is A Big Hit At Auction In Hollywood

Lucille Ball's signature polka-dot dress and props from Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom have smashed expectations at a Hollywood auction. The items went under the hammer at a Profiles in History sale last week (30Jul13) and experts were left staggered as bids sailed past the estimate prices.

Ball's Lucy Ricardo dress was expected to sell for between $40,000 and $60,000, but it sold for $168,000, while a lot of sankara stones and a pyrotechnic bag from the Indiana Jones film went under the hammer for $72,000 - $64,000 more than the estimate.

Profiles in History bosses also raked in a fortune at a Hollywood sale over the weekend (28Jul13) when a selection of costumes from classic movie The Sound of Music sold for $1.3 million.

The garments included the main outfit worn by the Julie Andrews' character Maria, which was described in the auction handbook as "a heavy brown homespun Austrian-style dress with a wheat-coloured homespun blouse".

Floral lederhosen worn by cast members who played the Von Trapp children also went under the hammer.

Another highlight was a costume worn by late actor James Gandolfini in his final scene of The Sopranos, which sold for $22,000. The outfit was placed under auction before Gandolfini passed away from a heart attack while in Italy last month (Jun13).

Other big sellers included Steve MCQueen's signature brown tweed jacket from Bullitt, the original Charlie Chaplin 'Tramp' cane from Modern Times, and Judy Garland's 'Dorothy' dress from The Wizard of Oz, which sold for $360,000 - exactly twice its estimate.

July 31, 2013

Lucille Ball Comedy Festival To Feature Fashion Show, Live Auction on Saturday

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival will feature a fashion show and live auction, featuring some of the rarest Lucille Ball memorabilia and most high-end designers, at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station on Saturday, Aug. 3, at noon.
Registration for the auction will begin that morning at 11:15 a.m.
The event will begin with a fashion show featuring items from the collection of Melody Thomas Scott, star of Young and the Restless.

Some of the world's most famous designers will be represented in the showcase, including Christian Dior, Betsey Johnson, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Bob Mackie, Gucci, Monolo Blahnik, Donna Karen, Issac Mizrahi and many more. All dresses will be available to purchase during the live auction.
Dresses will be worn by various past participants of the Lakewood area Distinguished Young Women series, including 2013 participants Veronica Schuver, Olivia Nugent, Alyssa Leathers, and Allison Munella.
Following the fashion show, a live auction featuring some of the rarest Lucille Ball memorabilia will take place.
Memorabilia from Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz that will be auctioned includes:
1. Lucille Ball's red velvet dress from Mame.
2. Lucille Ball's pink sequined costume from the first episode of The Milton Berle Show.
3. Lucille Ball's Charlie Chaplin costume (jacket and pants) from "The Lucy Show" episode, "Chris' New Year's Eve Party."
4. Lucille Ball's monogramed sewing case with initials engraved and sewing supplies enclosed.
5. The Lucy Plate by Danbury Mint (one of 100 in existence).
6. Collection of two clear glass ashtrays from Lucille Ball's Beverly Hills home.
7. 1956 TV Stage magazine with Lucy and Desi on the cover (mounted).
8. Original Two Smart People (1946) movie poster starring Lucille Ball and John Hodiak.
At the conclusion of the event, winners of the silent auction (which will take place throughout the weekend) will also be announced.
Rare dolls from Danbury Mint and Franklin Mint along with items personally donated by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of "I Love Lucy" creator Jess Oppenheimer, will be available to bid on during the festival.
Bids can be made by telephone or email, but need to be arranged by contacting the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy at 716-484-0800 or info@lucy-desi.com by Thursday.
For more information on the live auction and fashion show, along with other festival performers including Bill Engvall, Kathleen Madigan, "Comics to Watch," the GIs of Comedy and much more, visit lucycomedyfest.com.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Surpasses Lucille Ball's Emmy Record History

We all love Lucy, but when it comes to Emmy nominations, Julia Louis-Dreyfus finally has the iconic comedienne beat.

On Thursday, the erstwhile Seinfeld star made Emmy history when she received her 14th Emmy nomination in the category of outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, surpassing the record long-held by I Love Lucy star – and enduring TV favorite – Lucille Ball.

Louis-Dreyfus, 52, nabbed the nod for her role as gaffe-prone Vice President Selina Meyer on the HBO show Veep. It's her second nomination in this category for her fictitious beltway role, and she took home the statue in 2012.

Overall, the actress is the only woman who has won the Emmy three times, for three separate comedy series. She first won in 1996 for her own iconic role – self-absorbed Elaine Benes on Seinfeld – after being nominated four times prior.

In 2006, she grabbed gold for her title role in The New Adventures of Old Christine, and earned nominations (but no wins) for the same role from 2007 to 2010.

But Lucy fans need not despair: even though Louis-Dreyfus broke Ball's record for Emmy nominations, the I Love Lucy star still claims more Emmy wins – for now, anyway.

The groundbreaking comedienne who helped popularize the medium of television took home four Emmys during her career, as well as the Governor's Award in 1989, nearly five months after her death.

We'll find out if Louis-Dreyfus adds to her wins when the 2013 Primetime Emmys will air live from the Nokia Theater L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 22 on CBS.

July 30, 2013

Lucille Ball Comedy Festival Begins Thursday, August 1st

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is featuring a Pandora Comedy™ 'Comics to Watch' showcase on August 1, hosted by Tammy Pescatelli, a crowd favorite from the 2012 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. This 8pm show will be "cable clean" and features Keith AlberstadtJoe Machi, and Jackie Kashian.
 
