Being the Ricardos (2021) | Transcript

Follows Lucy and Desi as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.
Being the Ricardos

Director: Aaron Sorkin
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Jake Lacy

Follows Lucy and Desi as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.

* * *

♪ ♪

(audience laughter)

JESS: It was a scary week.

‘Cause here’s what you got to understand.

A hit television show today… a big hit television show… what does it get?

Ten million viewers.

Let’s go crazy and say 15.

15 million viewers, ’cause this is a big, giant hit.

Here’s what you got to understand.

I Love Lucy: 60 million.

Oh, yeah. (chuckles)

It’s been a long time, but I remember that week.

That was a scary week.

It was a very scary week.

Those guys scare too easy.

I’m from the Midwest.

I’ve lived through the Depression, the Dust Bowl.

I don’t scare that easy.

But, yeah, it was a scary goddamn week.

Department stores used to be open late on Monday nights.

Then they switched to Thursday night.

You know why?

‘Cause nobody was leaving home during I Love Lucy on Mondays.

There was a significant drop-off in the number of people using water between 9:00 and 9:30 on Monday nights.

Out of the blue…

Everyone almost lost their jobs.

Lucy and Desi almost lost their lives.

Out of thin air.

You’re asking when did they find out?

Same time as everyone else, listening to Walter Winchell.

I’m minding my own business, listening to Walter Winchell, and bam.

At the end of the broadcast.

This is what you got to understand.

It wasn’t small potatoes when Winchell ended his broadcast by saying…

“Lucille Ball is a Communist.”

Just like that.

Lucille Ball is a member of the Communist Party.


And she’d already seen the magazine story about Desi when Winchell came on.

The magazine came out on Mondays, but her publicist brought her a copy on Sunday night.

What were they doing when they first heard the news?

What were they doing?

I don’t know what Lucy and Desi were doing, but it was Lucy and Desi, so they were either tearing each other’s heads off or tearing each other’s clothes off.

ANNOUNCER (over radio): It’s time, America, time for Walter Winchell.

Presented to you by Gruen, the Precision watch.

Gruen, the finest watch you can wear.

Gruen, the finest watch you can give, brings you the man…

(door opens)

DESI: Lucy, I’m home.

(door closes)

LUCILLE: Where the hell have you been, you Cuban dimwit?!

DESI: Oye, easy does it.

LUCILLE: You philandering bongo player!

DESI: I was playing cards with…


Hey! I was playing cards with… coño.


Oh, damn it.

You tell me when it starts to hurt.

♪ ♪

LUCILLE: The boat? The…

DESI: Yes, we were playing cards on the boat.

LUCILLE: Since last night? Since 27 hours ago?

DESI: Yes.

And you couldn’t get to a phone?



DESI: I was passed out a lot of that time.

(Lucille groans angrily)

LUCILLE: That’s tomorrow’s Confidential.

DESI: Why do you even read that magazine?

LUCILLE: Why do I even… Well, in this case…

(Desi groans)

…it’s ’cause my husband’s on the cover with another woman.

So it caught my eye.

The story chronicles a night on the town with you and the…

DESI: That’s somebody’s niece.

LUCILLE: What the hell do I care if it’s somebody’s niece?

From Westinghouse.

That’s the Westinghouse corporate… You were there.

That’s the guy’s niece.

That picture was taken last summer.

LUCILLE: You’re right.

This was taken at the Westinghouse corporate retreat.

DESI: Yes.

I apologize.

DESI: Hmm. Say, “Desi, I apologize for doubting you…”


DESI: “…for I see now that this picture was taken not last Wednesday night but six months ago at the Westinghouse corporate retreat, and I will never doubt your love for me again.”

Say that.

No, and you’re doing it again.

You’re pronouncing it “Westing-gouse.”

DESI: It is “Westing-gouse.”

LUCILLE: “Westinghouse.”

DESI: Say, “G-H-O-S-T.”

LUCILLE: “Ghost.”

DESI: You don’t pronounce an “H” after a “G.”


LUCILLE (breathlessly): Everything in the magazine was made up?

DESI: I haven’t read the story in the magazine, but unless the story’s about me playing cards on the boat…

LUCILLE (panting): It’s not.

Then, yes, it’s made up.

Amor, get it through your head.

You are the only thing I want.


LUCILLE: Well, then you’re an idiot.

DESI: Ah, come here.

(both moaning)

WINCHELL: The House Committee on Un-American Activities is holding a secret session in California.

The most popular of all television stars was confronted with her membership in the Communist Party.

Wait! (panting)




What did he say?

He said, “The most popular of all television stars was…”

“Was confronted with her membership in the Communist Party.”


He could have been talking about Imogene Coca.

Fuck you.

He was not talking about Imogene Coca.

(quiet chatter)

VIVIAN: This is nonsense.

It’s nonsense, and it will get worse before it gets better.

Little Rusty Hamer, when he signed his contract… or the guardian, whoever signs the contract for him… he had to sign a loyalty pledge.

Did anyone know that?




Is she talking to me?


‘Cause she knows I’m here? She can see me?


VIVIAN: Did you know Little Rusty had to sign a loyalty pledge?

I don’t know who the fuck Little Rusty is.

Rusty Hamer from The Danny Thomas Show.

That’s not his name.

It is his name.

The littlest kid from Danny’s show?


Rusty is the character’s name, not the actor.

They’re both named Rusty. Rusty Williams is played by Rusty Hamer.

And Hamer’s a Communist?

He’s seven years old.

And he’s interested in politics?

No, imbecile.

I’m saying he’s seven years old and they made him sign a loyalty pledge.


This is getting out of hand was my point.

Why isn’t Danny Thomas’s kid named Rusty Thomas?

Are you drunk?

It’s 10:00 a.m., Vivian, so, you know, of course.

Bob and Jess and I were up all weekend working on the script you’re about to read, so on behalf of all of us, I want to say how much we appreciate your respect.

Believe me, you do not want me to read this sober.

I’m starting to get a little tired of your casual insults.

Well, my insults don’t feel like putting on a fucking tuxedo for you, kid.

Jess, why don’t you tell your supporting cast that we don’t work for him either.

You all work for me!

Wh… What you all have to understand is this.

Here’s what you have to understand.

We’re all tense.

Seriously? That was it?

We’re all tense. And the cure for that is just do the show.

Normal production week.

We’re gonna need someone to play Lucy and Ricky.

Those are critical roles.

The two of them are in Desi’s office meeting with the network and the sponsor right now.

I’m sure there’s an explanation. This will all be over by show night.

One way or the other.

Yeah. No.

Let me be clear.

I said, “This will all be over by show night.”

Bill said, “One way or the other.” That’s gallows humor.

I said, “Yeah,” but I did not…

The sooner you stop talking…


I think everyone’s acquainted, but let’s go around. Joe.

Uh, Joe Strickland, CBS.

Howard Wenke, also CBS.

Roger Otter, Philip Morris.

Irwin Gotlieb, attorney for Desilu.

Sam Stein, attorney for Lucille Ball.

Tip Tribby, VP of Public Relations for Philip Morris.

Tip, if Winchell had it cold, he’d have used her name, it would have been at the top of the show, not the bottom, and this morning, we’d be reading about it on the front page of every paper.

Am I right?


They don’t have it.

Can you see where CBS might be concerned that there’s an it to have?

Do you see that?

Uh, couldn’t follow you.

Lucy, you need to tell me right here and now what the hell is going on.

You don’t want to talk to my wife like that, amigo.

Or what, Des, you’re gonna beat me up?

Oh, she will.

So we’re done with introductions?

I’m not a Communist, I’ve never been a Communist, but technically, yeah, I am.

JOE: Jesus Christ.

Do you get what’s happening here?

Do you know that this is not funny?

Yes, I do get what’s happening, and, yes, I know it’s not funny.


My father died when I was very young.

I was raised by my mother and my grandfather, a man named Fred C. Hunt.

I’d like everyone but Howard to leave the room.

Philip Morris pays for the show.

And they get their money’s worth, so give us a minute, would you?

ROGER: (sighs) She’s smoking a Chesterfield.

Could she at least smoke one of the seven brands Philip Morris offers?

Got it. Got it.

(door opens)

Thank you.


(Desi clears throat)

(door closes)

Fred C. Hunt, my grandfather, was a member of the party.

This was in the early ’30s. I was in my early 20s.

He never used the word “Communist.”

But he cared about workers, the working man.

He raised my little brother and me, and I wanted to please him.

So I checked the box.

Back then, it wasn’t considered much worse than being a Republican.

DESI: Hmm.

HOWARD: Have you been to a meeting?




You were at a cocktail party, later you found out that people…


Have you ever subscribed to a publication…

My entire relationship with Communism is, 20 years ago, I checked a box.

Why is this coming out now?

The committee investigated her and cleared her.

But then last week, uh, William Wheeler convened a special session out here, a private session, called her in again, and that’s why we’re sitting here.


(Howard exhales sharply)

And nobody’s picked it up?

Nobody’s picked up the story.

Not a single paper, not a single news network, including your own.


Maybe we’re out of this.

We just don’t know yet.

When will we?

If you tape a show Friday night, means you still have a show.


You and me,

(door closes)

we’ve been through worse than this.

(sighs) We have?


That’s what I thought.

(Desi clears throat)

Hey. The whole piece was invented out of thin air?


Four pages, 1,500 words?

Are you being funny right now?

That is the second time someone’s asked me that this morning.

I’m Lucille Ball. When I’m being funny, you’ll know it.


They invented the whole thing?

You don’t think we got bigger fish to fry?

They invented the whole thing?

Yes, they invented the whole thing.

I was on the boat playing cards.

They invented the whole thing, and I’m angry at them.

And I’ll do something about it, but right now…

Got it.



You’re right.

Say that again. “Desi, you’re right.”


Everything’s gonna be fine.

Nothing’s gonna happen to you. I won’t allow it.

I just won’t.


You’ve never done that before.

I know.

I’ve seen other people do it in movies I’ve been in.

(Desi chuckles)

For the love of God, old man, this isn’t hard.

Rusty Hamer plays Rusty Williams on The Danny Thomas Show.

He’s in second grade, and they made him sign a loyalty oath when he signed his contract, which I think is ugly.

I don’t know why this is tripping you up. It wasn’t confusing.

There’s no such thing as The Danny Thomas Show.

It’s called Make Room for Daddy. Don’t tell me comedy.

And if Little Rusty is a Communist, then I’m gonna beat the shit out of a seven-year-old kid.

I have no problem with that.

I’m done.

That, right there, was funnier than anything you’ve written so far this year.


That’s not…

I’ve written plenty of funny…


(doors opening)

♪ ♪

Good morning!

Mm. Don Glass is directing this week?

We’ll be fine.


You’re wondering what’s going on.

No matter what’s going on, we all support you a thousand percent.

I’d like to find out what’s going on before I make that commitment.

A long time ago, Lucy accidentally checked the wrong box on her voter registration.

That’s the first act of a new episode right there.

Yeah, “Lucy Gets Blacklisted.”

That’s not a joke, Bob.

You made the joke. I just put the button…

Last week, she testified in a closed session.

She was cleared.


Yeah? She was cleared.

So I don’t know where Winchell got his information, but it was wrong.

As you can see, it was not picked up by any newspaper.

So let’s do our show.

Jess, it’s your stage.

(clears throat)

I Love Lucy, episode 204.

Season two, episode four.

“Ethel and Fred Fight.”

Teleplay by Bob Carroll, Madelyn Pugh and myself.

Took three of you to write this one?

Okay, come on. And directing this week, Donald Glass is back with us.

Let’s give him a hand.


Hey, thanks. It’s good to be back.

JESS: Act one, “Interior, the Ricardo’s living room, night.”

Excuse me. Donald.


Good morning. I’m Lucille Ball.

I sure know that, Lucy.

I wanted to make sure because you haven’t been here in a while.

Is it because you’ve been going through puberty?

I look young, yes, but I went through it a long time ago, and I haven’t been here because I’ve been directing at Danny Thomas.

WILLIAM: With the Communist kid?

Fuck off.

Jesus Christ.

LUCILLE: You don’t have to fuck off, but you do need to know that Danny does jokes… few people do it better.

