Friday, August 28, 2015

Time to Pour the Champagne!


 
We're celebrating in my office today. Actually the party started yesterday and continues through the weekend. We're drinking champagne (and eating pizza.) I'm proud to announce that this website and its blog have received over three quarters of a million page views as of yesterday. I feel proud of reaching this milestone. And, I want to take this opportunity to thank all my readers for joining me in the accomplishment.

The last five years have been an exhilarating journey of writing and publishing.  I've met people, made new friends, and gained new experiences that exceeded my expectations.  Please indulge me while I reflect on a few of the highlights of the past five years.



--November 9th 2009 was the release date for my first book The Christmas TV Companion. The content for the first book was derived from the research I did writing the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV.  However, my publisher 1701 Press was able to release The Companion ahead of the encyclopedia because, it was explained to me, an 800-page encyclopedia takes longer to turn into a book than the 140-page Companion. The encyclopedia Tis the Season TV was then released in 2010, and Merry Musical Christmas (Volume 1) was released in 2012. I have two additional books as well--both local history/nostalgia books: A is for Akron (with Karen Starr) (2014) and The Story of Archie the Talking Snowman (2015.)  Merry Musical Christmas (Volume 2) is up next for publication. It is a parents' guide to the best Christmas music found in children's TV programming.  Stay connected to the website here for more news about that. You can purchase all of these book through the publisher 1701 Press HERE.


from The Real Story of Christmas (2010)

--In 2010, I was asked to give commentary about Christmas TV specials for The Real Story of Christmas that airs on The History Channel and 25 Most Hilarious Holiday TV Moments for TV Guide Network.  Flying to Los Angeles and then to New York to be interviewed on camera was a lot of fun.  Here's an embarrassing highlight reel from those TV appearances as well as another TV spot from Cleveland OH called Teen Focus.



 
--In 2011, I was invited to take part in the 40th anniversary celebration of the TV movie The Homecoming.  The popular Christmas TV movie was the launch of the TV series The Waltons and so the 2011 event also included a cast reunion of members from the original 1971 movie and the later TV series.  As an expert on Christmas TV movies, I was asked to moderate the cast reunion and discussion at the theater after the screening.  More about those experiences HERE.  What a treat that was.


Myself with some of The Waltons cast before the reunion event.


Yes--actor David Huddleston was in the 1971 Christmas TV movie The Homecoming.  You may also recognize him from 1985's Santa Claus: The Movie and 1998's The Big Lebowksi.

--In 2012, a reporter from The New York Times called me asking for commentary about Christmas horror movies upon the release of the movie Silent Night.  See how he ended up quoting me HERE. That was such an honor!  And, I'm eager to see what opportunities open up in the future.


I've met Helen and Johnny Holmes from Radio Once More.

I've spent the past five years meeting readers and making friends as well.  How lucky I am to have the best readers!  Thanks for all your support.


I first met Melanie and Jason from Holiday Film Reviews in 2010.

Acting goofy with Made for TV Mayhem's Amanda By Night in 2010.

I met documentary filmmaker Mitchel Kezin (2014)


Yes--even WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley is one of my readers (2014)

I'm looking forward to writing more about Christmas entertainment. I hope you'll join me in recalling all our favorite Christmas TV episodes, specials and movies here on the blog.  Do you have your copy of the encyclopedia, The Companion, and Merry Musical Christmas yet?  I hope you are as excited as I am to reach the next milestone: 1 million page views on this website.  Now if I can just see that same level of success in book sales.....
Thanks for joining me on this journey.





Thursday, August 6, 2015

Christmas TV Party 2015: Recap



Did you check out all the responses by our party participants?  In case you were late to the Christmas TV Party this summer, here's your chance to catch up.  Below is a complete list of links to each of our guests who participated in July and August.

Thanks to everyone who participated and to all who left comments.  I was entertained and amused all month long with everyone's replies--I hope you were too!




Original introduction to Christmas TV Party 2015

John Holton of The Sound of One Hand Typing and The Sound of One Hand Typing FM

Caffeinated Joe of Wish You Merry Christmas and My Third Parent

Drew Flowers, Co-Moderator Yahoo Christmas Movies and Music

David Hofstede of Comfort TV




Cathy at Curious as a Cathy

Tim Lones

Lauralynn Elliott at Lauralynnelliott.com

Kiki Howell at kikihowell.com

J.A. Morris at Holiday Film Reviews





Jim Inman of Bloomington, IN

Mark Lusti

Cathie Kahle

Kevin Bowman

Humanbelly

 



Martin Kelly

Jeff Fox at Name that Christmas Special.com

Linda M. Young at Flying Dreams

 Susan

Net at It's a Wonderful Movie

 



Jakki at  Christmas Movies & Music and 'Tis The Season

Donna Bock

Ronda Roxbury

Page

Stephen J. Lind, Ph.D., author of the book A Charlie Brown Religion: Exploring the Spiritual Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz  





 Johnny Holmes at Radio Once More and The Holmsey Blog

Daniel Budnik at Some Polish American Guy Reviews Things and co-author of book Bleeding Skull

Bryan Curtiss from DJBC Adventures

Susan, Christmas movie super fan

RigbyMel at Holiday Film Reviews
 



Dominic Caruso, editor at 1701 Press

Joseph Moore at Christmas Wishes Book

Randall Buie from Henderson, Nevada

Ed South at Ed South's Wonderful World of Blog 





Rick at Classic Film and TV Café

Travis Van Hauen

Nicholas Volosin


 


If you're interested, below are a few more links.  These are the recaps from Christmas TV History's previous Christmas in July parties.  