Joe Machi
The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival has featured then-rising comedians such as Ellen Degeneres, Lewis Black, and Ray Romano in the past and aims to do the same with this showcase.

Jackie Kashian
Tammy Pescatelli was the winner of Comedy Central's Stand-up Showdown 2010, and also a finalist on NBC's Last Comic Standing 2. Keith Alberstadt is a contributing writer for Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update and National Lampoon, and also a regular performer for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joe Machi won the New York Underground Festival's "Emerging Comedian" award, and recently appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Jackie Kashian has appeared on the Conan O'Brien Show, This American Life with Ira Glass, and has a half-hour special on Comedy Central.
 Tickets are going FAST, so get yours today at LucyComedyFest.com, or by calling (716)484-0800.

July 26, 2013

Lucille Ball’s Iconic Polka Dot Dress from ‘I Love Lucy’ Up for Auction

The iconic polka dot dress comedy queen Lucille Ball wore as Lucy Ricardo on 'I Love Lucy' is set to auction on July 30. The bidding begins at $40,000, and could fetch as much as $60,000 for the dress that Lucy wore when she had "some 'splainin' to do."


Although there were variations in several episodes, the original dress, designed by Elois Jenssen, featured navy blue and white polka dot print fabric, shoulder pads, and black satin lining. The details of the dress, like white cuffed short sleeves, a white flower collar, a false, pleated, tuxedo shirt front panel, and pearl snap buttons, made it Lucy's signature look as she greeted her husband, Ricky Ricardo, when he arrived home from work and made us all laugh.

But viewers didn't see some of the unique details of the character-defining dress on TV. Lucy's dress also included a false button closure and a scoop neckline, so Lucille Ball could make fast costume changes and keep her makeup from smudging. The auctioneer, Profiles in History, describes it as the "'Holy Grail' of all female television costumes."

This isn't the first item of Lucille Ball's to be on the auction block. Love letters, photos, trophies, and a Rolls Royce were consigned to Heritage Auction Galleries in 2010 by the comedienne's second husband's widow, Susie Morton. Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill, Lucille's daughter, attempted to block the sale. A judge ruled in her favor, but Lucie declined to pay a $250,000 bond for a restraining order. The memorabilia was auctioned, and the lifetime achievement awards were returned to Ball's daughter. 'I Love Lucy' aired from 1951-1957, and the sitcom full of hilarious shenanigans has since been syndicated in dozens of countries around the world.

July 25, 2013

I Love Lucy - Live on Stage in Atlantic City

What exactly is I Love Lucy Live on Stage? It’s a play that takes the audience back to the 1950s at the live taping of two episodes of I Love Lucy. And while the two episodes, “The Benefit” and “Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined,” are the centerpiece of the play, it is the overall format of an audience watching a TV taping that gives the show its added punch.


In many ways the star of the show is Mark Christopher Tracy as Maury Jasper, the Desilu Playhouse host. He is the genial ringmaster with a headphone who tells us what we will see, how the TV studio works and introduces the sketches and the commercials for Brylcreem, Alka-Seltzer and Chevrolet that are lovingly recreated by the Crystaltone singers. So while the main characters are Lucy Ricardo (Sirina Irwin), Ricky Ricardo (Bill Mendieta), Fred Mertz (Kevin Remington) and Ethel Mertz (Joanna Daniels), there are many other characters rushing about the stage, with a couple of ringers in the audience as well.



The stronger of the two Lucy episodes is “Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined.” This is when Irwin really delivers the Lucy Ricardo vibe trying desperately to please a producer during an audition while dancing despite being nearly blind from eye drops. Irwin pulls this bit of physical comedy off to perfection. Mendieta is also excellent as the lovingly exasperated Ricky and his vocal work is spot on. Close you eyes and you will swear you are hearing Ricky Ricardo from an old episode.



I Love Lucy Live on Stage is designed for fans of the series and those nostalgic for the days when life was simpler and less dominated by technology. It delivers on both those fronts. 


Harrah’s Resort Concert Venue

Thurs., Fri. 8pm; Sat. 5 & 9pm; Sun., Wed. 3 & 8pm

How Much: $36, $56.50 & $67


April 30, 2013

Ridgefield Playhouse Film Society "Documentary Film Series" presents "Lucie and Desi: A Home Movie"


The Ridgefield Playhouse Film Society "Documentary Film Series" presents "Lucie and Desi: A Home Movie," the EMMY Award-winning documentary on Sunday, May 26th, at 6:30pm. Following the screening of Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie, director/actor Lucie Arnaz, producer/actor Laurence Luckinbill and EMMY & ACE Award-winning editor Sandra Consentino, will be on hand at the Q&A.

Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie, an EMMY Award-winning documentary is a "touching, no-holds-barred portrait of the turbulent marriage of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz" (Chicago Sun Times). Produced and directed by Lucie Arnaz and Laurence Luckinbill, the film features personal home movies and interviews with her parent's close friends and relatives.

The documentary also provide rare television footage and a look at Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's personal momentos. Lucille Ball saved every one of Desi Arnaz's love letters, which daughter Lucie Arnaz discovered while researching the project.

"Ably and sensitively hosted by the couples daughter Lucie Arnaz... 'Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie' quivers with the intimacy of real lives and the passion that fueled the fire of their relationship." (Hollywood Reporter).

What is most memorable about this documentary is director Lucie Arnaz's own passion of wanting to know and understand the past that for her has deep and abiding meaning.

