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, December 15

The Simpsons - "Bobby: It's Cold Outside" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Sideshow Bob gets contracted as the mall Santa; someone steals all the Christmas packages off people's front porches.

Bless the Harts - "Miracle on Culpepper Slims Boulevard" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Louise invites the Harts and Brenda to her annual Christmas party in lieu of a bonus, the extravagance makes Jenny feel insecure; Betty tries to figure out how to give the family the best Christmas presents on a budget.

Bob's Burgers - "Have Yourself a Maily Linda Christmas" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Linda works a temp job at the post office to make extra money for the holidays; Bob and Tina get trapped at home with Linda's fussy family; Gene and Louise scramble to find the perfect gift for Tina.

Family Guy - "Christmas Is Coming" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Meg has a surprising response after she takes Stewie to the mall to meet Santa; Brian must help Stewie process the experience.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 9)

Friday, December 13

  • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Watch Ana on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Paul Rudd (Living with Yourself/Wild Oats) - Paul appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Danny DeVito (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia/Taxi) - Danny is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin visits The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Craig Bierko (Madman of the People/Pride & Joy/Sydney) - Craig talks about Harry Townsend’s Last Stand on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen (The Brady Bunch) - The Cast of The Brady Bunch talk about HGTV's A Very Brady Holiday on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.


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

Life with Lucy - The Complete Series 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

10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
10/15 - Mom - The Complete Sixth Season
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 1
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 2
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)
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
12/10 - Family Guy - Season Seventeen
12/17 - Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

12/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 16, 2019)
12/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: HBO Max Developing Comedy Series Based Upon Vacation Films; Beverly Hillbillies Mansion Sells for $150 Million
12/13 - Fri-Yay: Hope for Sitcoms of the 2020s; Good Times Cast Announced for Next Live in Front of a Studio Audience
12/12 - All in the Family Cast Announced for Next Live in Front of a Studio Audience; Curb Returns Jan. 19
12/11 - Reno 911 Returning with New Episodes; Remembering Philip McKeon of Alice
12/10 - 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards Nominees; Hugh Laurie HBO Comedy Set for January
12/09 - Remembering René Auberjonois of Benson; Brady Bunch Star to Give Tour of White House on HGTV
12/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 9, 2019)
12/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: New Sitcom from Chuck Lorre Under Development at CBS; Remembering Legendary TV Producer Leonard Goldberg
12/06 - Fri-Yay: The Good Place Nearing the End; TBS Orders More Misery Index
12/05 - Antenna TV's News Year's Day with NewsRadio Marathon; American Housewife Star Gets Netflix Comedy Specials
12/04 - ABC's Schooled Gets Full Sophomore Year; Pop TV Rings in the New Year with Schitt's Creek
12/03 - Special Guest Hosts on Late Late Show; A Very COZI Christmas Marathon on COZI TV
12/02 - Roseanne Coming to COZI TV in January; Comedy Central Brings Back 31 Days of Holiday Survival
12/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of December 2, 2019)
11/30 - SitcomsOnline Digest: A Look at the Party of Five Reboot; The Simpsons Not Ending Soon, Says Producer
11/29 - Dove Channel Brings Out Holiday Classics; CW Gets DC Universe Series with Sitcom Star
11/28 - 2019 Thanksgiving TV Marathons on TV This Holiday Weekend
11/27 - CBS Slates I Love Lucy Christmas Special on Dec. 20; Is 2020 the Year of the Rabbit?
11/26 - New Ted Danson NBC Comedy Gets Holly Hunter; Mel Brooks Gets New HBO Comedy Special
11/25 - TV One Gets Family Matters and Schedules Holiday Stunts; Disney Channel Sitcom Gets Season 3
11/24 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 25, 2019)
11/23 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Price is Right and Jeopardy Primetime Specials in the Horizon; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Coming to DVD and Blu-ray
11/22 - Fri-Yay: Rick and Morty Season 4; ABC Midseason 2020 Schedule
11/21 - Miracle Workers Returns to TBS; ABC's Summer Fun & Games Lineup Renewed for 2020
11/20 - Lifetime's Winter Ripped from the Headlines; PIX11 Holiday Lineup
11/19 - Showtime Gets Vanessa Bayer Comedy Pilot; Jeopardy! Sees Who's the GOAT on ABC Primetime
11/18 - Viacom's Comedy Central Renews The Office & Parks and Recreation; E! Gets New Jason Kennedy Series
11/17 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 18, 2019)
11/16 - SitcomsOnline Digest: One Day at a Time Season Premiere Date Set; Brooklyn Nine-Nine Renewed
11/15 - Fri-Yay: Disney+ Launches; NBC Orders 8th Season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine