January 29, 2011

Hallmark Channel's 24-hour Marathon of "I Love Lucy"

As part of their month-long Countdown to Valentine's Day, The Hallmark Channel is presenting a 24-hour marathon of I Love Lucy episodes beginning with season four's LA at Last on Saturday, January 29 at 5am/4c and continuing on through to season six's Desert Island.

At the beginning of the 24-hours of I Love Lucy, comedy's original fab four travel to Los Angeles where Ricky (Desi Arnaz)has been cast in a movie about Don Juan. Temporarily moving the action from New York's nightclub scene to Hollywood, these episodes hold special significants because they mark the beginning of a career-long tradition from Lucille Ball, in that they features a number of Ball and Arnaz's real-life celebrity friends in guest appearances as themselves. The celebrity guests often served as a way for Lucy and Desi to promote other projects associated with their Desilu Production company.

In LA at Last, which first aired on February 7, 1955, Lucy schemes to meet William Holden. Of course Lucille had already met Holden some years prior when the two starred in 1949's Miss Grant Takes Richmond. Also making a cameo in this episode is Eve Arden, Lucille's longtime friend an co-star in 1937's Stage Door. At time this episode aired, Arden was starring in CBS's Our Miss Brooks, another Desilu Production, which co-starred Gale Gordon. Gordon, as any Lucy-geek like myself knows, played Lucy's husband's boss on radio's My Favorite Husband, the precursor to I Love Lucy. He also guested on I Love Lucy as Ricky's boss at The Tropicana. Gordon would also go on to co-star with Lucille in each of her three subsequent series.

Following LA at Last are Don Juan and The Starlets and Lucy Gets in Pictures. Then there's more celebrity cameos in Fashion Show. Lucy, desperate to belong among the Beverly Hills ladies decides to visit the exclusive salon of designer Don Loper, who appears in the episode as himself. Lucy can't afford the dress, but learns of a celebrity wives fashion show. Lucy schemes her way into the show which also features real-life celebrity wives Sheila MacRae (Mrs. Godon MacRae), Brenda Holden (Mrs. William Holden), Jeanne Martin (Mrs. Dean Martin), Frances Heflin (Mrs. Van Heflin), Marilyn Tucker (Mrs. Forrest Tucker), and Mona Carlson (Mrs. Richard Carlson).

Then it's Hedda Hopper, famed gossip columnist as herself in the appropriately titled The Hedda Hopper Story. This episode also features Kathryn Card as Lucy's mother, Mrs. McGillicuddy.

Ricky's movie gets canned in Don Juan is Shelved, then, in Bull Fight Dance, Lucy gets another shot at fame when MGM asks her to write a story about what it's like to be married to Ricky Ricardo. While this episodes doesn't feature any celebrity guests, it is memorable for the bull fight dance in which Ricky sings about Fernando the Fearless. When Lucy arrives on stage as a very effeminate-looking bull, she upstages Ricky and gets all the laughs.

Kathryn Card is once again on-hand for the Hollywood Anniversary episode, during which Ricky sings The Anniversary Waltz.

In The Star Upstairs, while writing in her diary, Lucy calculates that she's met 99 stars while in Hollywood and needs one more to make it an even 100. Ethel (Vivian Vance) reads in a gossip column that a famous movie star is staying nearby in a hiding place that begins with Beverly, so Lucy's hot on the trail. With the aide of a bellman, Lucy eventually tracks down Cornel Wilde, who's staying just above her in the penthouse of the Beverly Palms.

Still more stars appear in the remaining Hollywood episodes, including: Rock Hudson, Van Johnson, Harpo Marx, Richard Widmark and John Wayne.

With the marathon reaching the halfway mark at 3:30p/2:30c, we join the gang at the end of season five when they return to New York, but only temporarily. Up next, they prepare to leave for Ricky's European Tour. While in Europe, Lucy meets Charles Boyer, gets a Paris gown, tries escargot, battles a dragon, climbs the Swiss Alps, stomps grapes, bikes the banks of the French Riviera, gambles in Monte Carlo and disguises a piece of cheese as a baby in order to smuggle it onto the plan for the return home.

