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Neil

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Neil last won the day on November 26

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  1. I was reluctant to buy the book "We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals From the 70s" by Lee Gambin because I thought I'd be in for the same Mame-bashing that's been going on since 1974. But I was pleasantly surprised that the 15 pages devoted to Mame were quite positive. "Lucille Ball gives a passionate, nuanced and honest performance". He also defends the soft focus shots as a throwback to Hollywood's golden years when everyone's close-ups were fuzzed-up---even Shirley Temple. Included are two long commentaries about their experiences: from Bruce Davidson and Joyce Van Patten. Author has some minor carping. Describes the staging of "Loving You" as "hurried....with its clumsy zoom ins and outs, reeking of 1970s sensibilities". Not quite sure what he means by that. Bruce misstates "Bea Arthur was a sweetheart. You know Madeline Kahn was supposed to play Bea's part..." I collected a lot of local newspapers that reviewed Mame and while there were few "raves", most were pretty good. At least better than legend would have it. The worst review came from Time Magazine. That and other horrendous reviews from national publications are the ones that always get quoted in books when it comes to the topic of Mame. I'm passed the point of being able to be objective about the movie, but the passage of time has been kind to it. I know young people, unfamiliar with Roz's "Auntie Mame" movie that love it. Including the index, the book is 789 pages long!
  2. In an interview focusing on her upcoming non-Lucy debut in "KO Kitty", she's asked what her favorites are and mentioned a few with the surprising inclusion of "the one we did with Edward Everett Horton ("Lucy Plays Cupid"). Evidently "Lucy Makes Room for Danny" had already been filmed but had not yet aired. She says "that one turned out quite well"......which is an UNDERSTATEMENT. When people discuss the hour shows, the favorite named most often is "Tallulah". It's a close 2nd to "Danny", my favorite. Everyone was justifiably proud. It won some sort of award. Writers Guild? Directors Guild? Not sure which (or maybe both). The following spring with the TV season over, TV Guide listed the greatest TV offerings of the 58-59 season. Most were specials but "Danny" got a mention. The only other show with regular characters was an episode of Father Knows Best "Kathy Grows Up", which I have since seen (and don't know why it was singled out). Who knew "Makes Room" was going to be the last high-water mark for the Ricardo/Mertz format? When CBS ran the hours as a summer replacement series, they were shown completely out of order, but in the same sequence each year: Danny, Havana, Grable/Horse and Chevalier/Mexico being the first four. Berle was 5th if I recall. Tallulah was not shown until well into the run. Depending on when the new season started in the fall, they didn't always run all 13. The last 3 shown were Howard/Ida, Kovacs and Paul Douglas but they didn't always get an airing. Both Douglas and Kovacs died within a short time after their episode was done. I had no idea who either of them were. The Howard/Ida episode: you really miss the Mertzes. The bit where people are in the same house but one couple doesn't know the other is there, doesn't quite work for me, but it was trotted out again for the Carol Channing pilot and a Mothers In Law episode (I think). I haven't seen "KO Kitty" is quite some time. The print I have is very poor. So I don't remember whether it's good or not. I think CBS was pleasantly surprised that the first airing of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour was such a huge ratings hit. Enough so that they were run an additional 4 times as a series, the last run being the summer of 1967, by which time evening TV had gone all-color. So LDCH has the distinction of being the series that had the most prime time showings and the last network offering in b/w.
  3. Lucy's Favorite Lucy's according to Viacom. List released some time in the 70s. Some odd choices and strange omissions. 21 episodes in all. This was before the episodes were remastered. Stations received 16mm prints, already a step down in quality from the original 35mm's, and they were cycled from station to station almost until the emulsion was worn off the film. I Love Lucy was brought back to Portland with some ballyhoo in 1977 and scheduled for the prime 7:00pm slot. I could not believe how threadbare the prints were. To make way for more commercials, stations would do their own cutting. Then after showing, splice the film back together before sending to next station. (I'm pretty sure that's how it worked.) I remember seeing "Goes to Scotland" that STARTED in the middle of the mayor's song! Despite the film quality, Lucy did quite well and ran there for a few years, then shifted to 3:00pm where it ran even longer. "Lucy's Favorites" In chronological order: The Adagio, The Ballet, The Freezer, Does a TV Commercial, The Saxophone, Goes to Hospital, Camping Trip, Girls Buy Dress Shop, Equal Rights, Million Dollar Idea, Mertz & Kurtz, LA at Last, Harpo Marx, John Wayne, Charles Boyer, Bob Hope, Orson Welles, Little Ricky's School Pageant, Loving Cup, Lucy Raises Chickens, Builds Bar-b-Q.
