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Thursday, October 15, 2015

I Love Lucy Premiers ► Throwback Thursday

On this date in 1951 "I Love Lucy" premiered on the CBS network. Although it went off the air in 1957, it has run virtually non-stop in syndication ever since.

One of the reasons we have all those episodes of "I Love Lucy" is because, unlike other sitcoms of the era, it was shot on 35mm film in front of a live studio audience, and edited into a half hour show for airing. It's ground-breaking technique was eventually copied by all sitcoms, right down to having a live studio audience, as opposed to a canned laugh track. 

According to the WikiWackyWoo
Another component to filming the show came when it was decided to use three 35 mm film cameras to simultaneously film the show. The idea had been pioneered by Ralph Edwards on the game show Truth or Consequences, and had subsequently been used on Amos 'n' Andy as a way to save money, though Amos n' Andy did not use an audience. Edwards's assistant Al Simon was hired by Desilu to help perfect the new technique for the series. The process lent itself to the Lucy production as it eliminated the problem of requiring an audience to view and react to a scene three or four times in order for all necessary shots to be filmed. Multiple cameras would also allow scenes to be performed in sequence, as a play would be, which was unusual at the time for filmed series. Retakes were rare and dialogue mistakes were often played off for the sake of continuity.
However, if I Love Lucy didn't feature the incomparable slapstick comedy of Lucille Ball, no amount of film would have saved it.

The Internet Movie Data Base tells us:
She entered a dramatic school in New York City, but while her classmate Bette Davis received all the raves, she was sent home; "too shy". She found some work modeling for Hattie Carnegie's and, in 1933, she was chosen to be a "Goldwyn Girl" and appear in the film Roman Scandals (1933).

She was put under contract to RKO Radio Pictures and several small roles, including one in Top Hat (1935), followed. Eventually, she received starring roles in B-pictures and, occasionally, a good role in an A-picture, like in Stage Door (1937) or The Big Street (1942). While filming Too Many Girls (1940), she met and fell madly in love with a young Cuban actor-musician named Desi Arnaz. Despite different personalities, lifestyles, religions and ages (he was six years younger), he fell hard, too, and after a passionate romance, they eloped and were married in November 1940. Lucy soon switched to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where she got better roles in films such as Du Barry Was a Lady (1943); Best Foot Forward (1943) and the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy vehicle Without Love (1945). In 1948, she took a starring role in the radio comedy "My Favorite Husband", in which she played the scatterbrained wife of a Midwestern banker. In 1950, CBS came knocking with the offer of turning it into a television series. After convincing the network brass to let Desi play her husband and to sign over the rights to and creative control over the series to them, work began on the most popular and universally beloved sitcom of all time.
Laugh all over again at these famous clips, all involving food:

Join the I Love Lucy facebookery HERE.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Paul Is Dead ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Forty-six years ago today occurred one of the craziest events in the annals of Rock and Roll Music History, in which I played a minor role. Here's how it all came about

According to The Music History Calendar:
1969 : Russ Gibb, a DJ at WKNR in Detroit, takes a call from a listener who tells him that if you play The Beatles song "Revolution 9" backwards, a voice says, "Turn me on, dead man." Gibb plays the record in reverse on the air, and the phone lines light up with astonished listeners offering more clues as to why Paul McCartney might be dead. For about a week, Gibb entertains a stream of rumors on the show, as ratings explode and the story goes national. Other clues include a voice at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever" that says "I Buried Paul" (actually John Lennon saying "Cranberry Sauce") and the cover of the Sgt. Pepper album, where Paul is wearing an armband that says "OPD" - "Officially Pronounced Dead."
This Day In Music erroneously writes about this event:
1969, A DJ on Detroit's WKNR radio station received a phone call telling him that if you play The Beatles 'Strawberry Fields Forever' backwards, you hear John Lennon say the words "I buried Paul." This started a worldwide rumour that Paul McCartney was dead.
What does this have to do with your humble correspondent? According to Paul is dead?!?, "introduced and explicated by saki" on the old USENET group rec.music.beatles:
Another source for clues invention was a popular radio show hosted by disc-jockey Russell Gibb of WKNR-FM in Detroit was a vital element in the spread of the hoax. A regular r.m.b. reader, Headly Westerfield, who was not only a friend of Gibb but was present in-studio that afternoon (12 October 1969), recalls reading an "underground newspaper" (it may have been one of the the college papers then carrying the "clues", similar to the ones Dartanyan Brown remembers seeing) with a list of "Paul Is Dead" clues.

Gibb and cohorts were sufficiently inspired to read them on the air and to improvise new ones on the spot. Listeners to the show even recall someone calling up Gibb to report that if you played "Revolution No. 9" backward, you'd hear a secret message. (Note: radio-show collectors used to offer an aircheck of this show or a followup show for trade! Anyone have a copy?)

Within days, Gibb & Co. were astonished when newspapers and reporters took their on-air joke seriously and spread the tale more widely. Some clues which have become part of established folklore, Westerfield reports, were invented that obscure day at WKNR-FM, but have since been accepted as part of the original hoax. Gibb and friends were not the source of the hoax, he emphasizes, but played a part in its initial wider dissemination. 
TommyGarcia2's YouTubery has a 2 part exposé on the Paul Is Dead rumour:

When this rumour broke wide I was shocked and ashamed. From just goofing around in a radio studio, to it becoming a worldwide sensation, freaked me out. I was just 17 years old and unsophisticated in the ways of the world. I was worried that somehow this would all blow back on me in a horrible way. Therefore, I didn't mention my involvement to anyone for about 20 years. Then I allowed myself to be interview by saki, who got word of my involvement from a mutual friend.

When I saw what was finally printed, I went underground for another 20 years. Recently I told the whole, deeper story to my nephew Adam, one of the subjects of my blog post My Days With John Sinclair. He suggested I just live with it, in essence echoing the advice at the end of the wonderful 1962 John Wayne/James Stewart/Lee Marvin Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:
Ransom Stoddard: You're not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
I'll let Sir Paul, with a little help from his friends, have the last word: