This week, Paul goes behind the curtain with Lucie Arnaz the actress/singer/dancer daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Who knew that Lucille Ball hosted a radio interview show back in 1964 – 66 which aired on the CBS Network. What an historical archive of interviews with Hollywood heavyweights including: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Steve Allen, Bob Hope, Debbie Reynolds and so many more. Taped so long ago and never heard since their original airing, they are now offered as a podcast offering an amazing life view of how the celebrities, who didn’t give interviews like this at that time, viewed marriage and kids, who ran the household. Amazing! Then Lucie Arnaz realized she could take the questions asked by using her Mom’s voice) and pose them to celebrities of today like Fran Drescher, Ron Howard, Rosie O’Donnell and so many more.
In addition, Lucie talks about a brand new biography movie in the works by Ron Howard and directed by Amy Poehler, and the new much-awaited Aaron Sorkin movie project starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem called “Being the Ricardos.”
Yes, seventy years after the premier of I Love Lucy, the world continues to love her and can’t get enough of new projects. PLUS, Lucie answers personal questions like what life lessons she took, and did NOT take, from her parents’ lives, and addresses the reports that at the end of her life, Lucy feared she was not the loved television icon she had always been. The answer might surprise you.
The “Let’s Talk with Lucy” radio shows can be heard as a podcast and downloaded, wherever you listen to podcasts. If you are a Lucy fan, then this Lucie interview is not to be missed.
Movie Review: “Being the Ricardos”
If you are a fan of Lucille Ball, and/or I Love Lucy (and who isn’t?), and you know a lot about them (as I do), then this movie adds a depth of emotion and impact to what you’ve read that will fascinate you. If you are somehow new to Lucy, then Aaron Sorkin’s new screenplay will fascinate you as it presents one week in the life of filming of I Love Lucy. Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “Trial of Chicago Seven” Broadway’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”) is an amazing writer who knows how to keep viewers riveted. So you need to know that everything he presents as happening over a one week period, did NOT happen in the course of one week in the lives of Lucy and Desi. But he uses events from other times to help us understand the real Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. They were NOT Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and yet they understood that millions of people believed them to be the wacky characters they played in the show.
This film teaches us that Lucy and Desi were complex humans, with faults and frailties who made some bad calls in life, just like everyone else. But the love story that unfolds in this film is indeed the love story that Lucy and Desi lived throughout their entire lives. Desi cheated? Yes. Lucy divorced him? Yes. They both got re-married to others? Yes. But, did they stay deeply in love until their dying breaths? Absolutely yes.
The storyline regarding Sen Joe McCarthy’s committee accusing Lucille Ball of being a communist actually happened and could have destroyed both her and Desi’s careers. Sorkin shares the truth of how they challenged the accusations. Lucy’s efforts to keep Desi at home and away from other women by trying to make him an Executive Producer of the show handled by Producer and Head Writer Jess Oppenheimer by explaining to Desi that he was actually the star of the show because it was called “I Love Lucy..” and after all, who was the “I?” Why Desi of course! Lucy didn’t buy it. This and many more truths from their lives and from these times get weaved in thru the course of the movie. Even Lucy’s real-life pregnancy and how it was handled (showing pregnant woman on TV at that time was forbidden), is incorporated into this “one week.” No one could survive all that Sorkin puts into the one week, but it’s ok, Lucy and Desi didn’t have to in real life either.
In fairness, Lucie Arnaz (real-life daughter of Lucy and Desi) told me in an interview that there are some events depicted in the film that did not happen, but she forgave those moments because of their dramatic necessity to the film. Lucie gave her blessing to the casting and to the film, which was good enough for me. (**You can hear my extended interview with Lucie Arnaz on my “Paul Lisnek Behind the Curtain” podcast on WGNRADIO.com or anywhere you listen to your podcasts).
The supporting players of I Love Lucy, Fred Mertz (played here masterfully by J.K. Simmons) and Ethel Mertz (finely portrayed by Nina Arianda) are weaved in beautifully so we also get a sense of who the real Bill Frawley ( who was an alcoholic) and Vivian Vance (always fighting a weight battle) were which is an important part of understanding the endless love people continue to have for I Love Lucy now some 70 years after it premiered.
Nicole Kidman embodies Lucille Ball with perfection. In the run up to the making of this movie, fans screamed that they wanted Debra Messing and were angry Kidman was cast. The fans were entirely wrong. Messing would have made a fabulous Lucy Ricardo. But this movie is not about the fictional character of wacky Lucy. It’s about the real and complex life and ambition of Lucille Ball. Through the course of the movie, Kidman becomes Lucille in looks, attitude and depth. Javier Bardem does justice to Desi Arnaz, exchanging his own Spanish accent for Desi’s Cuban sound and does so flawlessly. And yes, that is Javier actually playing the Conga drum in the film.
This movie captures the real Lucy and Desi incredibly well and we learn as much as anyone can expect over a two hour and eleven minute film. The movie is fabulous. Lucy fans will likely see it over and over again, and fortunately since it starts streaming on Amazon Prime beginning December 21st, we can ido just that! And I anticipate that with each viewing, we will pick up additional nuances each and every time.
Review: ****/4 it’s a MUST see!