July 28, 2006

Birdland Birthday Bash Packed

Lucie Arnaz Birthday Bash at Birdland

Pictured above are Valarie Pettiford, Lucie Arnaz, Phoebe Snow, and Michele Lee in the dressing room after "Lucie's Birthday Bash at Birdland," on July 17, 2006.

Lucie Arnaz celebrated her, as she put it, murmur-th birthday, at a packed-to-the-gills Birdland on July 17. "See what a little blackmail and emails can do?" she gleefully announced before launching into a lengthy set which showed off her rangy voice in standards, country and her own Broadway hit "They’re Playing Our Song." She paid constant tribute to her dad, Desi Arnaz, whose music inspired her from childhood and, indeed, was at her best in a couple of fiery Latin songs, accompanied by her son Simon on congas. A lineup of pals joined her onstage, including Julie Budd, Phoebe Snow who brought down the house with "Time After Time," and a wild Michele Lee, who kept salaciously appraising Lucie’s bod to the point where she had to explain herself: "Well, after that [lesbian] part I played in 'Tale of the Allergist’s Wife'…"

Arnaz somewhat mysteriously didn't mention her mother, Lucille Ball until the final moments, when she laughingly said, "It was hard picking from the many songs she made famous," and then sang an affecting, slowed-down version of the rousing "Hey, Look Me Over," from Lucille Ball's Broadway musical, "Wildcat," which was Cy Coleman’s first big hit.

July 24, 2006

Lucy's Birthday Celebration Features Noted Interior Designer

Eric CohlerTickets are selling fast to the limited admission Tropicana Luncheon during Lucille Ball’s Birthday Celebration, and Eric Cohler is undoubtedly the reason!

The nationally acclaimed interior designer is not only a board member of Jamestown, New York’s Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, he is also working on a book Learning from Lucy: Lessons in Interior Design to be published in 2007. At the 1:00 p.m. Friday, August 4 Tropicana Luncheon, Cohler will share the same sneak preview of his book concept that he presented at the Decoration & Design Building’s Designer Seminar Series in New York City.

Opened just last August, the new Tropicana Room is a reproduction of the most popular nightclub in television history, Ricky Ricardo’s Tropicana Club from “I Love Lucy”. Cohler was very involved in the d├ęcor for this exciting space that is located above the new Desilu Playhouse and only open to the public for occasions such as this special festival event. Participants will enjoy the atmosphere of the Tropicana Room, Desi Arnaz’s favorite meal, and a unique seminar documenting the influence of “I Love Lucy” on interior design from the perspective of a man inspired by Lucy.

A graduate of Hobart College with a Masters Degree in Historic Preservation from the Columbia University School of Architecture and a certificate in design from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Eric Cohler is considered to be one of the country’s leading designers. House Beautiful has described him as one of the 14 “best of the best” in the “next wave of designers in America,” and he is included annually in their “Top 100” issue. He has received Traditional Home’s “Designer of the Year” award and has been recognized by his peers as “one of the 26 leading designers in the U.S.” In 2004, the International Furnishings and Design Association awarded Cohler with their Circle of Excellence Award.

Cohler’s work often appears in leading domestic and international periodicals and books, and is featured on television on a wide variety of programs including PBS’s Find! , CBS Morning News, CBS Evening News, and Sheila Bridges’s Fine Living. He is a featured designer on the Home & Garden TV network and a contributing writer for a number of publications including House Beautiful, Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication, and The New York Times.

For tickets to this limited admission event, call or visit the Lucy-Desi Center Gift Shop, 300 North Main Street in downtown Jamestown, New York, (716) 484-0800 (toll-free: 1-877-LUCY-FAN) or online at their website.

July 21, 2006

Long Long Trailer Review (Part of Collection on DVD)

The quintessential television couple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, met on the 1940 RKO musical "Too Many Girls," an overscaled adaptation of Rodgers and Hart uncertainly brought to the screen by the Broadway director George Abbott. Though that curious film ends with Arnaz hammering away at a conga drum in a howling frenzy, while Ball is swept away by Richard Carlson, the film's ostensible leading man, the volatile Ball and Arnaz continued their off-screen relationship.

Switching to the small screen in 1951, the couple started "I Love Lucy," a pioneering situation comedy so immediately and immensely successful that when RKO ceased production in the late 1950's, they were able to buy the studio where they had first worked together.

