I Love Lucy

I Love Lucy is one of the most revered sitcoms from the first Golden Age of Television. Created by real-life showbiz couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in television who doesn’t hold both the series and the married duo in high esteem. But as time goes on, fewer and fewer people know about the history of these two television trailblazers. Thankfully, comedian Amy Poehler will tell their story in a new documentary simply titled Lucy & Desi.

Deadline has word that Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live) is slated to make her feature documentary directing debut with Lucy & Desi, a new project set up at Imagine Documentaries and White Horse Pictures. The documentary is hoped to be the definitive film about the personal and professional lives of the power couple who were welcomed into the living rooms of two-thirds of the country at the height of I Love Lucy’s popularity. And with the support of Lucy and Desi’s estate and family, they should be able to pull it off.

Research is just now beginning on the Lucy and Desi documentary, so this project is still in the early stages. But the couple’s estate has already provided plenty of archival film footage, photos, and writings, much of which has never been seen by the viewing public. Though this will provide some fascinating insight into their personal life, it’s their television career that will really shine. Justin Wilkes at Imagine Documentaries said in a press release:

“As television’s long-reigning ‘First Family’, Lucy and Desi blazed a revolutionary trail through the cultural landscape that laid the groundwork for so much of the entertainment industry as we now know it. They created so many television firsts – not only in their portrayal of a multi-ethnic marriage or Lucy’s on-air pregnancy but as the first woman to head a studio and the creators of television syndication. It’s such an incredibly rich, inspiring and entertaining story and we’re honored to bring it to the screen.”

In fact, it was the success and foresight of Lucy and Desi’s own Desi Lu production banner that pushed Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek onto the air, allowing it to pave the way for sci-fi television. So it wasn’t only the TV sitcom that benefited from the couple’s breakthroughs in television, much of which came straight from Lucille Ball herself, which seems to be subtly alluded to in Amy Poehler’s statement about the movie:

“I am so excited to work with Imagine Docs to help present the incredible life and work of the brave and hilarious Lucille Ball, and her husband Desi.”

That shade wouldn’t be undeserved since Desi Arnaz was a womanizer and a heavy drinker, always having affairs and creating problems due to his drunken behavior. Lucy and Desi even separated for some time in 1944 before reconciling and agreeing to pursue projects together, and that’s where I Love Lucy came into play.

Poehler will also be producing the documentary through her Paper Kite production banner, and she’ll be joined by Justin Wilkes and Michael Roseberg at Imagine, Nigel Sinclair and Jeanne Elfant Festa at White Horse, and Mark Monroe at Diamond Docs, the latter also serving as a writer on the doc. Imagine Entertainment’s Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Sara Bernstein are executive producing along with Nicholas Ferrall and Cassidy Hartmann at White Horse, and Morgan Sackett at Diamond Docs.

Back in 2017, there was a narrative feature in the works that was also called Lucy and Desi. Aaron Sorkin was working on the script from the memoirs written by both Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, thanks to a rights package handed over by their children. We’re not sure what happened to that movie, which had eyes on Cate Blanchett to play Lucy, but we hope that comes back around, too.

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