As the Hallmark marathon continues into the wee hours of Sunday morning (3am/2c), Lucy and the gang return to New York, where Ricky tries desperately to keep her from stalking his upcoming nightclub headliner, Bob Hope. The episode titled Lucy Meets Bob Hope marked the debut of season six, as well as the first appearance of Keith Thibodeaux as Little Ricky. The role had previously been played by much younger actors, Joseph and Michael Mayer.

Elizabeth Patterson appears in her eleventh and final I Love Lucy episode as Little Ricky's elderly babysitter, Mrs. Matilda Trumbull in Little Ricky Learns to Play The Drums. While curmudgeonly Fred Mertz (William Frawley) is featured throughout the series, this episode in particular showcases the actor at his very best.

Then it's a cameo by Orson Welles in Lucy Meets Orson Welles. Next up, Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright. Then Lucy and Ricky get a surprise visitor when Jay Novello appears as Mario Orsatti, a Venetian gondolier they met in Italy.

With only a few more episodes to Hallmark's I Love Lucy marathon, the gang head on yet another road trip, this time to Florida. Ricky, Fred and Little Ricky decide to head to Florida before the girls in order to get a head start on some deep sea fishing. When Lucy and Ethel can't find their train tickets, they decide to share the ride to Florida with Mrs. Grundy (Elsa Lanchester), a woman who's looking to share the cost of the trip. While en route, a radio news report puts fear into the girls' minds when they think their driving companion is none other than hatchet-weilding murderer. Problem is, Mrs. Grundy thinksLucy and Ethel are said murderer and her accomplice.

Once in Miami the girls scheme to catch a bigger fish than the boys in Deep Sea Fishing. Lucy and Ethel stir up a whale of a tale when they cheat by buying a huge fish. Of course, things get slippery when they need a place to hide it.

Hallmark's day-long I Love Lucy marathon comes to a close on Sunday morning at 5:30a/4:30c when the girls try to keep the boys from judging a beauty contest in Miami by stranding them on an island during a boat ride. While on the island, Ricky and Fred go in search of civilization and discover a huge Island native in the form of Claude Akins, who's on the island filming a movie. At Ricky's request, Claude scares the girls. The episode also features cameos by Joi Lansing and Jil Jarmyn. At the time this episode was filmed Joi had just been cast in Desilu'sThe Fountain of Youth, a TV pilot directed by Orson Welles. Despite winning a Peabody Award, the pilot was never greenlit and aired only once as part of the Colgate Theatre in 1958. Lansing's I Love Lucy co-star, Jarmyn, at the time of filming was a recurring character in the long-running crime drama, The Lineup, yet another Desilu Production. With that, the 24-hour I Love Lucy Saturday/Sunday marathon comes to a close.

I Love Lucy airs as part of Hallmark's weekday schedule with two back-to-back episodes Monday-Friday beginning at 6am/5c.

January 14, 2011

Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center Names Executive Director

From The Post-Journal, Jamestown, NY by Jason Rodriguez

A very special year at the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center has begun with the entrance of a new executive director.

On Monday, the board of directors announced the position has been entrusted to Journey Gunderson, who has been working with the center as a marketing consultant since 2009. The director position was vacant after Corie Curtis stepped down in July, after a tenure of 12 months.

"I have a background in Internet marketing, and web strategy and production, which led me to work with Lucy-Desi on their website," said Gunderson, who is a Bemus Point native. Previously, she served the national nonprofit Women's Sports Foundation as the executive director of its marketing communications department.

And before that, she produced educational media for the organization, saying she produced a curriculum that was "award-winning and helped girls around the country become more physically active and make the right choices with health risk behaviors."