I do physical comedy.

I’ve seen every episode of the show.

So have 60 million other people.

Are none of them professional television directors?

DESI: (chuckles) She’s kidding.

I can tell.


LUCILLE: I’m hazing you a little, Donald.

It’s just my way of saying I have no confidence in you at all.

(laughs) All right, all right, all right.

We haven’t gotten off to a great start this morning, I think.

And I have no idea what the fuck you were talking about, Bill.

Ah, Des, I’m begging you, don’t ask.

All right, no problem.

I just wanted to say that this show is made by Desilu Productions, whose president is speaking to you right now.

And for the next 30 minutes, I don’t want to hear a word that is not in this script.

It’s your stage.

JESS: Thank you.

“Lucy’s putting the finishing touches on a fancy dinner table… good china, silver, et cetera.”

Uh, the table is set for four but there are only three chairs.

I-I should’ve put that in the, in the stage direction.

JESS: Okay.

Well, technically, it’s two chairs and a piano bench.

For a total of?

Three chairs.

JESS: “Lucy’s putting the finishing touches on a fancy dinner table… good china, silver, et cetera.”

Table’s set for four but there’s only three chairs.

“After a moment, the door opens and Ricky enters. Lucy doesn’t hear him. Ricky tiptoes in back of her. Ricky puts his…”

Why not?


Why doesn’t Lucy hear him?

Well, he’s about to do that thing where you cover someone’s eyes and you say, “Guess who.”

I understand it’s a setup.

I understand why we need Lucy to not hear him.

I just don’t understand why, in an apartment this size, Lucy doesn’t hear… or, for that matter, see… the front door open when she’s standing 12 feet from it.

We’ll work on that.


“Ricky tiptoes in back of her and reaches around and covers her eyes with his hands.”

RICKY: Guess who it is.

LUCY: Bill? Pat?




JESS: “Ricky reacts to this.”

No, it’s me.

Oh, yes, of course.

Oh, hang on.

Are we supposed to believe that Ricky believes that Lucy really doesn’t know it’s him?

Want to do this now?

That Ricky believes that Lucy is not only unfamiliar with his voice… which, let’s not forget, has a Cuban accent… but that he really believes there are at least seven other men who routinely walk into their apartment?

DESI (chuckles): She has a pretty good point.

She has four or five pretty good points.

JESS: All right.

W-We’ll write a better joke or Ricky will know that Lucy’s joking.


BOB: We can change the names.

Pedro, Pablo, Jose.


Because they’re Spanish names.

I mean Latin names.

They’re Cuban names.

(sighs) Thanks for clearing that up, professor.

I’m just, you know…

JESS: Okay, “Ricky takes his hands away and turns her around.”

No, it’s me.

Oh, yes, of course.

Uh, uh…

JESS: “She snaps her fingers and pretends she can’t remember his name.”

(fingers snapping)

Very funny.

“Ricky kisses her and then notices the table setup.”

Hey, company for dinner?


Who is it?

JESS: “Lucy elaborately ignores him.”

LUCY: How do you like the new water glasses, Ricky?

RICKY: Who’s coming for dinner, Lucy?

Doesn’t the table look beautiful tonight?

Lucy, who is it?

Some people.

(audience laughter)

RICKY (annoyed): Lucy…

Whom is coming here for dinner tonight?

Whom? You mean besides “meem” and “youm”?


RICKY: Never mind that. What are their names?

Fred and Ethel Mertz.

Wait a minute.

I thought you said Fred and Ethel had a big fight and they were mad at each other.

They are.

(audience laughter)

RICKY: I thought you said they weren’t speaking to each other.

They aren’t.

(audience laughter)

And that he was staying at the Y.

He is.

And that she won’t let him in the house.

She won’t.

Well, if they are and they aren’t and he is and she won’t, how come?


Lucy Esmeralda McGillicuddy Ricardo.


That’s nice, but is the rhythm getting old too early?

We’ll work on that.

‘Cause we want to live up to the quality of the writing you were used to at RKO.

That was gutsy.

That was…

(chuckles) It was a joke about the writing at RKO and not…


Obviously not an insult aimed at Lucy.

♪ ♪

Looking back, it may have been an insult aimed at Lucy.

Which was very unusual.

Lucy and I were close.


JESS: Okay, let’s take it from…

OLDER MADELYN: Look, she was always tough on the writing, she pressed down hard on each beat, but that week… it was like her life depended on whether a joke was a “B” or “B”-plus.

JESS: “She tries to make her way past him on her way to the kitchen, but he holds out his hand and blocks the way.”

OLDER BOB: There was a Broadway show called Too Many Girls.

It was terrible.

One of the stars of Too Many Girls was Desi.

Too Many Girls.

RKO decided to make a very bad Broadway show into…

and I still can’t believe it… an even worse movie.

They kept Desi in the cast, but the second female lead was replaced by the queen of the “B” movies, Lucille Ball.

A couple of days before shooting started, Desi was on a soundstage working with a piano and a drum and Ann Miller.

Here’s what you have to understand.

A more handsome, charming man than Desi you’ve never met.

Standing off, away from the pack of chorus girls, is Lucy, who was unrecognizable because she was still in the middle of shooting Dance, Girl, Dance, playing a burlesque girl who’d just been beaten up by her pimp.

So she was… unrecognizable.

That’s how they met.

DESI: ♪ She could shake the maracas ♪

(piano and bongo drum playing “She Could Shake the Maracas”)

♪ He could play the guitar ♪

(women giggling)

♪ But he lived in Havana ♪

♪ And she down in Rio del Mar ♪

(giggling continues)

♪ And she shook the maracas ♪

(rhythmic shaking)

♪ In a Portuguese bar ♪

♪ While he strummed in Havana ♪

♪ The distance between them was far ♪

♪ But by and by ♪

♪ He got a job with a band in Harlem ♪

♪ She got a job with a band in Harlem ♪

♪ Ay, ay, ay ♪

(rhythmic tapping)

♪ He said, “I’m the attraction” ♪

♪ She said, “I am the star” ♪

♪ But they finally married ♪

♪ And now see how happy they are ♪ (chuckles)

♪ So shake your maracas ♪

♪ And play your guitar. ♪

(cheering, laughing)

(song ends)

Thank you.

Mr. Arnaz?


I’m Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III, but just my mother calls me that.

Desi. Desi.

I’m Angie.

I’m in the chorus and I wanted to say I’m looking forward to working with you.

I’m looking forward, too, Angie.




Uh, short for Patricia?


DESI: Also in the chorus?

Mm-hmm. Dancing chorus.


LUCILLE: “Do you remember the first time we met? You were rudely attentive, but now you’re obnoxiously indifferent.”


It’s a line from our movie, dumb-dumb.

Do we know each other?



WOMAN: Desi?

I’m Daisy.

(guitar playing gentle lullaby)

DESI: ♪ A la nanita nana ♪

♪ Nanita ella, nanita ella ♪

♪ Mi niña tiene sueño ♪

♪ Bendito sea, bendito sea ♪

♪ Calla mientras la cuna se balancea ♪

♪ A la nanita nana, nanita ella ♪

♪ A la nanita nana ♪

♪ Nanita ella, nanita ella ♪

♪ Mi niña tiene sueño ♪

♪ Bendito sea, bendito sea ♪

♪ Mi… ♪

(music stops)

“Do you remember the first time we met?”

If we’d met, I’d remember.

“You were rudely attentive, but now you’re obnoxiously…”


That was you?


That was me, yeah.

This studio has talented makeup artists.

“I’m Angie. I’m in the chorus. I just want to say, when I drink, I take off my clothes.”


I’m so curious, I have to ask.

How did you know Patty was short for Patricia?

My name is Desiderio Alberto Arnaz…


I don’t have that kind of time.

And you’re Lucille Ball.

Use a line on me you’ve never road-tested on anyone.

I dare you.

(strumming guitar)

Would you like to learn how to rumba?

All right. Nice.

And, yes, I would.


But there’s absolutely no chance you haven’t used that before.

(band playing “Rumba Internacional”)

(lively chatter, laughter)

(music continues)



I want you to know I’m not trying to be forward.

I’m showing you this because it’ll come in handy for your rumba number in the movie.

I don’t have a rumba number in the movie.

No rumba?


Oh, that’s a sign of a poorly written screenplay.


Well, we should dance to something else.


(band playing slow jazz music)

Why did you come to Hollywood?

I got kicked out of New York.


I mean it.

I got kicked out of acting school for not being good enough.

Get out of here.

I will not.

I got some modeling work, I was hired and fired as a Ziegfeld Girl but hired as a Goldwyn Girl, and that’s what took me out here.


Why did you come to Hollywood?

The Bolsheviks burned my house down.

So a different reason.

Mm, yeah.

♪ Lucille ♪

(playing gentle music)

♪ There’s not much that rhymes with “Lucille” ♪

♪ Mm… ♪

♪ Bastille ♪

♪ But who’d write a song about that? ♪

(footsteps approaching)

(plays gentle guitar riff)

I borrowed part of your tuxedo.

(Desi clears throat)

It comes with pants, but, uh, I’m wearing them.

Not for long, pal.



Can I call you Lucy?

I think we should keep this professional, don’t you?

I was kidding.

So was I.

Mm. Nice dry delivery.

Uh, what’s your, mm… ambition?

My ambition? For tonight?

I wasn’t making myself clear?

No, I don’t mean ambition.

Ay, what do I mean?




Mm… future.


What are my future dreams?

I should’ve stuck with ambition.

Are you interviewing me?



I live in a small house.

And your ambition is to live in a bigger house.

My ambition is to live in a home.

Like for old folks?

Not a home, not an institution.

A home.


With a family and dinnertime.

Can I ask an impertinent question?

You gonna ask me why I’m not married?

No, I was going to ask you why you’re not a movie star.

Why are you playing the second female lead in Too Many Girls?

I’m a contract player at RKO.

I play the roles I’m told to play.

My career’s gone as far as it’s gonna go.

It’s hit cruising altitude.

I’m at peace with that.

So I’d like to be at peace.

I want a home.

You have a lot more talent than the roles you play have allowed you to exhibit.

Now, how would you know I have talent?

Because I have talent.

You could be a serious actor. You should be a star by now.


But what?

There is also something about your physicality. You are, you are…

Half naked?

Uh, sure.



You, uh… There isn’t an English word.

Tú estás… dotada cineticamente.

What does that mean?

It means you’re kinetically gifted.

No one’s noticed that?

♪ ♪


♪ ♪

Hi. Sorry.

I need to use the phone to call my fiancé.


Wait, what?

It’ll just take a second.

Your fiancé?

Outside line please.

I mean, not that I haven’t…


It’s just that I got the sense that we…

One sec.



Last night, I felt it was…

It’s me. Hey.

You don’t love me, and I don’t love you, and you cheat on me every chance you can get, and I pretend I’m stupid, so I’m moving out.

I’ll send someone to pick up my clothes, okay?

Love you. But, you know, not really.

I interrupted you. What were you saying?


JESS: And we fade to black. End of show.

Thank you.

Notes upstairs.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Back onstage in an hour.

(soundstage bell rings)

All right.

All right.

We’ll see ya.


Okay, honey. See you in a bit.


(indistinct chatter)

(door closes)

(chatter quiets)

(footsteps receding)

(Desi exhales heavily)

It’s madness.


I thought you’d be the first one to refuse to work with her.

You mean that?


You’re not fond of Communists.

I’m less fond of the committee.


(grunts, sighs)

♪ ♪



When the soldiers came for your family…

…how scary was it?

You’re giving me that look that says, “I don’t get scared of nothing.”

Uh… (sighs)

They killed all the animals.

Uh, not-not for food.

They just killed all the animals.

I still don’t know why they did that.


It’s six to five and pick ’em we’ve already done the last episode of this show.

This show, everyone who works here, Desilu, Lucy’s whole career… mine, too… it may have ended last night and we just don’t know it yet.

Are you out of your mind?

I get plenty scared.

(footsteps receding)

Fucking madness.

♪ ♪


Come on in.

Madelyn was way out of line, and I’ll talk to Jess.

No, I don’t care about that.

I care about it.

You told them I checked the wrong box.


