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1 item from 2003


30 April 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

8-11 p.m.

Sunday, May 4

Like the popular computer game at the "I Love Lucy" exhibition at Universal Studios Hollywood, this respectful biopic takes you on a scenic tour but leaves you with only a little more information and not much more insight than when you started.

From executive producers Craig Zadan, Neil Meron and Glenn Jordan (who also directs), CBS' longish three-hour "Lucy" tracks the career of Lucille Ball from her mildly rebellious teenage years in upstate New York to the bitter end of "I Love Lucy" and her rocky marriage to Desi Arnaz in 1960. (The series actually ended in 1957, followed by two years of occasional hourlong specials, but these details, like many others, are fairly murky here.)

For viewers who know the legendary comedienne mostly from "I Love Lucy" and subsequent lesser TV efforts, the movie offers a look into her early career as a star of B-movies and, for a time, her own radio show. It duly notes her transition to comedy and the way her series influenced TV comedy. For those looking to get an idea about what made Lucy run, the dynamics of her tempestuous relations with Desi, her comedic insight and her larger-than-life persona, the script from Katie Ford and T.S. Cook offers only the barest of hints.

Meanwhile, perspective is slanted to favor Ball from start to finish. More time is spent showing how she was a favorite with production crews than exploring the more meaningful and fractured relationships with co-stars Vivian Vance and Bill Frawley. Over and over, we are shown Arnaz as a cad who justifies his philandering as a family birthright, as if there is nothing more to be said by either side. Also not particularly satisfying are the explanations of Ball's stalled movie career, handled here in a couple of brief conference room scenes in which comments are heard as the camera focuses on anonymous hands passing her head shot from one person to the next.

Rachel York has the unenviable task of portraying the well-known Ball. She does a credible job with expressions and mannerisms, but the dialogue proves to be a tougher sell. On the other hand, Danny Pino, who plays Arnaz, sounds like the Cuban bandleader but doesn't quite look the part. And neither of them ages sufficiently over the decades covered in the film. Supporting parts, such as the mothers of Ball and Arnaz, are drawn in one dimension and practically melt into the background.

Not only is director Jordan hamstrung by the material, but he also appears forced to overemphasize interior and close shots so as not to betray the actual shooting locale in Auckland, New Zealand.



Storyline Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television


Executive producers: Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Glenn Jordan

Co-executive producer: Jacobus Rose

Producer: Dave Mace

Director: Glenn Jordan

Writers: Katie Ford, TS Cook

Director of photography: James Bartle

Production designer: Michael Ralph

Editor: David Simmons

Music: Bruce Boughton

Costume designer: Lesley Burkes-Harding

Casting: Terri De'Ath, Suzie Maizels, Linda Lowy


Lucille Ball: Rachel York

Desi Arnaz: Danny Pino

Harriett: La Chanze Sapp-Gooding

Dede: Ann Dowd

Teenage Lucy: Madeline Zima

Vivian Vance: Rebecca Hobbs

Grandpa Fred: Merv Smith

Bill Frawley: Russell Newman

Carole Lombard: Vanessa Gray

Ed Sedgwick: Ray Woolf »

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