But after years in New York City, and a brief residence in Spain, Ms. Gunderson said she decided to return to Western New York to start up her own web consultant and strategy business.

"I think the blend of being in the nonprofit world at the national level combined with the programming in education, and then more recently, the Internet marketing side of things, provides me with a lot of things that Lucy-Desi really needs," she said. "I think everyone can see it is a really great organization, and there is a lot of interest. But from what I have seen, there is untold amounts of interest that we haven't even tapped into yet."

Board member Bill Stevenson said the center is looking forward to having a full-time office person in charge of operations, especially since the museum is gearing up for a busy year. That begins this weekend with Doors Open Jamestown, when the center offers free admission, with a collaboration of other downtown attractions.

"It looks like it is going to be a great summer," Stevenson said.


There has been a growing buzz about the Lucille Ball Hometown Wedding Giveaway, said Ms. Gunderson, and people can still vote for their favorite couple at www.lucilleballhometownwedding.com. The lucky couple will be announced Feb. 14. She added the contestants from around the country have been sought by media outlets.

"It shows the interest in Lucy and Desi is really substantial and even surprising," she said. "It's not an aging population by any means."

Plans are being drawn up for a memorable birthday celebration for the Queen of comedy, since she would be 100 years old this August. Ms. Gunderson said the year is also the 60th anniversary of the I Love Lucy show premiere.

"We're focused right now on giving the celebration more definition," she said. "One thing I want people to understand is that this is going to be a festival for comedy lovers and Lucy fans alike."

She said there will still be plenty of activities for summer's loyal festival crowd, and there will be an effort to recruit a headline act and set up a competition for emerging comedic acts. This showcase is a nod to the center's vision - "to promote and develop comedy as an artform," in addition to preserving the legacy of Ball and Arnaz.

The milestones in the world of Lucy entertainment fit neatly with the county bicentennial celebration and other events planned for 2011, Ms. Gunderson added.

"This is a huge, special year for this county," she said. "I think that as the new direction of the center takes shape, we are really going to depend on Jamestown and the surrounding area to get behind us in this brand of comedy. We are depending on the community to all work together with us."

January 13, 2011

Baldwin Park Resident and Fiancé Hope to Win "I Love Lucy" Wedding

From San Gabriel Valley Tribune, by staff writer, Claudia S. Palma

It's a classic love story - Jonathan Moctezuma loves Belinda Campos and Belinda loves Lucy.

The love is so big for the "I Love Lucy" show that the couple hope to garnish enough online votes to win a dream wedding in Lucille Ball's hometown of Jamestown in New York, this summer.

"It's kind of perfect because he proposed two month's before (we found out about the contest)," said Campos, 25, of Ontario.

Campos and Moctezuma, 24, of Baldwin Park, are one of five finalist couples, and the only from California, vying for votes for the all-expense paid wedding in MediaOneBridal.com and The Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Center's Lucille Ball Hometown Wedding giveaway.

The wedding contest is being held in honor and in conjunction with Jamestown's celebration of Lucille Ball's 100th birthday and 60th anniversary of the "I Love Lucy" show.

Campos, who grew up in Baldwin Park, says the classic sitcom was a very important part of her upbringing in a Mexican-American home. Though she was born in Los Angeles, her first language was Spanish.

"I learned my first words of English watching the show," she said. "I was inspired seeing Ricky's struggles learning the American culture and language."

Campos said her and Moctezuma are similar to Lucy and Ricky.

"Desi and Lucy came from the East Coast to the West Coast to pursue their dreams, and Jonathan and I are from the West Coast hoping to go to the East Coast to pursue our dream and get married," she said.

The twosome have been together for six years and Moctezuma said at first, he thought it was just a small fascination Campos had with the show, but would soon realize how much of a fan she really was.

"My hair is usually short and I was growing it out a little last year, she doesn't like that but she didn't say anything this time," said Moctezuma. "She was glad because then she told me we're dressing up like Lucy and Ricky for Halloween and (the longer hair) is perfect."

