Thursday, May 5, 2022

Stu's Show Review - North Shore Movies

"3.5/5....A riveting and ultimately uplifting film!"

Stu Shostak loves television, especially the vintage shows of the ’50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. The documentary STU’S SHOW revels in this, both in exploring his own unusual career and presenting a parade of veteran actors who have become his friends. Then the film shifts from Stu’s love for the stars of TV’s past to a love story between him and a fellow fan, Jeanine Kasun. What makes this a riveting and ultimately uplifting film is that it’s because of him that she’s alive.

Shostak has an effervescent personality that bubbles over with his love of television. Early on he got a job giving out tickets to tapings of TV shows, working his way up to doing the “warm up” of audiences. Then he made a connection that would change his life. He met Lucille Ball who was taken not only by his enthusiasm but his depth of knowledge and willingness to work hard. He got to work on her final series, “Life With Lucy” as an assistant to Ball’s husband Gary Morton, and even – through Ball’s insistence – got to appear in an episode.

After the actress’s death in 1989, he got co-produced the “Loving Lucy” fan conventions devoted to her career, eventually meeting Jeanine Kasun, someone who was as fanatically devoted to classic TV as he was. Eventually they got together but, despite having been married, decided to maintain their own separate homes. Meanwhile, he began amassing an incredible archive of television memorabilia from old copies of TV Guide to films and videotapes of TV programs some of which he literally rescued from the dumpsters where they had been discarded. He also created a show on the internet in a pre-podcasting age where he interviewed many of his idols. Actors like Tony Dow (“Leave It To Beaver”), Ed Asner (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”), and game show host Wink Martindale treated him as a colleague and friend.

That support system helped sustain him when Kasun collapsed with a brain aneurysm. As someone without an official tie to her – neither husband nor blood relative – he had no say over her treatment or ability to interact with the doctors and other medical staff treating her. In this part of the film we see that the same tenacity that got him from TV fan to TV historian and archivist could be marshaled in the cause of saving the woman he loved.

He learns that the choices for care – such as what facility she was sent to – could make a profound difference in her prognosis and simply refused to accept that he was powerless to do anything about it. Since the film opens with their wedding, it’s not a spoiler to note that their story has a real-life happy ending befitting two sitcom devotees who had enjoyed so many fictional ones.

“Stu’s Show” is an exercise in nostalgia where you may be surprised to greet the older versions of one-time child actors like Butch Patrick (Eddie from “The Munsters”) or Margaret O’Brien (Judy Garland’s little sister in “Meet Me In St. Louis”), but it’s also a chance to meet someone who showed that being a somewhat over-the-top fan is not incompatible with being a responsible and caring adult.

See the original review here

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