Friday, November 30, 2012

TV Confidential to Re-Air My Interview



I've gotten word that my interview from last year on TV Confidential will be re-airing this week.
If you didn't hear it last year, Show #114 was my first appearance on TV Confidential in November 2011.  In it,  I discuss my obsession with The Peanuts character Peppermint Patty, the inspiration for writing my two books, the common themes in Christmas TV stories, the sidebars in my encyclopedia, and my love the Christmas episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.  I also spoke about my upcoming appearance at the screening of the Christmas TV movie The Homecoming and The Waltons cast reunion.  Click the links to read my blog posts about those experiences from December 2011: Waltons Part 1 and Waltons Part 2

From the press release:

Composer Charles Fox, actor/singer Robert Davi, and author Joanna Wilson will join us on a special encore presentation of TV CONFIDENTIAL, airing Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2012 at the following times and venues:

WROM RadioDetroit, MI
Wedn
esday 11/28
8pm ET, 5pm PT
Sunday 12/1
8pm ET, 5pm PT
Click on the Listen Live button at WROMRadio.net  

Share-a-Vision Radio
San Francisco Bay Area
Friday 11/30
7pm ET, 4pm PT
10pm ET, 7pm PT
Click on the Listen Live button at KSAV.org

Talktainment Radio
Columbus, OH
Friday 11/30
3am ET, Midnight PT
Noon ET, 9am PT
9pm ET, 6pm PT
Click on the Listen Live button at TalktainmentRadio.com

The Coyote KKYT 93.7 FM
Ridgecrest, CA
Sunday 12/1
9pm PT
Monday 12/2
Midnight ET
Click on the Listen Live button at Coyote395.com

The Radio Slot Network
San Francisco, CA
Monday 12/2
8pm ET, 5pm PT
Click on the Talk Slot button at RadioSlot.com

Passionate World Radio
Ann Arbor, MI
Tuesday 12/3
10:30pm ET, 7:30pm PT
Click on the Listen Now button at pwrtalk.ning.com
We'll go back in time to November 2011 as we replay our conversation with Charles Fox, the Grammy-winning composer of "Killing Me Softly with His Song" (one of the most-performed songs ever in music history), and a man who has also composed the scores for hundreds of film and TV productions, including Goodbye, Columbus, Barbarella, Foul Play, 9 to 5, One on One, The Last American Hero, Two Minute Warning, The Other Side of The Mountain and Victory at Entebbe, as well as the theme songs for Love, American Style, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, The Paper Chase, the original theme to Monday Night Football and the famous theme to Wide World of Sports.

Charles' memoir, Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music, tells the stories behind these great songs while also paying pays tribute to the teacher who started it all for him, Nadia Boulanger. We'll not only talk about Charles' journey in music, we'll also play some of his most famous compositions when he joins us in our second hour.
Our first hour will include an encore presentation of our January 2012 conversation with Robert Davi, the actor known to many of us as Agent Malone in Profiler, Franz Sanchez in License to Kill, Jake Fratelli in The Goonies, and other film and TV productions, including Contract on Cherry Street with Frank Sinatra. In addition to being an accomplished actor, Robert is a classically trained singer with a deep-seeded love and appreciation for many of the greatest musical artists of all time, including his friend and mentor, Frank Sinatra.

Robert's first album, Davi Sings Sinatra: On the Road to Romance, pays tribute to not only Ole Blue Eyes, but also The Great American Songbook, which Robert considers to be "the Shakespeare of America."
Robert will be performing music from Davi Sings Sinatra at the Vibrato Grill Jazz in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 12 and Thursday, Dec. 13. For more information, go to www.DaviSingsSinatra.com.
Our first hour will also feature a replay of November 2011 conversation with Joanna Wilson, pop culture expert and the leading authority on the subject of holiday TV programming. Joanna's books include The Christmas TV Companion: A Guide to Cult Classics, Strange Specials and Outrageous Oddities and Tis the Season TV: The Encyclopedia of Christmas-Themed Episodes, Specials and Made for TV Movies, both of which provide engaging looks at Christmas specials over the years.

