CBS OFFICIAL: "THIS WON'T BE THE FIRST TIME THAT [CBS HAS] DISINTERRED LUCY TO BOOST [ITS] MONDAY NIGHT LINEUP."
HOLLYWOOD - CBS may have found the solution to its sagging Monday night lineup in, of all the unlikely places, Hollywood's fabled Forest Lawn Cemetery.
A Rollings Institute poll showing that Lucille Ball remains America's most popular star more than 16 years after her death did not go unnoticed at Black Rock, CBS's midtown Manhattan headquarters. CBS President Leslie Moonves immediately contacted Ms. Ball's daughter, Lucy Arnaz, and asked permission to disinter the Grand Old Lady of comedy, who is buried at Forest Lawn, in order to salvage the network's moribund Monday night lineup. Ms. Arnaz agreed without hesitation.
"Leslie sent over a case of those chocolates that my mother and Vivian [Vance] stuffed in their mouths in the chocolate factory episode [of 'I Love Lucy']. That was enough to sell me on the idea," Ms. Arnaz explained. "I told Leslie, 'Let the disinterment begin!'"
In the new show, to be called Lucy's Back, CBS plans to team Ms. Ball's corpse with Michael Richards, who played Kramer in the hit series "Seinfeld," as a wacky mother-son duo running a struggling Miami hotel. "It will be a match made in zanyville heaven," Moonves said. Don Knotts "likely" will be disinterred to play the landlord who incessantly threatens to shut them down. Ms. Ball's and Mr. Knotts' lines will be dubbed-in with their own dialogue from their previous hit series.
A CBS executive revealed that this won't be the first time the network has trotted out Lucy after her death to give its ratings a boost. "Back in the '80's, we didn't reveal that Lucy had already passed away by the time we started shooting the show called -- ironically enough -- 'Life with Lucy.'" The same executive said that CBS's habit of showcasing deceased stars dates back decades. "For example, William Frawley was already dead two years when 'I Love Lucy' debuted, but everybody agrees he was perfect as Fred Mertz. Near the end of the series, it was a real trick keeping the body intact, but the producers pulled it off."