April 28, 2011

The Lucy Show - 4th Season Now Out on DVD

Lucille Ball welcomes a variety of celebrity guests to her second sitcom, which leads these TV shows that are new on DVD this week.

"The Lucy Show: The Official Fourth Season" (CBS/Paramount, 1965-66, four discs). This was the irrepressible redhead's second sitcom after her seminal series "I Love Lucy." Vivian Vance was again her co-star — until this season. Vance departed at the end of Season 3.

As a result, the show was revamped for this fourth year, with Lucy Carmichael moving to Southern California, as does her bombastic banker Mr. Mooney (Gale Gordon), who becomes her boss. The kids are dispatched early on and the series essentially becomes focused on weekly guest stars. But it certainly didn't hurt the show, which bounced up to No. 3 in the Nielsen ratings and remained in the top four over the rest of its run.

This set is loaded with bonus features, and Season 4 is also notable for the first episode having been partially shot on location at Marineland of the Pacific. (Trivia note: Marineland was Southern California's first major theme park, having opened a year before Disneyland, but SeaWorld bought it out in the mid-1980s, simply to close it and move its oceanic attractions to the still-popular San Diego facility).

Guests in this season include Kirk Douglas, Edward G. Robinson, Dean Martin, Ann Sothern (in three episodes, reprising a character that appeared in Season 3), Joan Blondell (in two), Mel Torme, Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, Art Linkletter, Mickey Rooney, Harvey Korman, Clint Walker and Robert Stack. And one episode has a cameo by William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy," his last performance before his death.

Extras: full frame, 26 episodes, featurettes, promos, original credits, text biographies/production notes, photo galleries, excerpts from TV shows with Lucy's guest appearances, "Magic of Broadcasting" (1966) and "Wonderful World of Burlesque (1965).

You can get the previous seasons here as well:

April 21, 2011

I Love Lucy: Writer Madelyn Pugh Davis Dies at 90

Madelyn Pugh, Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll
One of the female pioneers of the sitcom world has died. Madelyn Pugh Davis, one of the few main writers of I Love Lucy, died last night at the age of 90 years old. Details of her passing will be forthcoming.

Born in 1921, Pugh was the editor of the Shortridge High School newspaper in Indianapolis, Indiana. She went on to graduate from the Indiana University School of Journalism in 1942. Her first professional writing job was writing radio spots for WIRE, a local radio station. After her family moved to California, she got regular jobs writing for radio, first for NBC and then CBS. In the early days of her career, Pugh was often the only female writer for a show.

Pugh was working as a staff writer for CBS Radio in Hollywood when she met her writing partner, Bob Carroll, Jr. The partnership would last for more than 50 years, until his death in January 2007 at 89. Together, they wrote more than 400 TV episodes and at least as many radio shows during their time together.

The duo were writing for The Steve Allen Show when they became interested in writing for My Favorite Husband, a radio show starring Lucille Ball. So that they’d have time to write a spec script, they paid Allen to write his own program for a week. It was a good investment because they were hired by producer Jess Oppenheimer and ended up writing for My Favorite Husband for more than two years.

Pugh and Carroll went on to author a vaudeville-style act for Lucille Ball and her husband, bandleader Desi Arnaz. This became the basis for the I Love Lucy pilot. When the show became a series, Oppenheimer, Pugh, and Carroll wrote 39 episodes each year for the first four seasons. Oppenheimer left after that and Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf wrote with the duo beginning in year five and continued with the show until the end.

Pugh would often test out the crazy Lucy stunts, to make sure they worked and to protect Ball. In 2005, Pugh said, “The worst one was trying out a unicycle. I ran into a wall and hit my head. We decided it was too dangerous for Lucy.”

Pugh and Carroll never won an Emmy for their work on I Love Lucy but were nominated three times. Arnaz and Ball trusted the duo and they went on to work on many projects for them. They wrote multiple episodes for all of Ball’s later series; The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Ball’s ill-fated final series, Life With Lucy.

