About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1980s Christmas: Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

The 1980s also offered 1988's Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. In perhaps the most fabulous, star-studded Christmas Special ever created, Pee-Wee has some holiday fun for just about everyone. There are the series’ regular attractions: Jambi grants a wish, the secret word (’year,’) a Penny cartoon, and magic screen connecting the dots. The regular guests stop by as well, like the King of Cartoons, Miss Yvonne, Ricardo, Reba and Cowboy Curtis.

Cher knows what to do when someone says the word of the day: scream real loud!

But the most fun is watching Pee-Wee with all the celebrities that want to participate in the Playhouse holiday fun: Little Richard wearing a pillow while ice skating on the frozen pond; Dinah Shore annoyingly prattles off an endless “Twelve Days of Christmas” over the videophone while a bored Pee-Wee places her on hold to walk away; and Frankie & Annette forced into slave labor handmaking Pee-Wee’s Christmas cards.

Don’t forget Grace Jones’ shocking performance of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Other celebrity performances include: kd lang sings “Jingle Bell Rock;” Charo sings “Feliz Navidad;” and the Del Rubio Triplets sing “Winter Wonderland.” Pee Wee collects all the fruitcakes he’s received in order to build a new wing onto the Playhouse. All the fun comes to an end when Pee Wee leaves in order to assist Santa in delivering his toys.

Pee-Wee: "Feliz Navi Blah"

Special guests include: kd lang; Oprah Winfrey; Grace Jones; Annette Funicello; Frankie Avalon; Whoopi Goldberg; Magic Johnson; Cher; Joan Rivers; Del Rubio Triplets; Little Richard; Zsa Zsa Gabor; Dinah Shore; Charo; and, the UCLA Men’s Glee Club.

Ever wondered which holiday animated classic the King of Cartoons brings in this Christmas Special? It’s “Christmas Comes But Once a Year” a 1936 cartoon from the Fleischer Studios, featuring the elderly inventor Grampy, a recurring character originally introduced in a Betty Boop cartoon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen: Santa Who?

I join the rest of the world in mourning the recent death of actor Leslie Nielsen. His abundant comedic roles have touched movie-goers for decades with his roles in Airplane! and the Naked Gun series. He has also impressed viewers with his participation in Christmas movies including All I Want for Christmas, Santa Who?, and the TV specials Noël Noël, The Nutcracker and the Mouseking and Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. I turn my attention here in discussing Santa Who? for it is this role that Nielsen repeats his quintessential comedic trademark as the dead serious funny man.

This TV movie is a comedy about what happens when Santa Claus has amnesia. On a practice run, Santa Claus (played by Nielsen) falls out of his sleigh and drops into TV news reporter Peter Albright’s car! This passenger seems to have amnesia and doesn’t know who he is. Since he’s good with children, Peter gets him a job working in the local mall as their Santa Claus. Meanwhile, Peter is concocting a news story about the amnesiac, hoping for a tearful reunion on Christmas for a highly rated TV special. Will Christmas be canceled if there is no Santa Claus this year?

One of the funny efforts to try to spark Santa’s memory is to expose him to familiar, emotional connections. He’s shown the movies ‘It’s A Wonderful Life,’ ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘The Grinch’ and ‘Rudolph,’ but the trick fails.

The cast includes: Leslie Nielsen as Santa Claus; Steven Eckholdt as Peter Albright; Robyn Lively as girlfriend Claire; and, Max Morrow as Zack, Claire’s son.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Tour: Akron OH recap

To keep you updated, my latest book signing was this past Saturday (Nov. 27th) at Square Records in Akron, OH. Thanks to Dave and Juniper for offering me this fantastic opportunity to meet and greet the fans of my books. It was nice to be home from my book tour--for Thanksgiving--and to be able to share my experiences and stories of life on the road with friends that dropped by the store.

I'll resume my book tour next week with stops in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and finally Cleveland--all before Christmas. For the dates, times and locations of those appearances, please see the '2010 Author Events' page on the right hand side of this blog.

One of the highlights of the Square Records signing was the opportunity to finally meet in person a fellow blogger, Erick, who writes Wonderful Wonderblog and is also a fan of Christmas on TV. I'm jealous of his crazy Christmas music collection--including the Star Wars Christmas Album: Christmas In the Stars.

He even wrote about meeting me--which was very nice. Click here for that blog post on Wonderful Wonderblog. Thanks Erick.