  4. For reasons still unknown to me, the original 4 wrote a bunch but not all of season 2. Bob & Madelyn were on board for all 28 and even got sole writing credit on a few. Fred Fox & Iz Elinson were the co-writers on a number of episodes. In addition there were a few other writers. I cannot tell the difference in the quality of shows with different writers, so I say Bob & Madelyn were the driving force. It's unclear to me what the process was, as in, did the other writers do a first draft and then Bob & Madelyn did a polish? Desi and Bob&Madelyn had such a mutual admiration society, I can't see Desi knocking one of their scripts, so I'll bet the first draft of "Flies a Helicopter" was submitted by one of the outside writers. However, I think "Lucy Flies a Helicopter" sounds pretty funny! I did not know of Red Skelton's Guzzler's Gin sketch and how it might be the inspiration for Vitameta. I've since seen it. Red's style is totally different of course but the word he uses over and over again is "SMOOTH". If "Lucy Goes Commercial" is the same script I saw, the writers have Lucy saying the same thing: smooth. This episode was written for the 3rd season, not the 2nd. I've never heard of "Lucy is a Calendar Girl". PLEASE don't tell me the special guest star was Hugh Hefner.
  5. That's interesting. Perhaps Miss Elkins could have been providing Lucy's singing voice backstage only to be taken away mid-song because her daughter was giving birth. Other than the Caldwell exchange, did the script outline anything in the last act except for "Lucy sings and dances"? From 68-69, of the 20 sitcoms on the air, Here's Lucy was the only one still remaining in the 73-74 season. If, as many do, you count The Lucy Show & Here's Lucy as one run, it must hold the record for a sitcom: (or any show) spending 10 years in the top 10, holding every position except #5, #7 and (damn you, Laugh In!) #1.
  6. Here's Lucy premiere Episode 1 "Mod Mod Lucy". The introduction of the kids: they're OK, if a little over-the top-hammy in their line readings. The script is fine, by Here's Lucy standards, with the best line being "Does Mahalia Jackson go surfing before a concert?". But the "You'll have your vocalist....Sonny? Meet Cher" line that ends the 2nd act promises us some comedy in the 3rd act. Instead what we get is Lucy's first on-series dubbed singing of "All Alone", composed by every teenager's favorite Irving Berlin. It's not challenging vocally so I don't know why a dubber was necessary. Nobody has yet confirmed who the ghost-singer is. It's definitely not Carole Cook. Some have suggested it was Lucie herself. Maybe. "All Alone" segues in that trusted Here's Lucy stand-by "I Know a Place" with the teens joining in with precision("ish") choreography. Lucy performs her limber dance moves admirably, but where is the comedy? Why not a Mumu Yo Quiro attempt at lipping to Kim's practice tape? Or something else besides this rather overlong dance number, for which I blame just plain lazy writing. When Here's Lucy involved "typical teens", it could be embarrassing as it is here. Interesting that Doris Singleton's (addressed by Harry as "Miss Singleton" and simply "Doris" in the credits. I mean, couldn't these writers have come up with a character name?) role was dropped--she and Lucy share no screen time-- because we could have had some good Ricardo-Appleby rivalry. I wonder if Doris figured in to some of the early proposed plots. Some of the best Lucy Shows from the first two season were those that featured that outer circle of friends: Mary Wickes, Carole Cook, Dorothy Konrad, Kathleen Freeman and the most prominent Mary Jane as Audrey Simmons. Except for the two appearances of Mary Wickes as Isabel, Lucy Carter was virtually friendless until the fanfare-less reappearance of Mary Jane (evidently Miss Lewis got tired of waiting on Lucy Carmichael's doorstep for her return). Bob&Madelyn made the same mistake with The Mothers In Law as they did creating Life with Lucy, colorless adult children and no steady cohorts for Eve/Kaye or Lucy, but at least Eve & Kaye had each other. Lucy seemed adamant there would be no Viv replacement, but Here's (and LWL) sure would have benefited by a group of semi-regular peers, woman Lucy could conspire with or against. Rumor has it that Viv was approached about returning for Here's, but I haven't confirmed that. Was LBP too cheap to expand their cast beyond the four of them? If so, too bad. (And with Lucie and Desi getting meager scale, there should have been cast money left over). I much preferred the Lucy-Harry relationship later in the run, where there was less bickering (which sometimes bordered on overt hatred, sometimes crossed it), usually from a B&M script. Ski Lift/Dinah, HC-Male Nurse, Kim Moves Out, Wandering Mother & NG as RN are great examples. I find it amusing that for "Milton Berle/Life of Party", it's implied that Saturday nights are regularly shared by Lucy, Mary Jane and HARRY, who normally doesn't like either of them. In defense of the Here's Lucy premiere, it was about as good as 1968 sitcoms got, but disappointing in that they missed the chance to return to a format that involved closeness of a family we actually cared about. The 68-69 Best Comedy nominees were three rather tired long-running series: Get Smart, Bewitched and that insomnia-curing Family Affair, along with two newbies that weren't exactly laughfests: Julia & (the cancelled) Ghost & Mrs. Muir. Get Smart, also cancelled, was the winner. Both Muir & Smart were picked up by other networks for one more season, then scuttled for good while Here's Lucy went on and on, well into the 70s relevant comedy period.
