How A Charlie Brown Christmas Came to Be + Charlie Brown Figurine Giveaway!

If you’ve been following our “50 Years on TV of A Charlie Brown Christmas” posts, I have some good news and some bad news for you.  Bad news:  this is the last post in this particular series.  Good news:  we got to interview Lee Mendelson!

Lee Mendelson

In case the name is unfamiliar to you, Lee Mendelson is the executive producer of over 50 Peanuts specials, including A Charlie Brown Christmas, which was the very first.  Most importantly, he is the man who made the magic happen all those years ago.  Read thisfascinating interview to find out how Mr. Mendelson was responsible bringing the Peanuts gang to the screen:

1.      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.”

2.      How was Coca-Cola involved?

I got a call from a representative of Coca Cola. “Have you and Mr. Schulz ever thought about doing a Christmas show?” I lied and said, “Oh, all the time.”  And they said, “Well it’s Wednesday so if you could shoot us an outline by Monday we might be interested at looking for a Christmas show.”

So Bill Melendez [and Schulz] flew up and we sat down, and in about four hours we came up with the outline for what would become A Charlie Brown Christmas, sent it to Coca Cola, they bought it, and we went ahead and produced the show for the next six months.

3.      How did you and Bill Melendez (the animator) collaborate with Sparky on the script? What were some of your ideas that made it into the storyline (ie, the pathetic Christmas tree)?

The three of us got together.  [Schulz] had a done few strips about the school play at Christmas time, so that was going to be the basis of it and he wanted to talk about the commerciality of Christmas and he also said, “We really should tell what Christmas is all about… I think we should have Linus read from the Bible.” At which point, both Bill and I didn’t know quite what to say except to say, “That’s never happened to our knowledge.  We don’t think they’ve ever animated stuff from the Bible and Schulz said, “If we don’t do it who will?”

I had read something about Hans Christian Andersen’s little fir tree and said, “Maybe we could do something about a tree that he picks out.”

Bill said, “We should have a dance sequence with all the famous dances from 60s,” which is that famous dance sequence where each animator had his character doing a different dance from the 60s.

4.      Ditto for the music.  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.

5.      Why did you go with children for voice actors?  After all, 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.

Sally Dryer

6.      What were the initial reactions from CBS to the 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.”

7.      How about the media?  Did it get good reviews when it first debuted?

[A CBS executive said] “We got a guy from Time magazine here, but I don’t think we should show it to him.”

I said, “What’ve you got to lose?  Show it to him.”

He came out with a glowing review, [saying] that the thing should be run every year.

8.      Why do you suppose it was such a huge ratings success when it debuted in 1965?

I swear I don’t have any idea.  There were [three] things that helped us:  Time magazine reached a huge audience; there were only Three [TV] networks, you only had 3 choices; and TV Guide was kind enough to run a two page or four page spread for us. TV Guide back then had a tremendous impact.

9.   And why do you suppose, 50 years later, that it’s still such a 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.

10.   Did you think it would be a hit at the time?

We previewed it two weeks before it aired.  It looked very slow to Bill and I, and when it was over, Bill and I looked at each other and one of us said to the other, “ Oh God, I think we’ve ruined Charlie Brown.”  And one of the animators in the back row, Ed Levitt a famous animator, stood up and said, “You guys are crazy, this is going to run for a hundred years.”  And we said to him, “What are you smoking?”

11.  What is your favorite scene?

Obviously, Linus reading from the Bible is something that will endure for years and years.  The dance scene was fantastic because it captured all the spirit of the 60s and all the dance moves of the 60s.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Dance Scene

12.  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.

13.  How did Sparky feel about it after it aired?

When the show came on he was thrilled. He was thrilled with the ratings, he was thrilled with the response.  He said, “Let’s do some more.” For 38 more years, we did 52 more shows and 4 movies.

