1) What Christmas program/movie have you seen more times than any other?
As much as I would like to say Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer since I've seen it every Christmas since 1964, I think the true answer is the four Lassie Christmas episodes with Timmy: 1958's "The Christmas Story," 1960's "The Christmas Story," 1961's "Yochim's Christmas," and 1963's "Lassie's Gift of Love." I have all of them on audio tape, too, so have listened as well as watched. I love them all, like being in a cozy seat in your pajamas and robe with an afghan for a throw, with good books and a cup of hot cocoa at your side--like being home.
|Lassie promotional still with Jon Provost (Timmy.)
2) What is your favorite musical Christmas TV special, variety performance, or holiday song in a movie?
I'm going to have the same answer for two questions, because this is definitely Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. I've never been a big fan of other Magoo stories, but I love this one because it integrates Magoo's short-sightedness and tight-fistedness into the Scrooge character so well, and the songs are by Broadway songwriters. I was sort of the oddball kid at school and I most identified with "All Alone In the World" as a child because I didn't have any friends to share my interests. "Winter Was Warm" still makes me weep. I wish to acknowledge, however, those wonderful Perry Como Christmas specials where he traveled to a different place each year to do a Christmas show. I have a compilation tape of them (Williamsburg, Mexico, French Canada, Austria, the Holy Land)--sheer bliss!
3) What's your favorite TV or movie adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol?
Same as above, especially as it includes many lines verbatim from Dickens. If NBC (the original broadcaster) hadn't refused to broadcast a 65-minute version, we also would have had Scrooge's nephew, another scene with Belle (with her husband), and I believe another song. (There is a persistent rumor that "People" from Funny Girl was originally written for Magoo's Carol, but I believe it's been disproved.) And I love the "wrapper": A Christmas Carol as appearing on Broadway starring Quincy Magoo, especially for the "Broadway" song. That made me want to visit New York City for years!
|Uncle Billy in It's a Wonderful Life (1946.)
4) What do you think is the worst Christmas program/movie--or your least favorite, the most disappointing or most overrated?
I used to think Home Alone until I actually saw the movie. The famous business with "Kevin bashing the burglars" is actually a very small part of the film. However, I find that part a bit sadistic, so it's not one of my favorites. Holiday Inn is one I find myself bored by. But it has to be (sorry, Heat Miser/Snow Miser fans) The Year Without a Santa Claus and (please don't kill me) It's a Wonderful Life. I can't get through that film without wanting to slap Uncle Billy.
5) If you were asked to give advice to a TV network executive in charge of holiday programming, what would you suggest?
For heaven's sake, please stop broadcasting all the specials and Christmas episodes two weeks before Christmas, leaving us with reruns for the next two weeks. The British broadcast special programs and Christmas episodes of television programs up to and including Christmas day (look at Doctor Who!) I remember in the 1960s having new programs on Christmas Eve and even Christmas night. The excuse for this behavior is that 'people will be celebrating on those days.' Not everyone goes out to celebrate, and, with the advent of the DVR and other recorders, you need not miss a program again. Oh, and it's the Christmas season until January 6. It's okay to have Christmas movies after Christmas, too.