What most forcibly radiates from Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie is a new professional and personal awareness of the legacy of the two entertainment icons. The documentary not only gives viewers insight into TV's first family, but also about the joys and fears of their own lives.

On Thursday, May 10 at 8pm, the Ridgefield Playhouse presents "Lucie Arnaz: Latin Roots." The daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Lucie Arnaz performs a homage to her father's legacy and Copacabana Show with her new live theatrical show entitled "Latin Roots."

For information or to purchase reserved tickets, please visit the website of the Ridgefield Playhouse or phone 203-438-5795. The Ridgefield Playhouse is located at 80 East Ridge Ave., Ridgefield, CT 06877.

April 26, 2013

Jamestown: The next 'comedy central'?

Following is an article from Tim O'Shei, Contributing Editor, Business First


When I first met Journey Gunderson two years ago, I wondered if she was for real.

I thought she might be. She was genuine, smart, a big thinker.

But when I heard Gunderson, the then-new executive director of the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, talk about her plans, I couldn’t help but wonder, Will this actually become a reality?
The answer: It did, it is, and it will continue to happen. And in an industry where laughing is the idea, she is seriously for real.

In April 2011, Gunderson ­– then 28 – stood among the center’s “I Love Lucy” memorabilia and laid out plans for a major comedy festival in Jamestown, a lineup of comedic arts classes, and the establishment of a national center for comedy.

She meant it: In August 2011 and 2012, Jamestown hosted multi-day comedy festivals that were headlined by the likes of Joan Rivers, Paula Poundstone and CBS star Billy Gardell. Thousands came to the Chautauqua County city, which received international media attention.

Last week, Gunderson and her team announced plans for the 2013 festival, scheduled for Aug. 1-4 and starring Comedy Central mainstays Bill Engvall and Kathleen Madigan.

They’re doing it again.

To me, though, the most significant news was this paragraph from the press release:
In addition to announcing this year’s festival line-up, The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy revealed they are in the master-planning stage of developing a national center for comedy in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, NY. Jack Rouse Associates, named by The Wall Street Journal as ‘one of the world’s more prominent design firms,’ has recently been contracted to develop a master plan for a national comedy center which could be based at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station.

That’s a big deal.

It’s far from a done deal, but the project has significant muscle behind it. Jack Rouse Associates specializes in producing museum attractions for clients including LEGOLAND, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Curious George, Kennedy Space Center, Universal Studios, and more.

Both the John R. Oishei Foundation and Gebbie Foundation are supporting the study, which will answer, among other questions, whether it’s feasible to expect to bring thousands of visitors to Jamestown year-round to visit a comedy center. (Gunderson is optimistic: Cooperstown, she points out, does exactly that with baseball.)

What would that comedy center encompass? That’s still being determined, too. But think in terms of a comedy hall of fame and museum, likely minus the actual inductees, since comedy is subjective and people within the industry may not take kindly to the judgment.

“The national center has to be more robust and comprehensive than a comedy hall of fame,” Gunderson says.

Keep watching, and laugh if you like. That’s the idea, of course. But take this idea seriously, because if the trend holds, Jamestown could someday become a different type of “comedy central.”

Article from: http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/blog/playbook/2013/04/jamestown-the-next-comedy-central.html?page=all

April 24, 2013

Comedy Brings Groups Together



Generous grants from area foundations and partnerships with major organizations are bringing the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center one step closer to realizing its goal of making Jamestown a hub of humor.

Journey Gunderson, executive director of the Lucy-Desi Center, hosted a news conference on Friday, and was joined by recent business and economic development partners including Jim Wise, senior vice president of marketing for Seneca Gaming; Tony Conte, CEO of Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo; and Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards.

"Two years ago we stood in a different venue at a press conference like this and I told you all about our vision, our four pillars," said Gunderson. "Lucille Ball's vision for her legacy, which she discussed with the Arts Council of Chautauqua County before her death in 1989, was for it to be celebrated in the form of living, breathing, contemporary comedy. She knew that a museum attraction was inevitable, but she was much less about idol worship and much more about the power of comedy and using her brand name to help new comedians break into the industry. Her vision was her hometown, Jamestown, as a hub of humor and a place that would celebrate the comedic arts."


Friday's event focused on the "four pillars" that the Lucy-Desi Center is attempting to build upon - Lucy Fest, comedic arts education, a comedy film festival, and the creation of a national center for comedy.

For Lucy Fest, Gunderson outlined the intention to make the event what Lucille Ball had really intended for it to be - a mix of nostalgia and "I Love Lucy" fandom, but also contemporary comedy.

To aid with the second pillar - comedic arts education - the Lucy-Desi Center has partnered with Infinity Visual and Performing Arts

"(Infinity Visual and Performing Arts) is a true gem of Chautauqua County and it has just done such incredible things for youth and adults in terms of the arts," said Gunderson. "They will help by presenting festival classes in improv comedy, intro to stand-up comedy, Lucy-themed artwork taught by mural artist Gary Peters and even an intro to conga workshop in honor of Desi Arnaz."

The comedy film festival will be soft-launched during this year's Lucy Fest, and will include screenings of independent comedy film and classic comedies at the Gateway Train Station, all curated by and programmed with the help of Jeff Clark, executive director of the Boonies Film Festival.

According to Gunderson, the fourth pillar is certainly the most aggressive and the one that has gotten the most questions, as well.

"There has been a lot of buzz about what is going on," Gunderson said. "People ask if it's a comedy hall of fame, and the answer is that it's much more than that, and it really has to be in order to be successful and sustainable. We've done our homework. We commissioned a study that looked at more than 20 comparables - museums, national attractions, halls of fame around the country - and one thing that came out of that study is that ongoing programming like this is absolutely key to attractions of that magnitude staying afloat. There has to be a reason for people to keep coming back through the doors, and so the vision is much more comprehensive and robust than just a traditional comedy hall of fame. It is a national center for comedy that is at once an experiential tourist destination, a museum of comedy, an entertainment and performance venue, an incubator for the industry, a point of local heritage and a community center for the arts."

The Lucy-Desi Center is beginning to move forward in that vision thanks to the support of the Gebbie Foundation and the John R. Oishei Foundation.

"The economic impact is a big part of this," said Gunderson. "The missions of both the John R. Oishei Foundation and the Gebbie Foundation have to do with vitality and economic development in the region. They would not be supporters of ours if they didn't think that what we were doing was in line with that. The festival is certainly a very expensive event to put on, but everything we're doing is very calculated. Is there risk involved? Absolutely, but we wouldn't be going bigger each year if all of you didn't show up and buy tickets. If you want to live in a community with a vibrant arts scene and vibrant entertainment scene, you have to support it. Go to the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena for the comedy nights, check out shows that are going on."

In 2011, the Lucy-Desi Center commissioned an economic impact study through Paradigm Economics in Buffalo with the help of the Community Foundation, which found that the economic impact within Chautauqua County of Lucy Fest that year was $3.6 million and the induced impact totalled nearly $4.7 million.

With the backing of the two foundations, the Lucy-Desi Center has delved into the pre-development, master plan phase and announced at Friday's event that they've contracted one of the world's most prominent exhibit and museum attraction designers and developers, Jack Rouse Associates.

"JRA is based out of Cincinnati, home to one of the best design schools in the country, and they also have an office in Malaysia," said Gunderson. "Their portfolio includes so much. JRA came to town recently and we interviewed them at length, they toured this building and we're happy to have them committed to this endeavour."

JRA has produced museum attractions for clients including Universal Studios, the Kennedy Space Center, LEGOLAND California, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the NCAA Hall of Champions, Warner Brothers, Ripley's Believe It or Not in London, Curious George Goes to Town, and countless other museums and theme park attractions around the globe.

In an effort to further establish Jamestown as a comedy landmark, other local businesses have begun to make the foray into the stand-up world, as well - one such example being the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena.

"Our comedy nights that we've been running sold out the first three weeks, so we were really pleased," said Kurt Silcott, executive director of the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena. "We anticipate it will sell out in the future, too. We have another seven weeks planned, and then we're going to see if we want to keep going, but we've been very pleased. The people in this community are definitely into comedy. I think the Lucy-Desi Center is going to do well with the festival and their national comedy center. They're drawing in comedians that play places like Las Vegas and New York City - that's where we're going in this town now, so I say kudos to them. We're collaborating with them in October, too. We'll be announcing the headliner for that event around April 22, and that'll be another big act coming to town."

The Jamestown Savings Bank Arena will be partnering with the Lucy Desi Center and Chautauqua Striders to host a half-marathon and 5K race, along with bringing more comedy to the area over Columbus Day weekend. The 5K will be held on Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening will be the comedy show with the half-marathon rounding out the weekend on Sunday.

"We're trying to encourage people to come from far and wide for this," said Silcott. "After the success that I'm sure we'll see this summer with the Lucy Fest, people will want to see the joint effort act in the fall."

"Making Jamestown a destination for comedy is something we're all interested in doing," Silcott continued. "We're all challenging ourselves, so it's good. When the Lucy-Desi Center steps up, it makes us want to step up, and vice-versa. I can't imagine a town or a city of this size pulling in more entertainment than we do."

Edwards expressed his optimism at the stance that Jamestown is taking to make a name for itself in the comedy world.

"I've been involved with this project for some time, and like any great project it takes some pretty critical components to be successful, especially at the international level," said Edwards. "If you just think back two or three years ago when we only had a couple of people in the room, it was exciting because those people were wondering what was possible. Last year, there were 20 people in the room for this meeting, but the event was still hugely popular and a success. That was all leading up to here, today. I hope you're as excited as I am about where we are, and I hope you'll join in with me to spread the word about what this could be. I've seen the vision, and the four pillars that will grow from this foundation. The opportunities are even larger than I had already thought it was."

"This isn't something we'd be doing if we didn't believe that it could be a major game changer for this region for years to come," said Gunderson.

April 22, 2013

Bill Engvall will headline Lucille Ball Festival


Organizers announced the lineup for this summer's Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown.  Standup comic star Bill Engvall will headline the event, becoming  the latest in big-name acts to perform at the emerging Chautauqua County event.

While Engvall takes the stage on Saturday, August 3rd, Friday features Kathleen Madigan, star of two HBO specials and three Comedy Central specials.

Attracting quality acts is nothing new for the festival, according to Executive Director Journey Gunderson.

"The name Lucille Ball really still opens doors. It's a really powerful brand with a lot of momentum." 

That momentum has organizers thinking big.

Two well-known foundations have provided seed money to explore an ambitious comedy-related attraction for the Jamestown area, one that might evolve into a comic hall-of fame.

Gunderson believes the concept is getting a credibility boost by the formation of an advisory panel of entertainment industry insiders.

"The artists, the comedic artists, and that is how they'll be treated in this attraction, really need a say in how the subject matter is approached."

