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rappy

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rappy    25

This is what I said all along.   They are using the Center and Lucy's name to raise money for this!   Your purchases and donations to the Center will benefit the Comedy Hall of Fame and this is what they said here:

 

Though the National Comedy Center isn’t intended to celebrate Lucille Ball specifically – in fact, the Lucy Desi Center will likely remain open in a separate location...

 

WILL LIKELY-SERIOUSLY!

 

http://www.buffalonews.com/spotlight/new-leadership-at-lucille-ball-desi-arnaz-center-looks-to-turn-it-into-national-comedy-center-20140308

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rappy    25

What is Jamestown’s identity? • For generations, it was a hotbed of manufacturing. But much of that has dwindled. • Every summer, the nearby Chautauqua Institution draws thousands of visitors and dozens of big-name speakers. That’s nice – but that’s seasonal. • There are good things going on in the 31,000-person Chautauqua County city, especially in terms of downtown development. But ask the typical Western New Yorker what’s happening in Jamestown, and you’re likely to get a shrug. • Soon, however, that answer may become a laugh. • And that’s a good thing. • The one brand long associated with the city is that of Lucille Ball. The comedian was born in Jamestown in 1911; her legacy (and that of her husband and

“I Love Lucy” co-star) is celebrated there in the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center. Go there now and you’ll see a lifetime’s worth of memorabilia connected to Lucy, who died in 1989.

Come back in a couple of years and you may see much more.

The center’s board of directors and its executive director are aggressively pursuing a plan that could transform Jamestown into a hotbed of laughter by building a National Comedy Center that will include interactive, high-tech exhibits celebrating past and present comics; a theater with year-round programming; an “industry incubator” where would-be comics can take classes and perform and record shows; and perhaps the most expansive comedy store anywhere.

They expect to draw more than 100,000 visitors a year and deliver an economic impact of $26 million.

Before you laugh, remember that Cooperstown (population: 1,800) built a museum and hall of fame for baseball, based on the legend of a boy named Abner Doubleday inventing the game there.

So can the comparatively larger Jamestown, with its real-life Lucy legend, become the Cooperstown of comedy?

It has a shot.

The comedy industry – which, for obvious reasons, is prone to laugh at many things – is taking this seriously. Legends like Jerry Seinfeld and Carol Burnett have offered positive feedback on the plan. So has “Blues Brothers” and “Ghostbusters” icon Dan Aykroyd, who’s keenly interested in the idea and offered pages of thoughts on the plans.

Ball’s daughter Lucie Arnaz, a celebrated performer, is helping promote the plan.

“What a brilliant, brave, courageous idea for a smallish town to take on this giant idea,” she said. “But what better place than the birthplace of one of the greatest comedians that ever lived?”

The chairman of the Lucy Desi Center board of directors, Tom Benson, said they have “solid leads or commitments” for $20 million of the construction costs for the center, which will be built around a historic renovated train station in downtown Jamestown. (Benson declined to reveal the overall cost, but said $20 million is a “significant portion.”)

Now, Benson and the center’s executive director, Journey Gunderson, are regularly meeting with foundations and political officials to line up funding, and networking within the comedy industry at the highest levels to reinforce the support of Hollywood.

There’s a sense of urgency: They want to break ground in 2015.

“We’re up to bat, we’ve got two strikes, and there’s a high, hard pitch coming,” said Benson. “We’ve got to hit it out of the park or we go back to the dugout.”

 

Legacy of laughter

Pushing the idea this close to reality has been a gargantuan task in itself. Just a few years ago, the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center was mired in a mix of small-town politicking and loving Lucy perhaps a little too much.

The backstory: Near the end of her life, Ball had endorsed the idea of having an institution in Jamestown that celebrated her legacy by promoting the art of comedy. What she didn’t want was a museum that was a shrine to herself or to “I Love Lucy.”

Over time, however, many people (including Ball’s daughter Lucie and son Desi) think that’s exactly what happened. The center’s annual festival was focused on all things Lucy. Ideas with a larger vision “couldn’t get off the ground,” Arnaz said, adding that she used to warn, “What are you going to do when everybody who knew Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are dead and you can’t have any more interviews with those people? You’ve got to start thinking beyond that.”