*****

I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad CBS went ahead and aired the special.  The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without it.  We can thank Lee Mendelson for the years of joy and tradition the show has given us, and it was such an honor to be able to participate in an interview with him.  Fun fact:  During the call, his cell phone rang two times.  Guess what his ring tone was.  Linus & Lucy!

As always, we have a fun giveaway for you too.  Enter to win this super cute, heartwarming, handmade Jim Shore “Find the Christmas Spirit” Charlie Brown figurine.  Giveaway is open to US residents who are 18 and over.  Ends 12/24/14.  Good luck and happy holidays!

Find the Christmas Spirit Charlie Brown Figurine [Read more…]


Safety 1st Advance Car Seat Giveaway

Safety1stAdvanceSEGiveaway

Hosted by: Everything Mommyhood
Sponsored by: Safety 1st

We have teamed up with a handful of other bloggers to bring to you this fabulous giveaway for the ever so popular Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air + Convertible Car Seat!
Everything Mommyhood is very passionate about car seat safety and has actually worked up a great post on how to travel with your car seat during the how. Holiday Travel Dos and Don’ts Featuring the Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air + Convertible Car Seat and your precious little ones, so make sure you check out her post! There’s a lot of great information that you won’t want to miss!

Now the Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air + Convertible Car Seat has a lot of awesome features:

The Advance 65 Air+ Convertible Car Seat features Air Protect + to keep children from 5lbs-65 lbs safer in the car. Air Protect + combines the advanced protection of the Air Protect® cushion system with patented GCell HX™ foam designed with hexagonal shapes for superior protection around the torso. TOGETHER they provide full body side impact protection. In addition to Air Protect +, the Advance 65 Air + uses a steel-reinforced metal frame for extra stability and includes a 4-position recline for an optimal fit to your vehicle. They’ve also included color-coded belt paths and installation labels to help you install it quickly and correctly, which means less time getting it into your car and more time to enjoy the ride.

  • Super-extended weight range
  • Rear-facing 5-40 pounds
  • Forward-facing 22-65 pounds
  • Featuring Air Protect +
  • Air Protect® advanced cushion system protects your child’s head, where it’s needed most
  • GCell HX™ patented foam with hexagonal shapes inside the seat provides superior body protection
  • TOGETHER they provide full body side impact protection
  • Easy to identify color-coded belt paths and installation labels
  • Steel reinforced metal frame
  • 10-position headrest grows with your child
  • No re-thread harness
  • 4-position recline for optimal fit to your car
  • LATCH equipped
  • Integrated cup holder
  • Meets or exceeds Federal and ASTM Safety Standards

This is a car seat that can grow with your child and has a lot of great features for your precious cargo!

Now for the giveaway!
One Lucky Winner will receive a Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air + Convertible Car Seat, valued at $189.99.
Open to US only, 18 and up.
Void where prohibited.
One entrant per household/IP Address.
Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
Giveaway ends 12/31/2014 at 11:59 PM CST.  Good luck! [Read more…]


all® Free Clear: Tips for Addressing Eczema and Fall Allergies in Your Family

Fall allergies are the worst. Let’s be honest. Between ragweed, molds, and indoor allergens like dust mites and pet dander, fall allergies can put a damper on the fun things there are to do in fall. We’re all allergic to one thing or another in my house, so I try to limit the amount of chemicals, dyes, and other possible irritants that I expose my family to. That’s why I was really excited to give all® Free Clear a try.

all® has been a trusted name in laundry detergent for years. In the last few years, All introduced a new line of detergents called Free Clear. These products are free of dyes, perfumes, and other harsh additives that can irritate the skin of those with allergies or Eczema. In fact, all® Free Clear is the only detergent with the National Eczema Seal of Acceptance. Eczema and allergies can and do go hand in hand, and if you have both, your skin is doubly susceptible to irritants. Here are a few ways to help keep Eczema in check.

