September 20, 1986 We open on a lavishly decorated but somehow cozy and intimate interview room, with two empty chairs in the middle. Assorted flower arrangements are everywhere. Everything is in soft focus - an appropriate stylistic choice, for more reasons than one. Enter Baba Wawa - I mean, BARBARA WALTERS.  WAWA: Her career in television has spanned thirty-five years - for almost as long as the medium has existed, she has been a part of it. First as an actress on her groundbreaking sitcom, "I Love Lucy", and then as a producer, with her company, Desilu, being responsible for some of the most beloved shows to have ever aired on television. But despite her incredible power and influence, she has always been known for her modesty, and her willingness to share credit with others. Cut to LUCILLE BALL, sitting in one of the chairs (with WAWA in the other). BALL: I couldn't have done any of it without everyone else. "I Love Lucy" was Desi, and Jess and Bob and Madelyn, and Viv, and Bill… Karl Freund, Marc Daniels… so many others. And Desilu - we would be here all night if you wanted me to tell you who's been keeping that place running. I just take credit for finding them, picking them, and keeping them around. That's what a manager does, what a producer does. Cut back to WAWA, alone. WAWA: Even if her only talent is in making decisions, she has made some of the best of them. And they have brought Desilu Productions - the studio she co-founded with her late ex-husband, Desi Arnaz, in 1950 - to the forefront of the entertainment industry. Her decision earlier this year to retire, to leave show business behind once and for all, has surprised a great many people. But tonight, in our exclusive interview, we're going to look at the woman behind the empire: the First Lady of Television, Miss Lucille Ball. Cut to various shots of BALL - smiling, laughing, nodding, contemplative, seeming almost in tears - before they dissolve into a title screen, with the text being “written”, in familiar cursive, over a giant “valentine” heart on velvet: "EVERYBODY LOVES LUCY: The First Lady of Television, in her own words" Cut back to WAWA, alone, again. WAWA: Join me as we discuss her humble beginnings, her rise to fame, and her triumphs and tragedies - personal and professional. Cut back to BALL, looking very solemn. WAWA (OC): And some of her most intimate secrets. BALL: For a while there… I didn't want to keep going. Didn't want to do what I was doing in the early sixties. Cut over to WAWA, nodding mutely and trying very hard to look sympathetic and perceptive at the same time . Cut back to BALL. BALL: I knew I couldn't run Desilu and keep up my screen career at the same time. One or the other would have to go, and that's when she came to me. WAWA (OC): Lucy has often shared what she feels is the secret to her success. She believes that Carole Lombard, the legendary screwball comedy star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and who died tragically in a plane crash in 1942, has been advising her… from beyond the grave. BALL: She came to me when I was deciding whether or not I should do "I Love Lucy", and she told me to "give it a whirl". And that's what I did. Cut over to WAWA. Still nodding, this time with an "aha!" expression, as if she totally understands where BALL is going with this, even though she obviously doesn't. Cut back to BALL again. BALL: Then she came to me when I was deciding whether or not to sell Desilu . She told me I was done being a star, that it was time to start making stars. She knew I could do it, said I was the only one who could. (laughs) There's a reason everybody loved Carole. WAWA: Do you still believe that Carole talks to you? BALL: Oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely. WAWA: If you could say anything to Carole right now, what would it be? BALL: Just, thank you, Carole. Thanks so much for everything. WAWA (OC): That's just the beginning of the insightful and revealing discussion I had with Lucy, as the First Lady of Television talks about herself, her life, and her legacy… all in her own words. Cut back to WAWA, alone, for the last time. WAWA: We'll be right back for more with Lucy, after these messages.  ---  Hereafter referred to as Wawa. I really want to write all her lines phonetically - but I'm (barely) resisting the urge.  FYI: Whenever any of these news magazine shows cut to the interviewer "reacting", it means that they just edited what the interviewee was saying. Most of you probably know that already, but if you didn’t, there you go.  And this is the POD. In OTL, Lucille Ball sold Desilu to Gulf+Western in 1967, and they merged it into Paramount shortly thereafter. Ball continued to star in a weekly series until 1974. She created a new "studio", Lucille Ball Productions, which was essentially a holding company for her star vehicles.  So why did Wawa drop this bombshell before the first commercial break? Actually, it isn't one - IOTL, Ball frequently shared her Carole Lombard dream story. Here she just has two to tell instead of one. She was always happy to divulge some very strange personal stories to anyone who asked - though the famous "radio waves in her fillings" yarn was likely apocryphal. --- Welcome to my first timeline! And thanks for reading. If you have any input, including constructive criticism, please feel free to provide it. A few introductory notes before we go any further: This is not going to be an "epistolary" timeline; it's going to be primarily descriptive/narrative. I just thought I would use such an opening to grab the reader's attention. And to lampoon news magazine programs, of course. As noted, the POD is Lucille Ball receiving a second dream/psychic communiqué from Carole Lombard in late 1966, telling her to hold on to Desilu and give up acting. Therefore, she isn't going to sell to Gulf+Western. Why does this matter? Well, among other reasons, she was a very hands-on studio chief, who was known to go to bat for shows she really liked, regardless of their ratings or their budgets. There was one Desilu show in particular that benefited from this policy, and I have no doubt that most of you will be able to guess what it is. Despite her being at the centre of the POD, don't expect Ball to be too central to the timeline. We're mostly going to be looking at the effects of her decision. And surprisingly, there are going to be a lot of them, and they're going to come fairly hard and fast. That's what attracted me to this particular POD in the first place. This timeline is mainly going to focus on popular culture, for a couple of reasons: it’s what I enjoy writing about, and there are many, many people on this forum who write about more serious and weighty subjects with a great deal more skill and finesse than I could. In the next update, we're going to be jumping back to era of the POD and moving forward from there. If you're not North American, and some of the details didn't make a whole lot of sense to you, I'm very sorry. Please feel free to ask me for clarification. If you're British, there is a little something I have planned that you might find worth your while - you just have to wait a while. I went with the current title because it's very vague and hopefully drew in people who might not be enticed by a more obvious one. If you had other ideas of who "That Wacky Redhead" might have been, I would love to hear them.