Before the table read. You told them I checked the wrong box.

Ah. (sighs)

Uh, uh, well, it takes fewer words to say that than the truth.

Doesn’t make me look like a simpleton who’s ill-equipped to participate in democracy?

It was simpler, and it’s nobody’s goddamn business.

Well, no.

Pretty obviously it’s everybody’s goddamn business.

(sighs): Ay.


You-you… you don’t have to keep checking the papers.

I’ve got people who’ll let me know the moment an editor thinks about it.

There’s something wrong with the story, they know it, and that’s why no one’s reporting on Winchell.

No. The Confidential story.

That’s what’s getting picked up.

♪ ♪

(Desi sighs)

(groans, mutters)

I like this a lot, Tommy.

That’s a great color for you.

Oh, I really like this.

And I can cinch the back a little.

I can lower the neckline.

Oh, not on CBS you can’t.

(both laugh)

But still, now we’re talking.

Now we’re cooking with gas.

Should I bring out some shoes?

Oh, yes, please.

(wolf whistle)


That’s a nice dress.

I thought so, too.

You borrowing it from wardrobe for a cocktail party?

(sighs) Dinner party.


The apartment of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo.

This is for the show?

Lucy’s invited Ethel…

Oh, Viv.

I know, but listen.

I’m thinking Lucy’s invited her to dinner.

She thinks she’s being fixed up with an eligible guy.

She’d want to look nice.

It’s something new for the character.

LUCILLE: But the character’s still Ethel Mertz, right?


Hey, don’t.

“Does Desi Love Lucy Loosely?”

They took time on that.

“If neighbors hear screams of rage followed by the sound of…”

Isn’t there enough going on with…

“…breaking crockery coming from the Arnaz house this month…”

I’d be more concerned about…

“…they’ll know what is happening without having to investigate. The red-haired missus has just finished reading Confidential’s report on…”

In your life, have you ever taken this stuff seriously?

I take my marriage seriously.

And Desi said?

“Lucy, I ain’t been with no girls since the moment I saw you.”

Then believe him.

I do believe him.

It’s an old picture. We were there together.

He was playing cards on the boat Wednesday.

You’d be more concerned about what?


You said you’d “be more concerned about,” and I cut you off.

The Winchell broadcast?


I don’t get to choose just one.

I’m concerned with both, the first thing, second thing.

Understood. What about the third?

What’d they say?

We didn’t think yesterday was the best day to tell them about the third thing.


We’re doing it now.

First Jess, then the network, then Philip Morris.

Could be worse.


You could be playing Ethel.

Got it.

♪ ♪

(phone ringing in distance)

Is Lucy on the phone too long at the top?

We only hear one side of the call. Are we staying too long at the fair?

You don’t need to write down everything we say in here.

We’ll know when it’s on its feet.


DESI: Good morning.

Morning, guys.


Mary Pat, would you mind giving us the room for a moment please?

Of course, Mr. Arnaz.

Thank you.

“Of course, Mr. Arnaz.”

She’s nice.

You’re in enough trouble.

LUCILLE: You’re not in trouble.

We need to talk.

No, don’t tell me…

No, no, no, no. No, we’re…

No, no, we’re still okay.

No one’s picked up the story.

JESS: All right.

(chuckles): Looking at Lucy’s face, I thought for sure…

I’m pregnant.

(chuckles softly)

That’s not at all what I was gonna say.

That’s what we came to talk about.

We were gonna have this conversation yesterday, but other things were…

Yeah, yeah, sure.

Well, this is a one-two punch.

It’s not a punch. I’m having a baby.

What do we do now?

I know it seems like no one said congratulations, but that cannot be, as these are three of…

JESS: No, no, no, no.

…our closest friends and colleagues.

You’re right. You’re right. Sorry.

Oh, it’s wonderful news.

Yeah, hey, congratulations.

Yes! Congratulations.

Yeah, that’s great.

Thank you.

Another baby.


Yeah, mazel tov.

Gracias. Gracias.

Really, really.

Congratulations, Des.

Very happy. Very happy.


Very exciting. Yeah.

So, uh…

(clears throat)


With Lucie, I was the size of a phone booth, so…

JESS (chuckles): Yeah.

You’ve got about seven weeks before you have to start hiding me behind boxes and chairs, and then another seven weeks after that before I won’t fit in the frame.

What do you want to do?


Whatever there was to do, we’ve done it.

Where does that leave us?

Without a choice.

Lucy Ricardo is gonna have a baby on television.

No, no, Des.

How many scripts in the bank?

We’re-we’re five ahead of production.

We’re shooting four and we’re writing nine.

Four. No harm done.

But whatever script you’re working on now, episode nine, scratch it.

(chuckles): Okay.

Episode… no, episode nine is now “Lucy Tells Ricky She’s Pregnant,” and we work from there. What’s that one?

JESS: Which one?

LUCILLE: “Lucy Goes to Italy.”

We want to send the four of you to Italy.


MADELYN: We think it’d be nice to get off our set.

No, why do the Ricardos and Mertzes go to Italy?

JESS: A vacation.

DESI: They don’t vacation in Europe.

They go to the Grand Canyon.

They go to Niagara Falls.


Ricky’s got a gig at a club in Rome.

And what does Lucy do?

She stomps grapes.

Lucy and Ethel go to an Italian vineyard.

DESI: Why?

We don’t know yet.

And she stomps grapes.

DESI: This vineyard is located in the 19th century?

JESS: They don’t stomp grapes anymore?

(chuckles): No.

MADELYN: Okay, so we find the one vineyard where they still stomp grapes.


LUCY: Come in.

Sì, signora. You sent for me?


Are there any grape vineyards around here?

I’d like to know how they make the wine, how they pick the grapes, how they press the juice out with their feet.

BELLMAN: There is one little town called Turo where they still make the wine that way.


DESI: Why does she want to go to a vineyard?

We don’t know yet.

She has an audition for an Italian movie.

MADELYN: What does that have to do with stomping grapes?

BOB: The part.

VITTORIO: She happens to be just the type I need.

The role of a beautiful Italian redhead who, uh… como si dice… uh, steps on grapes.

(audience laughter)

JESS: We’ll get there. The point is (chuckles): Lucy in a vat of grapes for five minutes.

I can see it.

(speaks Italian)

(audience laughter)

(audience laughter)

(footsteps squishing)

(audience laughter continues)

What can happen in the vat of grapes? What can she do?

(audience whispering)

(man in audience clears throat)

JESS: It doesn’t matter right now.

We need to get back to… Des, the network isn’t gonna allow it and neither will Philip Morris. Lucy…

Just hang on.

(audience whispering)

She loses an earring.

BOB: Yes.

MADELYN: There it is.

What are you talking about?

In the grapes.

(audience laughter)

(audience laughter continues)

(laughter grows)

Push it to next year.

They’re not going to Italy while she’s pregnant.

I’ll bet you my next paycheck against your next paycheck that CBS won’t even allow us to use the word “pregnant.”

“Lucy Tells the Truth.”

BOB: That one’s Madelyn’s idea.

She got it just seconds after I pitched it.


MADELYN: Ricky bets Lucy that she can’t go two days without lying, and we put her in situations where it’s hard not to lie.

LUCY: Okay, it’s started.

For the next 48 hours.


All right.

ETHEL: I can hardly wait to hear you tomorrow afternoon, Lucy.

LUCY: Why?

We’re playing bridge at Carolyn’s, remember?

Oh, no, no, no.

I can’t spend the afternoon with three women and have to tell the truth.

(audience laughter)

I’ll call Carolyn and tell her I’m sick.

MADELYN: After 47 hours, she’s winning, but in the final hour…

BOB: Here it is.

MADELYN: …Ricky gets a visit from the IRS, and the guy wants to ask about some questionable things that Ricky’s claiming on his deductions.

Lucy’s sitting in the living room, too, and of course when she’s asked by the IRS agent to corroborate, she can’t tell a lie, so…

That’s a funny premise.

Yes, it is.

But lose the IRS scene.

Could be a good scene.

He’s correct.

Once I write it, it could be good.

Ah, Ricky Ricardo loves America.

He loves being an American.

He’s grateful to this country.

He’d never cheat on his taxes.

It’s very relatable. Everybody does.

I don’t! Neither does Ricky.

Especially when his wife is accused of being un-American.

Look for something else, and start working on the first pregnancy show.

Listen to me.


They’re not gonna let us do it.

Let that be my problem.

Oh, I wish I could, Des, but it’s very much my problem, okay?

So instead of talking about goddamn grapes, why don’t…

Look, what you got to understand is this.

We don’t know…

Jess, they’re free to take us off the air for the rest of the year while continuing to pay our contracts and answering questions about why motherhood is too salacious to put on CBS, but something tells me they’re not gonna go that route.

Instead, I think Broadcast Standards and Practices will give you a list of insane restrictions, which might even include you winning your bet with Desi, and which I have no doubt the three of you will navigate beautifully.

You told me to be nice.



(phone ringing in distance)

I don’t care what your first thoughts out of the gate were, but your first words out of the gate were no good.

And what was with you at the table read?

I’m sorry. She was jumping on every stage direction.

It’s her process.

But that process usually happens in private.

BOB: Yes.

And following your advice, maybe every once in a while, the first words out of her mouth could be “good script.”

Well, is this the right week for this shit?


We do seem to be having some success, no?

We’re all really tired from working on this week’s script.

Oh, are you sleepy? You need a nap?

Can I talk to you for a second, boss?


I’m the executive producer of this show.

You can’t manhandle me like that in front of other people.

You just can’t do it. My show.

And Madelyn was a hundred percent right.

Ricky pays his taxes.

I get it.

And we’re having the baby on the show.

There’s no chance they say yes.

There’s no chance they say yes to you.

Did you get all that?


That was a joke.

DONALD: Back to right before Vivian’s entrance.

“When do we eat?”

Settle. And action.

Uh, when do we eat?

I’ve been living on peanut butter sandwiches.

DONALD: Bill, that line’s got to take you over to the table.


You need to cross to the table on that.


Because we need to…

LUCILLE: So you can see the table, notice that a fourth place is set and say your next line.

Uh, someone else coming?

Well, Fred, I took the liberty of asking a young lady to be your dinner companion.

A young lady?

A cute young chick.

Oh, boy, bring her on.


Hang on.


LUCILLE: When I say, “I took the liberty of asking a young lady to be your dinner companion…”


…Ricky should take a sip from a glass of water on the table to keep from laughing.

And then when I say, “A cute young chick…”


…he should choke on his water a little.

I like that.

I like it, too.

The very idea that Ethel’s a cute young chick should make Desi choke.



That’s 15 minutes!

(indistinct chatter)

I’ll be funny by Friday.

And when can we expect you to be funny?

(door closes)

“Exactly what makes a husband leave home is something that has been baffling wives since Adam and Eve.”


“For an outstanding example, let’s take one of the nation’s most famous husbands.”

You’ve memorized it?

I’ve memorized worse writing than this.

Yes, it’s a tabloid.

“With a curvy, red-haired tidbit like Lucy waiting for him at home, would Desi be foolish enough…”

Stop it.

“…to prowl Hollywood like a bachelor wolf? If so, why?”

It’s made up.

20 million readers want to know.


20 million and one.

How many times

I got to ‘splain where I was and what I was doing?

How many times you got to ‘splain?

(chuckles) I can’t get enough of that joke.

They document an entire night.

Someone in your gang’s a rat.

My gang.


The night they’re talking about, I was with Red Skelton and Xavier Cugat.

Which one of them you think squealed?

They made it up from nothing?

I heard on Winchell the other night that you were a Communist.

That was true, you idiot!

Yeah. That was a bad example.

And I didn’t check the wrong box.

Okay, I’m sorry about that.

I believe you.

I’m just messing around.


No. That gets you out of the woods, but it puts you into other woods.

What are the other woods?

You don’t come home anymore. Did you know that?

You change subjects faster than…

Keep up.

It’s not hard.

I asked, “Did you know you don’t come home anymore?”

Of course I come home.

Sometimes I go to the boat and play cards.

We drink, it goes late, it’s easier to sleep on the boat.

That used to be once a week, then twice.

Now it’s four or five times.

