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Neil

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Neil last won the day on June 17

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  1. I was rereading these brilliant season 4 plot lines. We're a clever bunch! Here's a little different what-if take on season 4 Hedda Hopper's column Feb. 5, 1965: "It's official. Vivian Vance has turned in her resignation and will not be a regular when "The Lucy Show" begins its 4th season next fall. However, in a happy turn of events "Vivian Bagley" will be back for a limited run. Desilu has offered Vance a very lucrative deal to return for the first 13 episodes of the new season which will be a story arc chronicling her meeting and marrying new character "Vern Bunson" with the promise that many episode will center more on the lovey-dovey couple with little involvement from Lucy Carmichael. Doubling the enticement, if the couple clicks, is the possibility of her own "Viv & Vern" spinoff, which Vance would produce in partnership with Desilu. Story outlines for the 13 episodes have been completed which will include the courtship, wedding and the tearful parting of Lucy and Viv, sure to be a ratings winner for CBS (last episode in the arc "Viv Is Enciente"). Vance signed her contract, which puts her new salary on par with the series star and studio head Lucille Ball with the proviso that she waive casting approval. Desilu wanted her new co-star to be a surprise but Vance picked up little pieces of information from the gossip-mill. She heard the name "Fred" and the fact that the actor just completed 5 seasons of a hit sitcom on ABC. Naturally she thinks it will be tall, dashing and age-appropriate Fred MacMurray who recently quit "My Three Sons". *. When the cast sits down for the first table read of "Viv Meets Vern Bunson", she blows a gasket when the actor hired to play Vern walks in, a completely different My Three Sons "Fred" than she was expecting. Vance's contract is iron-clad so she'll make the best of it but has nixed the idea of a V&V spinoff unless her real-life husband, New York based bon vivant John Dodds can replace Frawley as Vern. Vance's weekly 3000 mile commute has afforded the couple little time together. Vance adds: "You can't have children long distance". Dodds: "U-u-u-u-u (spider voice)" *This part is based on fact. MacMurray's My Three Sons ABC contract WAS for 5 years (1960-65) and he wanted to walk but was talked into returning by CBS who offered him a sweetheart deal: all of his scenes for the entire season would be filmed in 3 months. Then the cast would do their scenes after MacMurray's departure which accounts for the show's clunky feel, post 1965.
  2. What the opinion of "Comedy Hour/Mr. and Mrs."? It was an interesting idea but if it was filmed before an audience, the laughter was sweetened, overly-so as they tended to do.--which gives the show a hollow feel to me. Hope's reliance on cue cards stifles the believability of his performance. Lucy looks so great that I can forgive the script not being all that funny. Lucy as Desilu president gave us a glimpse of what she may have been like behind the desk. The "traveling the world looking for Hope" montage may have gone one location too many. I find it so interesting that they (Desilu?/Lucy herself?) hired Jess Oppenheimer to produce this. Was the whole thing his idea? Not sure what his duties were but his deft hand is missing. I think of The Lucy Show as a lifetime away from I Love Lucy, but it had only been 8 years since Jess left the show. Could she have been testing the waters for the next season's head writer and/or producer? If so, I wish it had gone better so we could have avoided the influence of Milt (and Hilda). Another interesting fun fact. In an unusual move, the Lucy Show ran two weeks of reruns right before starting their official rerun cycle (selecting the relatively recent "Florence Nightengale" and "College Reunion"). One of those may have been opposite the Oscars. Then the next week LB Comedy Hour ran in Ed Sullivan's Sunday night slot (8pm) and 24 hours later, we got our first new Lucy Show in April, on the 19th, "Serves a Summons", followed by just one more new one "Baking Contest" before the "first in a series of reruns" started with "Locked in Vault" (which I would have picked as season premiere). You'd think they would have schedule the Comedy Hour during one of the weeks of a LS rerun.
  3. What is this from? Re: Xray pic and publicity letter. I'm speechless.
  4. Neil