This is the second time on this book tour that I've been able to meet a blogger who has inspired me. In the Washington DC/Baltimore area, I also met Amanda By Night who writes Made for TV Mayhem.

Erick from Wonderful Wonderblog and myself: Happy Life Day to us!

The Gathering (1977)

On book tour this past month, I was asked repeatedly about a much beloved TV movie from 1977 entitled The Gathering which starred Edward Asner, Maureen Stapleton, Gregory Harrison and Stephanie Zimbalist among others.

I wrote about this TV movie this past summer for the blog Made for TV Mayhem a site devoted to TV movies. Click here to read my post about The Gathering.

An added bonus that I brought to that posting are photos from several locations where that film was originally shot. Coincidentally, I happen to live in Northeast Ohio--very close to Hudson and Chagrin Falls, Ohio where several locations doubled for the snowy New England setting in the movie. Surprisingly, those locations have changed little since 1977. Please check those out on Made for TV Mayhem.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

1980s Christmas: The Simpsons

How many people remember that 1989's “The Simpsons Christmas Special” was the first episode of the new series The Simpsons on the young Fox network? Also known by the title "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," this holiday special was the first half-hour length story with the animated characters introduced in short bumpers on the comedy/variety series The Tracy Ullman Show. The plot of this now legendary Christmas show is familiar: When the family’s Christmas money has to be spent on tattoo removal surgery for Bart, Homer’s last chance is found at the dog track, gambling for a merry Christmas. Homer loses his money but comes home to present the family with a dog they name Santa’s Little Helper.

But the first Simpsons Christmas story debuted the previous year, in 1988, on The Tracey Ullman Show. It features a holiday Simpsons’ short entitled ‘Simpson Christmas.’ Bart provides his own version of the poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Though the animation is a bit more rough, the irreverence and cleverness we have come to expect from this series is already perfected. This animated series would go on to produce many more classic Christmas episodes. Which is your favorite Simpsons Christmas story? (Mine is 1995's "Marge Be Not Proud.")

“So, to those of you groovin’ on my holiday rap: Happy Christmas to all and to all a good nap.”

Book Tour: Baltimore recap

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'm finally home from the first leg of my book tour. But just for a week before I head back out again. In December, I'll be signing books in Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago. Check the schedule on this blog (along the right hand side) marked 'Author Events 2010' for the locations, dates and times for my upcoming appearances.

My last signing was in Baltimore, Maryland on the 20th at Ukazoo Books. But the highlight of that stop was getting to finally meet a fellow blogger, Amanda By Night, who writes about TV movies especially horror TV movies. She knows her stuff. If you haven't already, you must check out her blog: Made for TV Mayhem.

Amanda guest posted on my blog this past July writing about her favorite Christmas TV special, Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey. Click here to see that post again. Maybe I can persuade her to write another for me?

Schlemiel, Schlimazel. Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Joanna on TV: Set Your DVRs

Well, the holiday specials have already begun to air on TV like they do every year at this time. The Hallmark Channel started televising their holiday movies last weekend and ABC Family Channel begins their countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas programming this weekend. The Macy's Thanksgiving day Parade is next Thursday and the flood of old and new programming will be unleashed.

Add to that two upcoming new specials that will include your favorite Christmas TV expert (Don't shrug your shoulders! I'm talking about myself, Joanna Wilson). As you may already know, I was asked to participate in two TV specials adding commentary about Christmas TV episodes, specials and movies. Look for me:

on the History Channel special The Real Story of Christmas scheduled to air Nov. 30th at 8pm

and TV Guide Network's 25 Most Hilarious Holiday Moments scheduled to air Dec. 5th at 8pm

I expect these programs to be repeated before Dec. 25th but check your listings to be sure. Thanks to both production companies for asking me to participate: Workaholic Productions and Atlas Media Corp. respectively. I'm sure everyone is looking forward to seeing these new holiday TV specials as well as my contributions.

Book Tour: Richmond Virginia recap

Chop Suey Books in Cary Town, Richmond Virginia

Thanks to the guys at the bookstore, Chop Suey Books, for allowing me to sign copies of The Christmas TV Companion on Thursday. They have a great collection of film and TV books on the second floor--everything from standard film studies texts (Kracauer, Dudley Andrews, Mast & Cohen) to popular television books such as Growing Up Brady by Barry Williams.

