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, January 28

The Conners - "Mud Turtles, A Good Steak and One Man in a Tub" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Becky thinks that Jackie’s new friend Dawn (guest star Cheryl Hines), a restaurant supplier, is only cozying up to her to sell them things they can’t afford for the Lunch Box. Darlene is thrilled when Harris gets into Central Illinois State, but Harris might have found a better offer on her own. When Dan finds himself in an embarrassing situation nursing an injury, Louise (Katey Sagal) tries to help him out.

Bless This Mess - "The Letter of the Law" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Rio is bummed she can’t afford to go to Iceland for her best friend’s wedding, so the nuptials are moved and brought to the farm. Meanwhile, Rio is forced to take on Deb’s mail route after she quits, and Mike and Jacob help Rudy get over Constance.

mixed-ish - "True Colors" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Paul is shocked to hear from his estranged mother who wants to visit for Rainbow’s 13th birthday and soon learns more about why she abandoned him. Meanwhile, Rainbow sees turning 13 as a huge turning point in her life and wants a big birthday party, but Alicia wants to celebrate all the things Rainbow missed out on over the years while on the commune.

black-ish - "Adventure to Ventura" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Dre worries Diane and Jack don’t know how to fend for themselves and sends them out on an adventure, only to realize it’s his overbearing worries that hold the twins back. Meanwhile, Junior gets into a tricky situation at work when he befriends Josh in hopes of scoring a positive peer review.

Schitt's Creek - "Maid of Honour" (Pop, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Moira shares the newly released "Crows" movie trailer with the Jazzagals; Johnny and Roland find a suspicious bag of money at the new motel.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 27)

Tuesday, January 28

  • Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) - Catch Ben on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) - William drops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch/Two and a Half Men/That '70s Show) - Ashton visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ilana Glazer (Broad City) - Ilana is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Tony Rock (Living Biblically/All of Us) - Tony is a panelist on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Bless the Harts/Silicon Valley) - Kumail stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Aidy Bryant (Shrill) - Aidy appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 10pm on Bravo.
  • Miles Brown (black-ish) - Miles is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris talks about Fox's The Resident on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Wendie Malick (Hot in Cleveland/Hot in Cleveland/Jake in Progress/Just Shoot Me!) - Wendie talks about Disney Channel's The Owl House on a repeat of Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Life) - Nia talks about Poisoned Love on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Bill Pullman (1600 Penn) - Bill talks about The Sinner on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on the BUILD Series at 12:15pm.
  • Janeane Garofalo (The Larry Sanders Show) and Grant Rosenmeyer (Oliver Beene) - Janeane and Grant are guests on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One

11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
11/18 - The Guest Book - Season Two
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) (Blu-ray)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
12/03 - The Simpsons - The Nineteenth Season
12/03 - The Simpsons - Seasons 1-20: Limited Collector's Set
12/06 - 9JKL - The Complete Series
12/10 - Family Guy - Season Seventeen
12/17 - Atlanta - Season 2 - Robbin' Season
12/17 - Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season
12/17 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (2019 Release)
12/17 - The Other Two - Season 1
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume Two
01/14 - Veep - The Final (Seventh) Season ((Blu-ray)
01/14 - Veep - The Complete Series (DVD)
01/21 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Third Season (WBShop.com)
01/21 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Series
01/28 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (DVD)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

01/27 - New Punk'd Gets Host; Comedic Game Show Renewed Through 2023
01/26 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 27, 2020)
01/25 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Pilot Season in Full Swing; Katey Sagal to Play Role Inspired by Erin Brockovich in ABC Drama Pilot
01/24 - Fri-Yay: Sitcom Line-Ups - A Thing of the Past?; Adult Swim Comedy Returns Feb. 23
01/23 - The Conners Celebrate Grand Opening of Lanford Lunch Box with Contest; Lifetime Celebrates 30 Years of Original Movies
01/22 - HBO Max Gets Animated with Royals Comedy; Netflix Announces Premiere Date for Sophia Lillis Comedy
01/21 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Hulu - a Comedy with Steve Martin and Martin Short, the Renewal of Dollface
01/20 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: More Cable; 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® Winners
01/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 20, 2020)
01/18 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Punky Brewster Reboot Officially a Go; Freeform Renews Pair of Series
01/17 - Fri-Yay: Sitcoms in 2020; Peacock Streaming Services Programming Update
01/16 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Cable Day 2 - American Dad! 2 Season Renewal, Tacoma FD Season 2 Premiere Date
01/15 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Cable Day 1 - Comedy Central, Amazon, Paramount Network and More!
01/14 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Showtime and Pop; Will Smith & Martin Lawrence Talk Hit Sitcoms
01/13 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: NBC and CBS Includes The Rock Comedy at NBC and The Price Is Right at Night on CBS
01/12 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 13, 2020)
01/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saved by the Bell Reboot Gets More of Original Cast; ABC Expanding Game Show Empire
01/10 - Fri-Yay: Top Sitcoms of the Decade, Part 2; PIX11 Celebrates 45th Anniversaries of The Jeffersons and Barney Miller
01/09 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: ABC Includes Modern Family Finale, The Conners Live and Return of Millionaire
01/08 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Fox; 13 Series Renewed for 2020-21 on The CW
01/07 - E! News Gets 3rd Host for Midday Show; Freeform Schedules Valentine's Day Comedy TV Movie
01/06 - 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards Winners; Fox Animated Comedies to Air After NFL Divisional Playoff
01/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 6, 2020)
01/04 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Netflix Loses Streaming Rights to Friends; Networks Prepare for Midseason
01/03 - Fri-Yay: Top Sitcoms of the Decade, Part 1; Modern Family Heads to Paris for Episode
01/02 - Fox Orders New Animated Comedy; Netflix Leslie Jones Comedy Special Premieres Jan. 14
01/01 - Happy New Year! Binge on Merry Happy Whatever, A New Holiday Sitcom
12/31 - New Year's Eve 2019 and New Year's Day 2020 TV Marathons
12/30 - In Memoriam: Remembering the Sitcom Stars We Lost in 2019
12/29 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 30, 2019)
12/28 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The On-Going Feud Between Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy; Writer of Friends Theme Song Dies
12/27 - Freeform January 2020 Schedule with The Simpsons, Superstore, Family Guy; WarnerMedia and Xandr Upfront Now Combined in 2020