After helming the true story being The Trial of the Chicago 7 for Netflix in 2020, writer/director Aaron Sorkin will be jumping to the streaming studio of Amazon to bring us another fact-based drama — this time, not unlike his short-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, within the world of television comedy. The stories of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, a real-life couple that formed production company Desilu Productions and brought us and starred in hugely influential TV comedy I Love Lucy, will be mined for Sorkin‘s pen and camera in the upcoming Being the Ricardos — and per Deadline, he’s got a star-studded cast coming with him.
Nicole Kidman will play Lucille Ball in the film (taking over for Cate Blanchett, originally attached when Sorkin was just going to write the film), and Javier Bardem will play Desi Arnaz. The film’s focus is a weeklong production cycle of an I Love Lucy episode, and while the powerhouse couple deals with the show biz drama of putting up an episode of television (catnip for Sorkin, I’d presume), a personal crisis rears its head and threatens the couple to their core. Producers for the Amazon Studios production include Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Jenna Block, and David Bloomfield of Escape Artists (Fences), Stuart Besser (Sorkin’s Molly’s Game), Lauren Lohman (Sorkin’s Steve Jobs), and Ball and Arnaz‘s children Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Sorkin is Sorkin, for better and for worse (I found Chicago 7 to be mostly misguided and bad, with a few notably effective sequences of exception). If you’re at all familiar with his work, you can likely imagine what his version of professionals doing their damn job getting interrupted by personal crises will look like, regardless of whether the subjects are famous or not (and I’m saying this as, Chicago 7 excluded, a general fan/apologist of the word smith’s work). I’m mostly intrigued, surprised, and a little skeptical of this casting. Kidman and Bardem tend to give performances rooted in quiet, grim reality — think Big Little Lies or No Country for Old Men — and it’s hard to imagine either performer coming through with the broadly comic energies needed to convincingly play a beyond professional multi-cam comedy performer (though Kidman has given us shades of that in works like The Prom and Paddington).
Maybe this work will give the two actors chances to stretch; maybe Sorkin will have a more relentlessly grounded, “dark” take on Ball and Arnaz’s life; until we see the film (which may be awhile, given the COVID production stoppages of it all), I will remain a curious mixture of cautiously optimistic and very skeptical. Which is to say: It’s another Aaron Sorkin film!