Below are a couple links to stories/interviews from Richmond. I was also interviewed on the radio WRIR for a local NPR broadcast coming soon. More on that later.

"Holiday Expert Comes to Chop Suey Books" on Richmond.com

5 Christmas Specials You May or May Not See on TV from Style Weekly in Richmond

Thanks also to Melanie and Jason--Christmas TV lovers like myself. Melanie works at the Poe Museum and certainly one of the highlights of my book tour.

My next signing is Saturday Nov. 20th from 2-4 pm at Ukazoo Books in Baltimore (Towson) Maryland. See you there!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Animated Christmas Carols--Part 2

Continuing with Part 2: my suggestions for five more (ten total) alternative animated versions of Dickens' classic book. Disney's A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey is getting a lot of attention this week due to its release on DVD. However, these are a few animated adaptations that stand out from the rest. Check out my previous post (Part 1) to see five more titles that deserve special attention.

2005's Stroker and Hoop episode entitled "I Saw Stroker Killing Santa Claus a.k.a. A Cold, Dead, White Christmas"

This Adult Swim series on the Cartoon Network not only tips its hat to buddy cop TV shows but parodies Night Rider as well. And the series' Christmas episode is just as clever. This Christmas Carol adaptation uniquely incorporates Santa Claus--even if he is dying!

1971's A Christmas Carol by Richard Williams

This is THE animated version of the classic holiday tale by Charles Dickens easily surpassing other versions. It is visually stunning with a voice cast to match. Actor Alastair Sim repeats his noteworthy performance from the much-beloved 1951’s filmed version as he once again breathes life into the central character Ebenezer Scrooge. Michael Redgrave voices the narration. This production won an Oscar for Best Short Subject, Animated Films. This version is far too often overlooked.

1997's 101 Dalmatians: The Series episode entitled "A Christmas Cruella"

This is a family-friendly adaptation whose Scrooge character, Cruella DeVille, is in serious need of a haunting. Wait for Cruella's holiday outfit--she dresses as a stunning Christmas tree! Very fashion forward, I must say. Additionally, this is the only adaptation of Dickens book that includes two puppies and a chicken that serve as the three ghosts of Christmas. I dare you to prove me wrong!

1996's Beavis and Butt-Head Do Christmas segment entitled "Huh-Huh-Humbug"

In this classic Christmas special, three ghosts visit Beavis on Christmas Eve to attempt to teach the dull-witted teen a lesson. The key word here is 'attempt.'

2000's Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future"

This Adult Swim Cartoon Network TV series is just as outrageous in its Christmas episodes as it is all year round. In this thin Dickens adaptation, next door neighbor Carl is subjected to a visit to his Christmas Past by a robot ghost. However, Carl's haunting involves more than just this one ghost but supernatural disturbances within his home. It turns out his house was built on top of an ancient burial mound for Santa's enslaved elves from centuries ago. From there, it just gets weird. Rocker Glenn Danzig actually provides his voice for the character Glenn Danzig in this holiday story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Animated Christmas Carols--Part 1

There's a tremendous amount of excitement since Disney's A Christmas Carol is coming out on DVD. Have you seen it? Did you like it? This is just one of many animated versions of Charles Dickens classic book--the most popular tale at Christmas time. Many people still watch Disney's previous adaptation Mickey's Christmas Carol. Other popular animated versions quickly come to mind: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol; Flintstones Christmas Carol; The Jetsons Christmas Carol; and, Bah Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas movie. All of these still regularly air on TV each year. Are you looking to watch an animated Christmas Carol that maybe you haven't seen in a while? or, one that stands out from the rest? Check out my ten suggestions:
1978's The Stingiest Man in Town
This Rankin/Bass cel animated musical is often overlooked. It is narrated by a cricket, voiced by Tom Bosley (the same actor that played the father on TV's Happy Days) and Scrooge is voiced by Walter Matthau. It's a classic.
1986's The Real Ghostbusters episode "X-Mas Marks the Spot"
The four Ghostbusters unknowingly find themselves in Victorian times and capture three ghosts terrorizing a man. Later when they mysteriously return to their own time, they learn they have altered history and Christmas by eliminating Scrooge's ghosts. This cartoon ambiguously makes the literary character a historical one. But why not? Who you gonna call?
2006's American Dad episode "The Best Christmas Story Never"
Wow! Where do I start to describe this one? When the Spirit of Christmas Past escorts Stan back to Christmas 1970, he ditches the ghost for his own agenda. Through a series of loose connections, Stan blames ‘Hanoi Jane’ Fonda for the loss of Christmas spirit for Americans as well as his own disillusionment. It just keeps getting weirder and more wild--and it's worth the ride.
Gumby short entitled "Scrooge Loose"
This early 1960s stop motion program includes a holiday segment with Gumby and Pokey confronting an unhappy Scrooge who looks to sabotage Santa Claus' toy delivery. Santa vs. Scrooge: bring it on!
1987's Bravestarr episode entitled "Tex's Terrible Night"
If you aren't already familiar, this impressive animated series is a Science Fiction Western. Yeah, wow! It also distinguishes itself by incorporating the series' characters in this adaptation of Dickens' tale. The Scrooge character, Tex Hex, is haunted by Shaman who shows him the consequences of his villainous behavior. This is far more sophisticated than one expects from a children's program.
Tex as Bravestarr's Scrooge
For Part 2: click HERE....for five more animated Christmas Carols.