TV CONFIDENTIAL: A radio talk show about televisionWed and Sun 8pm ET, 5pm PT on WROM Radio
Fri 7pm ET and PT on Share-a-Vision Radio, KSAV.org
Fri 9pm ET, 6pm PT on Talktainment Radio
Sun 9pm PT, Mon Midnight ET on
The Coyote KKYT 93.7 FM (Ridgecrest, Calif.)
Mon 8pm ET, 5pm PT on The Radio Slot Network
Tue 10:30pm ET, 7:30pm PT on Passionate World RadioTape us now, listen to us later, using DAR.fm/tvconfidential
Also available as a podcast via
iTunes, FeedBurner and now on your mobile phone via www.stitcher.com/TVConfidential
Follow us online at www.tvconfidential.net
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Christmas Story 2 (2012)


This sequel was released directly to video about a month ago.

Anyone else already see A Christmas Story 2?  Ever since news broke about its release, people have been moaning about what a travesty this film must be.  I don't believe in judging films before I see them--that makes no sense to me.  So now that I've seen it, let me share what I think about it.

A Christmas Story 2 takes place several years later.  Now Ralphie is almost 16 years old and still friends with Schwartz and Flick.

If you’re looking for this sequel to equal the original 1983 theatrical release film A Christmas Story, you will be disappointed.  But this direct-to-video release is not as bad as others predicted it to be.  This story picks up the familiar characters of the Parker family, several years later--Ralphie is now about to turn 16 years old and he’s looking forward to not only getting his driver’s license but the adolescent fantasy of catching the attention the most beautiful girl in school.

Ralphie really wants to have a car to impress the prettiest girl in school.

The story's main plot concerns itself with Ralphie setting out to earn the money to pay for a debt he’s accrued--he damaged a car on a car salesman’s lot and needs to pay for the repairs.  Ralphie enlists his trusted friends Schwartz and Flick to get jobs with him at the nearby Higbee’s department store during the weeks before Christmas to earn the money.

Loyal friends Schwartz, Ralph, and Flick takes jobs together at Higbee's department store to earn money for Ralph's debt.

However, the boys’ teenaged inadequacies and inexperience means they are moved from job to job within the store after repeated screw-ups.  In plot twist that reveals Ralphie's good nature, he earns just enough money but instead decides to use some of it to help a needy family he's met.

Mrs. Parker brings the Old Man a hot drink while he waits to catch his Christmas dinner.

Another major plotline surrounds Mr. Parker, Ralphie’s father, who is known for being a tightwad.  Unwilling to buy a turkey (at 40 cents a pound) for the family’s Christmas Eve meal, the Old Man sets out to catch his own seafood meal in the nearby frozen lake.  His stubborn, frugal efforts result in sitting for long hours in below freezing temperatures trying to convince the fish to take his bait.  The resolution of this plot line is anticipated by the problem-solving mother, Mrs. Parker. 

Does this film’s story repeat the same charm and eccentricities found in the original?  Certainly not.  However, the characters are solidly re-created by those with the same love and respect we all have for the original movie.  Is it possible to catch lightning in a bottle twice?  That’s not an easy task but I appreciate the effort of continuing these beloved characters.  This isn't even the first sequel to A Christmas Story--have you seen 1994's My Summer Story with Charles Grodin, Mary Steenburgen, and Kieran Culkin?

Aunt Clara is still sending handmade and embarrassing outfits each Christmas.


 Though most of the obstacles for Ralphie to overcome are predictable and not very overwhelming or insurmountable, I wouldn't have liked the story to stray too far from reality.  It shouldn't be an action film--all we want from a Christmas movie is a story with a little heart and warmth.  This story has it’s strengths too--it’s not the same story we see in most Christmas movies.  Even theatrical release Christmas films (the live action ones at least) are telling smaller, more domestic stories just like holiday TV movies have been doing for years.  Instead of a story aimed at a female, middle-aged audience looking for a holiday romance or a story about a family reunited after experiencing challenging circumstances, in A Christmas Story 2 we have a story about a less traveled road for a teenager trying to grow into a responsible man.  Even if this is a sequel, that’s not a typical Christmas movie storyline and I found that refreshing.  Jean Shepherd's short stories--from which the original A Christmas Story is derived--are human stories about growing up.  Though I don't know Shepherd's body of work well enough to know if A Christmas Story 2 is derived from it, but I do know that this movie is very much in keeping with Shepherd's tradition of storytelling.






