Saturday, July 21, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Rob Martinez


Christmas in July 2018: Rob Martinez - producer/host of "The Nights Before Christmas"
facebook.com/nightsbeforechristmas

Used to work here: "A Christmas Yuleblog"  (Google: yuleblog)

Christmas music collector / Collects vintage December issues of LIFE, LOOK, Saturday Evening Post / TIME / Newsweek / etc for the Christmas ads.


The Cratchits from Muppet Christmas Carol

1) Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

The Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992.  This was the first Muppet production without longtime Muppeteer Richard Hunt and sadly Jim Henson.  It's the perfect amount of Charles Dickens, Muppet humor, and music - the song "One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" deserves to be in rotation at holiday time. 

Plus, Michael Caine as Scrooge... he snarls, he charms, his transformation at the end is touching, and he sings! Perfect.

2) Which decade produced the bulk of your favorite Christmas entertainment?

The 1980s. There are countless Christmas TV episodes that I love from this time (1982's "Santaclaustrophobia" from Hill Street Blues is my favorite) but it's the movies from this decade that seals it - A Christmas Story, Scrooged, National Lampoon's A Christmas Vacation, Die Hard (technically no but...).  If you're up for some fun, there's a ton of really cheesy BAD movies (i.e. Silent Night, Deadly Night) that are worth holiday looks.


Frank & Bing Crosby from the 1957 Christmas episode of The Frank Sinatra Show

3) Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entreé, and dessert.

Appetizer: Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In / S2 - Ep 12 - December 16, 1968.
Guest stars: Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; Billy Barty; Jack Riley (as LBJ); cameo appearances by Jack Benny, Barbara Bain, Otto Preminger and Rock Hudson. 
The jokes are varied and fly very fast (just like great appetizers do).

Entreé: The Frank Sinatra Show / "Happy Holidays with Bing and Frank"  (1957)
You'll need great music to go with dinner & conversation so why not watch Frank invite Bing over for Christmas dinner?

Dessert:  Love Actually (2003)
Best served by an open fire with plenty of after-dinner cocktails.


Filmmaker John Waters

4) What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did?  Feel free to get creative.

In 2008, John Waters was preparing to make a children's Christmas movie called Fruitcake starring Johnny Knoxville and Parker Posey.  Filming was scheduled to start in November of that year but thanks to the economy tanking, the production company went under and the film was shelved in January, 2009.  Waters has been trying to find someone, ANYONE who will give him $5 million dollars to make the film.  We need a serious KickStarter campaign...

5) If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) - enough said.





Friday, July 20, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Dean S.


from 1979's John Denver & the Muppets: Christmas Together.

Christmas in July 2018: Dean S.

1) Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

John Denver and the Muppets: Christmas Together....well it has John Denver and the Muppets...need I say more?

2) Which decade produced the bulk of your favorite Christmas entertainment?

Sorry, I have a decade and a half....early sixties to mid seventies.


Darren Stephens greeting Santa Claus, from the 1964 Christmas episode of Bewitched.
 
3) Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entré, and dessert.

Appetizer...Bewitched - "A Vision Of Sugar Plums" AND "Sisters at Heart." 
Entré...Scrooge 1970 with Albert Finney
. Dessert...Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol


4) What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did? Feel free to get creative.

Animagic version of original Frosty the Snowman by Rankin Bass.


from 1962's Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.
 
5) If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol





Thursday, July 19, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Laura Rachel


from 1984's Gremlins

Christmas in July 2018: Laura Rachel, What to Watch

1) Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

It’s surprising but I don’t think I’ve watched a Henson Muppet Christmas program all the way through, so instead of choosing one of them, which I might add I really should watch, I’ll say Gremlins. Now, I don’t consider Gremlins a Christmas film but I know a number of people do and that is one film that includes puppetry. It’s also one that I do enjoy watching.




from 2006's The Christmas Card.


2) Which decade produced the bulk of your favorite Christmas entertainment?

Well, as I look at the classics and the Christmas films that come out year after year, I was surprised that the decade with my highest ratings were the 2000s. I was think it would be the 60s or 70s maybe even the 80s, as I am an 80s child but alas it’s 2000s. From one of my favorite romances, Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) to the British comedy film, Nativity (2009). There are thirteen films that I enjoyed during that decade. That decade is also when Hallmark really started to dish out their holiday films by the bucket load with Silent Night (2002), A Boyfriend for Christmas (2004), The Christmas Card (2006), and Three Gifts (2009). Then there are the box office films: Love Actually (2003), The Polar Express (2004), Joyeux Noel (2005), The Family Stone (2005), and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). I can’t leave out Christmas Angel (2009) and the TV movie, Holiday in Handcuffs (2007). It’s a wide range of films but I love them. 😊


3) Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entré, and dessert.

Ok, this is difficult, too many to chose from but ok. For the appetizer, I’ll have Nestor, the Long-Eared Donkey (1977). For the entrée, I’ll have Joyeux Noel (2005). For dessert, I’ll have Christmas Comes to Willow Creek (1987).






4) What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did? Feel free to get creative.

I always thought, and I know it won’t be popular, but I always thought, that doing the Biblical story directly from the Bible including all four gospels folded together would be amazing. I know that doesn’t really make sense but in my minds eye, I think it would be amazing but boring because it wouldn’t be as dramatic as some of the other films do to the story. I would just tell the story.

 
 


5) If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?



It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), would be perfect to be placed in a time capsule. It's got the heart of meaning of Christmas, loving the people around you and realizing your life is worth it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Dominic Caruso


from 1977's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

Christmas in July 2018: Dominic Caruso, 1701press.com

1) Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. It’s as though they said “Let’s take everything that’s good about the 1970s and put it in a Christmas special with muppets.” A perfect entertainment in every way.

2) Which decade produced the bulk of your favorite Christmas entertainment?

Probably the 1960s: Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph. Most of the stuff I grew up watching (and connecting strongest to) in the 70s and 80s was made in the 60s.

 
from 1983's A Christmas Story


3) Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entré, and dessert.

Appetizer: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Main course: A Christmas Story. Dessert: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. Digestif: Junky’s Christmas. Midnight snack: The Man Who Came to Dinner. Antacid relief: Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life. New Year’s Day hangover remedy: “Night of the Meek” Twilight Zone episode.

4) What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did? Feel free to get creative.

A Love Boat adaptation of the Poseidon Adventure, for obvious reasons, but with a low-grade disaster, or the threat of disaster. Instead of the Pacific Princess sinking, the episode is about the captain, crew and guests riding out a “surprise” Christmas typhoon. Everybody on board has to scrap and re-imagine their "perfect" Christmas plans. Also, there should be a Cold-War subplot where one of the passengers—a famous Russian author, played semi-convincingly by Sally Kellerman—defects to America after being inspired by the Christmas spirit of everyone around her on the cruise. No I have NOT thought about this before, why do you ask?



5) If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?

A Charlie Brown Christmas would be a great candidate, I think, because it is so complex and layered. It expresses so much about humanity, emotions, belief, America, the 1960s, Christmas, and a whole host of other themes, all in 20-something minutes.



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Donna Bock

from 1978's Christmas Eve on Sesame Street

Christmas in July 2018: Donna Bock

1. Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

I love Christmas Eve on Sesame Street!  I think I reference it every year, so here I go again. When I first watched it with my baby daughter, I thought it was fabulous. The stories that are told, especially the Gift of the Magi with Bert and Ernie (who are named after the cop and taxi driver in It’s a Wonderful Life) are all  so sweet.  Mr. Hooper really saved the day when he gifted the boys their presents they sold to him. I don’t know why PBS does not air the special anymore, it's as relevant today as it was then. I own the DVD and made it a tradition to watch the show with my grandson.  I have a new baby grandson, so he’ll join the viewing party!

2. Which decade produced the bulk of your favorite Christmas entertainment?

Well....I watched Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol the first time it aired in 1962 so.....it will have to be the 60s. My all-time favorite special is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer....Hermey is my main man!  Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas rounds out my favorite Christmas Specials….all first aired in the early and mid-60s. And I still watch them every year when they air on TV.


from 1947's It Happened on 5th Avenue.

3. Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entré, and dessert.

My appetizer will be It Happened on 5th Avenue, a movie I’ve discovered only about 7 or 8 years ago. It has a Christmas scene that is really heartwarming…for that matter, the entire movie is heartwarming! I like to watch this show now that I discovered it, early in the Christmas season, as it gets me in the spirit. My entré would have to be White Christmas, how I love this movie! It reminds me of my youth and watching with my mom. Dessert….can I have two?  Happy Days’ "Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas" always makes me smile.  I remember watching it the first time it aired and seeing Fonzie as a Christmas-loving, sentimental guy rather than a tough hoodlum... made me love the show even more.  My second dessert will be a TV movie The Night They Saved Christmas. My kids had it on VHS and they watched it from the time I taped it, into the summer…back then I could recite some of the scenes verbatim….Jaclyn Smith, one of the main characters was a real beauty and I wanted to be her. Mrs. Claus was portrayed by June Lockhart and the late Art Carney was an adorable Santa.

4. What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did? Feel free to get creative.

One show that comes to mind is I Love Lucy….Yes, there was a Christmas Special, but it was a retrospect of past episodes wrapped around the gang buying and trimming a Christmas Tree (on Christmas Eve no less).  For all the years the show was on it would have been fun to see Christmas episodes from the very beginning of the series. A Christmas before there was a little Ricky. Maybe a Christmas Eve at the Club and the havoc Lucy could wreck…ahhhh…we’ll never know.


 
5. If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?

I got to go with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. This show was a first for its time. The stop-motion was a new technology back then. To this day I watch it with wonder, and now knowing how it was made, I’m amazed at the patience the people creating it must have had….Rudolph deserves to go into that time capsule. I hope everyone, when the capsule is opened in 1,000 years, watches and loves Rudolph and Hermey as much as I do!