Christmas TV Party 2014 Summary

2013's Christmas in July: Animation Celebration

2012's Sci-Fi Christmas in July

2011's 1990s Christmas in July

2010's Christmas in July guest bloggers and Fan Photos









 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Christmas TV Party 2015: Nicholas Volosin

Christmas TV Party 2015: Nicholas Volosin

1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other?
My earliest Christmas memory, is watching the Rankin/Bass classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I’m 50 now, and I don’t believe I’ve ever missed a year. To do so, for me, would be unthinkable. Even now, with it available on DVD & Blu-ray, I still need to watch when it’s aired on network television. In my home, it truly is a family tradition.  




2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
‘Where are you Christmas’, sung by Faith Hill. It really hits home, when the pressures of the holiday season prevents you from enjoying it as much as you should. So when the holiday spirit is being a tad elusive, this song has the ability to help me find it again.




3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
‘Scrooge’ The 1970 musical version with Albert Finney. The performances, the songs, the production values, all together truly make this version one of my favorite adaptations of Mr. Dickens’ perennial holiday story. I never miss it.




4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?  
Scrooged (1988) staring Bill Murray. I remember watching it on opening day in 1988, and being totally let down and disappointed. It had the potential to be a great holiday film, but it never rose above being a pedestrian Christmas film at best. Even Bill Murray couldn’t save that one.

5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
To simply remember that Christmas means different things to different people. But at its core, it’s about being together with family and friends, but mostly, above all, it’s about love.  
Keep that the heart of any Christmas entertainment, and you’ll never miss the mark.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Christmas TV Party 2015: Travis Van Hauen

Christmas TV Party 2015: Travis Van Hauen

1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other?

I watched It's a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas every year since I was a kid. I also have seen Nation Lampoon's Christmas Vacation & The Christmas Card several times a year. Recently my favorites are Lifetime's Love Under the Christmas Table and Hallmark's Trading Christmas.  Love all of them for different reasons.


promotional photo from 2006 TV movie The Christmas Card.

2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
For my wife and I it would be "Snow" from White Christmas.
or Nat King Cole performing "The Christmas Song" on The Nat King Cole Show.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__kQ1PCP6B0
I enjoyed watching Bing Crosby and David Bowie doing "Little Drummer Boy"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCQwwCRiDZQ




3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
Animated: A Flintstones Christmas Carol
2009's A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey
Mickey's Christmas Carol
When I worked grave yard shift I used to listen to a radio station that played old radio dramas or mysteries and every Christmas they would play the Jimmy Stewart Show the Six Shooter "Brett Ponset's Christmas Carol" .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCSLAmMiyRg

Side note: Worst versions are Bah Hum Duck & Jetson's Christmas Carol

Disney's Christmas Carol

4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?
A Star Wars Holiday (a VERY bad production)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3STF9FO5eM
Christmas Caper (Shannon Doherty)
Surviving Christmas (Ben Afleck)
Santa Claus: The Movie


5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
Bring back some of you retro programs for a day of programming that has a Christmas theme. Have a night  (not Christmas day- one of the weekends before) showing Jeffersons, Home Improvement, Brady Bunch, Love Boat, Cheers, etc. Include some of the current shows also. I understand the cable channels playing non-stop movies but what if they changed the pace on one of the days or nights play all the programs they currently have the rights to Christmas themed episodes.

I am adding a category: Most underrated Christmas special or movie?
Garfield's Christmas Special
Casper's First Christmas
Christmas Every Day (1996-ABC Family)
On the Second Day of Christmas (Mark Ruffalo)
A Boyfriend for Christmas (Hallmark)
Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Hallmark)
A Chipmunk Christmas (Golden Harmonica)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Christmas TV Party 2015: Rick

Christmas TV Party 2015: Rick at Classic Film and TV Café.

1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other? 
White Christmas is an annual Christmas Eve tradition in our family. The funny thing is that when I was a kid, White Christmas was on frequently and we always wanted to see Holiday Inn instead. However, as I got older, I realized that White Christmas had grown on me. And what's not to like? Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen dance wonderfully. Rosemary Clooney never looked nor sounded better. And Bing Crosby croons that Irving Berlin song that sold a few records.





 

2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
 I'd have to go with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," as sung by Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis. There's a wistful quality to the song, especially in light of the film's plot. Plus, Judy sounds fabulous!



3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
That's tough. I adore Alastair Sim and he makes a fine Scrooge--but in an Alastair Sim kind of way. George C. Scott's Scrooge in the 1984 made-for-TV A Christmas Carol may be my fave, if only because it's closer to Dickens.