At Higbee's, Flick tests the suction of the vacuum tubes.
If you love the first A Christmas Story, then you'll appreciate the many gags and references to that original story that fill this sequel.  The Old Man still loves his precious leg lamp, Flick once again, finds himself drawn to putting his mouth where it doesn't belong, the family still enjoys eating Chinese food at their local restaurant, the Old man is still battling the ancient furnace, Aunt Clara's annual Christmas outfit is still humiliating for a young boy, and this movie also includes a narrator whose voice sounds a lot like Shepherd's.

An older and much wiser Ralphie finally gets to tell the mean department store Santa Claus what he thinks of him.


One style choice made in this sequel was that it seems much more visually brighter than the 1983 film.  I kind of prefer a darker, less well lit image for a story that is trying to recapture the past.  In the original, the darker tones seem to match how viewers may "remember" the past with fuzzy highlights and shadowy memories.  In A Christmas Story 2, the image seems visually brighter--leaving more of a innocent, optimistic feel of the 1950s.  (The story takes place sometime after 1946--one can see the movie It's A Wonderful Life is scheduled on a movie marquee in background shots).  Despite the change, the visual effect seems to match the story.

This isn't my favorite Christmas movie of the season--but I've already seen much worse.  I expect to  see A Christmas Story 2 airing on television in the future.  It's a nice extension of the original characters we already know we love.

The cast includes Daniel Stern as the Old Man, Stacey Travis as the mother, and Braeden Lemasters as the teenage Ralphie.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Santa Quiz # 2

I'm so excited to be running the Santa Hustle 5k next month--all the runners receive a Santa hat, beard, and Santa race shirt!  There will be thousands of Santas at the starting line--I'm looking forward to bringing my camera!  You may want to come down to check out the Santa spectacle for yourself.  I'll be sticking around for the Post-Race Party at the Sandusky, OH race, so come, find me, and tell me your favorite Christmas TV special.

I'll also have my books for sale so this would be a great opportunity to get a signed copy to give as a gift to that pop culture junkie in your life.  If you're a runner and would like to join the Santa Hustle 5k or Half Marathon, click the link/badge on the right-hand side of the blog to find information about registering. Or, click HERE for the link to the website.

Let's play another little game:  how many of these photos of Santas do you recognize?  Each photos is taken from a Christmas TV episode, special, or movie.  Name the series or program's title by commenting below.  Some of these are harder to identify than others.  Show off your Christmas pop culture skills.  Good luck!

The Addams Family--1965's "Christmas With the Addams Family"


South Park--1999's "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics"


The Three Stooges--1949 film short "Malice in the Palace"


The Tick--1995's "The Tick Loves Santa!"


1982's Ziggy's Gift


The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour's 1973 Christmas Show


Alice--1977's "A Semi-Merry Christmas"


Beavis & Butt-head-- 1996's "Beavis & Butt-head Do Christmas."


Golden Girls--1986's "Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas"


Invader Zim--2002's "The Most Horrible Christmas Ever"

Monday, November 26, 2012

Talking About Santa Claus with the New York Times

Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012 New York Times article

So this happened yesterday.  I was flipping around on facebook yesterday afternoon and discovered that a conversation I had with a New York Times writer was used in an article about the upcoming movie Silent Night, a re-make of 1984's Silent Night Deadly Night.   The initial phone call with the reporter was several weeks ago--and you never can tell if what you say will end up in the finished piece.  But I'm extremely pleased--to put it mildly.  Apologies to my upstairs neighbor for all the shouting and celebrating that went on yesterday afternoon and into the evening, after we opened the champagne.

Here's a link to the article:  "Ho, Ho Homicide: Killer Santa is Back" Check it out.

You'll also see that Lance from Kindertrauma was also quoted.  If you're not already familiar with that website, you should check it out.  YAYY!!  We made the New York Times!

