Today marks the first day of the 2014 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown, NY! The festival, which is designed to showcase the best in the comedy biz, will feature acts such as Lucie Arnaz, Jay Leno, and Tom Cotter. James Sheridan, author of the Lucille Ball FAQ will also be there to sign copies and to give his expert opinion on America’s favorite redhead. Below, James tells us a bit about the history of the festival and what to expect. We hope you all have your tickets!
On August 6, 1911, Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, New York. On August 6, 2014, the annual Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy will commence in Jamestown, New York. Lucille Ball spent her formative years in Jamestown and this was evident in her work. Her long running sitcom characters Lucy Ricardo, Lucy Carmichael, and Lucy Carter all hailed from Jamestown and there were many references to the city, its surroundings, and its inhabitants throughout the years. For instance, nearly every woman in Lucy Ricardo’s women’s club on I Love Lucy was named after a citizen of Jamestown who Lucy knew in her youth. Since Lucille Ball was described as Jamestown’s greatest export, it was only natural they would honor her in some way.
In the late 1980s, the city approached Lucy about hosting a festival for new comedy in her honor. Lucy loved the idea of promoting rising young comedians, but passed away one month before she was scheduled to attend the first such event in May of 1989. The festival officially launched in two years later with Lucy’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, as guest of honor. The festival expanded, but with the opening of the Lucy – Desi Museum in 1996, its focus became more about Lucy and less on comedy. In the past few of years, the event has struck a happy medium by going back to the original idea of promoting comedy that pleased Lucy so much, but with enough Lucy themed events to enthrall the hundreds of fans who attend every year. A Comedy Hall of Fame is currently in the planning stages.
This year’s festival will feature Lucie Arnaz, Jay Leno, Caroline Rhea, and America’s Got Talent finalist Tom Cotter. I will be on hand to sign copies of Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America’s Favorite Redhead. Events will include a Lucille Ball fashion show hosted by costume designer Ret Turner, an I Love Lucy trivia contest, a masquerade ball, and various screenings of Lucy programs. Hundreds of fans from all over the world are expected for the five days of events, which is sure to be a laugh riot.
Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Today, we have a special treat for you. If you missed Ian Rusten’s book signing in Brooklyn, you can listen to the entire event, including the talk, the reading, and the Q&A right on our podcast!
The Beach Boys in Concert by Ian Rusten and Jon Stebbins is an exhilarating day-by-day journey through the triumphs and tribulations of one of rock’s most legendary acts. More than ten years of exhaustive research has produced an unprecedented window into the Beach Boys’ thrilling successes, personal tragedies, inter-band dramas, and globe-trotting, rock-and-roll adventures from 1961 to 2012.
Oct. 9, 8 a.m.
14th Street Y
344 East 14th Street, NYC
Oct. 10, 7 p.m.
Three Lives & Company Bookstore
154 W. 10th Street, NYC
250 West 40th Street, NYC
Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m.
208 W. 13th Street, NYC
Oct. 21, 3 p.m.
Hudson Valley Community Center
300 Wall Street
Oct. 22, 7 p.m.
313 New York Avenue
Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m.
179 Maplewood Avenue
Nov. 9, 7 p.m.
828 Broadway, NYC
Fortune in My Eyes: A Memoir of Broadway Glamour, Social Justice, and Political Passion by David Rothenberg (Applause Books)
David Rothenberg’s multilayered life thrust him into Broadway’s brightest lights, prison riots, political campaigns, civil rights sit-ins, and a Central American civil war. In his memoir, Fortune in My Eyes, his journey includes many of the most celebrated names in the theater: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Sir John Gielgud, Charles Boyer, Peggy Lee, Eartha Kitt, Charles Laughton, Alvin Ailey, and numerous others. David produced an Off-Broadway prison drama, Fortune and Men’s Eyes, which reshaped his life. John Herbert’s chilling play led directly to the creation of the Fortune Society, which has evolved into one of the nation’s most formidable advocacy and service organizations in criminal justice. David was Elizabeth Taylor’s opening night date at the Richard Burton Hamlet – a distant cry from his entering Attica prison during that institution’s famed inmate uprising…just two of the experiences revealed in this memoir. As a theater publicist and producer – and as a social activist – he shares experiences with presidents (JFK and Bill Clinton) and with anonymous men and women, out of prison, who have fought to reclaim their lives. The human drama of the formerly incarcerated is a match for many of the entertainment world’s most fabled characters.
Guest Blogger: Susan Masino is the author of Family Tradition: Three Generations of Hank Williams (Backbeat Books)
Read an excerpt of the book
Listen to interview with Susan Masino at Book Expo America 2011
Little did I imagine that when I flew to Nashville back in July of 2009 to do research for my book, Family Tradition-Three Generations of Hank Williams, that I would be returning two years later to do a book signing at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. When I visited there in 2009, I was overwhelmed by all the amazing items that the Family Tradition Exhibit had on display. Featured were personal items of Hank Sr.’s including several of his stage costumes, his Bible, and the simple leather suitcase that was in the backseat of the car with him on the night he died. There were also dozens of personal items belonging to Audrey Williams, Hank Jr. and Hank III.
When my book was released in May 2011, I went to the BookExpo in New York City to do a book signing and several interviews. During my interview on NPR News, I was joined over the phone by Michael McCall, the curator of the Family Tradition Exhibit. During our interview, he was so impressed with my knowledge of Hank Sr., that he invited me to come to Nashville to do a book signing at the Country Music Hall of Fame.