Gunderson says NPR regular Paula Poundstone, who has performed at the festival in the past, has offered some guidance on the project.

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival runs in Jamestown, August 1-4, 2013.

April 20, 2013

2013 Lucille Ball Comedy Fest Headliners


The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy has announced that Bill Engvall, Kathleen Madigan, and a “Comics to Watch” showcase of upcoming comedians presented by Pandora will headline the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, August 1st-4th.

Additionally, the leads from the touring stage show hit I Love Lucy® Live on Stage, three nights of late-night comedy in the Tropicana Room that will be co-produced by Rooftop Comedy and recorded as a live comedy album, Lucille Ball’s former personal secretary Wanda Clark, the GI’s of Comedy, Summer Wind Cruises, and Gregg Oppenheimer’s Live Lucy Radio Play will be a part of the four-day festival.

Tickets for the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival will go on sale on April 24th, and can be purchased by visiting www.lucycomedyfest.com or calling (716)484-0800.  Committed partners and museum members receive access to a Pre-Sale period beginning April 17.

Bill Engvall, who will be performing at the Reg Lenna Civic Center on August 3rd, is a headlining member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Touring alongside the likes of Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy, Engvall’s Blue Collar Comedy movies have sold more than 9 million units and are among some of the most watched specials in Comedy Central History.

Kathleen Madigan, who will be performing at the Reg Lenna on August 2nd, has never been hotter in her 25 year career.  She is a frequent performer on Leno, Letterman, Conan, Ferguson and nearly every other late night talk show. Her stand-up show has been featured in 3 hour-long specials on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central; and she has also performed for American soldiers overseas on multiple tours with the likes of Robin Williams and Lewis Black. She’s a regular on SIRIUS-XM Radio, and recently won the listener determined “SIRIUS Challenge Cup,” deeming her the number one favorite comedian played on SIRIUS-XM radio.

On the evening of August 1st, The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy and Pandora will be teaming up to present the stand-up showcase, “Comics to Watch”. Additionally, Pandora and the Lucy Desi Center are working together to develop an interactive exhibit with data from Pandora’s Comedy Genome Project TM. The exhibit will be located at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station during the festival.

“Pandora is very excited to be working with the Lucy Desi Center on this first-of-its kind comedy attraction,” said Kelly Anneken, comedy curator at Pandora. “Helping Jamestown visitors learn more about America’s rich humorous history is perfectly aligned with Pandora’s mission to connect our listeners to comedy they love. We’re also thrilled to carry on the legacy of one of American comedy’s greatest stars by presenting a showcase at this year’s Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.”

Pandora launched Comedy in May of 2011, and currently features more than 20,000 comedy tracks in its catalog from more than 1,500 comedians.

The lead actors that portray Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in the hit, I Love Lucy® Live on Stage, will also be visiting Jamestown during the festival. They will be giving an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at what goes in to making their hit show. In addition to this show, I Love Lucy® Live on Stage will be performing at Shea’s Performing Arts Center from September 17-October 13.

By popular demand, Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator Jess Oppenheimer, returns to Jamestown to direct more radio comedy onstage at the Crown Theatre. Gregg’s live radio shows at previous festivals have been featured on SIRIUS-XM Radio. This year’s show will feature two episodes, Baby Snooks and Liz Changes her Mind, and will be performed in the style of old-time radio.

Rooftop Comedy, who has co-produced late-night comedy shows in the Tropicana Room in previous years, will be recording a live comedy album for this year’s late-night shows. Rooftop Comedy produces original event programming, from local comedy festivals to national comedy events and tours. Past year’s performers include Harrison Greenbaum, Adam Newman, Joe Machi, Phoebe Robinson, Kyle Grooms and more.

In addition to announcing this year’s festival line-up, The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy revealed they are in the master-planning stage of developing a national center for comedy in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, NY. Jack Rouse Associates (JRA), named by The Wall Street Journal as “one of the world’s more prominent design firms,” has recently been contracted to develop a master plan for a national comedy center which could be based at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station.

JRA has produced museum attractions for clients including Universal Studios, the Kennedy Space Center, LEGOLAND California, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the NCAA Hall of Champions, Warner Brothers, Ripley’s Believe It or Not in London, Curious George Goes to Town, and countless other museums and theme park attractions around the globe.

ABOUT THE LUCILLE BALL COMEDY FESTIVAL

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, or “Lucy Fest,” embodies Ball’s vision for her hometown legacy: a celebration of the comedic arts held annually on the weekend closest to her birth date, August 6th. The 2013 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival will take place August 1st-4th, and feature performances by Bill Engvall, Kathleen Madigan, a showcase of rising comedians presented by Pandora internet radio, the GIs of Comedy, I Love Lucy® Live on Stage, Live Lucy Radio Plays and much more. Visit www.LucyComedyFest.com for more information.

The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is the first pillar in a four-pillar Legacy of Laughter vision for the organization, including a comedic arts education program, comedy film festival and the establishment of the first national center for comedy.

The mission of the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is to preserve the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and enrich the world through the healing powers of love and laughter through its commitment to the development of the comedic arts.

April 18, 2013

Lucie Arnaz celebrates her musical heritage with ‘Latin Roots’


"People don’t have a clue what I do," said Lucie Arnaz, looking back on her show business career that's spanned more than 45 years. "The whole thing was a challenge. I never had a hit series. I did movies. Now I'm in concerts. I've diversified my career. That's just the way it is."