(screen shot from the middle of the article)


If you're curious, my favorite killer Santa is from the 1980 movie Christmas Evil.  The Santa in this movie is far more threatening to me because he is acting from a sense of moral righteousness as he punishes adults for being naughty.  That's far more interesting to me--and more scary to me--than a mere madman.  I can't wait to see the new Silent Night to see where they go with it. 



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christmas TV Movies

It's Christmas TV movie season!  The beginning of November each year signals the debut of new feature-length Christmas narratives.  Many new Christmas TV movies can be found premiering on the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, ION, GMC, and ABCFamily Channel.  (There are a few other networks that are debuting one new movie here and there).  You may be surprised to know that this year, in 2012, there will be more new Christmas TV movies released than in any previous year!

Hallmark debuts the 2012's  Naughty or Nice on Sat. Nov. 24th, at 8pm (ET).  The Christmas TV movie stars Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter--who previously starred together on the 1980s sitcom Family Ties.

This month, the Hallmark Channel has already premiered the TV movies Christmas Song, Love At the Thanksgiving Parade, The Wishing Tree, It's Christmas, Carol!, and Matchmaker Santa.  Lifetime has already released The Christmas Consultant, Holiday High School Reunion, and Holiday Spin.  And there are many more new movies being released soon.

The Homecoming is also available for viewing on DVD.

If you're like me, you don't just enjoy watching the new releases but you look forward to watching your favorites from years past as well.  I'm very excited to see 1971's The Homecoming airing on GMC (Gospel Music Channel) tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 22nd at 7 pm (ET) and again at 9 pm (ET).  This beloved TV movie hasn't been on TV in a few years so I'm delighted to see it return.  The Homecoming is, of course, the TV movie that was initially so well received that it brought about the 1970s TV series The Waltons.  The Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, ION, INSP, and ABCFamily Channel are repeatedly airing the best from Christmas TV movie archives.  Check the individual networks' websites for complete schedules.  Click HERE for my blog post about the INSP TV movie schedule.

Let me remind you of some of the past Christmas TV movies I've written about.  Click the titles for the link to the original posts:

1977's The Gathering

1971's The Homecoming

1972's The House Without A Christmas Tree

1978's Star Wars Holiday Special (scroll down to bottom of long post)

1980's A Christmas Without Snow

1988's A Very Brady Christmas

1992's Christmas in Connecticut

1996's The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas

1997's Ms. Scrooge

1999's One Special Night

2007's Snowglobe

2010's The Good Witch's Gift

2010's On Strike for Christmas

2011's 12 Dates of Christmas

If you're interested in reading more about Christmas TV movies, you can check out my 800 page encyclopedia Tis the Season TV which includes hundreds of made-for-TV favorites.  If you pay attention to new DVD releases, you may have noticed that 1995's Ebbie and 1996's Santa With Muscles are both coming out.  Newly released on Blu-Ray is 1979's An American Christmas Carol

Are you watching any of the new Christmas TV movies this year?  Which of your favorites from years past are you looking forward to watching? 


Official Sponsor of the Santa Hustle 5k and Half Marathon


I'll be spreading holiday cheer--on foot--Sun. Dec. 16th at the Santa Hustle 5k.

As you know, I'm in training for the Santa Hustle 5k, a running race being held Sunday, December 16th, 2012 at Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio.  Click HERE to see my first post about the Santa Hustle.  There are Santa Hustle races all over the country this holiday season including Chicago, Sevierville (TN), Indianapolis, Daytona Beach, Milwaukee, and Galveston.  For more information and dates, check out their website: SantaHustle.com.  You can also click on the Santa Hustle badge/link along the right-hand side of my blog for more information or for registration.

I'm not just running the event, but I'm also an official sponsor.  You can find me at the Post-Race Party in Sandusky, Ohio, congratulating all the participants.  Not only will I be spreading Christmas cheer, I'll be talking to runners and their guests about their favorite Christmas episodes, specials and movies.  If you'd like to check out my books, I'll have copies available at the party and I'll also be signing them, if you like.  Either of my three books would make a fun gift for the pop culture fanatic in your life.  Click HERE for the link to see the list of other official sponsors of the Santa Hustle.

I'm in the red t-shirt and tube socks. My first race--The Firecracker Run 2 miler--July 4th, 1981.