Northern Exposure Christmas (1991)

This Emmy-award winning episode has several interweaving story lines. Maurice Minnifield receives Korean visitors--a woman accompanied by her middle-aged son, the product of Maurice’s military time spent overseas. This is a son that he didn’t even know existed until now. Dr. Joel Fleischman gets himself his first Christmas tree though he’s conflicted over its meaning to him as a Jew. Pilot Maggie O'Connell is desperate to avoid going home for the holidays but is hurt when her family goes to the Caribbean without her. Barmaid Shelly is nostalgic for the Catholic traditions of Christmas from her childhood which Holling tries to satisfy by beautifully singing “Ave Maria.”

Raven decorations adorn the city of Cicely for the holiday

But the most unique aspect of this episode is the Native-American traditions of Cicely, Alaska: the Raven pageant and folklore explored throughout the story. The city decorates with black bird decorations, ornaments and lights. Don’t miss Joel’s enigmatic secretary, Marilyn, in the lead role of the pageant. Here at the pageant, we see the local mythology of the raven which metaphorically resembles the familiar Nativity story with an emphasis on the themes of birth and light. Exploring this creepy bird’s connection to Christmas further, listen for Chris in the Morning’s radio show exposition and Edgar Allen Poe-inspired commentary.

John Corbett as radio DJ Chris in the Morning talking about Poe

This 1991 episode, written by Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov, won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Drama Series for that year. It is available for viewing on DVD: Season 3, disc 3 (or disc 2, side A--for the double-sided DVD release).

Actor John Cullum who plays Holling Vincoeur reveals in this episode his impressive vocal training, Broadway experience and Tony Award-winning talents in his performance of the song "Ave Maria." If you're a reader like I am, you may appreciate seeing Cullum in another literary-themed Christmas episode: "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" on the TV series Touched By An Angel. Cullum plays Mark Twain in a touching holiday story. This 1997 episode not only dramatizes the life of American writer, Mark Twain, but includes references to the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his hope-filled poem/carol “Christmas Bells.”

Actor John Cullum plays restaurant-owner of The Brick, Holling Vincoeur

Poe Museum in Richmond, VA--pardon the photo, I was standing in the rain!

I was inspired to once again reflect upon this spectacular Christmas episode because today I spent the day at the Poe Museum located in Richmond, Virginia. As you know, I'm on book tour right now. I arrived in Richmond a few days early so I'm enjoying the local attractions. My first stop had to be the Poe Museum--and this weekend when my book tour takes me to Baltimore, I'm going to visit Poe's grave.

I'll be signing books at Chop Suey Books on Thursday, November 18th from 4-6pm. See you there!

Gorgeous Poe bust in the Memorial Gardens at the Poe Museum

Sunday, November 14, 2010

1980s Christmas: A Very Brady Christmas

This made-for-TV movie is a schmaltzy afterthought to the 1970s TV show yet still remains a holiday ‘must-see.’ All the original actors in the principle cast revive their roles with one exception: Susan Olsen was unavailable to play Cindy Brady so actress Jennifer Runyon was her substitute. In 1988, viewers loved this return of their favorite TV characters so much, the original series creator, Sherwood Schwartz, generated a whole new series, 1990’s The Bradys to give the now grown bunch another try in prime time.