Having so varied a career that's included stage, screen and television has been a challenge for the daughter of TV royalty, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, all the while balancing marriage and motherhood. But Lucie Desiree Arnaz has always managed to come out on top, whether performing to millions of TV viewers or hundreds of nightclub and concert audiences. Now her latest venture, "Latin Roots," heads to Easton's State Theatre on Saturday at 8 p.m., in a celebration of her musical heritage and a tribute to her father.

Arnaz presented "Latin Roots" at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency nightclub in New York City in February. The show evolved from "BABALU: A Celebration of the Latin Music Craze of the 40s and 50s as Seen Through the Music of The Desi Arnaz Orchestra." With a 16-piece band, it opened the 40th season of the famed Lyric and Lyricist Series at the 92nd St. Y in New York City in January 2010, with sold-out performances. The show played in Miami the following summer. "Latin Roots" was released as a CD in 2010, as an eclectic celebration of Lucie Arnaz’s musical heritage. It includes some pop contemporary South-of-the-Border sounds and American standards as Arnaz takes on the fiery classics of her father.

For Easton’s performance, Arnaz said "Latin Roots" is pared down to a four-musician show with piano, bass and drums, and music director Ron Abel. The eclectic Latin American mix will include Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer, alongside tunes by Agustin Lara, Rafael Hernandez and Margarita Lecuona.

In a recent phone interview from Palm Springs, Calif., Arnaz said she and her husband of 32 years, actor/writer Laurence Luckinbill, are in the process of relocating from Connecticut to the West Coast. Together they have three children -- Simon, Joseph and Katharine. She also has two stepsons, Nicholas and Benjamin.

She explained that her Easton performance, which should be "a very entertaining and fun evening," will include not only some of her father's arrangements, but some family stories and videos of her mother, Lucille Desiree Ball, and family. "That's where I got my rhythms, acting from my mom and the joy of music from my dad," she added.

Following Saturday's show, Arnaz will be among the performers at the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame inaugural induction gala on Tuesday at the New World Center in Miami Beach. The event will honor some of the music industry’s most established names and also will introduce the Desi Arnaz Pioneer Award.

Lucie Desiree Arnaz began her long career playing opposite her mother in TV's "The Lucy Show." Her brother, Desi Jr., also appeared on the show. Desi Jr. later created a name for himself as the drummer in the 60s rock band, Dino, Desi & Billy, a favorite for teen magazines. At 15, Lucie was a regular on "Here’s Lucy," and later starred in her own series, "The Lucie Arnaz Show" and "Sons & Daughters."

It was during the 1979 Broadway run of the Neil Simon-Marvin Hamlisch-Carole Bayer Sager-musical, "They’re Playing Our Song," that Arnaz met Luckinbill, who also was performing on Broadway in the Neil Simon hit, "Chapter Two." They married in June 1980, and went on to appear together in such shows and tours including "Educating Rita," "I Do! I Do!"  "They’re Playing Our Song," "Whose Life is it Anyway?" "Social Security," and "The Guardsman." Arnaz also appeared in the film, "The Jazz Singer," with Neil Diamond and Sir Laurence Olivier, and received a Golden Globe nomination.

Arnaz reflected on Hamlisch's untimely death in 2012, calling it "a humongous loss. He was so vibrant, and at the top of his game. He changed the way I do the music. I have a new focus, more to the reality and the humanness." She’ll be performing at the American Cancer Society’s "One Centennial Sensation: A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch" on June 3, at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City.

In recent years, Arnaz and Luckinbill formed ArLuck Entertainment, which produced the Emmy Award-winning documentary, "Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie," and published CD-ROMs "Lucy & Desi: The Scrapbooks, Volume I" and "How to Save Your Family History: A 10-Step Guide by Lucie Arnaz." The company also produced "An Evening with Lucille Ball: Thank You for Asking," a one-woman touring show starring Suzanne LaRusch, co-written and directed by Lucie Arnaz.

In 2001, she and brother Desi Jr. were executive producers of the Emmy-nominated "I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary Special," which aired on CBS. In April 2006, she co-starred with daughter Katharine Desiree Luckinbill in "Sonia Flew," when Katharine was a senior theater major at the University of Miami.

For further info: statetheatre.org 

April 03, 2013

Lucie Arnaz's "Latin Roots" to Tribute Father Desi at The State Theatre

Lucie Arnaz performs a fiery, explosive, and heartfelt musical tribute to the rhythm of her roots and a love note to the man who introduced La Conga to the United States, her father, Desi Arnaz. "Latin Roots" is an eclectic Latin American mix that sizzles with sophistication and sassy spice to songs from Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Johnny Mercer alongside tunes by Agustín Lara, Rafael Hernandez, and Margarita Lecuona.

Show time is Saturday, April 20 at 8:00 PM. Tickets are $40 & $35 and can be purchased by visiting the State Theatre Box Office, 453 Northampton Street, Easton, by calling 1-800-999-STATE, 610-252-3132 or online at www.statetheatre.org.

A Meet & Greet with Lucie after the show is available, along with complementary champagne and strawberries for $25 per person, to benefit the non-profit State Theatre.

Believe it or not, Lucie Arnaz is celebrating over 45 years in show business. She began her long career in a recurring role on television on The Lucy Show, opposite her mother, Lucille Ball. At age fifteen, she became a series regular on Here's Lucy, a show that ran for six seasons. She starred in her own series, The Lucie Arnaz Show and later in the critically acclaimed Sons & Daughters on CBS.