  • Moisturize daily
  • Wear cotton or soft fabrics – no rough, scratchy, or tight clothing
  • Take lukewarm showers using mild soap or a non-soap cleanser
  • Pat your skin dry – don’t rub
  • Apply a moisturizer withing three minutes of showering to prevent moisture loss
  • Avoid rapid changes in temperature and activities that cause sweating whenever possible
  • Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather
  • Keep fingernails short so that scratching doesn’t break the skin

All Stainlifters -01

Even people without Eczema can be susceptible to irritation from detergents and soaps. Most of my family members have allergies, and their skin is easily irritated. It’s nice to have a detergent that’s easy on all of our skin. We have enough to deal with, because there’s more to fall allergies than you’d think.

Did you know?

  • Ragweed is the number one allergy trigger in the fall. It usually starts releasing pollen in August, and it can keep releasing it until well into October
  • If you’re allergic to ragweed, you may also have sensitivities to bananas, melons, and zucchini
  • Mold is most prevalent in the fall. The damp leaves covering our yard in the fall are perfect breeding grounds for mold.
  • Dust mites are a big problem in the fall. They’re most common humid summer months, but they can be circulated through the home when you first turn on your heat for the winter.
  • Schools are breeding ground for mold and dust mites. Yikes! 

    All Stainlifters -02

I’m so glad I got to try all® Free Clear. It did a wonderful job getting our clothes clean, and I feel good knowing the neither I nor my children are going to break out into bumps or hives from chemical irritation. That’s nice for me, because it HAS happened. all® Free Clear is the number one recommended brand by dermatologists, allergists, and pediatricians for sensitive skin. Another big bonus is that even if I wash my clothes in cold water, all® Free Clear removes 99% of indoor and outdoor allergens. It’s even safe for HE machines!
All Stainlifters -03

Make sure to visit the Product Locator to see where you can purchase all®Free Clear near you.  Stay connected with the all® free clear community on Facebook too!


Stop Stepping on Legos. Win a BOX4BLOX Toy Storage Organizer!

BOX4BLOX provided complimentary product for review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

My daughter has finally discovered Lego building blocks. She loves them, and I think that’s great. Legos are great for creativity, hand eye coordination, and fine motor skills. Unfortunately, they’re also good for big messes and painful feet. Have you ever stepped on a Lego? Ouch. That’s why I was super excited when I found BOX4BLOX. It’s an amazing storage system that contains the mess and saves my feet!

BOX4BLOX

Building Blocks Contained

Lego building blocks are amazing. I mean, you can do so much with them, and that’s why I’m so happy that my daughter loves them. The problem is trying to keep those little buggers contained. As careful as we are, I still find them under the couch or in my vacuum. This BOX4BLOX is exactly what we needed. To begin with, it looks cool. BOX4BLOX looks like a giant Lego stack, and it comes in really poppy colors.

BOX4BLOX

BOX4BLOX is great for several reasons. First, it holds a ton of blocks – 1600 of them in fact. It also sorts them! BOX4BLOX has screens of varying size that automatically sort the blocks based on size, so cleanup is a snap. All I and my daughter have to do is scoop up the blocks and start dumping them in. The different size blocks are caught by the different sized screens. Easy peasy! Another great bonus is that I don’t have to follow my daughter around reminding her to pick up after herself!

BOX4BLOX

BOX4BLOX is made in the USA of high quality material, and they’re so confident in that quality, that the box comes with a 5 year replacement part guarantee.  It’s a great storage solution for building blocks, and if your child is like mine, it’s a great solution for protecting your feet as well!  Check out the BOX4BLOX website to learn more about this great building blocks storage system, or swing by Amazon to purchase (shipping is free!).

See the box in action in this short video:

 

Make sure to get a BOX4BLOX for your kids to go along with those Legos you get them this Christmas!  You certainly will not regret it!

Stay Connected Socially:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

 

BOX4BLOX is generously offering Game On Readers a chance to win am award-winning BOX4BLOX Lego storage organizer!  Enter via the Giveaway Tools form below.  Open to US residents who are 18 and older.   Ends 12/29/14.  Good luck!