I haven't just been a Christmas TV fan my whole life, I've also been a runner.  My first race was a 2 mile run on the 4th of July in 1981.  I participated in 5ks and 10ks all through my high school years--even through college.  During my twenties, I had spent some time racing my mountain bike and participated in multi-sport races including duathlons.  By 1999, I began to realize the year 2000 was rapidly approaching--feeling "old," I decided to train for my first marathon.  So I completed my first marathon in October, 2000 and followed this with training for triathlon.

Pittsburgh Adventure Race 2002--2nd overall female.


I LOVE this photo!  I've just crossed the finish line of an ironman-length triathlon in 2003--I didn't have the tears to cry with joy.


In the transition area during a triathlon, I'm putting on socks in order to start the run course.  Sprint triathlon 2009.

I had watched triathlon races on TV over the years--the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii were my inspiration--and in 2001, I completed my first sprint distance triathlon.  This was followed by longer triathlons, and more off-road and multi-sport races.  In September 2003, I completed an ironman-length triathlon (2.4 mile swim--112 mile bike ride--26.2 mile run).

After the 2011 Warrior Dash--still dripping wet from rinsing off the mud.


After the Color Run, June 2012.

Since 2003, I have raced more for the fun of it.  I still do triathlons but mostly local races with friends along side me.  I've also caught the excitement in this new trend in racing:  I've completed the Warrior Dash, Color Run, and Run for Your Life zombie run.  When I first learned of the Santa Hustle which combines my love of Christmas AND running, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I'm getting zombie make-up professionally applied at the Run for Your Life zombie run this past summer.  After working as a zombie for three hours, I ran the 5k obstacle course.

For all the time I spend on the couch watching and writing about television programs, I'm glad I have an active lifestyle.  Even if you're not a runner, you can come and watch the runners in their Santa outfits (every participant receives a Santa hat, beard and t-shirt) to cheer and encourage them through the race.  But don't be surprised if you catch the holiday spirit.

I LOVE running in the snow! November 2008.




Monday, November 19, 2012

Andy Williams Christmas Shows


Andy (holding the reins) singing "Sleigh Ride" with his back-sup singers on the annual Christmas episode of The Andy Williams Show.

Although singer Andy Williams passed away in September, he left behind a wonderful legacy of holiday music and Christmas TV shows.  I'd like to honor him by remembering his contribution to Christmas entertainment.  Williams starred on TV in his own variety TV series, The Andy Williams Show from 1962 through 1971. This series was so well-known for its annual Christmas show that Williams returned to TV for several additional Christmas specials in the 1970s, a couple more in the '80s and '90s, and two retrospectives in 2001.  Williams' holiday shows were usually the highest-rated installments of each season--and included elaborate costumes, sets, and even special effects.

Victorian costumes, choreographed dancers, and elaborate sets fill the musical productions numbers during the Christmas shows.

While a typical episode of The Andy Williams Show included special celebrity guest stars, Andy's Christmas shows featured family.  Andy would include The Williams Brothers, his real-life older brothers--Bob, Don, and Dick--with whom Andy had started singing professionally when they were still children.

The Williams Brothers started their careers singing on the radio in the late 1930s.  After agreeing to leave show business in the early 1950s, Andy went on to a successful solo career.

The Williams Brothers wear matching outfits in each of the annual Christmas shows--I LOVE the detail of the matching green socks and shoes!
Andy's shows would also include his parents, his wife Claudine Longet, and eventually their three young children, Noelle, Christian, and Bobby.

Andy's Christmas shows meant family time together.

Andy's beautiful wife Claudine Longet sings "My Favorite Things" on one of his annual Christmas shows.

 The Christmas shows also included another family, The Osmond Brothers--Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay.  Their four-part harmonies blended smoothly, much like voices of The Williams Brothers. Eventually the Osmond Brothers added young Donny for five-part harmony singing.

Williams with The Osmond Brothers in a Christmas show that features the boys singing while toasting marshmallows around an open fire.

The five Osmond Brothers (the youngest, Donny, is second from the left) sing along with the Williams Brothers, on the right.
Andy Williams has several signature Christmas songs.  The song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," written by George Wylie and Eddie Pola, was specifically written for Williams' Christmas TV show, which he first sang in 1963.