In 1979, during the run of They're Playing Our Song, Lucie met her husband, actor-writer, Laurence Luckinbill, while he was also on Broadway in another Neil Simon hit, Chapter Two. The couple were married in June of 1980 and they have appeared together in the American premiere of Educating Rita, directed by Mike Ockrent; sold out tours of I Do! I Do! and They're Playing Our Song; national companies of Whose Life is it Anyway? and the Andrew Bergman comedy Social Security, directed by Mike Nichols (Carbonelle Award); and in the revival of Lunt and Fontanne's The Guardsman at The Papermill Playhouse.

Throughout her varied career, Ms. Arnaz has found herself helming several different production retrospectives based on the iconic fame of her parents, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. With her husband, Larry Luckinbill, she teamed up to form ArLuck Entertainment, which produced the Emmy Award-winning documentary, Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie, (for NBC in 1993, subsequently on A&E and Nickelodeon, and currently available on DVD), published two CD-ROMs (Lucy & Desi: The Scrapbooks, Volume I and How to Save Your Family History: A 10-Step Guide by Lucie Arnaz). Most recently, ArLuck Entertainment produced An Evening With Lucille Ball: Thank You For Asking, a one-woman show starring Suzanne LaRusch, co-written and directed by Ms. Arnaz and currently touring the U.S. and Canada.

In 2001 Lucie and her brother, Desi Arnaz Jr., executive produced the I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary Special which aired on CBS and received an Emmy nomination. Miss Arnaz says with a smile: "A few of those kinds of projects are healthy. My parents are always happiest when they're working."

In April 2006, she opened in Sonia Flew, costarring with her youngest child, then a senior and theatre major at University of Miami, Katharine Desiree Luckinbill.

In January of 2010, Lucie was Artistic Director for BABALU: A Celebration of the Latin Music Craze of the '40s and '50s as Seen Through the Music of The Desi Arnaz Orchestra which opened the 40th season of the famed Lyric and Lyricist Series at the 92nd St. Y in New York City with sold out performances. The show received "sizzling" reviews when it played to Miami audiences the following summer.

With her husband, Ms. Arnaz is mother to three beautiful and talented children: Simon (born in 1980), Joseph (1982) and Katharine (1985) in addition to being stepmother to his two sons, Nicholas (1969) and Benjamin (1975). It is these credits of which Lucie is most proud.

April 01, 2013

Lucie Arnaz Heads to Reagle Music Theatre


Talented triple threat of stage and screen Lucie Arnaz brings her critically acclaimed cabaret "An Afternoon with Lucie Arnaz" to Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston on Sunday, April 21 at 3 p.m. In an exclusive Boston area engagement, the famed daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz sings, shares stories, and demonstrates the musical savvy and comic pizzazz that have established her as a star in her own right for the past 45 years.

"We are thrilled to continue our 45th season concert series with another true legend," says Robert Eagle, producing artistic director of Reagle Music Theatre. "Lucie Arnaz started in show business at the age of 10, working with and learning from the greatest comedienne of all time, her mother, Lucille Ball. But even before she stepped in front of the camera professionally, she literally grew up in the spotlight, absorbing invaluable lessons from two of the world's most famous television pioneers. From her mother's incomparable wit and her father's musical genius she has developed her own unique style. Lucie Arnaz is a consummate entertainer. Her show is a knockout."

In "An Afternoon with Lucie Arnaz," the star takes her audience on an eclectic ride through a varied songbook, from jazz standards to Broadway show tunes. She performs inspired medleys with fresh and exciting arrangements and includes a set of hot Latin numbers in homage to her Cuban-born father. Her show-stopping rendition of "Hey, Look Me Over" by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh recalls her mother's one Broadway hit, "Wildcat."

Lucie Arnaz has had an extremely diversified career spanning more than 45 years in show business. She has starred on the New York stage in "They're Playing Our Song" (Theatre World, LA Drama Critics and Outer Critic's Circle Awards), "Lost in Yonkers," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "Grace and Glorie;" in the London premiere of "The Witches Of Eastwick;" in the Coconut Grove Playhouse premieres of "Once Removed" and "A Picasso;" in national tours of "Seesaw," "Whose Life Is It Anyway?," "Social Security" and "My One And Only" (Sarah Siddons Award); and in regional theatre productions of "Wonderful Town," "Master Class," "Cabaret," "The Guardsman," "Annie Get Your Gun," "I Do! I Do!," "Educating Rita," "Vanities" and "Mack And Mabel," to name just a few.

Arnaz has appeared on television in "The Lucie Arnaz Show," "Sons And Daughters," "The Black Dahlia," "The Mating Season," "Who Gets The Friends?," "Washington Mistress," "Death Scream" and six seasons of "Here's Lucy." On the big screen she appeared with Neil Diamond and Sir Laurence Oliver in "The Jazz Singer" (Golden Globe Nomination), "Down To You," "Second Thoughts," "Billy Jack Goes To Washington," "The Pack," and "Wild Seven." She has also lent her voice to the new animated fantasy about the NY Yankees, "Henry and Me."

In addition, Arnaz has performed the opening number on the Academy Awards (1981) and at The White House several times. She was Executive Producer of the "I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary Special" (Emmy nomination) and "Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie" (Emmy winner 1993). She recorded her first album for Concord Jazz, "Just in Time," and her newest CD, "Latin Roots," is a celebration of her Cuban heritage. Arnaz has been traveling the country and the world with her various concerts for more than 20 years.