Little did the couple know, they would soon have a chance to really be like Lucy and Ricky.

"I saw an announcement on Facebook about the contest and from there I was led to the contest website," said Campos. "Yes, I'm a Lucy fan club member (on Facebook)."

The contest began late last year and soon entries were coming in from all over the country.

"We had an overwhelming response from over 50 different states," said Rebecca Rosen, director of MediaOneBridal.com. "We were looking for quality entrants. There's a uniqueness to each couple."

Jamestown is proud to be the hometown of Lucille Ball, explained Rosen.

"The Arnaz family sits on the board of the center. They gave us their blessing and love the idea," she said. "We see (Lucy and Ricky) as a love story and we wanted to give some lucky couple the opportunity to have the most special day of their life in Jamestown."

Aside from filling out an application and submitting a photo to enter, couples had to create a 60-second video of why they should be chosen as the winning couple.

Friend Ruben Brambila helped create the video for Campos and Moctezuma which was created in black and white and includes the couple re-enacting a scene from an "I Love Lucy" episode where Desi Arnaz's Ricky Ricardo is worried he is losing his hair.

"That took a whole day to shoot," said Campos. "Everyone tells us if it was on the video alone we win, but we have to get votes."

Moctezuma's Ricky suffered a bit with some of the antics Campos' Lucy put him through but he said it was all for love.

"I didn't know vinegar burns (a little)," said Moctezuma of getting a little vinegar in his eyes and face during the video shoot. "I didn't mind it. We just have to enjoy it. Not a lot of people get this kind of opportunity."

Now the couple's campaign to garner more votes and win the contest is in full swing. They have created flyers and passed them out at various locations, contacted and done interviews on local news stations as well as local and national radio stations.

Family and friends were recruited to spread the word along with using their car as a mobile advertisement.

"I bought a very small Facebook ad, it's all I could (afford)," said Campos. "Posted on Twitter, Facebook. We've attended council meetings and contacted council members in Baldwin Park and Ontario to spread the word."

Campos said if they win, aside from marrying her beau, she is looking forward to being on the "I Love Lucy" set at the Desilu Playhouse.

"I want to see the memorabilia, her house that she grew up in, her tombstone is there," she said.

Moctezuma said he is looking forward to seeing Campos happy.

"Belinda made my decision easy for me of choosing her to spend the rest of my life with her. She is hardworking, kind," he said. "In our relationship I have never questioned her love or faithfulness."

The whole winning package includes an all-expense paid trip for two to Jamestown, a 1950s inspired all-inclusive wedding ceremony at the world famous Tropicana Room and cocktail reception at the Desilu Playhouse and Lucy-Desi Museum, as well as an all-inclusive honeymoon in Niagara Falls.

More than 25 wedding vendors from New York and Pennsylvania will collaborate for this unique event.

"We're all joining together and they're going to produce a beautiful, classy unforgettable wedding," said Rosen.

To vote and view the videos for each couple, visit www.lucilleballhometownwedding.com. Only one vote per IP address per day. Online voting ends Feb. 11 and the winning couple will get a very special Valentine's Day when the winner is announced on Feb. 14.

After the couple is chosen, online viewers will also be asked to vote on various wedding details such as the bride's dress, favors and more.

"I'll be grateful for whatever (the audience) chooses for us," said Campos. "Just to be able to go to New York."

Campos is a project coordinator with the Irwindale office of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and is also attending Claremont Graduate School. Moctezuma works in commercial pest control.

If the couple is not chosen, they still plan to have a very intimate wedding and ceremony later this year and still keep the '50s theme. But most of their earnings are going towards the house they are buying in Ontario.

"It's a fixer-upper," said Moctezuma.

Just a little home project the couple is looking forward to after the wedding.