Another signature Andy Williams Christmas song is "Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season," a song originally composed by Irving Berlin with added contributions from Kay Thompson.  This swingin' holiday song is one of my personal favorites.  (The original Irving Berlin song "Happy Holiday" can also be seen performed by Bing Crosby in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn).




In the above video clip, the four Williams Brothers are joined by the five Osmond Brothers singing "Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season."

Another Christmas song closely associated with Andy Williams and his annual Christmas TV shows is "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells" or a jazzy holiday medley that includes "Jingle Bells."  This song is featured on the original 1963 The Andy Williams Christmas Album.  They really don't make music like this anymore.




Though Williams can swing with the best of them, his annual Christmas shows also include very traditional songs of the season including reverent versions of "Silent Night," "Ave Maria," and "O Holy Night."

Williams is also known for his performances of traditional carols.

Though none of the original Andy Williams Christmas shows have been released on DVD, there have been two 'best of' compilations released.  Both include many of the same video clips of the best of the musical performances from the twelve Christmas TV shows.  I hope that complete versions of the Christmas shows will eventually be released on to DVD so that future generations can enjoy and appreciate Williams' outstanding holiday performances.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol comic book (2002)

I'm continuing my celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first animated Christmas TV special, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.  Did you see my original post on the animated TV special?  Click HERE for that link.  Yesterday, I posted a book review of Darrell Van Citters' book on the making of the animated TV classic.  Click HERE to see that post again.  Today, I'd like to share Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Official Comic Adaptation

Cover of the graphic novelization

This 56 page, full color comic was created in 2002 to honor the 40th anniversary of the animated TV special.  Not only is it the complete story but there are added bonuses.  The comic book includes a recipe for razzleberry dressing--a delicious holiday food mentioned in the original TV special.  There are also additional story panels describing the action behind the curtain--between the acts--with the actors in the Broadway stage production of The Christmas Carol.  You can read about what Gerald McBoing Boing who plays Tiny Tim, actor Mr. Magoo, and the stage director are up to backstage between the acts of the play.  That's really a fun expansion of the original story!

Pardon my thumb!  Page on the left depicts the backstage antics of actors in the Broadway production.  Page on the right continues the story with Act II.

The comic book also includes a couple of Mr. Magoo bonus stories.  There is Falling For the Falls, reprinted from Mister Magoo #5, first created in 1963, about a trip the nearsighted Mr. Magoo takes to Niagara Falls.  There is also a second Christmas story entitled Mr. Magoo's Holiday Hi-Jinx! from 2002.  It is about Magoo's run-in with an elf that accidentally falls down his chimney on Christmas Eve.  And, in the middle of the book is a lengthy section on the history (in text) of the Mr. Magoo character.


Wish you had a copy of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Official Comic Adaptation?  I have a copy I'd like to give away to one of my readers.  Making this giveaway even more sweet:  this is a very limited edition signed copy--it includes the signatures of the four artists who created this book.  Inside the front cover, this copy includes the signatures of Chris Yambar-writer, George Broderick, Jr.-pencils, Ken Wheaton-inks, and Rich Maurizio-letters.  I got this copy directly from Chris Yambar, so you know it's authentic.  Check out his website: http://Yambar.com

To qualify for the prize giveaway:

--leave a comment below with the words "Happy 50th Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol"  You can enter again on Facebook and Twitter by commenting with the words "Happy 50th Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" at the following locations:

Facebook page: Christmas TV History
Facebook page: Tis the Season TV
Facebook page: Christmas TV Companion

So you could enter up to five times by leaving one correct comment at all five locations.  This giveaway is for North American residents only.  This runs from today, Wed Nov.14th--Saturday, November 17th, noon (ET) 2012.  On Nov. 17th at noon, I'll use random.org to generate a number from the total number of qualifying entries to select a winner.  Tell all your friends about this fun giveaway.  Good luck!

This is what the artists' signatures look like in my own personal copy. The giveaway comic book remains in its plastic sleeve.