I go home after work, you go to the boat.

You once asked me what my ambition was.

You remember?


And you liked my answer.

She used the word “home” a lot.

She talked about having a home.

Lucy owned three houses, but sometimes, when she fell into a funk, she’d say… she didn’t have a home.

They eloped.

They bought a ranch in Chatsworth.

They were deeply in love and deliriously happy.

What you got to understand is they weren’t very happy.

They never saw each other.

Desi and his orchestra were booked at Ciro’s.

Lucy was under contract at RKO.

Desi would be done with work around 4:00 a.m.

Lucy had to be in hair and makeup at 5:00 a.m.

They’d meet at the top of Mulholland.

(band playing “Babalú”)

♪ Babalú ♪

♪ Babalú ♪

(audience shouting excitedly)

♪ Babalú ♪

♪ Ayé ♪

♪ Babalú ayé ♪

(women laughing)

(lively music continues)

(horns stop, drumming continues)

♪ Olé, olé, olé, olé ♪

♪ Ol é, ol é, ol é, olé ♪

♪ Olé, olé, olé, olé ♪

♪ Olé, olé, olé, olé ♪

♪ Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah ♪

♪ Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah ♪

♪ Arriba con la conga ♪

♪ Arriba con la conga. ♪

(drumming intensifies)

(audience cheering)

(horns join in, music builds)

(song ends)

(audience cheering)

(lively chatter, laughter)

What do we have here?

WOMAN: Yeah, Desi!

A lot of choices.

There’s only one choice for me, and she’s got a powerful right hook.

My friend and I saw the midnight show and the 2:00 a.m.


Thank you.


♪ ♪

(birds chirping)

I did the calculation.

In the course of one week, I see you 1/20th as much as your second trombone player.

Well, learn to play the trombone, and I’ll give you his job.

Well, how hard is the trombone?

Ay, maybe it’d be better if we didn’t spend the little time we have arguing about why we don’t have more time.

Don’t make me feel like a bitch because I want to see my husband.



I-I could stay home and be kept by my wife.

I mean, that’d really complete the picture Americans have of Cuban men.

What home are you talking about?

Or you could quit the film business and just be my wife.

But you ain’t gonna do that, right?


How about you come to the club more to watch the show?

I had a picture open five days ago.

You really want me to come down to the club?

Why not?


(band playing “Cuban Pete”)

♪ They call me Cuban Pete ♪

♪ I’m the king of the rumba beat ♪

♪ When I play the maracas, I go ♪

♪ Chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom ♪

♪ Yes, sir, I’m Cuban Pete ♪

♪ I’m the craze of my native street ♪

♪ When I start to dance, everything goes ♪

♪ Chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom ♪

♪ The señoritas, they sing ♪

(women chattering excitedly)

♪ And how they swing with this rumbero ♪

♪ It’s very nice ♪

♪ So full of spice ♪


♪ And when they’re dancing ♪

♪ They bring a happy ring, the maraquero ♪

♪ Singing a song ♪

♪ All the day long. ♪

(song ends)

Ah! What do we have here?


MAN: Lucy!

(excited chatter)

♪ ♪

MAN: This way, Miss Ball! Hollywood Citizen!

WOMAN: We love you in the movie!

Thank you.

Wasn’t the show fun?


VIVIAN: Come on in.

Good morning.

Hey, Maddie.

(sighs) Some week, huh?

Lucille Ball’s a threat to the American way of life?

She’s a threat to writers, camera operators and Desi, but it really stops there.

Have you ever had a week like this?

No, but we work in Hollywood, and something tells me we’re all gonna have weeks like this before that committee’s done.

(chuckles softly)

Look what you can still do.


(chuckles): I regretted it even before I said it.

I can’t do that, and I’m just impressed.

What’s in your hands?

I got you some breakfast from the commissary.

They told me you didn’t have any, but…

I did. I had a cup of coffee and half a grapefruit.

Well, I have French toast, bacon, eggs and potatoes.

Enjoy it.

It’s for you.

That was very sweet, but, no, thank you.

Is it just me or have you lost a little weight?

I have.

Well, you look great.

Thank you.

I’ll see you onstage.




Who told you that I didn’t have any breakfast?

(sighs) I don’t know.

I think…

It was Tino.

The tall waiter.

(whispers): Okay.

(softly): Yeah.

(sighs): Jesus Christ.

Day three and still no pickup on the Winchell story.

Fellas, I think we’re out of this.

(chuckles): Might be.

Might be.


There’s another shoe, and none of us are getting out of this alive.

JOE: Howard.

They’re uncovering something new, they’re chasing the original testimony, something, but there’s another shoe.

There’s nothing more to uncover. There are no more shoes.

Lucy’s pregnant.

Well, that.


Lucy’s pregnant.

With a baby?



I’m… (clears throat) not sure what words to use.

How much pregnant are you?

Why did you think you didn’t know what words to use?

He means how far, as a percentage of nine months… where are you on-on the timeline of-of the…

Someone should point a goddamn camera at this.

DESI: She’s 12 weeks pregnant.

So that means, uh… 12 weeks ago, I fucked my husband.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

No, no, no.

(overlapping chatter)


DESI: She’ll start showing in about six weeks, and a month after that, (sighs) there won’t be any hiding it.

This isn’t a problem.

It’s not.

This has happened before.

I won’t say names, but it’s been dealt with.

Is he talking about having me killed?

No, you carry a basket of laundry, stand behind chairs, you sit with a pillow on your lap.

Those are great ideas, especially having Lucy carry a basket of laundry in every scene.

Or stand behind chairs.

Where in the Ricardo’s living room are the giant chairs you’re talking about?

Lucy and Ricky redecorate, huh?

The writers can get some fun out of this.

Maybe they get some large ficus trees.

They’d have to be California redwoods, and I’d have to stand behind them anytime I wasn’t doing the wash.

Well, what do you propose?

That the Ricardos have a baby.


What do you mean?

I told you it was gonna be like this.

Lucy Ricardo will be pregnant on the show.

An eight-episode arc starting with Lucy telling Ricky the happy news and ending with the birth of the baby.

ROGER (laughs): No.

No, no, no.

You can’t have a pregnant woman on television.

DESI: Why not?

Because it’s television.

We come into people’s homes.

Pregnant women often vomit.

I know I could any second.

May I say something?

Frankly, I can’t wait.

If Lucy Ricardo’s pregnant, the audience’s mind immediately goes

to how did she get that way.

Lucy and Ricky sleep in separate beds.

We’ll be pushing the beds together, too.


Oh, no.

Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no.

I’m sorry, Des, we’re gonna have to put our foot down on this one.

You can’t do it. End of discussion.


♪ ♪

Miss Rosen, will you come in please, with a pad and pen?

My secretary.

(footsteps approaching)

What are you doing?

To Mr. Alfred Lyons, Chairman of the Board of Philip Morris.

HOWARD: We don’t want to bring Mr. Lyons into this.

“Mr. Lyons, I guess it all comes down to you.

“You are the man who’s paying the money for this show,

and I’ll do whatever you decide.”

Mr. Lyons doesn’t get involved at this level.

“There’s only one thing I want to make certain that you understand.”


“We’ve given you

“the number one show on television,

“and up until now, the creative decisions have been in our hands.

They are now telling us that Lucy and Ricky can’t have a baby on the show.”

That’s not exactly what we said.

“All I ask from you, if you agree with them,

“is that you inform them that we will not accept them telling us what not to do

“unless, beginning with our next episode, they also tell us what to do.

Sincerely,” et cetera, et cetera. Thank you.

And send it by telegram please.

Yes, sir.

And that wasn’t even why I married him.

That was.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Quiet please! Rehearsal’s up!

Lucy, let me out of here!

Untie this coat!

Not until you kiss and make up.

I’ll never make up with him after the things he said.

What about the things you said to me?

She said my mother looks like a weasel.

Apologize, Ethel.


Oh, come on, Ethel. Tell him you’re sorry.


I’m sorry your mother looks like a weasel.

Now, Ethel.

Well, he should have more consideration.

After all, I gave him the best years of my life.

Were those the best?


All right, all right, now you’re even.

Now, what are your terms for making up, Ethel?

Well, he should…

We should go back to the dinner table.

What was that?

We should go back to the dinner table.

I think, given the time, we should move on.

It was good.

Yeah, except, no, it wasn’t.



Wasn’t good.


Ah, let’s go back.

WILLIAM: What’s happening?

VIVIAN: (sighs) She wants to go back.

WILLIAM: To what?

The dinner scene.


VIVIAN: The dinner scene, you drunken yontz!

WILLIAM: Have we hired anyone to play Ethel yet?

All right, let’s go.

Go forward or go back to the dinner scene?


(sighs heavily)

Page 15. This is still scene “A.”

From, “You’re right, he’s not going to do me out of dinner.”

Cameras reset. Props reset.

VIVIAN: Someone’s gonna need to tell us

what was wrong with the scene in the first place.

WILLIAM: You were in it.

DESI: Bill.

Something fundamental was wrong. I’ll figure out what.

I can figure out what.

Let’s all do our individual jobs.


(quietly): I hit him in the face until he’s bleeding…

does our insurance cover that?

DESI: Yeah, I got the platinum plan.

Good job.

Ready, ready.

Quiet please!

Rehearsal’s up!

DONALD: From, “You’re right, he’s not going to do me out of dinner.”


And action.

Uh, you’re right.

He’s not gonna do me out of dinner.


Oh. Now, sit down, everyone.

We don’t have any more chairs.

You two don’t mind sharing, do you?

The roast beef should be precut.

It will be, dear.

DESI: How’s that, Ethel?

Not too much fat, is there?

VIVIAN: There certainly is.

He means the meat.

Oh, no, the meat is fine.

LUCILLE: Now do your thing.

Come on.


DONALD: Perfect.


Moving on.

MAN: Moving…

Staying put.


We need to work out the moves at the table.

Bill and I can work out the moves.

It’s not that I’m not confident that you can’t work out…

This is camera blocking.

We can work out the stage business during tomorrow’s run-through.

I would strongly prefer that we do it now.

I have to exercise my directorial authority.

You have to do what?

DESI: Let’s take a break.

It’s not time for a break.

Good, then, that’s ten minutes.

Ten minutes, we come back to scene “A”!

No, we don’t.

Maybe we don’t. It’s hard to say.

(indistinct chatter)

Tell me what’s happening, honey.

(exhaling musically)

You know what occurs to me?


At the top, it should be clear

that I’m setting a nice table, right?

There should be flowers in a vase.


And I’m trying to get them just right.

And I cut one of the stems, but now it’s too short.

Then I cut the others, but now they’re too short and…

I get it.

What do you think?

I think you’re having a little bit of a breakdown.

I meant about the flowers.

Tell me what’s happening now.

Why is this so hard to understand?

The dinner table isn’t working,

and we need it to.


Right there are the building blocks of drama.

♪ ♪


It’s not you.

Or Bill.

The dinner scene. It’s Donald Glass.

Well… (chuckles)

it’ll be funny.

I’m sure of that.

Can’t get better till it gets bad.

Cross step one off the list.



You hanging in there?

Look, we’ve made 37 episodes.

You do 37 of anything, one of them’s gonna be your 37th best.

Ours was directed by Donald Glass.

Honey, the committee.

They’re not gonna base their findings based on how this week’s sh…

Fuck the committee.

I said that. I’m talking about the show.

And unless you count his wardrobe, Donald Glass doesn’t understand

the moving parts of physical comedy.


That’s all.

My point is you’re not the problem.





Uh, Madelyn brought me breakfast this morning.

French toast, bacon and potatoes.

She said that someone noticed I hadn’t had breakfast.

She said it looked like I had lost some weight.

She’s right. You look great.

Madelyn’s a staff writer. She doesn’t bring people their breakfast.

I’m not sure what you’re asking.

It sounds like she was…

How would she know I hadn’t had breakfast?

I really don’t know.

It was you, right?


Got to give me credit. When I lie, I give it up pretty quick.

It’s admirable.


You told her to bring me breakfast and remark on my weight loss.

Let me explain why.


Because I think you should get off this loony diet you’re on.

It’s working.

It’s not good for you.

I feel great.

