January 30, 2006

Columbia House's I Love Lucy Collectors Edition Cancelled

Last week as I was surfing various sites for news on Lucy, I came across a posting on The Lucy Lounge forum regarding the I Love Lucy Series 6 DVDs from Paramount and asked if anyone had heard about the Columbia House version.

For the past 4 or so years, I have been collecting the I Love Lucy Collectors Edition DVDs from Columbia House. They actually released their VHS version back in the 1980s and I had never completed that series, so when they came out with the DVD version, I subscribed. Usually they ship their DVDs out one at a time until the season is completed and by the time Columbia House was completed, Paramount would then release their box set.

I don't know whether they stopped short on the VHS version as well but they have decided not to continue the very last season!! The emails and responses:

MY EMAIL: I am a collector of the I Love Lucy series that you have put out. The last
shipment was Season 5 which completed back in June of last year. I was wondering when Season 6 will be coming out for the I Love Lucy Collectors Edition DVDs?

CH RESPONSE: You have been sent all volumes that are currently available in the 'I LOVE LUCY' TV Greats series. If, in the future, additional volumes are offered, you will be notified.

MY EMAIL RESPONSE: Thanks for the reply, but that isn't quite what I had asked. I heard a rumor and I am trying to find out if it is true. The question is - "Are you going to release Season 6 of the I Love Lucy Collectors Edition". The rumor is that you are not. That you have lost money and are letting Paramount release their version instead. So are you planning on doing Season 6 or not? A Yes or No will suffice. Your response is the canned response that is showing up on various forums. If you are not going to release Season 6, then do you have a reason? If you made it all the way to Season 5, it is really terrible to stop and not release the last and final season and doesn't fit well with your marketing abilities nor your customers attitude towards possible future releases of any TV series. I'd personally be afraid from now on to get anything in fear that you would "Stop Short" and never finish the series. I'd appreciate a more detailed answer then the canned answer you have provided to my question.

CH RESPONSE: Unfortunately, the following selection is not available at this time. I Love Lucy Season 6. Since we continually add new selections to our inventory, please watch future printed materials as well as our website for updates.

So, they are not going to respond with anything other then the canned talking points that their customer service is told to answer. Which is a shame.

So for those collecting the Columbia House version, you'll have to complete your collection with the Paramount version which is due out May 2nd. Hopefully Paramount will continue and release the "Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour" followed by Lucy's other TV Series, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy. Time will tell and if I hear any more, I will post it here on the Everything Lucy blog.

If you are interested in sending Columbia House an email in response to discontinuing their series, you may do so at qjdu@columbiahouse.com.

January 20, 2006

Jenny Lewis: Poor Little Rich Girl

Jenny Lewis has gone from child star to singing with Rilo Kiley to solo act. Best known by Lucy fans as Becky McGibbons from Lucy's last series comedy, "Life With Lucy", Jenny was born in Las Vegas, where her parents had a Sonny and Cher tribute act, but she retains no love for her birthplace. After her father left when she was three, Lewis grew up with her mother and sister in the San Fernando Valley, where she was put out to work to supplement her mother's welfare cheques and waitressing tips. As happens only in Los Angeles, the child quickly became the family's main breadwinner by acting, first in commercials, later on television, with Life With Lucy, and finally in films such as Pleasantville, Foxfire and The Wizard.

At home, the all-female household sang around the kitchen table to singers such as Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Roberta Flack, Laura Nyro and Barbra Streisand. Country music always held a particular appeal with her with it's tragic tales and strong female perspectives. Lewis made her singing debut at her seventh grade graduation at age 12, performing "Killing Me Softly" in front of her school.

In 2005, after seven years striving for a breakthrough, her band Rilo Kiley earned rave reviews for their first major-label album More Adventurous, and toured America with Coldplay.

Now, breaking away temporarily to mark her 30th birthday with a solo album, their flame-haired singer is stepping further into the limelight. With her quirky lyrics and kooky look - all hot pants, knee socks and vintage mini-dresses - the elfin Lewis already has the attributes of a star. Plus she has a heartbreaking, spellbinding voice that has earned comparisons with Loretta Lynn. Throw in a past as a successful child actor, and a talented musician boyfriend eight years her junior (Johnathan Rice) and she would seem to have it all.

Her remarkably assured debut, Rabbit Fur Coat, should surprise even established admirers of Rilo Kiley. Stylistically pursuing the country-got-soul direction of "I Never" from More Adventurous, it's a distinctly modern take on what Americans call "old-time" country music. Blending elements of country, folk, bluegrass, gospel and deep soul, it retains a thoroughly modern feel thanks to songs whose bittersweet and sharply observed lyrics reflect the US's current moral crisis.

For more information, read the full article on The Independent. Rabbit Fur Coat' is released on 23 January on Rough Trade Records.

January 17, 2006

I Love Lucy's Final Season comes to DVD!

