November 28, 2012

Dann Cahn, I Love Lucy Editor, Dies

Using a newly developed editing machine that he dubbed the "three-headed monster," Dann Cahn pioneered multi-camera editing on sitcoms in the 1950s while helping to craft a classic, "I Love Lucy."

"Lucy" broke ground in television by employing three cameras instead of one for filming, a then-novel system that allowed an episode to be filmed as though it were a stage play, continuously and in sequence.

Cahn died on November 21st at age 89 of natural causes at his West Los Angeles home. Cahn was the last surviving member of the original creative team behind "I Love Lucy". Cahn, whose father was Philip Cahn, the cofounder of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, actually started out in the business as a child actor in the 1938 Jackie Cooper movie Newsboys’ Home, according to his Los Angeles Times obituary.

When we remember the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, we usually think of all the hilarious jams that Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) got herself into, and that exasperated look that her husband Ricky (Desi Arnaz) would get. But it wasn’t just the stars’ comedic virtuosity that made I love Lucy a classic. It was the first show to be filmed in front of a live audience in a Hollywood studio, rather than broadcast live from New York, as other early TV comedies did. But Lucy’s most revolutionary innovation was its use of multiple camera angles, which conveyed Ball’s frenetic style and humorous nuances in a way that a single viewpoint couldn’t.

But to get all that to work technically — and to do it rapidly enough that I Love Lucy could air 35 episodes in a season — was a daunting task. The first half-hour episode of I Love Lucy actually was shot with four cameras, according to Michael Karol’s Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia. But after that, director William Asher and his team decided that three cameras — one for the full scene, a second for medium “over the shoulder” shots, and a third for close-ups — were enough.

Cahn’s favorite episode of I Love Lucy reportedly was an October 1956 segment in which Lucy is recruited as an assistant in a magic act (featuring Orson Welles as the magician) at Ricky’s nightclub. Cahn, who’d been an assistant editor on Welles’ 1948 film Macbeth, relished a chance to work again with the illustrious actor/director.

Cahn spent years searching for a print of an unreleased 1954 I Love Lucy movie produced by Desi Arnaz, which had been fashioned from three Lucy episodes and 12 minutes of additional footage shot by director Edward Sedgewick. MGM deep-sixed the project, fearing it would compete with another Ball-Arnaz film, The Long, Long Trailer. Eventually, though, Cahn found bits and pieces of the film in a studio vault and painstakingly reassembled it, and it finally was released as part of a Lucy DVD box set in 2007.

In addition to I Love Lucy, Cahn worked on a wide array of other productions, ranging from such classic TV series as The Beverly Hillbillies and The Untouchables to the exploitation auteur Russ Meyer’s 1970 flick Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which was written by another notable name in the movie biz — critic Roger Ebert.

Following is a video interview in which Cahn talks about the first completed (fourth aired) episode of I Love Lucy:

November 09, 2012

Lucy headed to Hulu for Streaming Over Internet

The classic "I Love Lucy" TV Show will be headed to Hulu and available for streaming over the internet and on connected devices. Newer series such as 'CSI: Miami' and 'Numbers' will also appear as well as classic 'Twilight Zone', all on the subscription Hulu Plus service.

The online streaming site has signed a non-exclusive deal with CBS that includes rights to stream 2,600 episodes of those and other shows from the network's production library starting in January. They will be available to paid subscribers of the Hulu Plus service.

Also included are episodes of more recent (but no longer airing) series such as Medium, CSI: Miami and Numb3rs, the companies said. Hulu already carries episodes of CW programming produced by CBS as part of a separate agreement.