It’s not good for Ethel.

Ah, it’s not.

We’re best friends, Viv. I don’t want to fight.

I just sent some breakfast over because…

You didn’t just send it over.

You sent it over with Madelyn and a message

and now a new message, which is that I look too good.

Because we want you at the weight you were when we cast you.

Otherwise it’ll be bad for Ethel?


Or bad for you?

All right.

No one’s gonna stop loving Lucy when you’re pregnant.

You’re not a pinup girl.

Thanks for that, Viv.

VIVIAN: I’m saying take it easy, that’s all.

Everyone here stands shoulder to shoulder with you and no one feels funny

’cause we’re scared to death, and you’re not helping

by jumping up and down on everyone who works here

and doing it in front of the whole crew!

Goddamn it, Viv, most American women look like you, not me.

They want to see themselves on television.

(door opens)

What the hell are the two of you screaming about?

LUCILLE: Nothing.


I’m in my room taking my midmorning nap.

VIVIAN: Don’t you usually do that while we’re rehearsing?

I’d love to hear more of that Moss Hart wit on the show.

VIVIAN: Don’t worry about it.

The weight always comes back. I can’t keep it off anymore.

This conversation went poorly.

I thought it was great.

I definitely feel like performing for tens of millions of people now.

All right.


(page turns)


(thunder rumbling softly)



Come with me for a drink.

It’s 10:00 a.m.

I’m sure it’s 10:15 somewhere.

We have to be back onstage.

I wonder if they’ll wait for you.

Bill, I’m not…


Tell the stage Mrs. Arnaz is taking some personal time

and she’ll be back when she’s back.

Probably 15 minutes.

Yes, ma’am.

And you should remind props that I need garden shears in the opening scene.


WILLIAM: Let’s go.

We have to establish right away that I’m setting a fancy table.

You don’t have to explain it to him.

We’ll have flowers in a vase.

I’ll cut one of the flowers.

He doesn’t care.

It’ll be too short.

I’ll cut the other flowers, they’ll be too short, and so on.

Got it.

So I need garden shears.


Regular scissors aren’t strong enough to cut through the stems.

He’s thinking a lot about killing you now.




(rain falling)

It’s raining.

Your hair gonna be all right?

(thunder rumbling)

I’m fine.

Ever since I started doing this show, rain bounces off my hair.

That’s helpful.


Honestly had no idea this place was here.

WILLIAM: They like to keep a low profile.

LUCILLE: Can’t imagine why.

Kind of people go to a bar on a Wednesday morning?

WILLIAM: It’s an eclectic group.

What are you having?

(“Junker’s Blues” playing over radio)

LUCILLE: I’ll take a tetanus shot.

Jim Beam, two times.

BARTENDER: Sure, Bill.

(sighs) I thought you and Desi had a deal.

You don’t drink at work.

Desi and I have a deal that I won’t be drunk at work.

Have you ever seen me drunk at work?

Would I know?


Here’s to your new baby.

All right, then.

Are they being polite or do they not recognize us?

They don’t own television sets.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Honey, I read seven newspapers every day.

Seven? When do you have time to do that?

It’s 30 minutes between races at Santa Anita,

and it takes me a minute and a half to pick a horse.

Aren’t you at work?


We have bookies now and telephones.

Know all about that. Did a Damon Runyon picture.

In none of those seven newspapers

have I read anything about Lucille Ball being a Communist.

I don’t hear anyone talking about it.

Since when do you talk to anyone?

I got news for you: the less you talk, the more things you hear,

and I haven’t heard anything.


problems at home?

Problems at home?



I’d like very much to have problems at home, but my problem’s not home that much.

Few times a week.

He was playing cards on the boat Wednesday night.

I know.

The picture’s six months old.

I was there when it was taken.

I’m saying, why wasn’t he home, where I and our daughter were?

Your husband is in love with America like no man I have ever known

since George M. Cohan, who loved America so much he wrote the same song five times.


Desi loves America as much as that guy.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not Cuban.

I know that.

The world he’s from

has a very narrow definition of manhood.

I know that, too.

The man is the man.


And not for nothing, but the women are happy.

(scoffs softly) You’ve asked them?

They look happy.

I see.

But that’s neither here nor there.

It really isn’t.

He’s mesmerized by you, Lucille.

And he misses you when you’re in two different places.

He does. I’m a witness.

He doesn’t have to.


We live in the same house.

He does have to.

That’s what I’m saying.

He has to spend time away from you so that he can feel like he’s not the…

Second banana.

I navigate male egos for a living, bud.

Then why are you running the set?

Why are you running rehearsals?

You’re doing it right in front of him.

I can’t prioritize the director’s feelings over the health of the show.

No, no, not… I couldn’t care less about Donald’s feelings if I tried hard.

He’s a hack.

But we’ll overcome that because, frankly, we’re not doing Uncle Vanya.

Got it.

But the business at the dinner table has to be precise.


I was only in vaudeville 40 years,

so I wouldn’t know about these things of which you speak.

I know you know.

I’m just saying…

You did it in front of Desi is my point.

Let me tell you something about Desi.

He runs this show.

Every creative decision goes through him.

Every business decision… the network, Philip Morris.

And if that wasn’t enough, he is camera-ready on Monday.

Takes me five days to get a laugh.

He’s killing it at the table read.

(chuckles softly)

And that man, believe me, is nobody’s second banana.

How many people know that?

Know what?

That Desi runs the show.

How many people know that?

OLDER MADELYN: There was a minute there

when Lucy was gonna be a serious actress.

In serious movies.

She was gonna compete for roles with Crawford, Hayworth.

Might’ve been Lucy in All About Eve.

And you know what? She’d have blown the doors off the place.

It was almost like that.

For a minute there.

♪ ♪


(tuning guitar)


(pants, grunts)


What happened?


Flat tire!

Quarter of a mile back.

And you abandoned the car there?

I sprinted the last 500 yards.

What’s going on?

Also you ran with a bottle of champagne in your hand?

(breathlessly): Bringing it…

…more festive.

I got it.

I got the part.

Which part?

I got the part, Des.

The Big Street.

You said it was going to Rita Hayworth.

Scheduling problems.

Then they went to Judy Holliday.

Scheduling problems.

I got the female lead in The Big Street.

That’s tremendous.

That’s tremendous.

I’m opposite Henry Fonda.

But when does it start photography?

Two weeks.

(panting continues)

I still can’t catch my breath.


It’s Damon Runyon.

I know!

I know. I read the script, and I’m very, I’m very happy, Lucy,

but I was looking forward to you coming out on tour.

Rita Hayworth had scheduling problems.

Mm, so did you.

You don’t think I want to be in the same city at the same time as my husband?

I know. I know.

What do I…

Every decision I make is based on being near you.

Every single decision.

Well, yes, but obviously not every single decision.

No? Hmm?


You know how many years I’ve spent sticking my head into frame,

saying something bitchy and going away?

Crappy little roles in pictures I wouldn’t pay a nickel to see

if the theater had the only available air-conditioning.


If The Big Street is a hit,

I’ll be getting the roles that go to Rita and Judy and Bette.

Which Judy?



Who’s the baseball player that you talk about?

The one who sat down and let Lou Gehrig start that streak.

Oh, Wally Pipp.

Gehrig was his understudy.


And the guy took a rest one day.

Gehrig came in, didn’t come out for 40 years.

14 years, and it was Wally Pipp.

Okay, well, imagine if Wally Pipp had scheduling problems,

Lou Gehrig, instead of grabbing his glove, toured with his husband’s Latin orchestra.

It would’ve changed the course of baseball.

And the course of Latin music.


Rita Hayworth is Wally Pipp.

I’m Lou Gehrig.

The Big Street is the Yankees.

I understood the metaphor so long ago.

You don’t have to tour. You could stay in town.

And do what?

Sell out Ciro’s every night.

♪ ♪

We’re not a house band.

I’d like to sell out New York.

I’d like to sell out Chicago and Miami, too.

I know.


Eight weeks.

I’ll come wherever you are on the weekends.

So it’ll be important that you not fall in love with someone else

Mondays through Fridays.


Should we open the champagne, take our clothes off

and go skinny-dipping in the pool?

That bottle of champagne is basically a grenade now,

but all your other ideas were good.

Lucy, Lucy, Jesus.


You’re gonna be a movie star.

You comfortable with that?

Am I comfortable with that?

That bottle has comic timing.

♪ ♪

I’ve been at the studio for almost ten years.

I’ve never been in the president’s office.

Mr. Koerner isn’t the president. He’s the head of production.

Second in command.

Still higher than I’ve ever gotten.

(intercom buzzes)

Yes, sir.

KOERNER: Send her in.

You can go on in.



Charles Koerner.

Lucille Ball. (chuckles)

You like Lucille or Lucy?

Lucy’s fine. I mean either’s fine.


All right.

And do I call you Charlie?

Anyone as brilliant as you were in The Big Street

can call me Betsy and I wouldn’t care.

(laughs) Thank you.

Please, sit. Sit here.

(Lucille sighs)

Thank you.

(sighs heavily)

That was a whole new side of you we’ve never seen.

Where’s that been?

It’s been buried under bad movies.


I’ve heard you make some form of that joke before.

Keep putting me in pictures like The Big Street, you won’t hear it again.

We’re dropping your contract, Lucy.


No, it-it’s not a joke.

That was…

RKO is dropping your contract.

I don’t understand.

We don’t have anything for you.

But that…

(exhales sharply)

This is happening fast.

The Big Street was a hit.

It was a critical hit.

I get that there wasn’t a stampede to the box office,

but you didn’t lose money, did you?


Do you understand the conditions

under which this picture was finished?

No, it has nothing to do with conditions…

Damon Runyon left town before principal photography,

our director joined the Army during postproduction,

and our editor died.

He just flat-out died.

There were a number of obstacles.

That’s accurate.

Did you read the reviews?

They were very impressive.

They were more than impressive.

This has nothing to do with your performance in The Big Street.

But it should have everything to do with my performance in The Big Street.

I… I showed what I can do, and that’s just the beginning of what I can do.

That is just the beginning of it.

(Lucille sighs)

Are you sure this isn’t a joke?

It’s a tough business.

I know that!

I’ve been in it since I was 14!

But you’re 35 now.

And that is the problem?


The problem is you’re really 39, aren’t you?


39-year-olds don’t go to see your movies?

They don’t want to see stories about themselves?

You came through for us when Judy Holliday and Rita Hayworth were on other pictures,

and we didn’t want to lose Fonda.

Now, this studio has a handshake understanding with Metro and Warner,

and they’ll loan us Holliday or Hayworth,

so we just don’t have enough for you to warrant keeping you under contract.

Judy Holliday does one thing very well, but it’s just one thing.

I know how you’re feeling right now.

I’ve had to have this conversation a hundred times.

I’m surprised because you’re terrible at it.

Can I make a suggestion?


The hell did you just say to me?

You’ve got the voice for it.

Look, I’ve noticed there’s a lot you can do with your voice.

You should think about radio, Lucy.

And you should go fuck yourself, Betsy.

♪ ♪

(crickets chirping)

(sighs softly)

DESI: Lucy?

What are you doing?

I’m reading scripts.

Oh, it’s 3:00 in the morning.

I know.

I’m drunk, too.

I know why you like drinking.

I didn’t get it till about two hours ago.

You read any good movies?

These are radio pilots.

Oh, yeah?


There’s nothing wrong with radio.

I do it all the time.

You’re a bandleader.

You know, Bataan was a hit, too.

I didn’t hear you.

Bataan was a hit.

I was good.

The reviews were valentines, and I didn’t bang a drum.

It would have led to better parts, except I had to go to…

what do you call it?…

fight World War II.

And now those crappy little parts in pictures you wouldn’t pay a nickel to see

if it was the only available air-conditioning in the…


I can’t get them.

♪ ♪

(sighs softly)

DESI: Gee, honey, are you sure those bandages are fake?

Oh, yeah.

Are you sure you’re all right?

Yeah, honey, I’m fine.

Oh, yeah… oh, let me help you.

(groans): Oh.

It’s a good thing the Mertzes had their awning up.

Oh, honey.


It was all my fault.

No, it was my fault, honey.