The three-disc "Lucy and Desi Collection" from Warner Home Video unites "Too Many Girls" with the two MGM features Ball and Arnaz made after television stardom had made them box office attractions again. Alexander Hall's "Forever Darling" (1956) is a dull, unfocused romantic fantasy in which a guardian angel (a palpably uncomfortable James Mason) instructs Ball, a spoiled heiress, in the art of caring for her overworked husband.

But "The Long, Long Trailer," filmed in 1954 by Vincente Minnelli, remains one of the sharpest if least-known satires of the decade, a caustic deconstruction of the Ball-Arnaz relationship that turns into a nightmare vision of 1950's materialism and middle-class domesticity.

Hectored by his childlike bride into buying a 40-foot house trailer, Arnaz bravely sets out on a cross-country drive to their new home in a Colorado trailer park; this comes at a time when trailers were seen as space-age contraptions that allowed the average American to enjoy the freedom of open highways and an open society. But Minnelli, working from a script by the difficult-couples specialists Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich ("The Thin Man," Minnelli's "Father of the Bride"), films the comedy as if it were a film noir, opening in a pounding rainstorm and moving into moody flashbacks, narrated by Arnaz in a trench coat ensemble on loan from Dick Powell.

The freedom promised by the trailer soon turns out to be a cruel illusion as Minnelli films the gigantic lemon-colored contraption as the materialization of all the decade's consumerist pressures: a sort of Tupperware Moby-Dick.

As the trip continues, the trailer gathers more and more emotional and physical baggage. Ball has picked up a large rock from each of the scenic spots they've visited and hidden them around the trailer so Arnaz won't be worried about the excess weight; her sentimental gesture leads to a sequence only slightly less suspenseful than the driving scenes in "The Wages of Fear," as Arnaz tries to pilot the vehicle up and over the Rockies.

"The Long, Long Trailer" is a comedy with a very contemporary feel. The box retails at $29.98; individual titles are $14.98.

July 19, 2006

Lucy's 'Ethel' came from Cherryvale

Vivian VanceVivian Vance became one of America's best-loved "best friends" during the 1950s.

Playing second fiddle to Lucille Ball in the "I Love Lucy" series, Vance was Ethel Mertz - a frumpy housewife and landlord to Ball's zany Lucy.

Together they would create some of television's most comic and memorable moments.

Take for instance the time Ethel and Lucy decide to work on an assembly line at Kramer's Kandy Kitchen - the chocolates keep coming and coming, and both of them end up stuffing chocolates in their hats, blouses and mouths.

So good was Vance as Ethel that in 1954 she was awarded an Emmy for best supporting actress.

It was a long way from the little Kansas girl born Vivian Roberta Jones in Cherryvale on July 26, 1909.

July 10, 2006

Lucille Ball Statue in Jamestown?

Could there be a statue of Lucille Ball in Jamestown or Ethel Mertz in Albuquerque? TV Land is asking for suggestions on where the next bronze TV Land character statue is to be placed. They have already erected statues of Jackie Gleason, Mary Tyler Moore among others.

It's time to honor TV's greatest female comedian by placing a statue of "Lucy Ricardo" in her hometown of Jamestown, New York.

To give TV Land your suggestion and make your voice heard, share your thoughts with them at their website!

July 06, 2006

Lucie Arnaz Celebrates Birthday Bash

Summer In The City, a series of concerts at Birdland, located at 315 W. 44th St., New York City, featuring top Broadway performers, will continue Monday, July 17th at 7pm, with Lucie Arnaz in "Lucie's Birthday Bash at Birdland."

"The show, a casual, birthday party/showbiz extravaganza, will include beloved standards, some new tunes, original material, a few Latin songs close to Lucie's heart!," state press notes. Ron Able will serve as musical director/accompanist and there will be some very special surprise guests.

Arnaz, who currently plays wealthy divorcee Muriel Eubanks in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, received the Theatre World Award for her performance in the Neil Simon/Marvin Hamlisch/Carole Bayer Sager musical, They're Playing Our Song. She returned to Broadway 13 years later to star in Simon's Pulitzer Prize/Tony Award-winning play Lost in Yonkers. She starred opposite Tommy Tune in the national tour of My One and Only, and in the national tours of Whose Life Is It Anyway?, and Social Security. She also appeared in the West End premiere of the musical The Witches of Eastwick. Film and TV credits include Down to You, The Jazz Singer, "Here's Lucy" and "The Lucie Arnaz Show".

There will be a $35 cover plus $10 food/drink minimum, and reservations may be made by calling 212-581-3080 or visiting www.instantseats.com/birdland.