Momma Told Me: Creating A Charlie Brown Christmas Interview + Giveaway 12/27

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Creating A Charlie Brown Christmas Interview + Giveaway 12/27

I am a Charlie Brown Christmas Ambassador and may have received one or more featured items below, in exchange for my participation in group interviews and activities. All opinions remain original and copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2014.
A Charlie Brown Christmas 50 Years
Momma Told Me: Traditions build memories that transcend time.


Good grief! Another holiday is here this week!

Sometimes I feel like holidays exist purely to mark the passing of time; a time stamp, if you will, of another milestone screaming by on this crazy journey we call life. It feels like just yesterday I was curled in my grandmother's lap, clutching my Woodstock security blanket and nodding off to a Charlie Brown Christmas between sips of warm chocolate milk. Charlie Brown (and friends) have been a part of family memories and traditions as far back as my own parent's childhoods, and it wouldn't be a holiday season without them. Of course, the beloved characters have also worked themselves into our everyday lives as well- I have quite the collection of Snoopy accessories, including one of my favorites, a doghouse piggy bank I stash away quarters and loose change in for a rainy day out.
It's hard to imagine a time when the Peanuts Gang wasn't a part of our family, in my toy chest, in the attic, there still sit several Snoopy dolls from the year I was born (I won't share that year!) It's even harder to imagine the holiday special my family has been raised on, A Charlie Brown Christmas is now celebrating it's 50th year, having been first released on National television in 1965. Initially met with resistance by CBS, regarding the controversial animated presentation of biblical verses, the special was immediately dubbed something that should 'run every year!' by it's first critic, a Time magazine columnist. I had a chance this month to sit in on an interview with the show's producer, Lee Mendelson and get an inside look at how the special initially came together.
A Charlie Brown Christmas 50 Years
Interview With Lee Mendelson, December 5, 2014

How Did The Special Come About?

To my amazement, When I called Sebastopol, California Charles Schulz’s name was in the phone book; and I called him and told him I was a documentary filmmaker and wanted to do [a film] on Charlie Brown.


And [Schulz] said: “Thanks for the call, but I’m not interested in animation.”


[Before I hung up] I asked him, “...did you happen to see the Willie Mays documentary last month on NBC?” [When he answered in the affirmative] I said, “We did that show...” There was a long pause, I’ll remember that pause for my whole life, then he said, “Well if Willie Mays can trust you with his life I guess I can trust you with mine.” And that’s how we got together. So Willie Mays is responsible for A Charlie Brown Christmas.


So we did the documentary… and we needed some music.


[Vince Guaraldi] was a Charlie Brown fan. He had no money, I had no money. We agreed to a speculation to have him do the music for the documentary [and] about two days later he called… that’s the first time I ever heard Linus and Lucy, which became our theme.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas 50 Years- Lee Mendelson
We understand you wrote "Christmastime Is Here," how did that come about?


[The show] was too slow and I couldn't put my finger on it and I said to Bill, “You know that opening melody when they’re skating is beautiful maybe we could get some songwriters to quickly put some words together and record it… everybody was busy. I don’t know what possessed me, but I took out an envelope.. and I literally wrote the words on that envelope in about ten minutes. It never changed, it was like writing a poem. We got some kids together and they sang it.


Last week we heard that that album passed 50 million in sales in 50 years.

Why did you go with children for voice actors? Afterall, this was rather unheard of at the time, wasn’t it?

That was going to be a big gamble because up to that time adults had done kids voices.

What was the initial reaction by CBS to this special?

We took it to CBS and they didn’t like it. The executives thought it was too slow, they didn’t like the kid’s voices, they said “What is jazz doing on a Christmas show?”


They said, “It’s scheduled, but [we’re] afraid this’ll be one and out.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas 50 Years
Why do you suppose, 50 years later, it's still such a big hit?

It’s become a generational thing. I think, first of all, it has all the great philosophy of Charles Schulz. The truths, the philosophy, and the Midwest background he had has been so enduring, and continues on to this day.


Certain writers are timeless, he’s timeless.


[Second], there’s an innocence in A Charlie Brown Christmas. There are truths in [it] that are as good today as they were then.

What does the special mean to you?

I hear every year that this is the one time that families get together and can enjoy something together. I think Tom Hanks said on one of the interview shows that Christmas doesn’t start until A Charlie Brown Christmas comes on.


It’s become such a big tradition over the years, and to be able to bring families together every year, that’s the biggest thrill.


And it allowed us to go on to do every kind of show. We did Charlie Brown shows on cancer, on war, on Arbor Day. The networks never told us what shows to do. We had a creative freedom that was staggering. and to have another 5-6 year contract with ABC, who gets 5-6 years? Nobody, except Charlie Brown.
A Charlie Brown Christmas 50 Years
As you can see, even Charlie Brown and the gang have been met with challenges through the years, but a loyal fan base of millions can't be denied- It's simply not Christmas without A Charlie Brown Christmas! We've already watched the beloved holiday special multiple times through the past few weeks, and I know we will on Christmas again. It's wonderful to have such a timeless message to connect with the young and old!