    Mae West

    After snagging the Burtons, Lucy and Gary were after other big TV-shunning stars to do the show. I heard Mae West was one of them. But what sort of plot could they possibly come up with that would involve Lucy Carter and Mae West?
  5. Neil

    Mae West

    I thought Kenwith had passed on, but then again that wouldn't stop HIM from coming up with more Lucy-bashing stories, even if he has to speak from the great beyond through a medium. I can't figure out if Mae was in on the "joke" in Sextette or not, that being how the many much younger men were falling over themselves to get a chance with the alluring 84 year old Marlo. But then again, why not? Many leading men were paired with women 30 years younger and no one batted an eye. Though you don't see it written much anymore, the fact that Lucy was 5 1/2 years older than Desi was for a long time considered comment-worthy. Ageism in popular culture is so prevalent especially when it comes to women (though not exclusive to them) that it's pretty much a given. I'm trying to think of one movie/TV plot that presents an old person as just a person, which they are, that does not make reference to their age. They're either made fun of for the age-related ailments, feisty and sexually suggestive for laughs like Mother Dexter, homespun or charming with a late-in-life romance--which usually ends with one of them dying-- but rarely (if ever) a lead in a story that makes no reference to their age. Now that I'm approaching an age where I would be played by Burt Mustin, this is starting to bother me! We don't know we're old.
  6. Neil

