Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sitcom Book Review: Close-ups: Conversations with Our TV Favorites By Eddie Lucas

Today instead of a mini-DVD review we have a book review! We have done a few book reviews in the past such as a review of the Desperate Housewives cookbook, Jim Belushi's book, and a book on the Sitcoms of Norman Lear. Man we do a lot of types of reviews...DVD reviews (full and minis), book reviews, CD reviews, pilot reviews, and we even did a review of the In2TV system and ABC Full Episode Player system! We were supposed to do this book review some months back, but we never got the book. Now we have it and it seems to have been worth the wait! I think all sitcom fans will like this and should buy it...but let skees53 tell you that in his review:

Close-ups: Conversations with Our TV Favorites by Eddie Lucas (Bear Manor Media, $22.95) gets in-depth and personal with many of our favorite TV stars from the past. The author of the book, Eddie Lucas, gets together with 17 different well-known actors and actresses from classic TV series that we all know and love and interviews them, asking them questions from the obvious to the less obvious, providing us with answers that don't surprise us as well as candid answers that do surprise us.
The book begins with an introduction, telling fans--both casual and die-hards--what the book is all about, and why the author embarked on the project. After that, the book is presented in chapters, 17 of them to be specific, each one featuring a recent interview with 17 different actors and actresses from TV series going back from the 1950s all the way up to the mid 1980s, though the book does have an emphasis on series from the 1950s and 1960s. The actors and actresses included are as follows:

• Alice Ghostley (Bewitched and Designing Women)
• Peter Breck (The Big Valley)
• Elinor Donahue (Father Knows Best and The Andy Griffith Show)
• Lynn Borden (Hazel)
• Ray Fulmer (Hazel)
• Keith Thibodeaux (I Love Lucy)
• Marla Gibbs (The Jeffersons and 227)
• Jon Provost (Lassie)
• Barbara Billingsley (Leave it to Beaver)
• Tony Dow (Leave it to Beaver)
• Dwayne Hickman (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis)
• Peter Lupus (Mission: Impossible)
• Kaye Ballard (The Mothers-In-Law)
• Stanley Livingston (My Three Sons)
• Jon Walmsley (The Waltons)
• Ernest Thomas (What's Happening!! and What's Happening Now!!)
• Haywood Nelson (What's Happening!! and What's Happening Now!!)

Unlike many books about TV and TV stars, this book is not just some author writing a story in his own words, but instead, the book is exactly as it is described in the title: conversations. What appears in the book is verbatim conversations with each one of these stars, with the author asking the questions and the stars giving their own responses in their own words. As you read the book, you can almost hear the stars saying things the way that they are written in the book in their own voices. It makes everything in the book sound more natural and authentic (and it also avoids the pitfalls of paraphrasing, where details all too often get changed into something inaccurate).
When I first received the book, my first thought was "huh, another book about TV, I've heard it all already," but only minutes after getting into the book, I realized that this was by no means just another book. In fact, this is a very different and interesting book that actually gets in-depth with the actors and actresses and tells more personal stories with more details than I've heard in many other places. It is interesting, for example, to read about Barbara Billingsley's life outside of Leave it to Beaver. We learn that before Leave it to Beaver, she was offered a TV pilot in a series where she would have been married to a character played by Buddy Ebsen, and we also get to learn the story about why she wore the high heels and pearls. There actually was a real reason, and it wasn't because the producers believed that a typical housewife WOULD be wearing that. In the interview with Ernest Thomas, we get to learn why Mabel King's character simply disappeared from What's Happening!! and how she felt about the series after her departure. Perhaps one of the most interesting interviews, however, is the one with Alice Ghostley. While her insights on Bewitched are interesting, it is even more interesting to hear her very candid insights on Designing Women, particularly how she felt about the series and the direction that it took in the later seasons. Her story about the "Black Man" song on Designing Women is also very interesting to hear. What is unfortunate, however, is the fact that this was probably among her last interviews ever, if not the last, as the interview was done while she was ill. In fact, the book was officially released just one day before here death in September.
For the many people out there that love books about TV, this book is a must-own book for sure. But for those that just love TV but don't really care to read about it may find themselves interested in this book also. The book is nearly 300 pages, but it is actually very easy to read, and of course, the book doesn't require the reader to read every interview. Readers can pick and choose which ones they are interested in. The material presented in this book is more insightful and interesting than anything you can get off of any tabloid entertainment (such as a TV interview where just the bits and pieces that the producers want you to see are presented), and you actually learn things about the stars that give you a better idea of who they are. This is definitely worth adding to your book collection, even if you haven't started one!

-- Reviewed by skees53
(5/5 stars)

To purchase the Book, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
Official Website of Close-ups: Conversations with Our TV Favorites
Author Eddie Lucas' Blog


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, July 16

Modern Family - "Blasts From the Past" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Phil and Claire decide to take a cycling tour through Italy before they become grandparents, and Dylan (guest star Reid Ewing) introduces them to his mom who has an interesting past. Meanwhile, Cameron and Mitchell discover some interesting reading material in Lily’s room and decide to confront her about it, while Gloria and Jay discover their respective great uncles may have fought on opposing sides of a war.

The Goldbergs - "This Is This Is Spinal Tap" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Dropouts are thrilled when they book a gig at a Flyers charity carnival and Adam uses the opportunity to make his very first rockumentary. Since Barry doesn’t want to miss out on the fun, he forces his way onto the band, despite his sister’s objections. Meanwhile, Beverly’s concerns about Murray’s health push him to the limit.

Modern Family - "A Moving Day" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Claire and Phil aren’t convinced that Haley and Dylan can make it on their own as they move them into their new apartment before the baby arrives. Meanwhile, Pameron gets out of prison early and has a bone to pick with Mitchell.

black-ish - "Good in the 'Hood" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dre’s sister Rhonda takes Jack and Diane to her part of town in a black neighborhood and claims the twins are scared of their own community. Dre and Rhonda take them to a local diner to show them why it’s so special. Meanwhile, Bow becomes the “office mom” at work, and Junior tries to help her break the label.

The Detour - "The Year" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Delilah and Jared reunite and catch up on the past year.

Sydney to the Max - "Nightmare on Syd Street" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Sydney holes up in her bedroom after an embarrassing event at school; after finding old VHS tapes of Max as a kid, Sydney falls asleep and dreams she is in the 1990s.

Sydney to the Max - "Mo' Grandmas, Mo' Problems" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Grandma Maya comes to visit, Sydney loves spending time with her so much that Grandma Judy feels a little left out.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 15)

Tuesday, July 16

  • Fred Savage (What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage/Friends from College/The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Catch Fred on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Dax Shepard (Bless This Mess) - Dax visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • James Marsden (Dead to Me/30 Rock) - James appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan (Tacoma FD) - Steve and Kevin are guests on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Barry/The Good Place/Downward Dog) - Kirby appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Sam Richardson (Champaign ILL/Detroiters/Veep) - Sam is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Joel McHale (Community/The Great Indoors) - Joel chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg/Courting Alex/Accidentally on Purpose/1600 Penn/Growing Up Fisher/Imaginary Mary) - Jenna visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Deon Cole (grown-ish/Angie Tribeca/black-ish) - Deon stops by The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan) - Kathy talks about Kathy Griffin: Hell of a Story on People Now at 12pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (May/June/July)

My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two The Good Place - The Complete Third Season

05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
05/13 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 2
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons (WBShop.com)
05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
07/09 - Broad City - Season 5
07/09 - Broad City - The Complete Series
07/17 - The Practice (1976) - The Complete Series
07/30 - The Good Place - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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