BOX4BLOX

[Read more…]


Best Buy: Your Holiday Shopping Destination for Great Gifts #HintingSeason

This post is brought to you by Best Buy.  All opinions are 100% my own.

We talk about Best Buy a lot here at Game on Mom, and it’s because we truly love their expert service and unbeatable prices.  All year long, they’re the go-to place for just about anything you can think of (gadgets, appliances, movies, computers, you name it), but they’re especially fantastic during the holidays.  Their selection can’t be beat, and they have all the latest products that top my Christmas Gift List (and many of yours, too, I’m sure).

christmas logo

Here are a few of Best Buy’s current items that would be perfect holiday gifts.  I have people in mind who would love these, but just FYI, I would be pretty happy to receive them myself!  (Was that subtle enough?  I tried.  It is #HintingSeason after all, so hint hint!).

XBOX One

XBOX

The XBOX One was built by gamers, for gamers.  It has the best exclusive titles like Halo and Sunset Overdrive, the huge blockbuster games Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, awesome sports games like Madden 15, FIFA 15, and NBA 2K15.  You can also grab top family titles like Fantasia: Music Evolved, Just Dance 15, and Skylanders.  To sum it up, XBOX One has something for every member of the family who enjoys video games (and even for those who don’t yet know they love them)!  From hardcore gamers to the every-once-in-awhile player, this is the console you want.

Not only is XBOX One the perfect gaming console, it also connects users unlike any other.  You can access the latest TV shows and movies with easy-to-use apps;  your media is always at your fingertips, exactly when you want it!

JBL

JBL_Holiday

Whether you’re buying for a big-time music lover, or a casual user who just wants a nice speaker for the house, you’ll definitely want to check out these offerings from JBL.

JBL Charge 2:  This speaker has twin passive radiators for deep bass, a huge battery, and a hands-free speakerphone. And if that isn’t enough to sway you, this will be:  this speaker features Bluetooth Social Mode, which allows up to 3 different users to take turns playing their own playlists on a single speaker.  Because sharing is caring!

JBL Flip 2:  This features dual-performance-tuned JBL drivers and a built-in bass port.  It also has great SoundClear echo and noise cancellation, combined with a state-of-the-art microphone system to pick up calls on the speaker.  It’s high quality and convenience in one package!

JBL Reflect Earbud Headphones:  These earbuds are sweat-proof and have a comfortable ergonomic design.  They also have a 5 hour rechargeable battery and a reach of about 40 feet, so you can enjoy music stored on a compatible device without actually connecting them with a cord.  Bluetooth technology is just the best, isn’t it?

GPS Systems from Garmin and TomTom

tom tom

Garmin and TomTom aren’t just GPS systems anymore.  They also feature Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, traffic and weather updates, and voice recognition technology.  Fancy!  And with lifetime traffic and map updates, you’ll never have to worry about your device becoming outdated.

Garmin 52LM and Garmin 2597LMT:  Both of these devices features a 5.0” display, maps of 49 U.S. states (including lifetime updates), Lane Assist with junction view, speed limit and arrival time information, and spoken turn-by-turn directions.

TomTom Go 50 s:  This one features Lifetime TomTom Traffic updates, as well as Lifetime Maps of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  And those maps aren’t just basic 2D maps; they’re 3D, so you can more easily see and locate buildings and landmarks.  It also has a 5.0” touchscreen with advanced lane guidance.

These GPS devices have so many features, they would be useful to anyone in any kind of car.  Not to mention those of us with a terrible sense of direction will never get lost again.  I’m not saying I have a terrible sense of direction, or anything…but *cough cough*… #HintingSeason.

December 25th draws closer and closer, and those Gift Lists need to be growing smaller.  If you’re stumped on gift ideas, make sure to check out these and other awesome gift ideas from Best Buy before #HintingSeason turns into #GivingSeason!

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.