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, August 4

Modern Family - "Finale Part 1" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
In part 1 of the series finale, Mitchell and Cam settle in on their new normal, and Phil and Claire decide that one of the kids needs to move out in order to take control of the house again. Meanwhile, as Gloria becomes more successful at work, she notices Jay, Manny and Joe don’t seem to need her as much.

Modern Family - "Finale Part 2" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
In part 2 of the series finale, the entire family discovers saying goodbye is much harder than it seems.

black-ish - "You Don't Know Jack" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Jack joins the robotics club and Dre worries it might be a detrimental failure for him after already being cut from the basketball team. Ruby embellishes a story for Diane’s school project.

mixed-ish - "Doctor! Doctor!" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Rainbow’s friend Rebecca gets mono (“the kissing disease”), and after helping her out, she becomes interested in the medical field. Alicia fibs to Paul about getting a flu shot, and when Denise gets sick, their distrust of the medical community comes to light. Meanwhile, Johan and Santamonica go to live with Harrison while Denise is sick and start to enjoy his lavish lifestyle.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 3)

Tuesday, August 4

  • Billy Eichner (Friends from College/Difficult People/Parks and Recreation) - Billy guest hosts a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Stephanie is a guest on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Joel McHale (Community/The Great Indoors) - Joel appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Sean Hayes (Will & Grace/The Millers/Sean Saves the World) - Sean is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. He will also be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • J. B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm/The Millers/Bent/'Til Death) - J. B. appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Son of Zorn/Suburgatory) - Cheryl is a guest on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Olivia Holt (I Didn't Do It/Kickin' It) - Olivia appears on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Tisha Campbell (Dr. Ken/Rita Rocks/My Wife and Kids/Martin) - Tisha guest co-hosts a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Jeff Foxworthy (The Jeff Foxworthy Show) - Jeff is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings. He also talks about What It's Worth on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on People Now at 1pm.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace talks about Fuller House on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis (Anything But Love/Operation Petticoat) - Jamie Lee will be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 9am hour.


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

Step by Step - The Complete Seventh and Final Season The Good Place - The Final (Fourth) Season Head of the Class - The Complete First Season Modern Family - The Eleventh and Final Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Seven

04/07 - Cheers - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
04/14 - Police Squad! - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
04/14 - The Righteous Gemstones - The Complete First Season
04/21 - Step by Step - The Complete Seventh and Final Season (WBShop.com)
05/05 - Kidding - Season 2
05/19 - The Good Place - The Final (Fourth) Season
05/19 - The Good Place - The Complete Series - Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)
05/26 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Sixth and Final Season
05/26 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Series
06/02 - Work in Progress - Season 1
06/09 - Head of the Class - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
06/09 - How to Be a Gentleman - The Complete Series
06/09 - Letterkenny - Seasons 3 & 4
06/09 - Modern Family - The Eleventh and Final Season
06/09 - No Activity - Season 1
06/09 - Superior Donuts - Season Two
06/23 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 10th Season
06/23 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Sixth and Final Season
06/23 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Seventh Season
06/23 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Third Season (Blu-ray)
06/30 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Seven
07/07 - Will & Grace - The Revival - Season Three - The Farewell Season
07/21 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Tenth Season
07/21 - The Unicorn - Season One
08/11 - Final Space - The First and Second Seasons (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

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07/30 - Netflix Acquires Black Sitcoms from 1990s and 2000s; A 4 Sitcom Crossover Event Coming Soon to Netflix
07/29 - The 72nd Emmy Awards Nominations; Live with Kelly and Ryan Pays Tribute to Regis
07/28 - Freeform's Love in the Time of Corona Gets Premiere Date; ABC Remembers Regis with Primetime Special Tonight (July 28)
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07/23 - Fox Announces Fall 2020 Premiere Date for Animated Comedies; Syfy Acquires John Cena & Kat Dennings Animated Comedy
07/22 - HBO Orders Bridget Everett Comedy Series; Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Cast to Reunite on YouTube
07/21 - Happy Endings Cast Reunite, See Episode Here; Jake Johnson Shooting Hoops on Netflix
07/20 - Netflix Is About to Get Even with Comedy; ABC's United We Fall Gets Encore
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07/18 - SitcomsOnline Digest: NBC Affiliates Refuse to Air 30 Rock: A One Time Special; Golden Girls House For Sale
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07/16 - Hallmark Channel Announces Renewals and Slate for 2021; Michael Che Coming to HBO Max for Improv Series
07/15 - ABC Names Tyra Banks as New Dancing with the Stars Host; CBS Fall 2020 Schedule Change for Wednesdays
07/14 - Emily in Paris Moves to Netflix; Ravi Patel's HBO Max Comedy Docuseries Premieres Aug. 27
07/13 - Get Woke on Hulu with New Comedy; Trailer for Tig n' Seek Released by HBO Max
07/12 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 13, 2020)
07/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fox Renews The Moodys for Second Season; NBC Preparing to Put Peacock Into Flight
07/10 - Fri-Yay: Never Have I Ever, Netflix's Best Sitcom; Ramy Gets Season 3 on Hulu
07/09 - NBC Reviving Weakest Link; truTV's I'm Sorry Gets Charitable
07/08 - HBO Max Orders Series Based on Hair Love; Comedy Central Inks Deal with John Mulaney
07/07 - Dead to Me Picked Up for Final Season on Netflix; CBS All Access Orders Star Trek Animated Comedy
07/06 - ABC to Rebroadcast Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times Episodes on Tuesday (July 7); Anthony Anderson and Billy Eichner to Guest Host ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! This Week
07/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 6, 2020)
07/04 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Amazon Gets Streaming Rights to Mad Men; Too Close for Comfort on Pluto TV