Weren’t we silly?

DESI: Yes. We will never argue again.

Ah, baby.

Lucy, are you okay?!

Yeah, I’m fine.

You sure?

I’m sure.

WILLIAM: Thank goodness you’re all right.

LUCILLE: Why? What’s the matter?

When I told Ethel the whole gag was my idea,

she got mad and went home to her mother.


Oh, no.

DONALD: And we cut. Good.

Is that lunch?

(indistinct chatter)

That’s one hour for lunch!

We’ll do notes onstage after and go again.

Uh, one quick thing.

The table scene is getting good.

Yeah, it’s not.

I wanted to circle back again and express

my serious concern about Ricky’s entrance at the top.

I brought it up at the table read Monday. There haven’t been new pages.

Because it’s gonna work.

Hear me out.


Right now,

Lucy is trimming the flowers on the table.

Ricky opens the door and comes in.

We’re gonna have to cut the flowers.

I don’t mean “cut the flowers.” I mean cut the flowers.

I couldn’t understand the difference between those two line readings.

We’re running long. We have to cut the bit with the flowers.

How long?

About a minute.

All right, well, we’ll get back to the flowers.

The front door opens, Ricky comes in.

Lucy doesn’t see or hear him, which is unusual

because the front door is, you know,

right there.


And in previous episodes, we’ve established

Lucy’s eyes and ears are connected to her brain.

We-we buy the conceit.

I’m sorry?

We buy it.

Lucy is so focused on making the table nice

she doesn’t even notice Ricky coming in the door.

Okay, I’ll run with that.


Ricky walks up to her quietly.

He puts his hands over her eyes and says…

“Guess who it is.”

And then Lucy says, “Bill? Sam? Pat? Ralph?”


She’s teasing him.

Yes, she’s teasing him.

That’s clear. Ricky responds…



And the stage direction for Ricky says “burning.”


He’s upset.

Lucy continues the teasing.

“George? Julius? Stephen? Ivan?”


We changed that to

“Pedro? Julio? Juan? Guillermo?”

MADELYN: “Because those are Spanish names.

“I mean Mexican. Cuban. Latin.

“They’re Brazilian names.


You done?


ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: We’re moving into a meal penalty.

Yeah, okay.

LUCILLE: Lucy guesses some names.

Yeah, teasingly.

And the script indicates that Ricky takes his hands away from Lucy’s eyes,

turns her around and says…

“No, it’s me.”

So my question again, Jess:

Does Ricky honestly, truly believe that there might be eight different men

who routinely walk into their apartment, all of whom sound exactly like Desi Arnaz?

You think we’re saying Ricky’s stupid?

I think you’re saying the audience is.

And that’s something for which they won’t soon forgive you.

You charge for these lessons?

A ton.

For the sake of the joke, the audience will take the leap with us.

They will, but you’ll need a busload of orthopedists when they land.


Let’s talk about this after lunch, huh?

I have an idea.

I got a crew here,

and we’re about to run into a penalty, so…

Lucy is working on the flowers.

We’re cutting the flowers for time.

I don’t mean literally cutting the flowers in the scene…

I cannot go through that again.

Ricky opens the door, comes in,

shuts the door, as we’ve seen him do in 37 episodes.

Lucy doesn’t acknowledge him.

Uh, so far, you’re describing the script.


But instead of playing the hands-over-the-eyes guessing game,

Ricky just stands there.

He can’t understand why Lucy doesn’t notice he’s home any more than we can.

He stands there for a full beat, and then another,

and then merrily, in a slightly exaggerated manner,

as we’ve heard him do a hundred times, he says…

“Lucy, I’m home!”


For Ricky is funny.

Hey, Luce?

Let’s talk about it after lunch.


That’s lunch!

One hour!

Back onstage for notes!

MAN: All right, lunch!

(indistinct chatter)

Hang on!

Desi, does that work for you?

Works perfect.

We’ll talk about it after lunch.

It needed to be fixed.

♪ ♪

BOB: I think we can get more out of “hypocrite.”


Yeah? Like what?

Like Lucy turns to Desi and says,

“Well, it’s nice to know I’m married to a hypocrite.”

And Desi gets his back up and says…


Then turns to Fred and says, “What’s a hypocrite?”

Fred tells him, “It’s a person who says one thing

but does another.”


Desi says, “Thank you,” turns back to Lucy and says…

“Oh, yeah?” (chuckles)

Yeah, that’s good. That’s good.

Yeah, that’s exactly what I was gonna pitch.

But I pitched it faster.

By interrupting me.

How do you think I got to be a woman in a comedy room?


Hey, is now a good time?

JESS: Yeah. Madelyn had a good idea.

Desi’s entrance, we shoot it both ways and see which one gets the bigger laugh.

That was my idea.

It’s a bad idea.

Mm. It’s just not your day.

Can I have a minute in your office?

JESS: Yeah.


(sighs): All right.

(phone ringing in distance)

What’s wrong with shooting it both ways?

You’ll be on the floor during the show, right?

I’ll be where I always am.

In full view of the audience?

I suppose.

Since we’re doing it both ways,

how about we do it once with your pants on and once with your pants off?

That’s not the same.

It is.

And I don’t want to do the version with my pants off in front of 200 people.

But that’s not what I need to talk to you about.

You’re not gonna tell me you’re pregnant again, are you?

No. I’m still pregnant from before, but no.

Jess, you know how much I value you.

I think I do.

You know you do.


And you also know what it is Desi does around here.


I mean, every business decision goes through Desi.


In fact, most business decisions are made by Desi.

You married a very bright man.

I did.

He makes a lot of creative decisions, too.

Mm. I’m not sure I’d say a lot.

I would. I’d say a lot.

He devised the camera system that we use.

He’s the reason the East Coast doesn’t see the show on a foggy kinescope.


And even though we use three cameras,

the studio audience can see every scene.

That’s him, too.


And the four of us, the cast, we can see the audience.

I give him a lot of credit for that.

He’s the one who thought up Lucy being pregnant on the show.

That is never gonna happen, ’cause no matter what CBS says,

Philip Morris is never gonna let it happen.

But, like I said, I give him credit.

That’s the thing, though. You don’t.

What do you mean?

He doesn’t get credit as an executive producer,

which, let’s face it, is what he is.


You get sole credit.

I didn’t win my credit in a raffle! I earn it.

I’m the showrunner! Not to mention being the creator of the show.

I don’t see how we could do the show without you.

You absolutely could not.

I don’t see how we could do the show without Desi either.

Because he plays Ricky, which he does get a screen credit for.


Is this something our agents should be talking about?


‘Cause I’m not at all comfortable with this conversation.

I’m about to make you less comfortable.

I need you to help me save my marriage.

♪ ♪

I need you to help me save my marriage.

What do you think they’re talking about in there?

I think they’re talking about you.

I think they want to pay you less because you’re not as funny as I am.

Mary Pat, would you mind asking Desi if I can come see him?


(door closes)

LUCILLE: Madelyn?


(phone ringing in distance)

Was everything all right in there?


So, listen.


It has to be coherent, because if it’s anything goes, then nothing’s funny.

Anything Goes was a hit.

Not Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

I mean if an…

I know.

Why are you telling me?

The opening,

Ricky’s entrance with his hands over my eyes, that was Jess, right?

Outside of that room, we make it a point not to talk about who wrote what.

It wasn’t Jess?


You know I’m right about the logic.

Why aren’t you backing me up instead of endorsing a plan to shoot it both ways?

Listen, why don’t we get together for a drink or a swim this weekend,

and we can put it on the agenda?

Because the show is tomorrow and I’m fine talking about it now.

By all means, let’s unnecessarily add more to what you’re worried about this week.

I’m not worried! I’m…


(hushed): I’m not worried.

I’m saying I count on you to be the firewall, to be…

to-to make sure… just… logic, okay?

I won’t say who wrote what, but I can tell you

that I’m the lady in there trying to make Lucy smarter.

Excuse me?

I’m the one trying, every week, to…

Lucy’s dumb?

I didn’t say that.

You’re trying…

struggling, it sounds like… to make Lucy smarter?

I created this character with you. (chuckles softly)

And she needs to be smarter?

She sometimes, for the sake of comedy, is infantilized.

(exhales sharply)

This is a crazy week,

time and place to be having this conversation.

This is important…

How is she infantilized?

She literally says, “Waah.”

‘Cause when she does, 60 million people laugh,

just like with Lou Costello and Stan Laurel, and you get paid.

When those two grown men play slow-witted five-year-olds, I cringe.

Then I question your comedy IQ.

No, you don’t.

You think I’m the funniest writer in the room,

and that’s why you’re talking to me and not Jess.

Many people regard Lucy as clever.

I mean, she always has a plan to overcome an obstacle.

Yeah, but oftentimes that obstacle is her husband’s permission.

You really think, this week, right now, is the best time to talk about this?

No! I literally said that 30 seconds ago.



it’s just a female perspective from another generation.

Another generation?

Ah, you’re on a roll.

Bette Davis, Bacall, Hepburn.

Funny women.

Judy Holliday.

Judy Holliday? Go to hell.

They are funny women.

And they’re smart and tough and they outsmart the men.

So why do you and Gracie Allen feel like you have to…

Oh, stop. Okay.

Stop, stop, stop, stop.

Maddie, I love you.

You’re like, I guess,

a great-granddaughter to me from another generation.


And my fervent wish for you is that, one day,

you will be half as funny as Gracie Allen.

In the meantime, please remember that Lucy and Ricky and Fred and Ethel,

if they live past tomorrow, have to live in a reality

that accepts the physical laws of the universe.

Ricky knows that Lucy doesn’t believe

there are possibly eight other men in the apartment!


(sighs heavily)

But I don’t make that decision.

(door opens)

JESS: Let’s go!


Mary Pat, cut the flowers.

And to be clear, by “cut the flowers,” I mean…

She knows exactly what you mean.

Yeah, let’s go.

(mutters): Judy Holliday.

This isn’t happening.

♪ ♪

(clears throat)


Mr. Arnaz?

Come in.

Mr. Oppenheimer is here to see you with Mr. Carroll and Miss Pugh.

Uh, nothing from Mr. Lyons yet?



Anyone at Philip Morris?



(phone ringing)

Acompáñame al escenario.

Walk me to the stage. We’re an hour behind.

Okay, Madelyn’s got a new joke for the second act.

I just this minute told Lucy that we don’t talk about who wrote what.

Madelyn came up with the joke just seconds after I did.

Isn’t it possible that two comedy writers working on the same script

came up with the same joke at the same time?

It’s possible.

Thank you.

Just not what happened.

Do I need to be here for any of this?

Uh, “Hypocrite? What’s a hypocrite?”

So that’s to Fred.

Got it. Good.

Is that what you wanted me for?

Okay, no, no, no, no, no.

The hypocrite joke is for episode nine. That’s the script we’re working on, okay?

If Lucy’s gonna be pregnant… Lucy Ricardo…

then we have to introduce it in nine, according to your timetable.


So I just want to confirm that there’s no chance we’re doing that, right?

We are doing that.

You know Philip Morris won’t let us.

And-and even if they did, we don’t want to see this girl pregnant.

We don’t want to know that she’s pregnant.

We don’t want to know how she got pregnant.

Do we have viewers who don’t know how women get pregnant?

Yeah, they’re called children.

Uh, do any of these children have younger brothers or sisters?

You know what, you know what else a lot of our viewers are? Christian.

Ah, I’m way ahead of you.

I’m going to have a priest, a minister and a rabbi review every script.

I’m gonna get rewritten by a priest, a minister and a rabbi?


A joke in there somewhere.

Good, because if I’m rewritten by a priest, a minister and a rabbi,

there aren’t gonna be many left in the script.

(laughs) Good one.

Uh, Des…

No, no, e-enough. Enough.

I sent a telegram to Alfred Lyons.

You did.


And I’ve put the decision in his hands.

Okay. Okay.

All right.

(chuckles): Okay, good.

You’re that sure he’s gonna say no, huh?

I am.

That it? Okay.



Oh, Bob, Bob, tell Desi that thing you were saying before.




DESI: Guys.

JESS: No, it was interesting.

Bob was saying that you…


…are really the title character of the show.