Aside from the various Lucy shows, Pugh and Carroll also wrote for The Paul Lynde Show, Dorothy, Those Whiting Girls, and The Tom Ewell Show. They created The Mothers-in-Law and produced Alice for 92 episodes of the sitcom’s nine year run.

Pugh was married two times. Her first husband was legendary TV producer Quinn Martin and they had a son together, Michael Quinn Martin. That union ended in divorce. She later married Dr. Richard M. Davis.

In 1992 the Writers’ Guild of America awarded Pugh and Carroll its Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Achievement. Pugh was the Los Angeles Times “Woman of the Year” in 1957 and was the recipient of the “Women in Film” award in 1996. In 2005, Pugh released her memoirs called Laughing with Lucy and included Carroll as a contributor of the book.

Of I Love Lucy’s enduring popularity, Pugh credits the everyday situations they used to start each episode. “We never dreamed of anything like syndication, so we didn’t plan for this, couldn’t plan for this But we avoided references to present-day events or people because New York was doing live TV, we were on film and these references would look stale by the time viewers saw the show. Instead, we looked for common, everyday things that had happened to us or our families, or stories our friends had told us.”

Here’s a 1990 interview with Pugh and Carroll that was done as part of the first broadcast of the I Love Lucy pilot.

April 14, 2011

Suzanne LaRusch Interview: An Evening with Lucille Ball

Below is Suzanne LaRusch on an interview in Cleveland, OH talking about her Lucille Ball performance in "An Evening with Lucille Ball", which tours the U.S. in various cities.

April 04, 2011

More Plans unveiled for Lucy's 100th birthday

The Lucy Desi Center in Jamestown is celebrating Lucille Ball's 100th birthday in August with a new tradition. The Center announced its plans for the first annual Festival of Comedy. Festivities are scheduled in Jamestown, New York from August 3rd through the 7th. Lucille Ball was born on August 6, 1911 and she would have been 100 this year!

There will still be a grape stomping contest. And a Lucy look-alike contest. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to count how many Lucy's show up trying to win the prize.

But this year, the Center is taking the celebration and the entire organization into a new direction. Journey Gunderson is executive director. She said from now on the center's focus will be on on Lucy's true legacy of laughter.

"Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, their true intentions and hopes for their legacy is that it would breathe on in living, breathing comedy - comedy that would be progressive and contemporary, as they were in their time," said Gunderson. "So, we have really adopted a new vision and a revised identity under which to do business."

The Lucy Desi Playhouse and the museum will remain in operation. But Gunderson said it will now be under the new banner of the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy.

To emphasize the new mission, the Center is bringing in comedy legend Joan Rivers to headline the festival. Joining her will be rising comedienne, Whitney Cummings. Gunderson said Lucy would approve.

"Her vision for her legacy was to help people into comedy and to help them on the way up," said Gunderson.

In the future, the Center will be showcasing new talent throughout the year. They also plan to partner with colleges to host comedy seminars and workshops to train future comedy stars. And she said Jamestown will one day be home to the first true Comedy Hall of Fame.

"The bricks and mortar plans are definitely underway. We've actually gotten some architectural mark-ups of what is could look like here in Jamestown," said Gunderson. Gunderson said, stay tuned. They might be making a big announcement about that at the August Festival.

Visit the Lucy-Desi Center website for more information and to order your tickets!

April 02, 2011

Joan Rivers to help Jamestown celebrate Lucy's 100th

Comedian Joan Rivers is scheduled to appear Aug. 4 at the Reg Lenna Civic Center in Jamestown as part of a community celebration honoring Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.

Festivities are scheduled in Jamestown Aug. 3 through 7, officials of Jamestown's Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy announced Friday.

Outdoor festivities featuring live music and comedy, and a parade in downtown Jamestown, are scheduled for Aug. 5, officials said.

The Aug. 5 schedule also features a show of Rooftop Comedy's best up-and-coming comics and a Lucy Tribute Show by the Junior Guilders of Jamestown. Both shows will be held at the Lucille Ball Little Theater, 18 E. Second St.

