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Neil

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Neil last won the day on April 9

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  1. I searched but couldn't find "Facts of Life" movie as a topic. A friend gave me a huge Oscar book, containing all nominees. I didn't know Facts of Life got so many nominations. I don't remember Edith Head's designs being all that stunning but glad the movie won one. (many categories were still being divided between b/w and color nominations). Other nominations: screenplay, cinematography, set decoration and the title song, none of which I find Oscar-worthy. I find the title song a little annoying. Even the bouncy but frivolous "Yours Mine & Ours" is better. The Lucy movie songs that should have been nominated: the melodic "Forever, Darling" or Mame's "Loving You", which is better than the 5 nominees that year. I wasn't aware until recently that "Breezin' Along with the Breeze" was not written for "Long Trailer". For reasons that have never been more specific than "legal", "The Facts of Life" was shown on TV twice in the 64-65 season as part of ABC's Sunday Night movie: the debut and the rerun, then was not seen again for another THIRTY years and then, it was not on TV but the VHS release in about 1996. (As far as I know, it was never rereleased to theaters). Lucy and Bob would make reference to the movie but I don't think the general public was aware of it. I haven't seen BO figures but it's been written it did OK, but not a smash. Even in their "I Remember It Well" from Hope's 1987 show for troops "We used to sing....We used to dance....in "Facts of Life"...and "Fancy Pants". So after 30 years of anticipation, good to great reviews, awards and all, maybe I was expecting too much when I finally saw it. It's certainly good but the production values were strictly TV so I'm surprised at the nominations in the other categories. The screenplay is well-done but really.... doesn't rise above good+ TV sitcom fare IMO. I think the script to "Lucy Makes Room for Danny" is better. I don't know how they narrow the field down to 5 for Best Actress. I wonder how close Lucy came. I've seen "The Apartment", the best picture winner but don't remember much about it (again maybe expected too much from a Best Picture). Have not seen any of the other actress nominees in their 1960 movies. Probably the closest Lucy ever got to a Best Actress Oscar nomination. (Unless you could Nicole Kidman's nod playing her). If Doris Day could get one for "Pillow Talk", then why not Lucy? The nominated actresses that year were all noteworthy with Elizabeth Taylor winning for Butterfield 8. Haven't seen it but some say she got the nomination out of sympathy for some sort of life-threatening illness she recovered from. Lucy fell off the boat in "Facts of Life". Where's the sympathy vote for that!
  2. I saw "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" (Lucy buys out Curtis's share of the store). Too bad it was unaired. On the Life with Lucy scale, it was great. There were some ABC people in the audience and Gary kept making cracks insinuating the failure of the series to get an audience was ABC's fault. Something about not promoting it enough. Which is absurd. Maybe it was because I was paying attention but I recall it getting a lot of pre-premiere publicity. I'll never forget the phone call I got from a friend when it was announced in May (I think). He read it in USA Today. I hadn't. "You'll never guess what's going to happen" and I didn't!
  3. "Hospital Roomies" Eva Gabor's assistant "Valter".
  4. The most frequently used words in this book: "endowed" and "aging" but never describing the same person.
  5. Even though I despise the writings of Darwin Porter, I couldn't resist buying Lucy "Volume 2: 1960-1989" "The Sad & Tragic Ending of Lucille Ball". First off, whose ending is NOT sad and to varying degrees tragic? Darwin's at it again with quotes of what Lucy and cohorts were saying in private conversations, none of which I believe was actually said at all and especially not within earshot of anyone taking notes. The fact-checking goes from the ridiculous "Charles Lane played Lucy's boss at the bank in Danfield Connecicut" to the more ridiculous "When season 3 of The Lucy Show's ratings dipped, CBS was considering cancelling the show". Granted season 3 in the lowest ranking of all 6 seasons at #8, but it was still in the top TEN, ferChristsake! I find it hard to believe that Lucy said some of the things he's quoted. A lot about how "endowed" one male star was over the other: a topic Darwin seems obsessed with. He includes pics of shirtless male celebrities who have little or nothing to do with Lucy. Example: Vince Edwards. Book states Ben Casey was filmed at Desilu. It might have been, but if it was, this is the first I've ever heard. And can't there be a mention of Milton Berle (in this book and many others) without referencing his huge "member"? And then there's the entire chapter devoted to John Wayne's affair with RG Brown in which Wayne donned women's clothes with Brown as the dominant partner as leather-masked Maury Thompson stood on the sidelines cracking a whip while the two went at it, all captured on film by Bob Crane. OK, I'm kidding about the last paragraph but didn't you believe me for a moment? It doesn't differ too much from the other "facts" Darwin reports.