With her brother, Desi, she manages Desilu, too, LLC. With her husband, actor Laurence Luckinbill, she manages five grown children. Much more information is available online at www.luciearnaz.com.

"An Afternoon with Lucie Arnaz" performs at Reagle Music Theatre, Robinson Theater, 617 Lexington Street, Waltham on Sunday, April 21 at 3 p.m. Tickets are priced from $34 to $54. Seniors (60+) receive $3 off adult prices. Youth tickets (ages 5-18) are $25 for any seat. Student rush seats at 50% off are available at the Box Office one hour before curtain; a valid college ID is required.


Tickets may be purchased by phone at 781-891-5600 or in person at the Box Office during regular business hours, Mondays through Fridays 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and performance days 9 a.m. to curtain. Tickets may also be purchased online anytime at www.reaglemusictheatre.org. For groups of 10 or more, call 781-894-2330 or 781-891-5600.


March 19, 2013

Lucy Fest Documentary

An untitled Lucy Fest documentary is now in post-production.  The independent film is a production of the Boonies International Film Festival in conjunction with Beniquez Films.  

At last year's Lucy Fest, a film crew interviewed comedians that included Billy Gardell, Tammy Pescatelli and Paula Poundstone, as well as, Lucie Arnaz.  The documentary hopes to take Lucy Fest to those fans that can not make it to Jamestown, New York and to explore how Lucille Ball continues to inspire comics and fans around the world.  

Director Lorena Beniquez says, "The funny thing that we learned through the filming process is that people get really serious when it comes to talking about comedy and Lucille Ball."  The film is Executive produced by Jeff Clark and Mark Robineaut serves as director of Photography.

The Boonies, Inc. organized as a 501(C)(3) non-profit corporation, is created to support, educate and promote independent filmmakers of all ages, as well as promote Northwestern Pennsylvania's location and natural resources to the film industry. To that end, The Boonies will utilize film, visual arts, music and the newest and experimental technologies to enhance the experience of students, filmmakers and audiences.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available!

January 28, 2013

Valentine's Day Event at Lucy Desi Center


Enjoy an evening of romance and laughter with the "First Couple of Comedy" at the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy on Saturday, February 16. First enjoy a cocktail hour in the Desilu Studios where you can mingle among original costumes, props, Emmy Awards, and exact replicas of the I Love Lucy studio sets. Then enjoy a candle-light dinner in the Tropicana Room where you can enjoy delicious Caribbean Chicken & Rice or Italian Style Veggie Lasagna.
Next have some laughs with your loved one with stand-up comedian Nick Siracuse. Writing for Jay Leno, The Arsenio Hall Show, and The David Brenner Show, Nick will have your laughing for days. Finish the evening off watching the I Love Lucy episode "The Marriage License" where Lucy and Ricky re-create the day that Ricky proposed.  
Purchase your tickets now online or by calling 716.484.0800. Beer and wine served throughout the evening by cash donation. 

January 21, 2013

60 Year Anniversary of Celebrated I Love Lucy Show

This past Saturday, January 19th marked the 60th anniversary of the episode, "Lucy Goes to the Hospital." This was a groundbreaking moment in TV History that marked the highest Nielsen rating for any one show, with 98.6% of all households watching "I Love Lucy" that Monday evening. This episode featured the birth of Little Ricky, the fictional son of Rick and Lucy Ricardo. Most Lucy fans know that Keith Thibodeaux played Little Ricky throughout most of the I Love Lucy series. But Thibodeaux did not appear until Season 6 in 1956! The Baby that everyone saw on Lucy that night was James John Ganzer. Another little known fact is the full name of Little Ricky was Enrique Alberto Ricardo IV.

Not only was this a groundbreaking show in Nielsen ratings but also that Lucy gave birth in a TV Series during that era. Not only was Lucille Ball the first actress to be pregnant on television, something unheard of back then, as she had her real-life pregnancy written directly into the show.

Lucy actually gave birth to her second child, Desi Arnaz Jr. by a cesarean section just hours before CBS aired this episode. "It’s a very cool moment in television history to recognize because it gives one a sense of the significance of the show in American culture at that time, and because [a 98.6% Nielsen share] will almost certainly never happen again,” said Journey Gunderson, executive director at the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy.

"In today's fragmented world of hundreds of TV channels and dozens of mobile media viewing platforms, even the most popular TV broadcasts are seen by just a small fraction of the viewing audience," said Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator, Jess Oppenheimer. "It's awe-inspiring to think that my dad and his co-writers Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr. were able to write something that was experienced and enjoyed by practically everyone in the country at the same time."

Time truly stood still for this landmark episode. Not only did the episode's ratings completely eclipse those of the first-ever televised presidential inauguration the following day, Colonel McCormick, owner and publisher of the Chicago Times, even scheduled his inauguration-eve party for Dwight Eisenhower around the episode so that the gala would finish at 9pm - just in time to roll out a television and allow the dignitaries to watch the telecast.

In celebration of this anniversary, Gregg Oppenheimer, son of Jess Oppenheimer (co-creator, producer and writer for I Love Lucy) will be releasing his new audiobook, I Love Lucy: The Untold Story. The audiobook can be downloaded on iTunes, Amazon.com and Audible. This book is a fully cast radio play exploring the creation of I Love Lucy and includes funny anecdotes about what it was like to be on the set. Included in this audiobook is a bonus, 15-minute previously unreleased interview with Jess Oppenheimer in 1961. All proceeds on the sale go directly towards the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

Help Support this Lucy Blog - Shop Amazon