Thursday, January 10, 2013

How the Three Stooges saved Star Trek with J. Edgar Hoover's favorite Communist

Everyone loved Lucy. She was adored on a scale that few celebrities will ever know. Hollywood loved her, Famous actors loved her, charities, Mr. Spock, even J. Edgar Hoover! The status she held as a comedian and sit-com icon was so over reaching, that many people don't know the even more fascinating story behind her life.

Few would argue that Lucille Ball stands as an 
American comedy icon. Her success and influence was unique for its time; opening doors for other female comedians for decades to come. Would it surprise you to know that comedy was not Lucy's intended career path? She began as blond headed Mrs. Diane Belmont, eager to establish herself as leading lady material. Early in her career, her mind was firmly set on breaking into the industry as a serious actress and Broadway player.

A blonde Lucille Ball, 1930s'
In the 30s', she left her New York home and moved to Burbank. Initially, her career consisted of the typical grunt work and filler roles that would ingratiate herself with the studios. Where I submit that her career got interesting was when she signed a contract with the venerable RKO Studios as a role actress.

During the depression era, RKO was a dominant and influential studio. Their diverse portfolio offered many entertainers opportunities for work. RKO also happened to be the home of the Three Stooges.

Needless to say, slap-stick comedy and serious film making were miles apart from each other. Yet one day in 1933, Lucy had a notable speaking role on one of the Stooges episodes. How did this happen? The details are sparse. Keep in mind, Lucy was NOT interested in comedy. Rumors detail that Lucy's propensity for humor was quite well known. She always avoided pursuing comedy in fear of being type-cast. However, she had mentioned that Curley was one of the few comedians who could always make her laugh. Thanks to Curley, she was open to this brief role.

In 1933, she appeared on the Three Stooges short "Three Little Pigskins." On the set, she was able to let her natural sense of humor play out and ham it up. While she kept this role quiet for most of her career, other sources within the Stooges Trivia world mention how much she enjoyed this experience. Perhaps one could speculate that it softened her up to performing in comedy. There is only one quote that I could find from Lucy regarding her part, "The only thing I learned from The Stooges was how to duck... and I still got wet."

Blond Lucille ball with Larry Fine
Lucy apparently resumed with her efforts to become that serious actress and Broadway player. However, she never quite broke through to the mainstream, and again comedy opened up to her. She later wound up with a role in the Marx Brothers film "Room Service."


Now in regards to the seemingly nonsensical title of this blog, as of 1936, Lucy was a registered member of the Communist party. This was nothing more than an appeasement of her grandfather's wishes as he was an adherent believer. During the era of the RED SCARE, Lucy and her husband Dezi Arnez were called to testify before the House Committee. However, J. Edgar Hoover considered "Luci and Dezi among his favorite entertainers in the world." 

She would not have survived the investigations were it not for her successful career in comedy (and her denial that she ever intended to act in accordance with the communist principals of the party). Dezi Arnez said in his testimony, "The only thing RED about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate."

For historical accuracy's sake, let it be known that Hollywood itself initiated the infamous 'Blacklist." This blacklist began long before the McCarthy hearings. The belief that McCarthy created this is a historical myth.


This now leads us to the big pay-off of my seemingly ridiculous premise. Lucy was a driven, vigorous, and shrewd business woman. Her negotiation skills were legendary in the industry. She and Dezi went on to establish the formidable production company, 'Desilu Productions.'

Gene Rodenberry
One of Desilu's most notable programs was Star Trek. Many at Desilu felt it was a childish Buck Rogers show and balked at giving Gene Rodenberry and his vision a chance. Lucy, however, felt that is was smart television and represented genuine science fiction. Her support for the Star Trek concept was so strong, that it was given a second pilot episode. At the time, a second pilot was unheard of.

Star Trek hit the airwaves in 1966, and Rodenberry often stated that the first season was a nightmare due to the industry's constant meddling. Gene said that his experiences were so Hellish that he was always ready to walk away. Lucy intervened and convinced him to hang in there for two more seasons. However, as most of us know, the studio dropped the show after only three seasons (before discovering that the 18-49 demographic was a goldmine).

So, were it not for Curley's unique humor, Lucille Ball would have surely missed her true calling. Thanks to her exposure to comedy, she built a career so successful that she not only made a fortune, changed the entertainment industry, but even charmed one of the creepiest leaders in the FBI into giving her a pass.

I often think that Mr. Spock's resemblance to our dear friend Moe Howard was no accident. Just imagine where Science Fiction might be today were it not for three abusive Jewish comedians.

Thanks Guys! Live long and prosper!
This random information brought to you by Jeremie Lederman of Lederman Studio!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Logos, Identities, Branding

LEDERMAN STUDIO Edutainment Presents:
Logos, Identities, Branding 101

What is the difference and what do they mean? 

The design and creative solutions industry is always in flux. Words, meanings, and culture are changing at a continual pace forcing creative problem solvers to stay sharp. 

However, one great things about words, is that they DO mean things. Regardless of culture or trends, the design business is built upon specific meanings and principles that customers pay good money for. 

I wanted to take a moment to clarify some meanings and words, and help YOU, the clients and business people be better informed. 