  6. I have a lot of problems with season 3, which I've (no doubt) already aired ad naseum. In general, people don't like season 2 as much as I do. IMO, season 2 is much more solid than season 1, many weak episodes towards the end of the season. Because of the lack of Desi's input? Maybe. As far as I can figure, his work ended with "Install a Shower". (I could be wrong). My rankings of favorite Lucy Show seasons are as follows: 2,1,4,5,3,6. Season 4: True, TLS went sort of wild ("Wingding", Ironman Carmichael) and had a lot of duffers ("Rain Goddess" being one of many). But overall, I like it better than season 3. I might go with season 5 and season 3 as a tie for 2nd to last place. I'm not much interested in season 5 after "Substitute Secretary" (Margo the Decorator was sheer genius. Had we ever seen this characterization before? Not that I know of). Season 3: I love Arthur Godfrey (and I usually dislike shows-within-show), "Becomes a Father", "Good Skate"--and more for marveling at Lucy's agility than the comedy written on the page--and the Countess episodes. Other than that: MEH! I never watch season 6 and cannot think of a stellar episode. People like 'Meets the Berles" and so I do I, to a certain extent, but not as much as others do.
  7. I'll all for it!......but what is left to say? To the unschooled viewer, it would seem Lucy's career ended in 1960. There's no doubt that I Love Lucy was her creative peak, but in that TV Encyclopedia book, the top TV shows are listed in order. I don't know what criteria they use: longevity, ratings and/or more, but in the last edition I have The Lucy Show/Here's Lucy (counted as one show) tops I Love Lucy in their rankings. I'm a "Lucy Show" booster, mainly based on those first two seasons, but it will forever be stuck with the also-ran treatment in any documentary. So I assume this one will also ignore everything post I Love Lucy: Conquering Broadway with Wildcat (and YES SHE DID, despite the short run), 10 full seasons in the top ten with "that other show(s)", 2 more Emmys, a hit movie YM&O. Though her accomplishments in the 70s are not as impressive, she was still a draw. Lucy insisted that Mame made money. Who knows? Yes, it wasn't a runaway hit but the reviews were not horrible overall. The bad ones receive the most quote citations. But whatever the bottom line of Mame was, Lucy was still in demand. Other than Hepburn, the female stars of Lucy's era were scrambling for any job they could get. And even Hepburn's 70s-80s output was slim in volume. The Lucy Show & Here's Lucy: 300 episodes, the equivalent of 78 feature-length movies (by my rough math) and that's 6 1/2 movies per year. I wonder how much damage the public domain Lucy Shows, packaged dozens of different ways, did to the show. Made up mostly of the 5th and 6th season episodes, this was not The Lucy Show at its peak.
  8. Very astute observations. Tape-Film...oh....Potato-Potahto. 'Desi was much younger than Lucy"--well 5 1/2 years isn't all THAT much younger. When they got married, SeƱor Golddapper was still in high school! (assuming he went). Pardon me if someone has already mentioned this but Madelyn delivering a fattening-up breakfast to Vivian?? SHEESH! Were they still using the "20 pounds overweight" gag contract as a basis for this scene? Unless Madelyn had this hidden snarky streak in real life, she would never have made a crack about the RKO writing of Lucy's films. In his book, Jess didn't like Desi being named Executive Producer. I'm not sure what an executive producer does. There seems to be a dozen of them tied to every project from sitcoms to...this one (including Lucie and Desi Jr. credited with EP). I don't know why Jess objected because as president of Desilu, wasn't Desi the de facto Exec Producer?
