Luci Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom is a 5-part BBC Radio 4 series about the making of the classic sitcom I Love Lucy that dropped today. In a surprising casting coup, Anne Heche plays Lucille Ball and Wilmer Valeramma plays Desi Arnaz. Other cast members include Jared Harris, Alfred Molina, Stacy Keach, and Mike McShane– with the series written by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of Jess Oppenheimer, the original creator, producer and head writer of I Love Lucy. Gregg Oppenheimer finished his father's memoir following the latter's passing in 1988 and published it as Laughs, Luck… and Lucy: How I Created the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time. He went on to a writing career and produced the DVD releases of I Love Lucy for Paramount and CBS. Luci Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom is BBC Radio 4's adaptation of Oppenheimer's 2018 stage play that premiered at UCLA's James Bridge Theatre, produced by L.A. Theatre Works.
Martin Jarvis directs a stellar cast in Gregg Oppenheimer's inside look at his writer-producer fathers' famous TV series, I Love Lucy. Anne Heche channels Lucille Ball in an outstanding performance. With Wilmer Valeramma, Jared Harris, Alfred Molina, Stacy Keach, Mike McShane. The onscreen pairing of Lucille and Desi is brilliant, but the American Network is doubtful.
"Who'd believe she was married to him?"
Lucille: "But I am married to him!"
The serial dramatizes more than just the creation of an iconic TV series – it charts the need to challenge existing ideas that balked at diversity, the comic dynamic of the Arnaz' partnership, and their commitment and integrity shared by writer Jess Oppenheimer – resisting network and sponsor demands and outdated censorship rules, bringing creative bonuses to US audiences and worldwide.
This roller-coasting five-part serial shows how television, at a crucial time, learned from the established craft of radio. Cuban bandleader Desi's ineventive genius engendered studio techniques now taken for granted. Lucille and Desi's uplifting relationship flouted conventional thinking and defied accepted entertainment practice in one of the most influential sitcoms in TV history."
Luci Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom can be streamed on the BBC Radio 4 website for the next 4 weeks.