This word has become nearly meaningless by many designers who don't understand it. TRUE branding is a very complex multi-faceted process. It involves a number of specialists trained in specific areas to help develop the image and reputation of a business. A branding project will involve copywriters, designers, marketing managers, web developers, media buyers, photographers, and many support people (to name a few). It also involves research into the competition, a marketing strategy, slogans, and many small pieces that help reinforce the desired thoughts that the company wants to be associated with. 
To simplify for you what the effect of 'branding' is, think of your mother. Do you see her in your mind now? I do not have to say anything else besides 'mom.' Your mind immediately opened up a huge file of memories. Your mother has been 'branded' in your mind as a result of experiences with her on many many levels. Are you still thinking of her....? 
A branded business has the same effect. For instance: Nike, McDonalds, Apple, Coke, generic groceries, Kleenex.... You see? The mention of the name evokes a huge internal file of experiences. Notice how they override your thoughts about mom? 
If I say, "JUST DO IT," who do you think of? did you need to see the logo in order to make sure? Nope. 
Does branding need to be this involved? Not always. But any variation from this needs to still reflect and be built towards the same goal. Branding has many pieces, and they all need to be aimed at that 'mental file folder' in the consumer's head. Brand management is the process of making sure that: a. the branding plan is always consistent, b. the company is not messing up the reputation with deviant behavior. c. if the industry changes, the company needs to adjust and possible 'reinvent' itself. 
More than anything, I begin this list with branding, because there are a lot of small boutique design groups out there that say that they provide branding. At best, they create pieces to the branding puzzle. As you can see from above, unless what they offer is building towards the prior description, they ARE NOT doing branding. 


This is the category that most design agencies or studios work within. An identity is a visual representation of the brand. The more consistent the identity, the easier it is for a business to brand itself. 
An identity is typically represented in (but not limited to) the following way: 
• Logo •web site design •letterhead •business cards •envelopes •Facebook banners, tabs, images •Twitter background • packaging •advertising... 

A good identity is a smart design; consistent and the same on all levels. It is a SINGLE message. Your logo, colors, slogans, etc are all going to be the same on everything your business sends out. Many small businesses have three or four different visuals for what they produce. Mostly due to having many good ideas and not being able to settle on one. 



We are human and we think in images. Don't believe me? Elephant. Car. House. Donald Trump's Hair. Toenails. See, your mind was under my control there for a moment. Logos are visual representations of the business. They are important because in one set of visuals (typography, symbols, or both) they need to communicate to the viewer the values, reputation, and professionalism of the business. A good designer can find that single germane meaning within a business and represent it in a graphical process. Your logo can say to the world: 
a. Hi, I may be a great product or service, but my design is amateurish, so I'm really just a low tiered mom & pop shop. I'm so small in fact, that I might not really exist... 
b. You have no idea how big I am or what I am limited to, you will be wasting time and money anywhere else. Notice how all my competition looks the same, but I stand out? 

A great logo is an asset all to itself. It becomes the focal point of a brand. Cheap logos are worth every penny. They say to the world 'CHEAPSKATE.' A logo is also NOT BRANDING. A logo becomes part of the brand based on the success of a well executed (or huge failure) branding project. 

When you consult with a designer, make sure they understand these differences. There is room for variation on these points, but the meaning should remain the same. 

Also, don't be a cheapskate, if you want excellence and professionalism, pay for it. Your new logo and identity could truly make a huge difference to you and your bottom line. Make sure you hire a pro and you will be treated like a pro. 

Enjoy the following links, and thank you for reading. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

So long and thanks for all the Bananas

Begining on New Years Day, 2013....

The once notable icon of Big Red Ape has gone into retirement.

I was happy to note that many people seemed put off at first, mostly because they mentioned how much they liked the art. But times change and a smart business will also change when the time comes.
I created this in a flurry of genius back in the year 2000 A.D. I was a clock puncher at the time, and had visions of self employment one day. This little logo lasted me 12 solid years, not bad for a designer.

My Ape logo and ensuing social personality provided me a memorable place to wave my flag from and grow my freelance business from. It was cute, well designed, and ubiquitous. For a part time life of getting extra work in, this was more than sufficient.

Enter 2009... I was the Senior Illustrator at The Arizona Republic at the time. As most of you know, traditional media's profits were more than circling the drain of obscurity. In July of that year, I was unhired and set free.

It was the catalyst that allowed me the opportunity to buckle down and get serious about being solo. Best of all, it was the worst economy America had seen, and I had no choice but to forge ahead.

In 2011, I finally put my chips on the table and committed to becoming and Anchor company at Gangplank in Chandler, Arizona. Big Red Ape was welcomed into the worlds most unique group of entrepreneurs and innovators. I also began to frequent a number of Small Business Networking groups to finally go from freelancer to deliberate job hunter.

Along the way, I was blessed to meet some amazing people and help design agency level identities for small companies that could never otherwise afford it. I also became very close with real industry mavericks and visionaries that really opened my eyes. Thanks to people like Jeff Fagin, Gia heller, Vince Costa, Ely Delany, and many others, I took much bigger steps than I would have ever taken on my own.

Enter 2012. My instincts and subconscious are really digging at me. Thanks to the generous time and input of those I respect and call friends, the problem became clear.

The Big Red Ape is now a liability to me moving forward. At 41 years of age, it was time to stop having a cartoon represent me. It was time to pull together the vast and varied skills and paths I walked on to numerous industries, and finally be myself.

So on New Years Eve, I went live with ME....

Lederman Studio.

Arizona Graphic Design, Branding, Illustration

Please be my guest and see a little of what's ahead. I welcome you to join me and stay tuned.

I will be making a regular point of blogging the kinds of things that interest me, and sharing my progress along the way.

Thanks for reading...

Hugs and Corndogs,

Jeremie Lederman