February 19, 2009

Lucie Arnaz to Perform Benefit Cabaret

As reported by Robert Hurwitt for the San Francisco Chronicle:

Lucie Arnaz, who was practically born on TV, takes the stage to benefit San Mateo's Broadway by the Bay next month. The daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, will perform her cabaret act, "An Evening With Lucie Arnaz," on March 22 at Hotel Sofitel in Redwood City, California as part of a benefit for the company's musical theater productions and educational programs. The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and dinner, followed by the performance at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($150-$200) available at (650) 579-5565 or www.broadwaybythebay.org.

February 16, 2009

Here's Lucy, Season One DVD Coming This Summer!

MPI Home Video has picked up the license for "Here's Lucy" which was previously owned by Shout Factory. In 2004, Shout Factory released hand-picked episodes of "Here's Lucy" to put together a 4-disc set entitled "Here's Lucy-Best Loved Episodes". But they never took that any further, much to fans dismay. Now that their agreement has expired, MPI Home Video picked up the license, along with a group of Lucille Ball specials to be released later this year.

Season 1 of "Here's Lucy" will be released this Summer, complete with extras. All 6 seasons, 144 episodes of the 1968-74 top ten CBS-TV sitcom, which starred Lucille Ball, Gale Gordon, and Lucy's children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. will be released in individual season sets. The exact date is to be determined but will begin this Summer.

With this announcement, it's not long before "The Lucy Show" becomes available, which also has been rumored to be in the works.

Two Lucy Specials Coming to DVD

MPI Home Video will issue a pair of Lucille Ball Specials from 1975 - "Lucy Gets Lucky" (with Dean Martin) and "Three For Two" (with Jackie Gleason) - as a double-feature DVD on June 30. Additional Lucy specials will follow. All of these Lucy releases on MPI will be loaded with bonus features, including new and vintage materials. Last week, MPI debuted its first Lucy-related release with the DVD debut of "Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie," the 1994 documentary produced by their actress-daughter Lucie Arnaz.

February 12, 2009

Lucy-Desi Center Layoffs Leave Only Skeleton Crew Left

As reported by Kristen Johnson of The Jamestown Post Journal, The Lucy-Desi Center of Jamestown, NY cut staff in half on Monday morning and leaves only a "Skeleton Crew" in place.

Mike Latone, the president of the center's board of directors, said the center "has basically laid off half the staff."

"It is absolutely horrible when you have to lay people off," Latone said. "The worst economic downtrend in decades finally caught up with the center and we had to respond. To be honest, the economic trends caught us behind the 8 ball."

Latone said the board has "absolutely no plans whatsoever" to close any of the center's facilities.

The decision to reduce the center's staff comes early in Latone's tenure as board president. Latone was appointed to the center's board of directors in late October and was made president after C. Edward Fagan, a local attorney, resigned from that post in mid-December.

"It's so hard when you have to come in and lay someone off and say, 'Look, I'm taking away your livelihood,'" Latone said. "But it had to be done. To be honest, this probably should have been done in November."

Latone declined to say exactly how many employees were affected by the layoffs and how many remain employed by the center. The layoffs affected employees of the center's museums and gift shop. The center's board of directors discussed the possibility of layoffs at length during a recent board meeting, Latone said, and made their decision "based on the state of our cash flow."

He described the center's financial state as "a little fragile."

"You have to look at the economics of the situation," Latone said. "Any business has to be able to pay its bills and its employees. That's just a basic business model. When the economy goes south, people are faced with a choice of paying their mortgage and buying groceries or spending money on museum visits and memorabilia. Traveling to see a museum really isn't at the top of anybody's list right now. We've got to be responsible and respond to that."

Latone said sales at the center's gift shop are down. Sales through the center's mail-order gift shop, he said, are "a third of what they have been."

"We didn't have the Christmas sales that we thought we would, and that is due to the economy," he said. "(In January, it) cost us five times more than we generated in revenue to keep the museums open. We just couldn't keep the hours and the level of staffing we had when sales had plummeted. It just doesn't make sense. Read the news - the story is the same everywhere."

The problem likely won't be solved in the short-term, Latone said. He said board members anticipate that February and March will be "very tough months."

"We really consider this a little hiccup," he said. "We will pull back a little, take a look at things, and decide how best to move forward."

In an effort to save money, the operating hours for the center's museums and gift shop have been restructured. The gift shop and mail order business will operate Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Through April 1, the Lucy-Desi Museum and the Desilu Playhouse will be open only on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., though Latone said the hours would be adjusted should any large tour groups wish to visit.

"At the end of March, we'll take a hard look at where we are and go from there," he said. "Should things pick up, we fully plan on asking those who were laid off to come back. But our goal is as it must be - to continue operations in the face of hard economic times. We will remain open, but we've got to be responsible."

Pat Smith, who had been serving as the center's interim executive director, left her post at the end of January - a decision directly related to the center's financial situation. Her contract with the center was set to expire at the end of this month, but as the center's financial situation worsened, Smith was asked to resign early.

"They asked me to resign early in order to conserve revenue, and I of course agreed," Smith said. "I know that decision, along with the layoffs, are hard decisions to make. But they just had to be made."

Lee Harkness, a member of the center's board of directors, said there is currently no executive director in place at the center.

The center has hired human resources specialist Richard A. Koerner to help the center search for a permanent executive director.

"We've gotten probably 100 applicants, and I have to say I'm pleased with the caliber of the applicants," Latone said. "They're coming from all over the United States. We really have some promising leads. I think things will look up for us in the future."

February 07, 2009

Lucie Arnaz hosts health talk in Torrance

The daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz will discuss the impact of her mother's death and her childhood in a celebrity household in the keynote address at the Women's Heart Health Conference.

According to The Contra Costa Times, staff writer Lisa Hirschmann writes:

Acting genes aren't the only thing Lucie Arnaz inherited from her mom, Lucille Ball. Unfortunately, she also got the genes for heart disease.

The daughter of the "I Love Lucy" star, and her husband, Desi Arnaz, Lucie Arnaz has made heart-healthy living one of the cornerstones of the talk she gives around the country -- "Surviving Success."

Saturday she will discuss the impact of her mother's death and her childhood in a celebrity household in the keynote address at Torrance Memorial Medical Center's Second Annual Women's Heart Health Conference.

"It was a wake-up call to think that your mother, who was seemingly so healthy, would just drop," Arnaz said. Ball died from an aortic dissection in 1989 at age 77.

Aortic dissection is caused by a hereditary gene with a 50 percent chance of being passed on to one's children. Since her mother's death, Arnaz visits the doctor regularly to keep an eye out for it.

She believes both the mental and physical aspects of cardiovascular health are important.

"There's a lot we can do just by our thoughts. There's a way we land stress on ourselves," she said.

The presentation promotes balanced living as one of the best ways to maintain cardiovascular health.

"It's about taking stock of what you're trying to do in your health," she said. "I try to talk to women who are younger so they don't think `Oh my god, I wish I'd known this.' "

Saturday's conference will include presentations and interactive workshops on heart health, including "Emergency What to do if you think you're having a heart attack," "Stroke: Every Second Counts" and "The Hormone Heart Connection: How HRT Affects Heart Health."

"With a history of heart disease in the family and its prevalence in our society, we are especially interested in seeking medical advances in cardiovascular medicine," said Richard Lundquist, a hospital benefactor who is sponsoring the conference along with his wife, Melanie.

Screenings of blood pressure, body mass index, skeletal muscle mass, resting metabolism, risk profile and blood glucose will also be available.

Additionally, a continental breakfast and boxed lunch will be served. For information call Torrance Memorial's HealthLine at 310-517-4711 or visit the medical center's Web site to make a reservation.

February 01, 2009

Lucy & Desi: A Home Move Coming to DVD

Coming February 10th is the release of "Lucy & Desi: A Home Move" on DVD. Prior to this it was only available as VHS. This DVD will contain more information then before as it will contain all previous releases in one DVD.

Desi and Lucy's daughter, Lucie Arnaz, directed and produced this emotional yet honest glimpse at the extraordinary lives of her world-famous parents, highlighted by never-before-seen color family movies along with insightful interviews from family members, business associates and celebrity friends such as Bob Hope. Winner of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Special, LUCY & DESI: A HOME MOVIE is a sensitive and absorbing documentary that details the circumstances which brought the immortal twosome together and ultimately drove them apart.

This new DVD release will also include an interview with Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr., outtakes and bloopers, trivia, still gallery, lost Lucy & Desi television appearances, and more.

The Outtakes are all the secrets, bloopers, truths and trivia stories that weren't included previously about life with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

The Interview is a candid 30-minute talk with Lucie and Desi Arnaz, Jr. about growing up with TV's most famous redhead.

The original VHS was produced in 1993 in response to the 1991 movie, "Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter", which starred Frances Fisher as Lucille Ball and Maurice Benard as Desi Arnaz. Lucie Arnaz was very much outraged by the portrayal of her parents in this movie believing that the makers of it didn't really go into explaining the reasons behind the couple's tumultuous marriage. This prompted Lucie Arnaz and her husband, Laurince Luckinbill, to create the Emmy Award-winning, Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie, which gave a lot of insight into the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz marriage.

After her mother's death, Lucie had found reels of film that she had never seen before. When she had viewed them she realized that they were old home movies of her parents from early in their marriage until the end. The problem was that there was no sound to any of the footage. Lucie knew that fans would have loved to have seen it so she put this documentary together.

Lucie manages to get as many family members, co-workers, friends and celebrities that knew her parents to speak in this documentary. Interviews, spliced with the home movie footage along with hundreds of photographs--Lucie manages to tell a turbulent story. A story that is not filtered through tabloids and exaggeration--but a natural and raw view of these two people who were so much in love. The admiration and adoration between the two lovers is explained through stories and anecdotes. It proves that "I Love Lucy" was "more than just a title." It starts to where each parent was born to how they got famous to their deaths.

Also, we learn of the deterioration of the marriage and how ugly it actually got between the two. Desi's constant unfaithfulness poisoned the relationship. That, along with his drinking that only escaladed as he was in charge of Desilu, their major TV company, grew in popularity. We understand how painful the marriage has become and how terrible it must have been for everyone involved---especially their children. Lucie and Desi Jr. are on camera speaking about how hard it was to go through times when their parents fought in front of them.

Lucy and Desi eventually moved on with their lives--Lucy returning to television with more sitcoms--while Desi eventually retired. Although they had separate roads, they were so intertwined that they would never really ever part.

The last 10 minutes of this documentary is a home movie shot by Lucie herself of her parents in a pool with their grandson. Although divorced for many years already, watching these two people in the pool--you realized--this wasn't Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz who played Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, but rather: real people.

This is the most real we'll ever see Lucy and Desi. It is a true to form and real telling of the two lovers. This is the best documentary of Lucy and Desi you'll ever see.

Be sure to watch for this DVD, coming February 10th and preorder your copy today at the "Everything Lucy Store" on Everything Lucy!