Lucy's final season is almost here on DVD! The release date for the Paramount box set, I Love Lucy - The Complete 6th Season, is May 2nd!

The season starts in New York, with the Ricardos still in their apartment with the Mertzes as their landlords. Ricky is opening a new club, and Bob Hope comes to help. This season Lucy also meets Orson Welles, Superman (George Reeves), and Claude Akins in various crazy episodes, while Barbara Eden plays a pretty lady who seems to go after Ricky, Fred, and new friend Ralph Ramsey. Yes, "Ralph Ramsey", who along with wife "Betty" are the new neighbors of the Ricardos when they move to Connecticut halfway through the season.

Before the big move, though, everyone has fun with a trip to Florida and Cuba, where Lucy finally meets Ricky's entire family. There is also lots of fun with Little Ricky while he learns to play drums, gets stage fright, and has a school pageant that draws into the cast his Uncle Fred, Aunt Ethel, big Ricky, and a "witchy" Lucy.

The real-life son of Lucy and Desi, young Desi Arnez Jr., makes a cameo appearance in the show's final regular episode.

The Christmas Episode will be included in this release, thanks to Gregg Oppenheimer (son of I Love Lucy's producer and head writer, Jess Oppenheimer).

The extras on the CBS/Paramount release are:
  • All 27 Season Six Episodes, Magnificently Restored and Digitally Remastered
  • The 1956 Christmas Show
  • Colorized Christmas Show Scenes
  • Audio Commentaries by Keith Thibodeaux ("Little Ricky"), Barbara Eden, Doris Singelton ("Caroline Appleby"), and writers Madelyn Pugn Davis and Bob Schiller
  • Bob Hope Chevy Show Sketch Highlights
  • 5 Episodes of Lucy's Radio Show: My Favorite Husband
  • Flubs
  • Lost Scenes
  • Restored Music
  • Original Series Openings
  • Original Animation
  • Original Cast Commercials
  • Promotional Spot
  • Guest Cast Information
  • English Closed-Captions
  • Spanish Subtitles and Spanish Audio on many episodes

I haven't any news on the Columbia House's I Love Lucy, The Collector's Edition set of DVDs. They usually send the DVD Discs out once per month and then by the time Paramount sales their Box Set, the Columbia House's DVD Set has already been shipped! They usually contain the same material and sometimes the Columbia House set includes more I believe and is sponsored by Gregg Oppenheimer as well. When I find more information on Columbia House's version, I will post it here.

January 16, 2006

PBS and Thirteen/WNET New York Crank Up the Laugh Machine in an Unprecedented Chronicle of American Comedy

PBS announced today the start of production on MAKE 'EM LAUGH: THE FUNNY BUSINESS OF AMERICA, a new historical documentary series chronicling more than a century of American comedy, produced by Thirteen/WNET New York and Ghost Light Films. In the tradition of BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL -- winner of the 2005 Primetime
Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series -- MAKE 'EM LAUGH will meld comedy performances with biographical portraits and 20th-century history in
probing what has kept America rolling in the aisles -- and why.

From the pratfalls that entertained immigrants in the early 1900s to the most biting satire on television today, MAKE 'EM LAUGH will feature the funniest moments in American entertainment and the great comedic talents
behind their creation -- including Charlie Chaplin, Jack Benny, Abbott & Costello, The Three Stooges, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Woody Allen, George Carlin, the late Richard Pryor, Ellen DeGeneres, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock and many more.

Rather than a strict chronological approach, each of MAKE 'EM LAUGH's six hour-long episodes will focus on a different style of comedy -- such as knockabout physical routines, satire and lampoons, the domestic sit-com, and caustic cutting-edge stand-up -- while exploring the form's evolving relationship to America's ethnic, race and gender relations, its politics,
mores and taboos.

"MAKE 'EM LAUGH will not only showcase the most groundbreaking and sidesplitting American comedy, but also show how it has reflected the country's social climate in each era," said Barry Schulman, director of
culture and arts programming at Thirteen and series executive producer. "It's looking at American history through the eyes of our comedic geniuses."

MAKE 'EM LAUGH is being produced in high-definition format. The broadcast will be supported by ancillary products that include a hardcover companion book and a comprehensive interactive Web site, as well as a far-
reaching educational outreach effort.

MAKE 'EM LAUGH is a co-production of Ghost Light Films and Thirteen/WNET New York. Michael Kantor is the series' producer-director. Bill O'Donnell is supervising producer; executive producers are David Horn and Barry Schulman.

January 05, 2006

The Dark Corner on DVD

New this week on DVD - "The Dark Corner".

Lucille Ball is the main draw in Hathaway's crime romance thriller.

It's interesting to see Lucy in a straight dramatic role as the love interest. Here she's not a typical bad-girl but a smart, strong and feminine 1940s movie dame. A good script with surprises makes this worth finding. Extras include a commentary and theatrical trailer.

This DVD is not rated. It stars Lucille Ball, William Bendix, Clifton Webb, and Mark Stevens.