Monday, July 16, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Mike Westfall

from 1987's Muppet Family Christmas.
 
Christmas in July 2018: Mike Westfall from adventcalendar.house

1) Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

Muppet Family Christmas has been a must-watch for me for the last 30 Christmases — and sometimes in the spring and summer. Getting over 100 Muppets together in one room (and yes, I’ve counted) was a big deal that didn’t happen often, and Jim Henson’s cameo at the end still makes me feel my feelings.

I like the John Denver album way better than the special. My earliest memory — Christmas or otherwise — is my parents decorating the tree on Christmas Eve with that record on, and 4-year-old me jumping on the couch shouting BA-DUM BUM BUM!


The California Raisins from 1987's A Claymation Christmas Celebration.
 
2) Which decade produced the bulk of your favorite Christmas entertainment?

’80s, and it’s not even close, thanks to the birth of VHS and filling 8-hour tapes with Christmas specials off the TV starring the Smurfs, He-Man, Garfield, and the California Raisins. My mom later transferred those warped videotapes to DVD, vintage commercials and all.

 
Raymond Brigg's The Snowman.


3) Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entré, and dessert.

    •    Appetizer: The Snowman, but with the David Bowie intro.
    •    Entrée: This was a tough one, but I’m going with It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m pretty strategic with when I watch things — Nightmare Before Christmas comes on or shortly after Halloween, Elf during Thanksgiving weekend, and the Muppets get in pretty early as well. By Christmas Eve, It’s a Wonderful Life is the best of what’s left.
    •    Dessert: The original, animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas from 1966.


4) What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did?

The shows on TGIF crossed over a lot, but somehow never on Christmas.


5) If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?

Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s both my favorite Muppet movie and my favorite Dickens adaptation, and a surprisingly faithful one that hits all the right notes for a message I’d want to send into the future.




Sunday, July 15, 2018

Christmas in July 2018: Kevin A. Bowman


from 1977's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

Christmas in July 2018: Kevin A. Bowman

1) Name your favorite Henson's Muppet Christmas program and why.

There are a bunch of great Muppet Christmas specials, but Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is my favorite, too. Paul Williams’ songs are just terrific.  (“Riverbottom Nightmare Band!”) Jim Henson, the Muppets crew, and Paul Williams were all at the very peak of their creativity. Here’s hoping that they release The Great Santa Claus Switch on DVD and restore Muppet Family Christmas to the original HBO-aired version.


from 1970's Scrooge
 
2) Which decade produced the bulk of your favorite Christmas entertainment?

I’ll pick the decade between 1962 and 1971 (Pretty sneaky, eh?).  This way I can start with Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, include many of my favorite Rankin-Bass classics (Rudolph, Frosty, Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is Coming to Town—but not, sadly, The Year without a Santa Claus, The First Christmas, Jack Frost, etc.), add Albert Finney in Leslie Bricusse’s “Scrooge” (1970), “Christmas Flintstone” from 1965, The Littlest Angel from 1969, Richard Williams’ beautiful “Christmas Carol” from 1971, and Hanna Barbera’s “A Christmas Story,” also from 1971, and the Walton’s “The Homecoming” from 1971.  And Charlie Brown and the Grinch.  This is the golden age of Christmas entertainment in my book, although I’d gladly include most of the 70’s. 

3) Imagine the entertainment behind your ideal Christmas Eve dinner. Name the appetizer, entré, and dessert.

I would plan an evening of freaky animation:
Appetizer: API’s “The Twelve Gifts,” an Australian animated special by API that aired in syndication in the US in the 1970’s. I loved this one as a kid and then forgot about it for years until I found it on VHS.
Entre: The Christmas Messenger with Richard Chamberlain and David Essex. Live action framing animated segments. This one, to me, is like there were Christmas-themed segments in the animated movie, “Heavy Metal.”
Dessert: The Lollipop Dragon: The Great Christmas Race.  Answers the question: What if “Yellow Submarine” was produced in the 1980’s, for television, and turned into a Christmas special?  This one has a special place in my heart.  I used to watch it with my kids repeatedly. 

4) What Christmas episode, special or movie doesn't exist--that you wish did? Feel free to get creative.

Why didn’t the Beatles have a Christmas special? Magical Mystery Tour aired on boxing day, but it didn’t have any Christmas songs. They made Christmas albums every year for the fan club.  John later wrote a popular Christmas song.  Paul wrote a popular Christmas song.  Imagine something like a variety show, with Beatles performing Christmas songs, a Yellow-Submarine style animated segment for a new Beatles song (like they used to do on Sonny and Cher) and a few guest performances by Harry Nilsson, Cilla Black, Mary Hopkin, and Badfinger. 
Barring that, a Christmas-themed episode of “Police Squad!”




from Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life
 
5) If one Christmas movie, special or episode was to be selected for a time capsule to opened in 1,000 years, which title do you think should be included?

Either “Meet John Doe” or “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  I’ll go with “It’s a Wonderful Life” because of its massive influence over the last 40 years. They are both genuinely great films.