Diet for Dreamers: A Television Mogul is Born


Last week we began our discussion of Talent, Tenacity and Timing — and the importance of working on these qualities if we hope to succeed. We can learn, we can practice, and we can develop talent. We can also decide to be tenacious in the pursuit of our dreams. Timing isn’t always up to us, however. But we can try to spot trends and anticipate needs.

Friday we mentioned the talented couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. They were tenacious, and it paid off BIG. Desi apparently also knew something about timing. He saw an opportunity as yet unrealized by just about everyone else.

Remember that Desi wanted to FILM I Love Lucy in Hollywood, rather than broadcast the show live from New York. The end product would be a higher quality show on FILM, a durable medium. But recording the show on film would be more expensive, and the executives at CBS were none too eager to shell out the extra funds needed to make the idea work. So Desi agreed to pay the difference with his own money. He asked that in return CBS grant him all the rights to a then unknown commodity. (What was this commodity? Be patient, we’ll get to that.) At the time, Desi didn’t seem to be asking for much, so the execs quickly agreed and probably left the deal rubbing their greedy little hands in glee. They’d tricked that “crazy” Cuban into footing the bill for a show that was destined to make mucho bucks for the network in sponsor’s fees!

I Love Lucy premiered in 1951 to rave reviews. It was a Top 10 show, and before the first season ended the show had rocketed to the number one spot. By 1957, Desi had produced 200 episodes — on FILM. 200 hilarious, highly watchable … and re-watchable little gems sitting on the shelves at CBS. Eureka! The CBS execs got a brilliant idea! Why not rent these old episodes out to local television stations. After all, audiences loved the show sooo much that they’d want to catch the ones they’d missed the first time around, or just enjoy the whole show again … and again … and again. Remember, this was decades before affordable VCRs were available. And unlike today, there were no DVRs, no ON DEMAND, no $5 DVDs at Walmart. CBS was going to make a killing!!!! Heeheehee!!!!!!

No MISSION is IMPOSSIBLE for this crack team.

But wait a minute¡Ay, caramba! — they’d given all the rerun rights to Desi in exchange for his footing the expense of filming the show. Lucy’s Latin Lover had landed them in the Laundry … er, taken them to the cleaners! But being both a talented actor AND businessman, Desi agreed to sell the rights back to CBS. For a cool million dollars! That’s a lot of scratch for 1957! Desi used it as a down payment on the purchase of the old RKO studios, where such classics as Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind had been produced. Desi now had at his disposal over two dozen soundstages, several back lots, and tons of camera equipment, costumes and props. (He even got Scarlett O’Hara’s mansion Tara!) Everything he needed to become a television film mogul.

Lucy and Desi’s dream, Desilu Studios, became a big time operation, producing such durable hits as The Untouchables and Mission Impossible … and another show that was destined to become a legend. We’ll tell you about it on Friday … along with the story of a talented and tenacious creator who happened to come along at just the right time!


Diet for Dreamers: “I have a dream!”


Wisdom and encouragement to feed your Dreams, Installment #1

It’s fitting that we launch A Diet for Dreamers on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Dr. King had a great dream that one day all people would live together in harmony, equal, and with equal rights; that all people would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Have we arrived yet? Not really. We’ve made great strides along the course set by Dr. King, but when it comes to racial harmony there’s still a great deal of tension, mistrust, and even civil unrest. But today, as we honor the man who showed us the way, we can do nothing greater, nothing nobler, than also to honor the dream of this great visionary; we must stay true to the course Dr. King set before us, a narrow path of peaceful coexistence and honest communication, of understanding and trust.

Like Dr. King, we all have hopes and dreams: visions, goals, things we want to accomplish. For many of us, the dream looms before us like an imposing mountain peak, its summit shrouded in a mist of past failures and self-doubt. We often think we will never get there. We get overwhelmed, perhaps even paralyzed by fear and doubt. Sometimes we just give up. We allow the dream inside us to die. Why?

Most dreams, the really big ones, the ones worth fighting to keep alive, are too big to accomplish by ourselves, in our own strength and through our own efforts. Relying solely on our own abilities may never get us to where we want to be. To get to the top we need hope, perseverance, and Faith in something greater than ourselves. For believers, it’s important to remember these truths:

“I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) Because “…with God ALL things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26 NKJV)

Say it! Believe it! Act on it! And dream again!

Today’s quote for those who dream great things:  “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”   — Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1890  (That’s right, the world famous painter!)

We invite readers to join us here each weekday for words of wisdom, humor and encouragement.