Because you are the “I” in I Love Lucy.


So strictly speaking, you have top billing.

I am the “I” in I Love Lucy.

(chuckles): Yeah.

I never thought of it that way.

Yeah, you like that?

I like that.


(chuckles): Jess…

patronize me again, and I’ll stick my hand down your throat

and pull your fucking lungs out. (pops lips)

Look… (stammers)

ROSEN: Excuse me.

What is it?

It-It’s a telegram for Mr. Arnaz.

It’s from Mr. Lyons and Philip Morris.


Vamos a ver.


Let’s go, please.

We are an hour behind.


What does it say?

“To all Philip Morris and CBS employees:

Don’t fuck with the Cuban.”

(thunder rumbling)

LUCILLE: “He didn’t come home and he hasn’t called.

Not that it makes any difference to me.”

“Oh, I can see that it doesn’t make any difference to you.

Why don’t you call Ricky and tell him you’re sorry?”

“What? You think I’d allow my pride…” Hmm.

“Do you think I’d swallow my pride like that?”

(whispers): Never.

(whispers): What are you doing up?

(hushed): I woke up and you weren’t there.

So I went to the nursery to see if everything was okay, and…

she kicked her blanket off, so I fixed it.

That woke her up.

But as you can see, I got her back to sleep.

(thunder rumbling softly)

You know we pay a housekeeper to do the laundry, right?

I like doing laundry. I never get the chance.

Okay, I’m going to put her back in her little apartment now.

You should come back to bed.

I will.

(exhales heavily)

“Do you think I’d call him and go crawling back?”

“What? Do you think I’d swallow my pride?”

“Do you think I’d call and go crawling…”

(thunder rumbling softly)

(sighs heavily)

(inhales sharply)

♪ ♪

(whispers): “What? Do you think I’d swallow my pride like that?”

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪


LUCILLE: Over here.

Thanks, Bobby.

BOBBY: You got it, Bill.

WILLIAM: (sighs) What the hell?

LUCILLE: Thanks for coming down.

It’s 2:00 in the morning.

Sorry about that.

Kid, what’s going on?

I’m gonna restage the dinner scene.

Let’s go to my dressing room and call Desi.

No, Desi’s at home with the baby. We can do this.

Does he know you’re here?

He’s sleeping.

Let me take you home.

Is that him?

That’s Viv.

You called her, too?

I’m restaging the dinner scene.

(car door opens, closes)

This isn’t for beginners, you know. This isn’t school.

I don’t hire the directors.

I know. I’m just saying.

VIVIAN: What’s happening here?

Thanks for coming, Viv.

Is everything all right?

WILLIAM: The three of us

are on an empty soundstage at 2:00 in the morning,

she’s drunk, I’m not.

So, yeah, everything’s great. Why do you ask?

Your call just said to come to the stage, that it was an emergency.

So I…

We need to re-block the dinner scene.

It’s not gonna take long.


You heard her right.

It won’t take long. We just need to make an adjustment.

Two people who are fighting have to share a seat at a dinner table.

First thing, we take this, move it upstage so the camera can see you.

Now, this can’t just be a mishmash of pushing.

Can’t just be a scrum.

Each move has to be articulate.

So Ethel elbows Fred.

Elbow him.

(audience laughter)

Fred elbows Ethel a little harder.


(audience laughter)

Ethel elbows Fred harder.


Then Fred.

Now hit each other at the same time and fall off the chair.

(audience laughter, clapping)

That’s that.

Let’s run it a couple of times at speed. Hmm?

Did something happen?

I’m sorry?

At home.

Did something just happen?

Uh… (exhales)

No. I was, um…


I was doing some laundry and…


Yeah. (sniffs) Yeah.

I wanted to fix this beat.

I… (exhales heavily) I couldn’t sleep.

It’s like when you’re not sure if you’ve left the oven unlocked.

Door unlocked. Nothing.

(fingers snap)

I wanted to fix this beat.

Let’s do it again.

You know I did this show so Desi and I could be together?

♪ ♪

I had no idea it was gonna be a hit.

I just thought, “Well, the construction department’s gonna

build us a little apartment, and that’s where we’ll live most of the time.”

You know?

And it worked out.

This is where…

It’s like a story you’d read a little girl.

A witch puts a curse on a woman.

She’ll be adored by the man she loves,

but only as long as she stays on this…

(whispers): patch of ground.

(chuckles softly)

It’s still a lot more than most people get.

Let’s run it at speed.

I’m gonna drive you home.

Let me take…

I am the biggest asset

in the portfolio of the Columbia Broadcasting System,

the biggest asset in the portfolio of Philip Morris tobacco, Westinghouse.

I get paid a fortune to do exactly what I love doing.

I work side by side with my husband, who is genuinely impressed by me.

And all I have to do to keep it is kill every week for 36 weeks in a row,

and then do it again the next year.


So let’s do it again.

♪ ♪

OLDER MADELYN: After RKO dropped Lucy’s contract,

MGM had her in for a Technicolor test,

which she didn’t know yet would be one of the most important moments in her life.

A man named Sydney Guilaroff was Metro’s chief hair stylist.

Looked at Lucy and said, “The hair is brown but the soul is on fire.”

He dyed her hair a new color.

(indistinct chatter)

Quiet, please.

(band playing lively theme music)

It’s time for My Favorite Husband, starring Lucille Ball.


Jell-O, everybody!

ANNOUNCER: Yes, it’s the gay family series,

starring Lucille Ball with Richard Denning,

transcribed and brought to you by the Jell-O family of desserts.

♪ J-E-L-L-Oh! ♪

(band playing jingle)

♪ The big red letters stand for the Jell-O family ♪

♪ Oh, the big red letters stand for the Jell-O family ♪

♪ That’s Jell-O ♪

♪ Yum, yum, yum ♪

♪ Jell-O puddings ♪

♪ Yum, yum, yum. ♪

(jingle ends)

ANNOUNCER: And now, Lucille Ball with Richard Denning

as Liz and George Cooper, two people who live together and like it.

(light music playing)

As we look in on the Coopers,

it’s a beautiful spring day and Liz is just going to the kitchen

to talk to Katy, the maid.

(birds chirping)

Oh, Katy?

Yes, Mrs. Cooper?

Katy, I’ve got some good news for you.



What do you mean, “Uh-oh”?

I say I’ve got some good news and you say, “Uh-oh”?

(audience laughter)

Every time you say you’ve got good news, it’s usually good for you and bad for me.

Oh, well…

that’s a little true.

(audience laughter)


JESS: Lucy?

Come on in.

That was a good show.

Yeah, I thought so, too.

Pass it on to Maddie and Bob, would you?

Mm-hmm. I’ve, uh, I got two gentlemen out here who’d like to meet you,

and you’re gonna want to hear what they have to say.

Does it need to sound ominous? Can’t they just come in?

(chuckles softly)

Yeah. Please, come in.

Lucille Ball.

Yes, sir.

David Levy, head of comedy development, CBS.

David Hart, head of current programming, CBS.

Well, David and David,

I’ve been in a current comedy at CBS and I’ve never heard of either of you.

CBS Television.

CBS does television?

Yeah. Edward R. Murrow is one of our t…

I was kidding.


That was funny.

Thank you.

These, uh, these men have an interesting idea.

LEVY: Lucy, we’ve been here to the show a few times now.

We noticed that when you do the show, you use gestures and expressions.

You mean the acting?


My face, my body, my voice, that’s all I get to work with.

It’s just unusual because it’s radio.

I watched Jack Benny.

He plays it for the studio audience.

It works pretty well for him.

It does.

And it works pretty well for you, too. Very well.

And we think it’s a shame that no one gets to see it.

Invent a way to see what’s on the radio.

We did. It’s television.

Are you here to sell me one?

JESS: Lucy.

They want to put My Favorite Husband on TV.

♪ ♪

LUCILLE: I’m very interested.

(lively chatter)

ROGER: That’s great.

LEVY: Is it too early to raise a glass?

To My Favorite Husband.



Except I don’t want to do My Favorite Husband.

I’m confused.

Yeah, me, too.

Don’t panic. It’s simple.

I’m interested in the idea of doing My Favorite Husband on television.

I just want it to be a different show.

(chuckles): What kind of show do you want it to be?

One where Desi plays my husband.

I understand there’s a casting issue.

Was that to me?


I wasn’t sure. You’re quite a ways away.

Our casting department has come up with a list

of very exciting names that we think you’ll like.

Pass this down to Lucy.

These are all very funny men.

I think we have mimeos for everyone.

One of the best lists I’ve seen in a while.

Number 12 died last week.

That’s my fault.

There’s no issue.

What was that?

I was answering Mr. Macy.

There’s no casting issue.

I’m ready and eager to do a half-hour domestic comedy for CBS,

if the role of my husband… let’s call him Shmezy… is played by Desi.

Can I remark on this?


On My Favorite Husband, your husband is the fifth vice president of a bank.


Can I ask you, in all candor,

do you see Desi as the fifth vice president of a bank?

I can’t see him being the fifth vice president of anything.

I can see him owning the bank.

You see the problem?

I see what you think is the problem.

MACY: Lucy.


I don’t ordinarily come to meetings like this.

This meeting is several floors below my general interest.

I’m here to deliver a hard truth.

We cannot have an all-American girl married to a man who isn’t American.

He is American.

He was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and he served in the war.

You know exactly what I mean, Lucy.

He’s Spanish.

Still no.

He’s never been to Spain in his life.

He speaks Spanish. He was born in Cuba.

His father was the mayor of Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city.

You know exactly what…

What you mean? Yes.

I do.

Look, I’m not here to get a job for my nephew.

Desi Arnaz is a phenomenally talented man.

Not just a world-class musician, but a very good actor

who would be a movie star if there was such a thing as a Cuban movie star.

Moreover, we work very well together.

I go out and meet him when he’s touring, he brings me up for some sketches,

and it works.


Yeah, it works.

Any cultural differences will make for good comedy.

Am I right, Jess?

You’re not wrong.

Now, I don’t want to take another meeting like this

’cause I don’t know how many more people will fit around the table.

My position is not gonna change.

You want me on television?

There is only one television show that I’m willing to do.

So, what’s it gonna be?

(sighs softly)

(band playing I Love Lucy theme)

(lively chatter)

All right, holding. Get Des.

(music ends)


(applause continues in distance)

We think it’s about 15 minutes.

You think?

We’re holding for something.

I’m not sure what.

Okay, thanks.



Yeah, come in.


Can I have a second?


(footsteps receding)

(band playing in distance)

I think I know why you want to see me.

Do you?

Hear me out.

I asked you to do me a favor, Jess.

I asked you to give him an E.P. credit.


Instead, you tried to convince him he was the title character or some bullshit.

What the hell was that?!

I’m sorry if he was insulted.


I mean, I know he’s insulted, so I’m sorry.

He wasn’t insulted. He was laughing about it.

But, yeah, he’s insulted.

No, he’s offended. I’m insulted.

I asked you to do me a small favor.


And it’s not like you don’t owe me a couple.


It wasn’t a small favor.

And I don’t know what you think I owe you.


It wasn’t a small favor.

You asked me to save your marriage.

No, I…

And-and it’s not the first time you’ve asked me to do that, is it?

I asked you to give him an E.P. credit, that’s all.

Oh, no problem. Can my wife play Lucy once in a while?

If your wife played Lucy once in a while,

I would think it appropriate she be so credited.

And what do you mean it’s not the first time

I asked you to save my marriage?


(imitating Lucille): “Jess, Jess, we’ll have Desi play my husband.

It’ll save my marriage.”

Was that supposed to be me?

Yeah, yeah.

Don’t do voices.

Oh, are you insulted? Desi’s offended?

You asked me to give away my job title like it was a parking spot!

You’re right.

I’m sorry!

Jesus Christ, Lucy!

Sometimes I think that you…

Wait, what?

You’re right. I’m sorry.

I was dead wrong.

I wasn’t expecting that.

I know.

Have you ever said that to me before?

I doubt it, but…

I’ve thought it, if that means anything.

It does.

It’s just been a compound fracture of a week.


Why are we holding?

I’m not sure.

We’re holding. Someone has to know why.

