This is a great bit of casting. Cate Blanchett is to take on the role of Lucille Ball in a biopic from The Social Network, West Wing and Newsroom scribe Aaron Sorkin. The film is being produced by Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr, Lucy’s children, and will follow her career and marriage to her I Love Lucy co-star Desi Arnaz.
For those of you of a certain age who are going ‘Lucille who?’, it’s time for a small geek history lesson… gather around…
Lucille Ball was a comedic actress probably best know for her 1950’s tv show ‘I Love Lucy’. However, she was way more than just some famous tv actress… She was a trailblazing legend, and geeks everywhere should be aware, she is a far more important figure than they may realise…
Firstly, with her husband Desi Arnaz, she formed Desilu Productions (which is now part of the Paramount Studio’s in LA). This led to her becoming the first woman to run a Hollywood Studio. The press used to give her a lot of stick about her spending all her time at the studio and not being at home looking after her kids like a ‘good wife’ should… The fact the kids were perfectly happy and with her at the studio a lot of the time seemed to have escaped them… Lucy’s solution? Have an area built right outside her offices to look exactly like her garden at home. That way they could have photo shoots in here ‘garden’ of her happily play with her family without ever leaving the lot! It worked. Stories went from being about her being a ‘terrible wife/mother’ to ‘Amazing! How does she find the time?!’
She also looked after her staff. When a female assistant of hers came to her saying she unfortunately would have to give up work as she was pregnant, Lucy responded by becoming the first studio to set up on-site daycare for her staff. A facility which is still there on the Paramount Studio Lot today.
Lucy and Desi eventually divorced, mainly due to his womanising. You see that photo to the right? That’s Desi’s dressing room. You notice there appears to be some cement marks around the door frame? The cement is not from repair work… That’s from when Lucy, sick of seeing a stream of young starlets parade in and out of there, asked for the divorce then cemented his door shut forcing Desi to climb through the windows to get his stuff back. She was, I think you’ll agree, completely awesome. ;)
Whilst Lucy was in head of the studio, they commisioned a number of shows who’s names you’ll probably still recognise today – Mission Impossible, The Untouchables, I Spy and Hogan’s Heroes to name but a few. And that geek fact? You know what was one of show’s that was commissioned whilst she was in charge? Star Trek.
Lucy’s story has been made into a couple of tv movies in the past, but this will be the first time it’s been developed properly for cinema. With Aaron Sorkin behind it, I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes.