Amy Poehler will direct a documentary with the working title “Lucy & Desi” about the marriage between comedy icons Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for Imagine Documentaries and White Horse Pictures, the two companies announced Monday.
Poehler is making her documentary feature directorial debut on the project, and she will also produce the film through her Paper Kite banner. The film has already begun production and will be financed by Imagine Documentaries.
“Lucy & Desi” will tell the story of the groundbreaking comedian Ball, who forever changed the way the world viewed comedy and paved the way for scores of women who followed in her footsteps. The film will utilize archival film and personal still photos, first-person narratives and examine how Ball evolved from a performer to a businesswoman and through “I Love Lucy” and more worked to break barriers for women in entertainment and beyond.
The documentary also looks at Hollywood’s great love story between Lucy and Desi, and how Ball’s relationship with Arnaz helped to transform the TV industry and has cemented Ball’s legacy long after her death in 1989.
Imagine and White Horse are partnering with Ball and Arnaz’s estate. Producing alongside Poehler are Imagine’s Justin Wilkes and Michael Rosenberg, White Horse’s Nigel Sinclair and Jeanne Elfant Festa, and Diamond Docs’ Mark Monroe. Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Sara Bernstein will executive produce with White Horse’s Nicholas Ferrall and Cassidy Hartmann, and Diamond Docs’ Morgan Sackett. Mark Monroe also serves as writer.
The film is being produced with the full cooperation of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz estate through their company Desilu, too LLC and Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. are consulting on the film.
“I am so excited to work with Imagine Docs to help present the incredible life and work of the brave and hilarious Lucille Ball, and her husband Desi Arnaz,” said Poehler.
“As television’s long-reigning ‘First Family’, Lucy and Desi blazed a revolutionary trail through the cultural landscape that laid the groundwork for so much of the entertainment industry as we now know it,” Imagine Documentaries’ president and producer Justin Wilkes said in a statement. “They created so many television firsts – not only in their portrayal of a multi-ethnic marriage or Lucy’s on-air pregnancy but as the first woman to head a studio and the creators of television syndication. It’s such an incredibly rich, inspiring and entertaining story and we’re honored to bring it to the screen.”
“Jeanne and I are thrilled to be reuniting with Ron, Brian, Michael, Justin, Sara and the Imagine team, and Mark Monroe to tell this extraordinary story about Lucille Ball and the way she transformed all of television while capturing the hearts of the nation. We are proud that Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr., have trusted us with their legacy, and so excited to be going on this journey with the brilliant Amy Poehler at the helm,” producer Sinclair said in a statement.
Nearly two-thirds of the country tuned in to watch “I Love Lucy” at its height, and a famous episode in which Ball’s character went into labor on the show, which aired the same day she gave birth in real life to her second child Desi Jr., the episode drew 44 million viewers.
“Lucy & Desi” is the fourth collaboration between Imagine and White Horse, including the documentaries “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week” and “Pavarotti.”
Deadline first reported the news of the project.