The Christmas Special That Almost Wasn't.
Great article about the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, forty years old tonight. About the only one who believed in it was Charles Schulz:
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.' "
It's on ABC at 8:00pm tonight.