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

Sunday, September 15

The Simpsons - "Woo-Hoo Dunnit" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Lisa's college fund goes missing, the documentary crime series "Deadline Springfield" goes in-depth to solve the case.

Family Guy - "Girl, Internetted" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Meg suddenly becomes internet famous, she and an excited Peter work together to build her following; Brian and Stewie revel in a new ride while Brian's car gets repaired.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 9)

Sunday, September 15

  • Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP/Scream Queens) - Catch Keke on Watch What Happens: Live at 10pm and repeated at 11pm on Bravo.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (July/August/September)

Life in Pieces - The Complete Fourth Season The Good Place - The Complete Third Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season

07/08 - Man with a Plan - Season Two
07/09 - Broad City - Season 5
07/09 - Broad City - The Complete Series
07/09 - Life in Pieces - The Complete Fourth Season
07/09 - Speechless - The Complete Third Season
07/16 - Eight Is Enough - The Complete First Season
07/17 - The Practice (1976) - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
07/23 - Brockmire - The Complete First Season
07/23 - What I Like About You - The Complete First Season
07/30 - The Good Place - The Complete Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Fourth Season
08/13 - I Love Lucy - Colorized Collection
08/13 - Leave it to Beaver - Seasons One and Two
08/20 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six
08/27 - Baskets - The Complete Season Four
08/27 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Thirteenth Season
09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

09/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Party of Five Reboot Coming in January; Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey to Reunite for Office Ladies Podcast
09/13 - Fri-Yay: We're Up Schitt's Creek; Comedy Central Renews South Park for 3 More Seasons
09/12 - Antenna TV Acquires That Girl for January and Perhaps More; Disney Just Rolls With It Once Again
09/11 - HBO Gets 2nd Season of McBride and Goodman Comedy; HGTV and Bradys Go Digital
09/10 - Katey Sagal Joins The Conners; CBS All Access Comedy No Activity Gets Guests for Season 3
09/09 - Kevin James Gets Sitcom for Netflix; Grace and Frankie Gets Final Season
09/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 9, 2019)
09/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Detour and Grace and Frankie Coming to an End; Decades Celebrates Bob Newhart's 90th Birthday
09/06 - Fri-Yay: Fall Sitcom Slate Check-In: Fox; Mad About You Gets November 20 Premiere Date
09/05 - MeTV Celebrates The Brady Bunch's 50th Anniversary; TBS Honors Friends 25th Anniversary
09/04 - Freeform to Premiere First Thanksgiving Movie; E! News Sets NY Fashion Week Lineup
09/03 - Remembering TV Legend Valerie Harper, TV Tributes Scheduled; ABC Shifts Reef Break Finale to Friday, Sept. 13
09/02 - TV Marathons on Labor Day 2019
09/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 2, 2019)
08/31 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Valerie Harper Dies at Age 80; Special Discount on Disney+ Streaming Service for Early Subscribers
08/30 - Fri-Yay: Fall Sitcom Slate Check-In: NBC; Freeform's 31 Nights of Halloween 2019 Schedule
08/29 - Comedy Central Goes Back to the South Side; HBO Orders More Black Lady Sketch Show
08/28 - Pop TV's Hot Date Returns for Season 2; Liza on Demand Premieres Second Season in September
08/27 - CBS Fall 2019 Preview Special Airs Sept. 9; Walmart's Vudu to Launch First Series - Mr. Mom
08/26 - Lifetime Announces Full Holiday Slate; The Paley Center Salutes The Good Place on NBC
08/25 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 26, 2019)
08/24 - SitcomsOnline Digest: NBC Developing Serendipity Series; Designing Women Making Streaming Media Debut
08/23 - Fri-Yay: Fall Sitcom Slate Check-In: ABC; Antenna TV Acquires The Facts of Life, Diff'rent Strokes, Who's the Boss? and More
08/22 - Dancing with the Stars Cast for Season 28; Lilly Singh Gets NBC Primetime Special
08/21 - Decades Celebrates Bob Newhart's 90th Birthday with Big Marathon; Wanda Sykes & Mike Epps Get Netflix Sitcom
08/20 - James Corden Gets Extended by CBS; Freeform's Halloween House Returns for 31 Nights of Halloween
08/19 - Silicon Valley Returns for Final Season; Netflix Gears Up for Elvis Animated Comedy
08/18 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of August 19, 2019)
08/17 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Paley Center to Honor TV Legends; NBC Developing St. Elmo's Fire TV Series
08/16 - Fri-Yay: Fall Sitcom Slate Check-In: CBS; E! Gets Reality Sitcom Meet the Frasers
08/15 - Comedy Central Gets Phoebe Robinson Series; Crank Yankers Returns for 5th Season
08/14 - Fox to Air Holiday Comedy Series; CBS and Viacom to Combine