Ultimately, Lucie and her brother left the board of directors, which triggered alarms in Jamestown: They were losing the support of Lucy’s family. Over the next couple of years, and through a multitude of financial issues, the board’s makeup and the center’s leadership changed.

In late 2009, at the urging of foundations that had the money to keep the center afloat, Benson – a successful Jamestown businessman who is founder of the consulting firm the Vineyard Group – joined the board and became chairman. The new board created a plan to redefine the center’s annual Lucy Fest comedy festival and, ultimately, to build the National Comedy Center.

But first, they needed a leader.

 

The Journey back home

While these plans were being made in 2010, a local-born young professional with a New York pedigree was working in the center’s shadows.

Journey Gunderson, who grew up in nearby Bemus Point, graduated from Maple Grove High School in 2000 and went on to Ithaca College and then six successful years working with top female athletes at the Women’s Sports Foundation in New York, had come home for the summer.

Originally, her plan was to begin building a Web development consulting business and then head with her soon-to-be husband to a bigger market. The Lucy Desi Center was among her first clients. She was contracted to spend 10 hours a week redeveloping the center’s website but put in much longer hours.

She saw the global power of the Lucy brand.

“All I could see in working with the Lucy Desi Center was opportunity,” Gunderson said.

Though she didn’t fully realize it at the time, when Gunderson said things like that in meetings, she was speaking Benson’s language. As an observer, he had long wondered why the center hadn’t done more with the Lucille Ball name. Now, with his fellow board members, he was determined to change that.

“Here we’ve been presented with the brand name of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz,” said Benson, 58. “That’s like Coca-Cola.”

In late 2010, Benson sat with Gunderson and asked her to consider becoming executive director of the center. She began in 2011 and immediately began promoting the board’s larger vision.

The first step was to redefine the annual Lucy Fest each August to focus on contemporary comics. Along with the traditional “I Love Lucy”-themed activities such as chocolate wrapping and grape stomping, the festival now includes comedy classes, showcases for rising comics, and full-theater shows with headliners like Joan Rivers, Paula Poundstone, Billy Gardell and Bill Engvall.

In the process, the center gained back the support of Lucie Arnaz and her brother, who oversee the license to use their parents’ likenesses. Though Arnaz doesn’t sit on the board of directors, she lauds them for being business-minded and “not just Lucy fans.”

And she sees real value in Gunderson’s youth. At 31, Gunderson didn’t grow up watching “I Love Lucy,” so there’s no danger of having too much hero worship.

“It’s helpful that the person running the show now is thinking in a bigger picture: What does this whole thing stand for? And how can we keep it running for the next 100 years?” Arnaz said. “It’s good that she’s not just a fan.”

 

A serious pitch

Nowadays, Gunderson is regularly pitching the comedy center plan at every opportunity. A couple of weeks ago, she attended “Simpsons” producer Dana Gould’s stand-up show at Helium Comedy Club in Buffalo. Afterward, she approached Gould, introduced herself and shared the vision. Gunderson and Benson have done the same with virtually every headliner they’ve brought to Jamestown.

And with the help of Lucie Arnaz, the center also has sent the plans to an impressive list of comedy icons that includes Aykroyd, Seinfeld and Burnett.

Aykroyd particularly took to the idea of creating a comedy education program. Growing up in Canada, he took improv lessons as a young teen at Ottawa Little Theatre, and later at the Second City in Toronto, before becoming an original cast member of “Saturday Night Live.”

“Wherever these programs are available and properly exploited, people are going to show up,” he said. “I can speak from first-hand experience that having that available to me through Ottawa Little Theatre and Second City helped me to get ready for ‘Saturday Night Live’ and everything that happened after.”

Though the National Comedy Center isn’t intended to celebrate Lucille Ball specifically – in fact, the Lucy Desi Center will likely remain open in a separate location – most observers would assume the comedian’s name is still vital to making it happen.

Aykroyd, however, sees it differently. The industry in which he made his name is taking off. Comedy clubs are cropping up around the country. Comedy shows are airing all over television.

“Humor is bigger than ever,” he said.

And that simple, human desire to laugh is, he said, the marketing.

“The body of what will be housed there will take care of the appeal and the marketability of it,” Aykroyd said. “I think a center of comedy will be a natural magnet to people.”

And he said that without a laugh.

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jab5983    20

They will just continue to use lucy and her fans to make money over the next couple of years and then lucy will disappear from Jamestown. Once the hall of fame is open there is no way they keep the Lucy center open. They will probably just put a plaque up in the hall of fame for her... They will continue to try to sell off the archives to make more money for this venture. Journey doesn't care about Lucy she never even saw the show before becoming the director. Sad!!

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Luvsbway    2,049

All very interesting. I think I went to college with Journey. Putting dates together she would have been a freshman when I was a senior.

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rappy    25

It is all very interesting.   Being in Jamestown with my ears open, I often commented how this will all turn out.   Watch for your selves.   Lucy Lane will always honor Lucy!

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Brock    3,373

I don't see any reason why they a Comedy Hall of Fame and the existing Lucy museums wouldn't go hand in hand -- logically, or even from their business perspective, whatever that might be. If they were going to shift focus entirely to the Comedy Hall of Fame, they would have consolidated the two existing museums years ago to have more resources to direct towards the train station.

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rappy    25

They have shifted focus.   The foundations are not donating to the Lucy Desi Center.   Journeys focus is getting them to donate to the Hall of Fame.  

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Brock    3,373

On a positive note, I did hear that they replaced the floor in the Playhouse, or is it Studio?

 

I'll miss the popping. It added a certain ambiance. lol

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C L A U D E    2,006

Sad, but at least it seems YOU, Rappy, are able to see right through these people.  Yet another one, put in charge, who's never even seen the show, What idiots are running things there anyway?

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C L A U D E    2,006

I knew something was wrong with that place the minute I tried to order some Lucy dvds and nothing was in stock, you'd think of all places, that would be the ONE place to get everything Lucy ever did.   Or even every book ever written about her.

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rappy    25

Shop at 59lucylane.com.   We will never compromise Lucy, not for anything!   And our proceeds go to Not For Profits, not for  the Comedy Hall Fame!

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Taylor    427

This is pretty terrible.  

 

Everytime I see Journey's face, all I hear is her whiny, "EWWWW, OMG, it stinks in here!!"  

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Brock    3,373

This is pretty terrible.  

 

Everytime I see Journey's face, all I hear is her whiny, "EWWWW, OMG, it stinks in here!!"  

Well, to be fair, it probably did considering your post-"EWW, OMG" recap. lol

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C L A U D E    2,006

Just think Taylor, you probably went there to Jamestown to see the tribute to Lucy just before it turns into the Carrot Top museum.  With a special wing for the jerry lewis archives. 

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Taylor    427

Just think Taylor, you probably went there to Jamestown to see the tribute to Lucy just before it turns into the Carrot Top museum.  With a special wing for the jerry lewis archives. 

 

I know, I'm glad me and Gypsy got to see it before Journey sells all of Lucy's things to the top bidder... :lucyhorror:

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Brock    3,373

I know, I'm glad me and Gypsy got to see it before Journey sells all of Lucy's things to the top bidder... :lucyhorror:

 

So far, the only things Journey seems to have sold were just two ordinary glass ashtrays allegedly from Roxbury.

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Taylor    427

So far, the only things Journey seems to have sold were just two ordinary glass ashtrays allegedly from Roxbury.

"So far" being the operative words here. Lol

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rappy    25

Brock,

 

Lucy Lane has been repainted to the original look ever!   We had a forensic painter come in and dig to the bottom layer of paint on the house.   The siding has been replaced as it would not hold paint due to "silvering".   I have all the original siding in storage and plan on being crafy with it:)  The siding is the same as the old, just new:)   The old place looks fantastic and should last another 100 years:)

 

I don't know what will happen to the Center, but all the meeting for the New Comedy place are open to the public!    I am done voicing my opinion.   They could use some fresh yells:)

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Luvsbway    2,049

A few thoughts I had. If they think this is going to be something as big as Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame it isn’t. There are a lot of Halls of Fame across the US. Ironically the only one I’ve been to was in Canada. Here is a list of some Hall of Fame’s throughout the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_halls_and_walks_of_fame

I bet many of these are not all that big if they even have a physical location. I don’t see comedy being a big a draw to a hall of fame. What would be included? With sports and music you have equipment, costumes, uniforms, instruments, etc… The Lucy aspect of a museum works because there are items to look at, video elements to watch. The first ever Lucy museum experience I had was at Universal in LA. I spent 2 hours in there. My parents didn’t think I would ever leave. It wasn’t big but there was a lot to look at and learn about.

