Everybody loves Lucille Ball. And Craig Zadan and Neil Meron the Oscar-winning producers of Chicago are no exception. The successful duo, whose recent TV biopics include Martin and Lewis and Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, cover the famous redhead in Lucy (Sunday at 8 pm/ET on CBS). But will they be kind?
"We've truly loved the people that we have done biopics on," says Meron. "We truly want to honor them, and we want people to understand why they were great. I hope that we've been successful in that, because in no way shape or form would we ever want to malign these people."
The three-hour teleplay explores the comedienne's personal struggles and her difficult road to sitcom fame. Meron and Zadan made the risky choice of casting theater actress Rachel York to portray the television icon. "Of course [the studio execs] say, 'Get names!' But names don't do it for us," Meron insists. "You have to get somebody that's really right for the part that could embody it. You want them to believe that it is Lucy."Lucy's audition process was just as grueling for the producers as it was for all the Lucy wannabes angling for the part. "We spent months and months seeing every living, breathing human being that we could," jokes Zadan. "And at the end of the day, we had Rachel York and nobody else. If she hadn't come along, and been as convincing as she was, we would have been sunk."