"In the future, I can see us having our Ricky and Lucy moments at our home," said Moctezuma. "Hopefully we grow to see 100 together."

January 10, 2011

Final Lucille Ball Mattel Doll Coming

For anyone that has been collecting the Lucille Ball collectible dolls from Mattel since 1997, Mattel has announced what they call the Final doll of the series marking the 60th Anniversary of "I Love Lucy".

From the Mattel website:
Season 1 of I Love Lucy, brought us Episode 4, ”The Diet,” originally broadcast on October 29,1951. While the four friends are discussing their weight gains, Lucy insists that she is exactly the same size as when she married. However, she is horrified to learn that she has gained 22 pounds. Striking a deal with Ricky, Lucy commits to a crazy diet in an effort to lose enough weight to fit into a costume for Ricky’s nightclub show. Zany AND gorgeous, Lucy loses the weight and looks picture perfect in this stunning green gown for the show. Ricky looks equally handsome in his tux and top hat.

This darling giftset concludes this series of the I Love Lucy dolls that began in 1997 with the Vitameatavegamin episode and included over 25 dolls from Lucy’s Italian Movie™ to L.A. At Last!™ and so many more!

Mattel has the release date of this Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz set on March 1, 2011.

It all started in 1998 with the release of the "Vitameatavegamin" Lucille Ball doll and since the series started, 21 dolls have been released which included two with Ricky ("Lucy is Enceinte" and one from "The Christmas Show" episode). Ethel was also a part of the collection and appeared with Lucy as a set with "Lucy and Ethel Buy the Same Dress" and "Job Switching". Ethel also was part of the rare Platinum label Mattel doll with only 999 released worldwide in "The Christmas Show". The only other Platinum label Mattel doll in this collection was the release of Fred Mertz, also from "The Christmas Show" episode.

The complete list of Mattel dolls in the "I Love Lucy" series and their year of release are:

1997: Vitameatavegamin Lucy ("Lucy Does A TV Commercial")
1998: The Candy Factory Lucy ("Job Switching")
1999: Grape Stomping Lucy ("Lucy's Italian Movie")
2000: Lucy & Ricky Boxed Set ("Lucy Is Enceinte")
2001: Carmen Miranda Lucy ("Be A Pal")
2002: Lucy's Paris Gown ("Paris At Last")
2003: Putty Nose Lucy ("L.A. At Last")
2004: Lucy's Polka Dot Dress ("Sales Resistance")
2005: Gypsy Queen Lucy ("The Operetta")
2006: Showgirl Lucy ("Lucy Gets In Pictures")
2006: Special Edition Santa Lucy ("'I Love Lucy' Christmas Special")
2007: Lucy & Ethel Boxed Set ("Lucy and Ethel Buy the Same Dress")
2007: Pilot Episode Lucy ("The Audition")
2007: Ethel Platinum Edition ("'I Love Lucy' Christmas Special")
2008: Lucy & Ethel Set ("Lucy & Ethel Candy Factory")
2008: Ricky Santa ("'I Love Lucy' Christmas Special")
2008: Lucille Ball Legendary Lady of Comedy ("First Ever Doll")
2009: Lucy Ballet ("The Ballet")
2009: Fred Mertz Platinum Edition ("'I Love Lucy' Christmas Special")
2010: Knife Throwing Lucy ("Lucy Tells the Truth")
2011: Lucy & Ricky Boxed Set ("The Diet")

Mattel includes the "Kelly Doll" Gift sets in their count of 25. These are the smaller doll versions that included:

2008: Lucy Gets a Paris Gown (Kelly Giftset)
2009: Lucy in Envious (Kelly Giftset)

There are 2 that I can't account for. If someone knows of any others that I have omitted, please let me know.

Luckily I have been able to obtain ALL the Lucy Mattel dolls including the Platinum Labels (except for the Kelly Dolls, which I really didn't want). I'm looking forward to this final doll of their series and hope they will begin another series that includes Lucille Ball.