    Mae West

    PBS's American Master ran a 90 minute biography of Mae West that was quite good. And everything considered they were pretty kind to Mae's 1978 vehicle "Sextette". Look up "Mae West Sextette Wardrobe Tests" on youtube. The slate is dated 8/26/76. The footage is silent but Mae seems to have it much more together than she did in the movie. My theory is that Mae had a slight stroke (or something else) between the wardrobe footage and the filming of the movie. Wardrobe test: look at the way she rises from the chair with ease. In the movie, she shuffles stiffly. In the tests, she looks GREAT, the hairdo is much more becoming than the wig she wore in the movie. I don't know if the casting was Mae's idea but she didn't do herself any favors by hiring 30-ish Timothy Dalton as her new husband....and all those ex's with Mae being a full 30 years older than the oldest of them. She probably should have stuck with George Raft and Caesar Romero. I suppose the budget was too small to commission its own score but their choice of songs shoe-horned willy-nilly into the plot are curious to say the least, with the oddest being "Happy Birthday, 21". (Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen) Songs not helped by those rinky-dink orchestrations. By every account I've read, Mae was game, a good sport and pulled no diva crap. I don't know what Mae thought of the finished product, but I hope they were able to keep those reviews away from her.
  7. I happened to be up this morning at 6:30 and caught "First Stop". Though there were at least 2 multi-minute breaks (4 min. each?), I couldn't detect what was cut. It is such a perfect episode, one where all four get their moments to shine. What I love about it is the conversational nature of the dialogue. Witty and funny without being jokey or leading up to punchlines. Whoever cast Mr. Skinner deserves special kudos.
  8. I love this one but it's one of several I love that the majority seems to hate. but BOTTOM 10?
  9. Bill Frawley appeared as the celebrity guest on "I've Got a Secret" in May of 1965. His secret: "I introduced the song "Melancholy Baby". I have not seen this "Secret" show. Other than his wonderful cameo on The Lucy Show that fall, it was his only TV appearance after "My Three Sons". I believe "Secret" was done in New York City meaning Bill traveled cross-country. His last "Sons" episode aired on Jan. 7, 1965 "Woman's Work" : "Steve and the boys share the household chores when Bub goes to Ireland to visit his 104 year old aunt." (I wonder if she was a lint-freak too). I don't know if his trip was written in as permanent but he apparently stayed there. The next "Sons" episode on Jan. 14th introduced his brother Charlie played by William Demerest. I wonder if "Bub" was ever mentioned again. "Sons" was still on ABC at the time. It would move to CBS in color in the fall of 1965 and run for another 7 years (12 in all and 11 of them made the top 30). Frawley had become uninsurable and did not take his "Sons" ousting well. He died the following March (1966). He had a good run though. 14 years as a regular on 2 series (3 if you count the LDCHs), starting at an age when most actors have trouble getting work, 64, and enjoyed steady employment until age 77. His wikipedia page points out something interesting. Fred MacMurray did all of his scenes for the whole season's worth of episodes in 2 months. After he was done, the rest of the cast did their reaction shots and scenes without him.
  10. An underrated, often ignored Lucy Show gem from the first season "Lucy Drives a Dump Truck". The gaggle of women who constituted the Danfield Volunteers were used too sparingly, probably more expensive to hire so many. Lucy is more Lucy Ricardo-esque in this one. The end scene was unusual in that it was done "on location" (the Desilu backlot) without an audience. The traffic cop was perfectly portrayed by Dick Reeves who had done many I Love Lucys. This was his only Lucy Show. There are several little bits she does in this episode that remind me why there's only one 'Lucy'...and they're all silent expressions on her face: 1) when she's finished her phone call to salvage man Don Sharpe, is told he's retired and decides to hide from an angry Viv and Audrey among the stacks of newspapers. 2) at the "court martial" as Viv reads her list of infractions and comes to "and we now have 34 tons of damp newspapers in our yard" 3) Officer Reeves asks her if she can read and points to a sign. Lucy "yes it says "One-Way'". Watch her expression change ever so slightly as she realizes she has just gone the wrong way down a one-way street. I also love Officer Reeves sarcastic "Welcome to Brewster" and his even more sarcastic response when Lucy asks if he's going to give her a ticket. "No", he scoffs and Lucy is relieved until he adds "I'm going to give you TWO tickets."
  11. These are TOOOO hilarious. Hard to pick favorite, but Gary's 3/4 size masks made me do a Mrs. McGillicuddy laugh. I'd forgotten about the whole Patty Andrews tsetse fly story. Pretty wacko even by Here's Lucy standards.
  12. A couple of things from TV Guide Jan. 19, 1974. The Here's Lucy that week was "NG as RN", which in a poll taken years ago won as the #1 Here's Lucy episode favorite. I loved this breezy, witty, well-done, but rather plotless half-hour. It should have been an average-good Here's Lucy. ABC and NBC had movies starting at 9. ABC "Scullduggery", dredged up from the vault because it starred Burt Reynolds, made BEFORE he was a big star. "an anthropological expedition discovers the missing link". Shades of Joan's "Trog". On NBC, there was the equally unknown "Rabbit, Run" a film that had "limited theatrical release" with James Caan, also before he was a star via "Godfather". Given a choice of these 3 network offerings, certainly Here's Lucy took the time slot that night. This TV Guide was the Portland (my home town) edition. Other than HL there was NO other Lucy on the schedule. Here's the thing I found the most amusing. Lazy Dean Martin had pretty much given up the variety format to concentrate on those EXCRUCIATING bad "celebrity roasts". This week's roast-ee was Truman Capote! But look at the odd-ball pot pourri roster of roasters: Ted Knight, Donald O'Connor, Audrey Meadows, Rich Little, Rocky Graciano, Joseph Wambaugh (author), Foster Brooks and that queen of one-liners Jean Simmons........JEAN SIMMONS???? This was 5 years after Stonewall but it still was not OK to acknowledge being gay on TV so I can't imagine what the always-pre-scripted jokes were.
  13. Very well put and you are so right. Were it not for this episode I don't know if I would know what a Cobb salad is. If I ever see "Veal Cutlet Marco Polo" on any menu, I will order it. Isn't that what Fred ordered? Lucy had the spaghetti of course. I don't remember what Ethel ordered.
  14. Who's "Johnny Lucille"? Too bad there wasn't a video recording of Sugar Babies made for TV. The only way to attempt to capture it properly would have been with a live theater audience. Sugar Babies ran long enough on Broadway that surely there were replacements for Ann & Mickey. Do you know who they got? Vanda Barra & Sid Gould, maybe?
  15. "Sugar Babies" on paper certainly didn't have mega-hit written all over it. I saw it on tour with Ann & Mickey and it was great. This was well into the 80s. Vaudeville was ALIVE!
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