Here, the adult Brady children are invited to return home for Christmas. But each of the children has a deception he or she is keeping from the other family members. Bobby is afraid to reveal that he quit school to become a race car driver. Peter is hesitant to commit to his girlfriend because she’s his boss at work. Jan’s marriage to Phillip is on the rocks and they are considering separating. Cindy is upset that as the youngest, she’s still treated like a child. Greg misses his wife who is with her parents for the holiday. Marcia’s husband Wally is embarrassed because he lost his job at the toy factory. And, the maid Alice is upset because her husband Sam has left her for a younger woman.

Even Carol and Mike have their troubles. Mike is being pressured by a client to modify the architectural specifications of a building that would be a structural safety risk. But in the middle of Christmas dinner, the building collapses and Mike rushes to the construction site to help. He knows the building’s structure better than anyone and goes inside the wreckage to help free the men trapped inside. Unfortunately, the building collapses more with Mike on the inside! The Bunch gather at the construction site and sing Christmas carols in a united effort of faith and trust that their father and the workers will come out alive.

There are several significant Christmas references here. One is that the family together sings ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ at the construction site--the same tune sung by Florence Henderson as Carol Brady in the original 1969 Brady Bunch holiday episode "The Voice of Christmas." Another significant reference is the location of this collapsed building, pointed out by the TV news crew covering the devastation. When Mike emerges from the wreckage, it is called ‘The Miracle on 34th Street.’ Of course, this is a nod to the popular 1947 Christmas movie of the same title.

The cast includes: Florence Henderson as mother Carol; Robert Reed as father Mike; Ann B. Davis as the maid, Alice; Barry Williams as Greg; Maureen McCormick as Marcia; Christopher Knight as Peter; Eve Plumb as Jan; Mike Lookinland as Bobby; Jennifer Runyon as Cindy; Jerry Houser as Marcia’s husband Wally; Ron Kuhlman as Jan’s husband , Phillip; and, Caryn Richman as Greg’s wife, Nora. Sam the butcher was also re-cast, here played by Lewis Arquette.

The Bunch wait for a miracle on Christmas Day outside the collapsed building.

This TV movie is both wonderful and awful at the same time. If you have any sentimentality at all for the original series, you'll need to see the cast and the characters now as adults. But this also means the 1970s groovy fashions and youthful innocence are gone and replaced with 1980s big hair, mom jeans, shoulder pads and incredulous adult innocence. But don't get me wrong--I LOVE THIS! And I know you do too--and that's why it still airs every year on TV despite its age. Below is a preview and the opening credit sequence to this made-for-TV movie from Youtube. Enjoy!

Spartanburg/Woodruff SC recap

That's me on the marquee!

The latest stop on my book tour was yesterday afternoon in Woodruff, SC at the Broken TeaPot. I talked to quite a few people and we discussed the TV movie The Gathering, those military/Christmas stories from my blog post Columbus Georgia recap, the movie It's A Wonderful Life, episodes of The Twilight Zone, the Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and so many more. Not only was the discussion lively but Suni's cookies and the food she put out was divine! Thanks so much to the Broken TeaPot for the warm hospitality.

Susie and I share a passion for Christmas on TV and a homeown.

Visiting with my friend and nephew Jay.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Tour--My day off includes Amy Sedaris!

As many of you probably already know, Amy Sedaris has written another book, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, and she is currently on book tour promoting it. My own book tour has crossed hers today--giving me the opportunity to attend her event in Asheville, NC tonight. I've seen her before and she's extremely entertaining and sharp-witted in person. So I wanted to make sure to see her again. Tonight she repeatedly performed her Miss Jane Pittman imitation--not only is it spot-on but it's hilarious. (I love Cicley Tyson--but who doesn't, right?) And, she did her Al Jarreau imitation too. I'm laughing just thinking about it.

I even got a chance to ask her a question during the Q&A about "A Blank White Christmas" her title to a possible "Strangers With Candy" Christmas movie. She didn't directly answer me which I'm fine with but I'm dying to see Jerri Blank's Christmas! The possibilities are endless. When I had Amy sign my book I got a few minutes of face time with her and we talked about how difficult book tours can be. But seeing her is certainly a highlight of my tour. Especially since she didn't come even close to making a stop anywhere near to where I live. I only got to see her because I'm so far away from home.

We were not permitted to take photos of Amy but this is me in the crowd tonight, desperately clutching my copy of Amy's book. And yes, thank you for covering your mouth when you cough!

I broke the first rule of Book Tour: Don't Buy Books--Sell Books!