He’s-he’s coming.



Come in.

Desi’s asking to see you in his office.

You mean in his dressing room?

No, he’s in his office

with some CBS executives and some men from Philip Morris.

Why is he in his office at showtime?

♪ ♪

The evening editions just came out.

Listen to me.

Memorize this.

“It’s none of your fucking business.”


Let that be the best thing I ever wrote.


It’s still “Vitameatavegamin.”


(hushed chatter)

(chatter quiets)

(clears throat)

DESI: The evening edition.

It’s all right.


It’s all right.

(exhales sharply)

It’s in four-inch type.

I’m gonna fix this.

That’s Hindenburg type.

I’ve already made the calls.

And they used red ink.


I didn’t even know newspapers had red ink.

I guess they do.

I was cleared.

Somehow, the city editor, a woman named Agness Underwood,

has a photostatic copy of the affidavit showing you registered in 1936

as a voter intending to affiliate with the Communist Party.

But I was cleared.

After the testimony, they stamped “canceled” on the card,

and I saw the card.

Other papers are showing the canceled card.

They’re running a caption that says, “Note the cancellation at left.”

But the Herald-Express took the word “canceled” out of the document altogether.

Other papers?

Yes, yes, but I’ve-I’ve made calls and we are taking care of this.

We… Eh?

Calls to who?

Every reporter within 20 minutes of this soundstage.

That’s why we’re holding.

You’re saying reporters are coming here?


We’ll seat them in the back of the bleachers.

You think we’re still filming a show?

Why are none of you talking?

Desi has an idea.

I’m going to warm up the audience the way I always do,

except instead of “Cuban Pete” and the joke about the turtle,

I’m going to tell them what happened.

I’m going to explain that you checked the wrong box,

I’m going to show them the canceled document,

and then I’m going to bring you out

so the press sees them give you a round of applause.



Fellas, can we, um…

have the room for just a moment?

You’re not telling these people that I checked the wrong box.

This is a critical moment, Lucy.

If I’m gonna die…

You’re not.

…I would rather die standing up.

(scoffs) I don’t have any idea what that is suppo…

I’m not an idiot. I didn’t check the wrong box.

You saw the headline.

You can see the headline from outer space.

Then please…

Grandpa Fred raised me from when I was age four.

He cared about the little guy. He cared about workers’ rights.

It was a tribute to him, and to say that I checked the wrong…

Grandpa Fred, Grandpa Fred.

Grandpa Fred was wrong, Lucy!

Yes, he didn’t tell you the part where they throw your father in prison

for the crime of being the mayor of a city.

I was chased to this country, Lucy!

Believe me, you checked the wrong box!

And if they don’t applaud?

They will. And the press will write that they did.

You’re gonna tell them I was accused of…

They’re going to read it in the morning anyway.

We have a sample population of 200 people on our stage, so…

Miss Rosen!

If they boo me?

If they boo you…

…then we’re done.

Here, tonight.

(door opens)

Call this man.

Tell them it’s for me.

They’ll find him.

He’s expecting my call.

Tell me when you have him.

ROSEN: Yes, sir.

(door closes)

(rumba music playing faintly)

(music continues inside)

Someone said they spotted you going out here.


I was just told.


Jesus, Lulu. Four-inch type?

Red ink.

I shouldn’t have piled on this week.

It just…


None of that matters right now.

May be the last time we’re out here.

Say it.


Lucy Ricardo is married to a man six years younger than she is,

and Ethel is married to her grandfather, and it’s understood,

as the underlying premise for a running joke,

that I’m not pretty enough for him.

(clicks tongue)

It got to me.

And at the world’s worst time.

That was a knockout dress.


Oh. You two want to be alone out here?



(Madelyn chuckles)

(Madelyn sighs)

You’re my hero.

I care about what works, Maddie.

♪ ♪

I care about what’s funny.

I don’t see myself caring about a woman’s perspective from a new generation.

I care about you.

I’d love for someone to bring me breakfast.

That’s not what we were talking about.


Doesn’t a P.A. bring you breakfast every day?



Never French toast.

We’ll look into that.

I came out here

to try to distract you with nonsense, but I assume these two beat me to it.

Viv doesn’t like the jokes about Ethel being unappealing.

Yeah, there’s no one within the sound of her voice who doesn’t know that.

I said what I felt.

You’ve been saying what you felt since the first day of work.

It’s not like you’ve suddenly given voice to your feelings.

You know what?

Sweet ladies?

Something dies inside a man…

…it just dies…

…the first time he hears a girl call him old.

So on the subject of Jess, Bob and Madelyn writing Ethel jokes,

I’m indifferent.

(groans) You two…

…are good actors.

It’s a privilege doing this show with you.

Now you’re scaring the shit out of me.

I was just gonna say.

LUCILLE: Desi’s gonna tell the audience.

He’s invited press.

He’s betting that the audience will accept the truth,

give their approval, and the press will write about it.

I’d take the other side of that bet.

(door opens)

P.A.: Excuse me.

Sorry. Mr. Arnaz is ready to do the warm-up.

Uh, they told me you wanted to know.

LUCILLE: Thank you.

All right. (clears throat)

See you out there.

Good show.

Good show.

WILLIAM: Good show.


The dinner scene is inarguably better.

(band playing lively music)

(music continues)

(indistinct chatter)

(music ends)

Now, ladies and gentlemen, give a warm welcome

to one of the stars of I Love Lucy.

You know him as Ricky Ricardo.

(women gasping)

Here’s Desi Arnaz!


(band plays bright riff)

Thank you.

Oh, thank you.

(people shouting “Desi!”)

Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you very much. (sighs)

Usually, right now, I’d be doing the final audience warm-up.

I’d tell you an old joke about a turtle.


And I’d point out

our groundbreaking camera system that allows the studio audience

to watch the show unobstructed and introduce you to the rest of the cast.

I’m not doing that tonight, and here’s why.

Last week, my wife, Lucille Ball,

was asked to testify in front of a closed session

of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

(audience murmuring)

Yes, the congressmen who investigate Communism.

After hours of testimony, the committee concluded unambiguously

that Lucy was and is in no way involved with the Communist Party.

So everything’s swell, right?


Because this is the evening edition headline in the Herald-Express.

(audience gasping, murmuring)

♪ ♪

So… (clears throat)

I made some phone calls.

I called the editor of the Herald-Express.

I called the chairman of the committee.

I called all the members of the committee.

And I made one more call to someone, and I believe he’s still on the line.

Thank you.

Are you still with me, sir?

MAN (on phone, amplified): Yes.

I’m now standing in front of a studio audience in Hollywood, California,

and we are joined by a number of members of the press.

MAN: That’s fine.

We want to know, sir, does the FBI have any case against Lucy?

Does the FBI have any evidence of wrongdoing?

Does the FBI have any reason to believe that Lucille Ball is a Communist?

No. Absolutely nothing.

She’s 100% clear.

(audience murmuring)

Thank you, sir. One more question.

Will you tell us your name please?

This is J. Edgar Hoover.

(audience gasping)

DESI: Thank you, sir.

Enjoy your evening.


Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my wife

and the star of I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball!

(audience cheering)

♪ ♪

(cheering continues)

So enjoy the show!

(band playing I Love Lucy theme)



(music, applause continue in distance)

(footsteps approaching)

It’s all over!

Thank you.

It’s over now.

Thank you.

They love you.

I love you.

No one’s gonna mess with you ever, Lucy.

I thought they were gonna boo.

(laughs) You want to do a show?

Have you been cheating on me?


Have you been cheating on me?

(laughs) Is this a bit?


No, I haven’t been.

When you stay out all night, you’re on the boat playing cards?


You haven’t been with anybody else?

What’s going on with you, honey?

Don’t gaslight me.

Where did this come from?

I mean, they just cheered for you out there.

They got it right, didn’t they?


They only got the picture wrong.


Did they get it right?


Did they get it exactly right?

Jesus Christ, I just proved out there that the Herald-Express got it wrong.

You think Confidential magazine…

Conf… We’re about to do a show.

(whispers): Just tell me.

Tell me why you think…

other than that garbage…

tell me why you think I’ve cheated on you.

That is your lipstick.

Remember? You kissed me at the beginning of the week,

and then took my handkerchief and wiped the lipstick off

and put it back in my pocket.

And you said you’d never done that before.

I hadn’t.

Then what the hell are we talking about?

This is my lipstick.

(chuckles softly)

♪ ♪

They were just call girls.


They’re hookers.

(exhales heavily)

It doesn’t mean anything, Lucy.

Look, Lucy, it doesn’t mean…


Let’s do the show. Yeah?

Let’s just forget about this for a half hour.

Yeah? Let’s do the show.

Jim, let’s go!

It’s not gonna get better than this.

Copy that.

All right, everybody!

Let’s do a show!

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: This is places for scene “A”!

MAN 1: Scene “A”!

MAN 2: Scene “A,” places!

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Okay, positions, everyone.

Cameras up.

Cameras up.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Quiet on set. Bell!

(soundstage bell rings)

Quiet please!

Quiet please!

Picture’s up!

Picture’s up.

Quiet, everyone!

Let’s roll sound.



Sound speed.

And mark.

Speed mark.


Settle. And action.

OLDER MADELYN: It ended up being a good show that night.

We did both versions of the opening,

but it was the original version that made it on the air,

the one with all the names.

You must’ve gotten a copy of the “B” negative,

’cause your original question was…

For the record, I won my bet with Desi.

CBS wouldn’t let us use the word “pregnant.”

But more people watched the birth of Little Ricky

than had ever watched a television program before.

Your original question?

You asked about why Lucy stopped when we were doing the alt.

The alternate version.

We were doing Lucy’s version of Ricky’s entrance first.

She was doing the bit with the flowers,

which we couldn’t use ’cause we were running long.

(audience laughter)

She takes a pitcher and pours water into the vase…

Which makes all the flowers come up to the surface.

(audience laughter)

It seemed like she just got lost in her own head for a second.

I can’t remember what her cue was.

It may have been the only time she ever went up on a line.

I can’t remember the first line, but we…

we had to stop and go again.

It was Desi’s line.

It was the new bit Lucy put in.

(chuckles): What was his line?

Lucy, I’m home!

(audience laughter)

♪ ♪

(chuckles softly)


I got lost for a second.

(audience chuckles)

DONALD: All right, let’s cut and go again.

We never went back to do another take of the alternate opening.

Lucy just wanted to move on.

♪ ♪

(audience laughter)


Guess who it is.

Bill? Sam?



(audience laughter)

Pedro? Pablo?


No, it’s me.

Ah, yes, of course.

(laughter continues)


Very, very funny.

♪ ♪

Hey, company for dinner?

Who is it?

How do you like the new water glasses, Ricky?

Who’s coming for dinner, Lucy?

Doesn’t the table look beautiful tonight?

Lucy, who is it?

Some people.

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(music fades)

(“Cuban Pete” playing)

♪ They call me Cuban Pete ♪

♪ I’m the king of the rumba beat ♪

♪ When I play the maracas, I go ♪

♪ Chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom ♪

♪ Yes, sir, I’m Cuban Pete ♪

♪ I’m the craze of my native street ♪

♪ When I start to dance, everything goes ♪

♪ Chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom ♪

♪ The señoritas, they sing and how they swing with this rumbero ♪

♪ It’s very nice ♪

♪ So full of spice ♪

♪ And when they’re dancing ♪

♪ They bring a happy ring, the maraquero ♪

♪ Singing a song ♪

♪ All the day long ♪

♪ So if you like the beat ♪

♪ Take a lesson from Cuban Pete ♪

♪ And I’ll teach you to chick chicky boom ♪

♪ Chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom ♪

♪ Sí, señorita ♪

♪ I know that you would like to chicky boom chick ♪

♪ Because it’s the dance ♪

♪ Of Latin romance ♪

♪ And Cuban Pete doesn’t teach you in a hurry like Arthur Murray ♪

♪ I come from Havana ♪

♪ And there’s always mañana ♪

♪ So, señorita, please ♪

♪ Take it easy, do it with ease ♪

♪ And you’ll love it when you do the chick ♪

♪ Chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom. ♪

(song ends)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(music fades)


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