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review: Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol




If you're a fan of the 1962 animated TV special Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, you must check out Darrell Van Citters' book Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special.  The 2009 hardbound book is not only filled with color stills from the original TV special but it includes photos of the original sketches and artwork from the production as well as photos of the creators, artists, staff, and the voice talent.  A fascinating read, the book gives the details behind the history of the Academy Award-winning, nearsighted Mr. Magoo character in theatrical animated shorts and the UPA studio in general.  I never connected that UPA was busy making the feature-length Gay Purr-ee at the same time they were making Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.  I grew up watching Gay Purr-ee on TV in the 1970s--I'd love to see it again!  This history of UPA productions will also answer questions about why Tiny Tim looks just like the cartoon character Gerald McBoing Boing.

The animated feature Gay Purr-ee was made concurrently with Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.


What also caught my attention was the author speculating about the unusual order of the visits by the Ghosts of Christmas.   In the 1962 animated version, the Ghost of Christmas Present visits Scrooge before the Ghost of Christmas Past--a change from the logical order established by Charles Dickens.

Have you ever noticed that Scrooge visits the Present before he visits the Past in this animated version?  In the above photo, Scrooge lays a comforting hand on his younger self during his journey to a Christmas past.

In addition to detailing the animation process, the animators and the evolution of the story, the book also covers the involvement of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, the composer and lyricist for the musical numbers, the vocal talents, and the details behind the recording process.   You'll certainly come to appreciate the effort and love that went into creating the TV Christmas classic.  Another element I never quite connected before reading the book is the obvious influence of the musical Oliver! that was on the stage in London at the time.  Surely this successful musical of another Charles Dickens book, Oliver Twist, would have been a timely inspiration.  The book also mentions that Styne and Merrill collaborated again on the 1965 live action Christmas TV special The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood with Liza Minnelli--a TV musical that I've come to love.

The book also includes details about the many actors whose voices brought these Christmas Carol characters to life.  Did you know that Jane Kean, who performed the singing voice for Belle also played Trixie Norton in the later 1960s color episodes of The Honeymooners?


Considering the importance and the influence of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol on the history of Christmas on television, this book is surely a must-read.  Have you seen my earlier post on the 50th anniversary of 1962 animated classic?  Click HERE for the link to that original post.  I'm so excited to see that NBC is going to air Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol in prime time on Dec. 22nd, 2012 at 8pm (ET).  Click HERE for the link to the NBC holiday specials listing.  Hopefully a younger generation will discover what some of us already know--that this animated Christmas Carol is an entertaining treat.



Monday, November 12, 2012

Santa Quiz #1

I'm so excited to be running the Santa Hustle 5k next month--where all the runners receive a Santa hat, beard and Santa race shirt!  There will be thousands of Santas at the starting line--I'm going to have to bring my camera!  You may want to come down to check out the Santa spectacle for yourself.  I'll be sticking around for the Post-Race Party at the Sandusky, OH race, so come, find me, and tell me your favorite Christmas TV special.  I'll also have my books for sale so this would be a great opportunity to get a signed copy to give as a gift to that pop culture junkie in your life.  If you're a runner and would like to join the Santa Hustle 5k or Half Marathon, click the link/badge on the right-hand side of the blog to find information about registering.

Let's play a little game:  how many of these Santas can your recognize?  For this first quiz, I made it a little easy -- all of these TV characters were previously featured in a blog post sometime earlier this year.  Did you know that I have a SEARCH box for my blog, along the right-hand side?  Comment below with your guesses on who each Santa is and the title of the episode, special or movie.  Show off your Christmas TV knowledge.  Good luck!

He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special (1985)


Barney Fife from the Christmas episode of The Andy Griffith Show.





Roger Sterling on the 4th season Christmas episode of Mad Men.






Chandler Bing from the Friends holiday episode "The One With the Holiday Armadillo."





Bewitched Christmas episode "A Vision of Sugar Plums."






Golden Girls--1989's "Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas."






 Mr. Woodman from WELCOME BACK KOTTER's 1977 episode "A Sweathog Christmas Special"



Ernest Borgnine from McHale's Navy






Alf from 1987's "Alf's Special Christmas."





Fat Albert from 1977's Fat Albert's Christmas Special.