  9. "Plot Continues" episode concerning Life with Lucy prompted me to go back and re-watch episode 1. I found it much more enjoyable than I remember. There are enough Lucy-like laughs to satisfy anyone wanting classic Lucy. The whole fire extinguisher bit was...at least something they'd never done before...and it IS funny in the classic block-comedy ending tradition. Is it possible the whole melee-scene is ruined, spoiled by that ONE shot--where they reveal suds coming from a 2nd out of camera range source? I'm thinking yes. Lucy is cute and sweet through most of the episode. On down side: I don't like her tapping Gale's sunburned nose. Other minuses: all four of the Barker/McGibbon off-spring. I don't know what Larry was trying to do with his glasses-on/glasses-off routine but I don't think he did it after this one episode. It was a little off-putting but at least it was SOMETHING. The writers didn't know what to do with those 4. With no comical quirks written into the character, there was nothing for them to work with. The difference between 50s-60s sitcoms vs. 80s+beyond sitcoms is that the performers of the early sitcoms came to television with a vast array of experience: movies, radio, stage, even vaudeville. So if the material was poor, which it often was, they were savvy enough to use some of those tricks up their sleeve to improve things, drawing from that pre-TV training ground. Or at least make things seem funnier than they are. By the time the 80s, those performers were gone, so what we got were attractive, even likable actors. They could recite lines well enough but were without the experience to create a character when it's not on the page. Just imagine if they had bypassed Katherine Card for some actress who would just be filler with a character that was more utilitarian driven than an attempt to expand the show's scope. (how are we going to ditch Little Ricky?) Katherine was PERFECT. I don't know that we have that caliber around today. With pre-premiere publicity, Life with Lucy was expected to be I Love Lucy (same writers, same....). One columnist put it most realistically "Let's hope that it's half as good as I Love Lucy, and twice as good as Here's Lucy."
  10. Cara Williams died on the 9th at the age of 96. Most of you are too young to know who she was. Her big "hit" TV series was "Pete & Gladys" that ran from 1960 to 1962. 72 episodes that CBS ran in the morning from 1962 to at least 1964. The shortest-run sitcom CBS ever gave the 5-day/week morning airing. Cara was nominated for Best Comedy Actress Emmy. Over the years of the 60s, many newcomers were touted as being "the next Lucille Ball". I don't say this lightly: Cara came within a (red)hair of Lucy. She was the only one who came close. P&G did well enough to be renewed for a second season on Monday night but when Lucy decided to return, I guess CBS figured the one redhead was enough and canceled P&G despite respectable ratings. Schiller & Weiskopf wrote a number of P&G's. Gale Gordon appeared as Pete's Uncle Paul in several episodes. It was one of those single-camera laugh track sitcoms that didn't have the class & spontaneity of Lucy's shows. But Cara was wonderful. CBS gave her her own series "The Cara Williams Show" in 1964. Despite getting a plum time slot after The Beverly Hillbillies & Dick Van Dyke, it only lasted one season. And that was pretty much the end of Cara's career that I know of. She was just 40. Strangely she showed up on Rhoda 10 years later playing a thankless part: the secretary at Joe's office. I had the fortunate experience of spending an afternoon with Cara, sitting next to her at one of those Hollywood Autograph shows just a few years ago. She had stories to tell and I was all ears! Almost everybody who worked with her described her as "difficult". P&G had scant syndication and no official DVD release. I keep hoping it will show up on MeTV or one of the other old-TV channels. There are a few eps on youtube but not any of those that stick in my memory as being LOL-funny. Here's a P&G compilation I put together a while back. I used clips from the few episodes available.
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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