  7. Is this the one that's a VitaMeta/GuzzlersGin remake? Few of those freelance writers were in tune with what makes a good Lucy show. There was another 3rd season rejected script floating around: "Lucy & Chris: Which One's the Teenager?".....or was that a HL with Lucy & Kim?
  8. I am LOVING these. Lucy's voice is so soft and soothing. She's a great interviewer, showing interest in her guests and asking informed questions, without undo fawning. Just how many "good friends" did she have? She admits that she doesn't "think funny". It's true that she's not "on" but says an occasional amusing thing. And what a great audience she is, with a hearty laugh. I always bristle at the comments made about her having NO sense of humor. This was certainly a heady time for Lucy. As much as she griped later about having to run Desilu, I think she enjoyed being the boss lady and roaming around the studio (and beyond) capturing interviewees. I'm recording so I can listen later and avoid LTTL overload. One interview I keep missing is Ann Sothern. I don't know if this was pre- or post-Countess episodes. I say "Countess Rosie" ("Frankly, Framboise" maybe?) as a spinoff series might have had legs! Trivia of the day in case you didn't know: "Framboise" is French for "raspberry"! But my: how times have changed! Hal's pre-breakfast makeup tips, Mel Torme's misogynistic view of the ideal woman, Arlene Dahl's beauty book "Always Ask a Man", etc. Many of these happy marriages would go bust not longer after these shows aired. I reread Betty Hutton book. On the LTTL, she describes an ideal home life, married to musician Pete Carboli (sp?). Soon after this show, she was watching TV and Rona Barrett announced that Pete was secretly engaged to Edie Adams, who he ended up marrying. This sent poor Betty into an emotional tailspin until she ended up broke and homeless. Unless I'm missing them, I haven't heard any new ones in the mix in quite a while. I had enough trouble finding and securing the Sirius Radio service. I wish Sirius would let us know the schedule. Lucie keeps mentioning the "Sirius app" and how after this run, they will be released once a week as a podcast. Same episodes? Or are they holding some back for podcast release? I'm embarrassingly ignorant of these things. If Ozzie Nelson buffs can claim that Ozzie made the very first "music video" by cutting away from Ricky during a song to show scenery shots, then I guess LTTL can qualify as the nation's "first podcast".
  9. I wonder if Mame could even be done today. "You've done more for the south since anybody since Robert E Lee" "Mother of Jefferson Davis! She's passin' the FOX!" "This time the south will rise again..MAME" And of course the charm of plantations is now OUT.
  10. I posted this to Facebook, but for those who didn't see it:
  11. Darwin Porter is a trash writer, inventing dialogue between two people who were the only ones in the room and no notes were taken.
  12. LOL, as always. I thought there should be a Chris "Home Alone' episode where she returns from a sleepover at Cynthia's and the house is vacant. Lucy: "You know how it is when you're planning a big trip. Some little detail is liable to slip your mind." The move to California, and the great episodes that could have happened, will forever fester in my craw. They dispense with the absurdity that Mooney and Lucy would both move without the other one knowing pretty quickly. but STILL...
  13. Like a lot of these All-Time Best Lists, this one is top heavy with more recent shows some of which I've never seen and an alarming number I've never heard of. I was glad to see Burns & Allen made the list even if it was only #85. Some series might have made the list if you just looked at their first two seasons: Bewitched (did I miss it on the list?), The Lucy Show and The Beverly Hillbillies, whose first season is hilarious in no small part due to the presence of Bea Benedaret as Pearl Bodine.
  14. Agree that at least a nomination for "Pillow" seemed appropriate, if for nothing else being a trouper, forging ahead in layered winter clothes despite the unseasonable NYC heat wave. "Here's Lucy" won as Best TV Comedy in 1971 from some TV association. I can't find the Variety clipping right now. I don't know what the Emmy nomination criteria is, but when Lucy won in 1968, there were 5 nominees. For 70-71, there were only three for Best Actress in a Comedy while there were 5 for Best Actor. This was the only season HL got any Emmy recognition that I know of. Gale and Bob&Madelyn's Burton script. Both lost to MTM people. In the seasons in between, Lucy was passed over for lesser performers. The winner for both years, Hope Lange was as good a choice as any given the other none-outstanding nominees. Hope won despite her series being cancelled TWICE. First by NBC, then by ABC. I don't remember much about "Ghost & Mrs. Muir" but it didn't seem like much was required from Hope.
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