What Daughter Says: While the kids may laugh at the 'old school' animation, the messages and characters still resonate with our family today.







One Momma Told Me reader will win A Charlie Brown Christmas Hallmark Keepsake Statue.
A Charlie Brown Christmas

30 comments:

  1. I have seen it a few times. I know it has been a few years but there is something special about watching it now as an adult that brings the child out in the adult.

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  2. I love that my daughter giggles as she watches Charlie Brown with me - new memories in the making!

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  3. I haven't seen it recently but I have watched it many times over the years. And, I have had a few Charlie Brown Christmas trees myself.

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  4. I've seen the movie several times, but my children have not. :( My sister and I used to celebrate a Charlie Brown Christmas when our parents took a cruise during the holidays. We even hunted up a tree, strung popcorn, and made cocoa. Those were some of the best times my sister and I had.

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  5. Charlie Brown Christmas is as much a part of Christmas for me as Santa. It's a perennial favorite!

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  6. Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas is a tradition in our family. My mom saw it when she was young and of course we always watched it and now it is fun to watch it with my kids.

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  7. I remember watching it as a kid but I haven't even thought about watching it as an adult. Mostly because we don't watch much TV live so we miss the commercials advertising for when it will be on. Maybe next year...

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  8. We went with my sister in law to get her Christmas tree. We all wanted her to get the Charlie Brown tree! I love that this movie has been a tradition for so many.

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  9. We had a discussion about Charlie Brown on Christmas Eve as to why our family holds this show and characters as a tradition in our home. I love this interview and can't wait to share the fun facts with my kids. You are right. . . "timeless".

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  10. I couldn't agree more, Charlie Brown is really timeless! I watched it growing up with my Grandpa and it brings back great memories.

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  11. We watch every year. I have shared with both my grandchildren and now they love Charlie Brown as much as I do.

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  12. My favorite part is where Linus wraps his blanket around the bottom of the tree. When they all start to sing it just warms my heart. Seeing Snoopy reminds me of my childhood this is a tradition in our home we watch every year.

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  13. I remember watching with my husband and son. My son was just old enough to understand the show,,,my husband and I watched his amazement which was our Christmas gift..

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  14. I have seen the movie many many times and had Charlie Brown Christmas trees over and over in my life. My Grandparents would wait until Christmas morning and go out into the woods and cut down the first thing/branch they saw. Most of the time it was more like a weed. I love those memories.

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  15. I remember always watching it on channel 5 when I was little!! Such a cute special! One of my faves!

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  16. I ALWAYS watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. A lot of times growing up my mom had to work holidays so we found CBC as a very comforting event. It always makes me think back on childhood and the anticipation and good will in the holiday season.

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  17. I have been watching it every year since the very first time it aired and it never gets old, it wouldn't be Christmas without it!

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  18. I remember watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special every Christmas. I always loved all the characters and I remember being so happy while watching the show, my mom got us a Snoopy Snow Cone Maker for Christmas and we used it all of the time.

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  19. I've always watched it too !!! And for some reason my 3 & 4 year olds were adamant about watching it this year!!! To the point where we accidentally missed it then had to borrow the DVD from a friend!! Lol It'd be so cool to win this ornament for our tree!!!! :)

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  20. I watch every year.It's just not Christmas until we see it! My son loves Linus and my daughter just watched for the first time with us this year.She has been walking around the house singing the songs and skating like Snoopy.Love it!

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  21. it is a big tradition with my boyfriend's family to watch this special as well as its a wonderful life. i have just joined in on this tradition and i am already loving it!

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  22. charlie brown christmas was one of the shows we used to sit and watch as a family when i was growing up
    my mother would make us hot cocoa and we would sit in our pj's

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  23. My memory of A Charlie Brown Christmas is we decorate a Charlie Brown tree for our outside fur kids. The whole family enjoy watching the dogs and birds with their tree. We have dog treats low and bird feed high.

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  24. I've seen it several times, we have it on DVD. My youngest daughter loves Peanuts/Charlie Brown...she'll be 19 & last year I bought her Charlie Brown Christmas book & a Charlie Brown stuffed toy, she loved it. :)

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  25. used to watch this every christmas as a child will have to go back to it. thankyou, ken pohl19@comcast.net

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  26. We Watch It Every Year. It is just always been part of our Christmas

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  27. I have watched A Charlie Brown Christmas since I was little. I still watch it. I own the DVDs. I watched it with my daughter and now I watch it with my little nieces. I collect Peanuts memorabilia.

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  28. This year was the first year my daughter watched A Charlie Brown Christmas! She absolutely loved it and I was really happy to share it with her as I watched it every year when I was growing up! :)

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  29. i always watche charlie brown every year when i was a kid and loved the show. my kids watched charllie brown when they where kids too. we still watch the show now

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  30. I grew up watching Charlie Brown. It was a sweet and funny show. I love the Christmas special the most. I turned 50 this year just like good 'ole Charlie Brown. Thank you for the chance :)
    sue-hull64(at)comcast(dot)net

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