4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?
I hope people don't hate me, but probably the 1968 TV special The Little Drummer Boy. I love Rankin-Bass productions and Rudolph (and even the sequels) are holiday traditions. Yet, while the Drummer Boy story is sweet, I just don't care for Rankin-Bass adaptation. In fact, I think the only time I watch it all the way through was the first time it was on.

5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
 

Put some money into some quality films for the whole family! Right now, all we get are all-star singing specials, animated toddler specials, and Hallmark romances. How about something along the lines of The Homecoming (the original Waltons pilot film)?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Christmas TV Party 2015: Ed South

Christmas TV Party 2015: Ed South at Ed South's Wonderful World of Blog 

1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other?
This is probably a two-way even tie: A Charlie Brown Christmas and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. The Charlie Brown special is not only the quintessential Christmas special, it’s also the most perfect Charlie Brown special.  The Disney film has a wonderful sense of humor throughout as well as offering the perfect platform for a number of Disney characters to shine.  Besides being my two favorite Christmas programs, when I was younger I had them both taped off television one after the other on the same tape - so they were viewed as a double feature on more than one occasion. Now that I’m older and have my own family, it’s become a tradition to watch them both on Christmas Eve or as close to Christmas Eve as our schedule allows.

A close second is easily the Christmas episode of The Flintstones titled “Christmas Flintstone.”


from the 1964 episode "A Christmas Flintstone" from the animated series The Flintstones.
 
2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
My favorite song from a Christmas special would have to be “Comin' Up Christmas Time,” first used in the special Casper’s First Christmas (1979) but more popularly known from the 1980 TV movie Yogi’s First Christmas. In both programs, the song is performed by a bunch of the Hanna-Barbera stable of animal characters. I was thrilled to find the song on a Christmas compilation CD many years ago, and it is on heavy rotation around the holidays!




3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
Obviously Mickey’s Christmas Carol is at the top of my list, as is The Muppet Christmas Carol but I also really love Rich Little’s Christmas Carol which is a 1978 Canadian production, broadcast stateside on HBO. In the special, master impressionist Rich Little plays all the major roles in the Dickens tale, assigning each one to a different celebrity. He plays Scrooge as W.C. Fields, Jacob Marley as Richard Nixon, the Ghost of Christmas past is Inspector Clouseau…you get the idea. It's hilarious and also filled with really solid Christmas music.



4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?
For me, it’s most disappointing when you are able to track down a Christmas episode of an old TV show only to find out that the episode didn’t really have anything to do with Christmas. I love the current trend of releasing DVDs full of old Christmas episodes, but sometimes the shows turn out to just be the ones that aired near Christmas - and don’t really have a Christmas related plot.

5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
Play More Old Stuff!!! With more and more cable channels finding out that Christmas equals ratings, I don’t understand why somebody out there hasn’t added vintage variety specials to the mix. Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, pretty much any celebrity who could sing in the 60’s or 70’s had a Christmas special but they are never on TV. I would love to see more of television’s history rebroadcast for today’s audiences!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Christmas TV Party 2015: Randall Buie

Christmas TV Party 2015: Randall Buie from Henderson, Nevada

1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other?
For TV it would be A Charlie Brown Christmas.  For movies it would be the 1951 Christmas Carol although I must admit that Ernest Saves Christmas is coming up on the rail.





2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
TV special would be John Denver and the Muppets - A Christmas Together (why oh why is this not on official home video).  I don't have a variety performance that I can think of and I need to alter the last part of the question.  My favorite song from a TV special once again appears on the the John Denver and the Muppets special.  The title is A Baby Just Like You.




3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
For TV I will fall back on an answer I gave last year -- Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol.  And as mentioned above, my favorite movie Christmas Carol is the Alistair Sim version.  Of course I also like the Charles Dickens short story, too.




 

4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?
I could probably write a term paper answering this question.  

I know I'm in a very small minority here, but if I had to pick one movie I would have to say It's a Wonderful Life.  I first saw this movie in the mid 80s when it was in public domain.  I could see why it appealed to people of that era because it mirrored the events that were happening in American finance.  A person takes a Savings and Loan, runs it into the ground, and in the end has the people bail him out.  Also I found the main character very self centered.  Moping around, wishing he had never been born, when he had nearly everyone in the town as his friend, a happy home life, and his own business.  I should be so unhappy!  

Other bad movies (with no comment) -- the Santa Clause franchise, Mixed Nuts, the Polar Express and White Christmas.

As far as worst TV movie -- well, just go to the Hallmark or Lifetime network and take your pick.

5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
First, continue having ongoing series devote at least one show per year to the Christmas season.  Second, remember your senior celebrities.  When you cast a musical variety program, every guest doesn't have to be currently on Billboard's Hot 100.  I would much rather see Olivia Newton-John doing holiday favorites than Silento or Fetty Wap.  And thirdly, remember that Christmas is about nostalgia.  Dive into your library of old promos and specials for clips from the past.  NBC could show 30 second snippets of Bob Hope or Perry Como specials between programs, CBS could bring back their animated holiday greeting cards by R.O Blechman, etc.