What type of approach would comedy have? Are you going back to theatre in the early days of the US, minstrel shows, vaudeville, burlesque? I’m sure the bulk would be TV and film. How are they represented outside just watching video clips? How will standup comedy be represented? Do they have the original brick wall from the Improv? It’s a really broad topic and I’m not saying it can’t be done but it’s an unusual place to put this type of museum. Just because a town happens to lay claim to one of the most famous comedians ever doesn’t mean it’s the be all and end all of comedy. A museum in the hometown for that person though, yes. Jimmy Stewart had his, and Mt Airy, NC has many places on Andy Griffith and Mayberry.

I live near/work in Harrisburg, PA. A few years back the former mayor wanted to start a Wild West Museum. First they needed to look at a map. Wild West in PA? So the city used a ton of funds to buy over $8 million worth of artifacts. They museum ended up never being built and the artifacts sat around for years. Meanwhile the city is in dire financial straits. They held an auction last year to get rid of this stuff and help pay their huge debt. They cleared about half of the $8 million through all the auctions. It was a major blunder.

So with that said, the 2 Lucy related museums in town seem to be doing pretty well. Don’t abandon them and divert their funds to take a risk on this unknown. As far as festivals go why can’t we have 2? Yes eventually there will not be too many guests left to invite but other similar festivals carry on without original cast members/etc.... Make a comedy festival its own thing. Invite lots of up and coming comics, do a film fest, have judging. If it’s a hall of fame do inductions then. If you look back to the mid 90’s this is what the original festival was starting to do. I don’t have a problem with it, but let it stand on its own. Raise money just for it, not under the pretense of another organization. New generations keep discovering Lucy so the appeal is still there to attract visitors to just a Lucy festival.

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JoeySoCal    1,009

A few thoughts I had. If they think this is going to be something as big as Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame it isn’t. There are a lot of Halls of Fame across the US. Ironically the only one I’ve been to was in Canada. Here is a list of some Hall of Fame’s throughout the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_halls_and_walks_of_fame

I bet many of these are not all that big if they even have a physical location. I don’t see comedy being a big a draw to a hall of fame. What would be included? With sports and music you have equipment, costumes, uniforms, instruments, etc… The Lucy aspect of a museum works because there are items to look at, video elements to watch. The first ever Lucy museum experience I had was at Universal in LA. I spent 2 hours in there. My parents didn’t think I would ever leave. It wasn’t big but there was a lot to look at and learn about.

What type of approach would comedy have? Are you going back to theatre in the early days of the US, minstrel shows, vaudeville, burlesque? I’m sure the bulk would be TV and film. How are they represented outside just watching video clips? How will standup comedy be represented? Do they have the original brick wall from the Improv? It’s a really broad topic and I’m not saying it can’t be done but it’s an unusual place to put this type of museum. Just because a town happens to lay claim to one of the most famous comedians ever doesn’t mean it’s the be all and end all of comedy. A museum in the hometown for that person though, yes. Jimmy Stewart had his, and Mt Airy, NC has many places on Andy Griffith and Mayberry.

I live near/work in Harrisburg, PA. A few years back the former mayor wanted to start a Wild West Museum. First they needed to look at a map. Wild West in PA? So the city used a ton of funds to buy over $8 million worth of artifacts. They museum ended up never being built and the artifacts sat around for years. Meanwhile the city is in dire financial straits. They held an auction last year to get rid of this stuff and help pay their huge debt. They cleared about half of the $8 million through all the auctions. It was a major blunder.

So with that said, the 2 Lucy related museums in town seem to be doing pretty well. Don’t abandon them and divert their funds to take a risk on this unknown. As far as festivals go why can’t we have 2? Yes eventually there will not be too many guests left to invite but other similar festivals carry on without original cast members/etc.... Make a comedy festival its own thing. Invite lots of up and coming comics, do a film fest, have judging. If it’s a hall of fame do inductions then. If you look back to the mid 90’s this is what the original festival was starting to do. I don’t have a problem with it, but let it stand on its own. Raise money just for it, not under the pretense of another organization. New generations keep discovering Lucy so the appeal is still there to attract visitors to just a Lucy festival.

I like the way you think, Luvs!! :D

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