Comedian Whitney Cummings is scheduled to appear at 8 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the Reg Lenna Civic Center, 116 E. Third St.

Tickets to all the celebration's performances can be purchased at the website www.lucy-desi.com.

Emmy Award-Winning Comedian To Headline Lucy’s 100th Birthday Celebration

By The Post-JournalA comedy legend and one of the industry's hottest stars will both be joining the celebration of the 100th birthday of Lucille Ball.
Emmy-winner and comedy icon Joan Rivers is set to headline the birthday festival set for Aug. 3-7, The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center announced Friday, while also mapping out a vision for the center's future which includes the creation of a festival of comedy.
''In 2011 for her 100th birthday, we give Lucille Ball what she always wanted, The Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy,'' said Journey Gunderson, the center's executive director.
With Rivers highlighting the festival by performing Thursday, Aug. 4 at the Reg Lenna Civic Center, another big name was added to the celebration in rising comedian Whitney Cummings.
''Staying true to our mission of not just honoring established comedy genius, but showcasing rising stars as we did Ray Romano, Lewis Black and Ellen Degeneres on their paths to the top in the early '90s, we couple our legendary headliner with a contemporary, just as she is exploding onto the scene, or as it's said in the business, 'blowing up right now,''' Gunderson said.
Cummings who has performed on the Comedy Central roasts of Rivers, Donald Trump and David Hasselhoff, and appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno twice in the last month, has been courted by both NBC and CBS, who have each built pilots around her for this fall's network sitcom lineup.
''Jamestown is thrilled to have grabbed her when we did,'' Gunderson said.
The pairing of Rivers and Cummings is the start to the first of a four-pillar vision mapped out for the center's future.
''Pillar one is a festival of comedy, the concept regarding her legacy that resonated with Lucille Ball the most when it was presented and discussed with her by the Arts Council of Jamestown shortly before her death in 1989,'' Gunderson said.
The second pillar is a partnership with institutions of higher learning in order to provide educational programming in support of the development of the comedic arts.
Bob Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, and professor at the Newhouse School of Communications, has agreed to be a lecturer, panelist and partner as we develop this programmatic series of seminars and classes.
''With Candace Huber, director of Continuing Education at Jamestown Community College, we're developing the Summer 2012 platform of 'comedy college' courses, and, this August we begin a new category of Membership to the Center for Comedy, proceeds of which go to fund programs and opportunities for people and youth interested in all facets of the comedic arts, so that we can cultivate the next little Lucille Ball,'' Gunderson said.
The third pillar, is a comedy film festival paying tribute to the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
The final pillar, and most aggressive in the Legacy of Laughter vision according to Gunderson, is the formation of a Comedy Hall of Fame and Award.
''Like Cooperstown to baseball, Jamestown will induct and honor the comedic artists who most embody the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for their impact on the world through the comedic arts,'' Gunderson said.
Tickets to all of festival performances go on sale Tuesday, and can be purchased at www.lucy-desi.com. A complete list of festival events is also available online.

April 01, 2011

100th Lucille Ball Birthday Comedy Line-Up Announced Today

The Lucy Desi Center is set to release names and Event Schedule for Lucille Ball's 100th Birthday coming up in August.

A press conference in the Lucille-Ball Desi Arnaz Center's Museum screening room will announce the line-up of its Festival of Comedy, scheduled August 3-7 in celebration of Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday.

Friday’s event will see the release of the names of the headliner comedic talent to perform at the August festival, including unquestionably one of the biggest names in entertainment today, as well as an increasingly visible rising star whose work has garnered attention and accolades as of late on Comedy Central, NBC, CBS and E! Entertainment.

Details on new events paying tribute to the lives and careers of Lucy and Desi, invitations to participate actively in the celebration of Lucille Ball’s 100th Birthday, and statements from Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. will also be included in Friday’s press announcement.  Details of the exciting new multi-faceted Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy will also be unveiled.

The mission of the Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Center, 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.