Saturday, November 13th I'm signing books in Woodruff, SC (outside of Spartanburg/Greenville SC) at 2pm at The Broken TeaPot TeaParlor. See you there!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

1980s Christmas: Silver Spoons

"Here we are face to face, a couple of silver spoons..."

Continuing with my posts about TV holiday moments from the 1980s, it has been suggested to me to include this sugary favorite: 1982's "The Best Christmas Ever."

In this season one story, Ricky Stratton is excited to spend his first Christmas with his wealthy father. But when an adorable little boy knocks on their mansion door, the Stratton family discover a homeless family living in a nearby cave. Ricky and his father not only sacrifice their own gifts to give them an unexpected Christmas, but Edward offers the needy family a leg up. Together the families sing ‘Silent Night.’

What makes this TV episode worth remembering is special guest Joey Lawrence as the young, homeless boy. Both Ricky Schroder and Joey Lawrence on the screen at the same time is enough pre-teen super stardom to light a small city. Considering how difficult Hollywood is on child actors, it's pretty amazing that both of these guys, now men, still have succesful careers in the industry.

Tell me what you like about this episode. You can watch it on the first season DVD release available at Netflix--or this mini-sode from Crackle below.

Book Tour: Columbus, Georgia recap

Welcome to the Columbus library!

November 11th, Veteran's Day, I spoke at the Columbus library about Christmas on TV--even highlighting holiday programing that includes a military theme. I promised the crowd that I would re-list those program titles that I brought up. Of course, all these titles and more are included in the upcoming Tis the Season TV book I wrote.

World War I: true-life story about a spontaneous truce that arose between the French and British troops with the Germans on Christmas 1914. See also: the 2005 movie "Joyeux Noel," and the History channel documentaries "The Christmas Truce" and "Christmas at War."

World War II: inspired by a true story/drama about Christmas Eve in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes forest. See also: the 2002 movie "Silent Night." There are also several Christmas movies that take place during WWII including: 1944's "I'll Be Seeing You," 1944's "Since You Went Away," and 1988's "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

The Korean War includes holiday episodes of M*A*S*H and the 1997 TV movie "A Thousand Men and A Baby."

And for the Vietnam War, I discussed "Bob Hope Entertains the Troops--The Vietnam Years" which is the DVD set in the library's collection which includes several of the TV specials made from Bob Hope's annual USO tours to entertain soldiers.

The TV series JAG created their own holiday episode in the fifth season entitled "The Ghosts of Christmas Past" that pays homage to Bob Hope's USO Christmas tours.

Two more contemporary TV Christmas movies have been made that address issues of soldiers in more recent conflicts including 2006's "The Christmas Card" and 2002's "The Christmas Visitor."

Of course, this is just some of the many Christmas titles that incorporate soldiers or the military.

Many thanks to the Friends of the Library for the opportunity to speak at the library. I miss Columbus already!

Book Tour: Augusta GA recap

Everyone keeps asking me when I'm going to be on the History Channel and when the TV Guide Network TV special is going to air--and I still don't know. But THIS is where I'll announce those dates and times as soon as I know! So stay close to this blog if you're looking forward to seeing those upcoming TV specials.

Apparently I recently won an election in South Carolina!!

My latest book signing on my book tour took place at the main library in downtown Augusta, Georgia yesterday. If you aren't familiar with the geography, this sleepy Southern town is just over the South Carolina border--so close that my hotel was actually just a few miles away in South Carolina. Straight out of a nightmare, my short drive to the library turned into an odyssey as my Mapquest directions took me into rural SC where I was lost--and almost late to my program! I had to stop several times and ask locals for directions--the best directions were from a young counter girl working at a chicken shack. She was great and very helpful. My 11 minute drive to the library took me more than an hour and tears were shed. But the new library facility in downtown Augusta is amazing! And I was asked to write a Top 10 list of Christmas programs that are in their library collection for the library's website. Nice.

This is the vehicle that I'm driving across this great country on my book tour. I am pleased to learn that people are taking notice of the car magnets which have my encyclopedia's cover design and website. If you see me, you gotta wave!

