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Confessions of a TV-holic: We Still Love Lucy

Even if you've seen each episode 1,762 times, I Love Lucy fans still delight in "I didn't know that!" and "Did you notice that"¦?" moments. Here are a few of my favorite behind-the-scenes tidbits.

I Love LucyTVLand currently shows I Love Lucy with an edited version of the original opening credits, but the introduction most fans associate with the show is the elaborate script credits over a satin heart that was used when the show first went into syndication. Why were the original animated openings altered? Because they featured the Lucy and Ricky stick figures popping out of a pack of Philip Morris cigarettes, the show's sponsor. This is also why the word "lucky" was rarely included in a script "“ Lucky Strike was a major competitor of Philip Morris.

More Lucy trivia after the jump...

Job SwitchingLucille Ball's favorite episode is also a fan favorite: Job Switching, better known as the "Candy Factory" episode. The stone-faced silent woman working next to Lucy in this scene is Amanda Milligan, who wasn't an actress but an actual candy dipper whose full-time job was putting swirls on top of chocolates at See's Candy Factory. At one point during a break in filming, Lucille asked Amanda if she was enjoying her stint in "show business." Ms. Milligan replied, "To be honest, I've never been so bored in my life." She also admitted that she'd never seen I Love Lucy; she watched wrestling on Monday nights.

Thanks to a technique pioneered by Desi Arnaz and cinematographer Karl Freund, I Love Lucy was filmed in front of a live studio audience using a three-camera setup. As a result, each episode was filmed in sequence, much like a play (unlike other sitcoms of that era). Retakes were done only when necessary, so many "bloopers" made it to the final edit:

In Redecorating the Mertz's Apartment, Lucy fluffs her line while talking to Ricky during breakfast. Instead of saying "We'll paint the apartment," she says "We'll paint the furniture and reupholster the old furniture." (Desi ad-libs beautifully and rescues the scene.)

In The Dancing Star, Lucy is supposed to say "I danced with Van [Johnson]," but instead it came out "I vanced with Dan." Desi again covered the slip-up by muttering, "Vanced with Dan? She's gone." Later in this same episode, Lucy addresses co-star Vivian Vance as Viv instead of Ethel.

Lucy, Marco & DesiIn Ricky Loses His Voice, Desi asks piano player Marco Rizo to phone Lucy at home at tell her that he's coming home early. Despite it being his only line of dialogue in the episode, Marco forgets that he's dealing with Mr. Ricardo instead of Mr. Arnaz, and replies "Okay, Des" instead of "Okay, Ricky."

The closing credits of several episodes of the show misspell Desi's name, crediting the music to "The Dezi Arnaz Orchestra."

DeDe Ball, far leftLoyal viewers may recall having heard an audible "Uh-oh" or "Oh no!" from the studio audience during precarious situations in I Love Lucy. Those exclamations were uttered by DeDe Ball, Lucille's mother, who attended every taping of the show and whose proximity to the set made her voice easy to hear.

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holidays
40 Years Later: Watch The Johnny Cash Christmas Show
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Over the course of his career, Johnny Cash made a series of Christmas TV specials and recorded a string of Christmas records. In this 1977 TV performance, Cash is in great form. He brings special guests Roy Clark, June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison ("Pretty Woman" starts around 23:50), Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers. Tune in for Christmas as we celebrated it 40 years ago—with gigantic shirt collars, wavy hair, and bow ties. So many bow ties.

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Pop Culture
An AI Program Wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction—and the Results Are Hilarious
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

“The castle ground snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”

So begins the 13th chapter of the latest Harry Potter installment, a text called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. OK, so it’s not a J.K. Rowling original—it was written by artificial intelligence. As The Verge explains, the computer-science whizzes at Botnik Studios created this three-page work of fan fiction after training an algorithm on the text of all seven Harry Potter books.

The short chapter was made with the help of a predictive text algorithm designed to churn out phrases similar in style and content to what you’d find in one of the Harry Potter novels it "read." The story isn’t totally nonsensical, though. Twenty human editors chose which AI-generated suggestions to put into the chapter, wrangling the predictive text into a linear(ish) tale.

While magnified wind doesn’t seem so crazy for the Harry Potter universe, the text immediately takes a turn for the absurd after that first sentence. Ron starts doing a “frenzied tap dance,” and then he eats Hermione’s family. And that’s just on the first page. Harry and his friends spy on Death Eaters and tussle with Voldemort—all very spot-on Rowling plot points—but then Harry dips Hermione in hot sauce, and “several long pumpkins” fall out of Professor McGonagall.

Some parts are far more simplistic than Rowling would write them, but aren’t exactly wrong with regards to the Harry Potter universe. Like: “Magic: it was something Harry Potter thought was very good.” Indeed he does!

It ends with another bit of prose that’s not exactly Rowling’s style, but it’s certainly an accurate analysis of the main current that runs throughout all the Harry Potter books. It reads: “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. ‘The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!’”

Harry Potter isn’t the only work of fiction that Jamie Brew—a former head writer for ClickHole and the creator of Botnik’s predictive keyboard—and other Botnik writers have turned their attention to. Botnik has previously created AI-generated scripts for TV shows like The X-Files and Scrubs, among other ridiculous machine-written parodies.

To delve into all the magical fiction that Botnik users have dreamed up, follow the studio on Twitter.

[h/t The Verge]

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