December 23, 2011

FROM THE ARCHIVES: AND THEY WERE EXECS WHEN FOLKS ACTUALLY WATCHED TV (via mc):

The Christmas classic that almost wasn't (Bill Nichols, 12/05/05, USA TODAY)

When CBS bigwigs saw a rough cut of A Charlie Brown Christmas in November 1965, they hated it.

"They said it was slow," executive producer Lee Mendelson remembers with a laugh. There were concerns that the show was almost defiantly different: There was no laugh track, real children provided the voices, and there was a swinging score by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.

Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez fretted about the insistence by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz that his first-ever TV spinoff end with a reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke by a lisping little boy named Linus.

"We told Schulz, 'Look, you can't read from the Bible on network television,' " Mendelson says. "When we finished the show and watched it, Melendez and I looked at each other and I said, 'We've ruined Charlie Brown.' "

Good grief, were they wrong. The first broadcast was watched by almost 50% of the nation's viewers. "When I started reading the reviews, I was absolutely shocked," says Melendez, 89. "They actually liked it!"


Television bigwigs certainly haven't evolved.


(Originally posted: 12/06/05)


Posted by at December 23, 2011 11:45 PM
  

Egads, the Bible! On TV! It'sa not like Americans are Christian or anything.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 6, 2005 12:08 PM

Heaven forbid that something of substance be interjected into the vast wasteland that is television! I liked it in '65 and my kids like it today.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 6, 2005 12:28 PM

It still is a surprise every year to hear Linus tell the Gospel story. For most of the show I expect that this will be the year that they cut that out...

Posted by: b at December 6, 2005 12:36 PM

Linus also quoted the Bible semi-regularly in the comic strip at the time the cartoon was being made. For CBS executives to be surprised by the use of the Christmas story in a Christmas special implies they were, at best, superficially familiar with the property they had acquired the rights to. Seeing the quality of most TV, I am rather unsurprised.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at December 6, 2005 12:50 PM

I've always held deep reservations for Linus. He was quoted (I still have the original comic book)
as saying...

"I love mankind, It's people I can't stand."

A budding totalitarian. As I learned in Bible Study in high school...the Devil can quote scripture.

I disdain "mankind", I like people (most anyway)

Posted by: Bruno at December 6, 2005 1:09 PM

BTW, a tip for anyone setting the tivo/dvr.

IIRC, last year the broadcast lasted about a minute or two longer than the time listed. Same thing happened with Charlie Brown T'giving two weeks ago. So add five minutes to the recording time if you don't want the end chopped off.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 6, 2005 1:09 PM

Liberals love mankind in the abstract and hate men in the particular--conservatives vice versa.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2005 1:33 PM

Linus had Lucy for a sister. His waryness of his fellow human being came naturally.

Posted by: John at December 6, 2005 2:09 PM

Bruno

That was Lucy.

These are the same people who thought we would like Dean Martin's Honolulu Christmas special?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 6, 2005 6:20 PM
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