My next book event is tomorrow--at the library in Columbus, Georgia at 4 pm. In honor of Veteran's Day, I'll be talking about some of the many, many military/Christmas programs that air on TV--from Bob Hope's memorable USO tour Christmas specials to the more contemporary TV movies The Christmas Card and The Christmas Visitor. By the way, are you aware that Hallmark Channel Christmas programming begins this weekend? Go to their website to check their schedule so you don't miss you're favorite TV movies. Click on the link:

Hallmark Channel

Monday, November 8, 2010

1980s Christmas: Knight Rider

You know you watched it--and you loved it. Okay, maybe it was just me. But the 1980s were a different time. Knight Rider's second season produced its only Christmas-themed episode, entitled "Silent Knight." On his way to a formal Christmas banquet, Michael Knight decides to help a gypsy boy who is being pursued by bank robbers. The boy is a witness to their criminal act and the robbers want to make sure he can’t identify them. But the boy’s gypsy family interferes with Michael’s ability to keep him safe. This episode is so bad, it's good. Even K.I.T.T. is able to arrange to buy Christmas gifts for his colleagues! This 1983 episode is available on DVD--and at Netflix.

Of course, if that's not enough holiday Hasselhoff for you, check out the Baywatch Christmas episode, 1994's "Silent Night, Baywatch Night." This is a two part episode (that's two hours!) of beach adventures. It includes special guest Danny Woodburn--an actor you may remember as the recurring character Mickey on Seinfeld. This Christmas episode also includes Pamela Anderson in a macrame bikini working with orphans. Aaawwww....Christmas is for the kids, isn't it? Anyway, this episode isn't out on DVD yet--but I found it easily on Youtube.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Book Tour: Charlotte, NC recap

Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC

To recap the day's events, I had a book signing today in Charlotte, North Carolina. Some of you may not know that I used to live in Charlotte--so this was a sort of homecoming for me. It was wonderful to visit some of my favorite restaurants (Wolfman Pizza and Lupie's Cafe) and see some old friends again.

Park Road Books (located in Park Road Shopping Center) is a fabulous indie book store with an incredible staff. Thanks to them for their help and assistance! I left behind a few copies of my book--so if you weren't able to stop by this afternoon, you'll still be able to purchase one locally there.

This is me--eagerly 30 minutes early!

That DC Superheroes Pop-Up book next to me (right side of photo) was awesome! And, Olympic speed skater/author, Apolo Ohno, will be occupying my seat there at Park Road Books in just a couple of days. Cool!

My dear friend Charlie from Charlotte dropped by to say 'hi.'

My next stop is Tuesday, Nov. 9th at 7pm at the Main Library in Augusta, Georgia (East Central Regional Library). I'll actually be speaking as well as signing books. Come on down and tell me about your favorite Christmas memories from television.

Then on Thursday, Nov. 11th I'll be speaking again at the Columbus Library, in Columbus Georgia. If you're interested in my upcoming tour, dates and locations--check the blog page "2010 Author Events" along the right hand side of this blog. Or just ask me. That's easy too :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Tour: Charleston, WV recap

Taylor Books in downtown Charleston

Earlier today I had a book signing at Taylor Books in Charleston, West Virginia--what a fabulous place! As you can see, the facade of the downtown store fronts look like a European shopping district. Very classy. Inside this independent book store, I found so many cool books that I had to remind myself there wasn't enough room in the car to buy everything I wanted! I did flip through Amy Sedaris' new book--when I saw the several pages of photos of her suggested stretches to avoid crafting injuries, I laughed loud enough to get everyone in the store to look at me.

Anyway, my appearance and book signing went well!! I met several new friends. Carla told me about her favorite movies: "The House Without A Christmas Tree," "Silent Night, Lonely Night" and "Remember the Night." I suggested that if she liked Barbara Stanwyck in "Remember the Night"--she should check out "Christmas in Connecticut" too.

That's my name in florescent chalk!!

Now I'm in Charlotte, NC--Saturday, Nov. 6th at 2 pm I'll be at Park Road Books at Park Road Shopping Center. I drove by the location earlier tonight and I got a little misty. I thought Park Road sounded familiar!? You see, I used to live in Charlotte, about ten years ago, and I used to live right by here! So I guess I felt a little nostalgic. Once I saw the place, I knew instantly where I was--even if I didn't remember the address. I hope to see some of my old friends tomorrow as well as make a few new friends. See ya then.

I did another interview today--and it's already online! This is in anticipation of my program at the Augusta, Georgia library next Tuesday!! click on the link below:

The Augusta Chronicle's Movie Talk Blog with movie columnist Stephen Yusko. Thanks Stephen!