Desi Arnaz’s life will be getting a closer look…
The remarkable personal and professional partnership between the late Cuban actor, musician, bandleader, comedian and film/television producer and his comedian wife Lucille Ball will be highlighted in the documentary feature Lucy & Desi.
Amy Poehler will make her documentary feature directing debut for the Imagine Documentaries and White Horse Pictures project.
It’s the biggest documentary to be fully financed by Imagine Documentaries and the film will benefit from the full cooperation and support of the Ball & Arnaz estate and their family.
Mark Monroe will serve as a writer on the porject.
The film will tell the story of Ball, the groundbreaking comedian who changed the landscape, and possibilities for what funny, ambitious women might achieve in Hollywood.
Research is getting underway on the film, but the estate has supplied previously unseen archival film still photos and writings that will be a guidepost to Lucy’s trailblazing journey as a performer and a smart businesswoman, whose decision to use Desi Lu’s clout to back Gene Roddenberry’s vision is the only reason Star Trek made it on the air and stayed there. He said their insistence on quality production values not possible in early days of television led them to stumble into what is still the format for syndicated television that exists today.
“I am so excited to work with Imagine Docs to help present the incredible life and work
of the brave and hilarious Lucille Ball, and her husband Desi,” said Poehler.
Said Imagine Documentaries president Wilkes: “As television’s long-reigning ‘First Family’, Lucy and Desi blazed a revolutionary trail through the cultural landscape that laid the groundwork for so much of the entertainment industry as we now know it. They created so many television firsts – not only in their portrayal of a multi-ethnic marriage or Lucy’s on-air pregnancy but as the first woman to head a studio and the creators of television syndication. It’s such an incredibly rich, inspiring and entertaining story and we’re honored to bring it to the screen.”
Ball’s childhood was defined by financial and emotional hardship but she was determined to pursue a career in show business. She met future husband Arnaz on the set of the 1940 musical Too Many Girls and in 1951 they used their own money to produce and film the pilot for I Love Lucy, which was then bought by CBS.
During the height of I Love Lucy, two-thirds of the nation tuned in to watch Ball and her husband Arnaz every Monday night. The show was known not only for its broadened view of what comedy could be, but also for tackling subjects many deemed too risqué for broadcast – the most prominent being the marriage of a multi-ethnic couple, and Ball’s real life pregnancy.
Ball’s pregnancy became a story arc in the series, and when Ball went into labor on the show, which aired the same day she gave birth in real life to her second child, Desi Jr, it drew 44 million viewers, 15 million more than President Eisenhower’s inaugural speech from earlier in the day.