December 3, 2001
IN 1965, my friend and frequent employer Lee Mendelson produced his first animated TV special. Bill Melendez and his crew
animated it, based on a script by Charles M. Schulz which was, in turn, based on Schulz's rather popular newspaper strip, Peanuts. The
folks at the network hated it and predicted it would bomb... but it wound up
being quite popular, winning every award it could possibly win. It
catapulted Mr. Schulz's lovely little strip into a merchandising phenomenon, and launched Mendelson-Melendez on a career of producing award-winning
animated specials. Several of the songs, expertly crafted by Vince Guaraldi, have become standards.
Over the years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been rerun more often than any other prime-time TV special. For some folks,
Christmas isn't Christmas 'til they see Good Ol' Charlie Brown bring home that ratty Christmas tree and see that weird kid doing that weird dance in
the musical sequence. Alas, over the years, the increased number of commercials in a network time slot has forced a few minutes to be trimmed
from this classic animated work.
This year, the annual event switches from CBS to ABC and reverts to its original, restored glory. A 17-minute documentary has
been prepared on the creation of the special and, by putting all this together and adding in Whoopi Goldberg as host, they can put it all in an hour
time slot and not have to cut anything from the original show, save for the plugs for Coca-Cola. It airs Thursday evening, December 6 at 8
PM. Enjoy, enjoy.
HERE ARE TWO stories from the Reuters News Service. Compare the Gore quotes and ask yourself how they
could have gotten things this far wrong...
Al Gore Says Now Restaurateur in Tennessee
Thursday, November 29 1:51 PM ET
LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - Former Vice President Al Gore told a Nigerian audience on Thursday that he now runs a family restaurant
Gore narrowly lost the 2000 U.S. presidential election to Republican George W. Bush.
"This has been a time of transition for me and it hasn't been easy," Gore told an audience at the Nigerian Institute of
"For example, there are usually a lot of cars on the road. Now it takes a lot longer to get around, and given that I haven't driven
for eight years, I'm not sure it's wise (to drive)," said Gore, who was driven in a limousine while he was vice president.
He also told the capacity audience that he had started the new family enterprise in his home state.
"We have started a family restaurant in Tennessee and we are running it ourselves. It is a low-cost restaurant," he said. "I
am also a visiting professor or VP for short."
Spokesmen in the United States were not immediately available to provide further details.
CORRECTION: Al Gore Restaurateur Story Withdrawn
Friday, November 30 6:23 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Nov. 29 LAGOS, Nigeria, story headlined "Al Gore says now restaurateur in Tennessee" is wrong and is
withdrawn. The story was based on an erroneous hearing of Gore's remarks.
According to a transcript provided by a representative for Gore, the former vice president said "...we stopped at a little family
restaurant in Tennessee. We were eating there by ourselves. It was a low-cost restaurant called Shoney's."
There will be no substitute story.
This is a pretty good example of how much we can trust the news.
We're still waiting for The Game Show Network to rerun the two episodes of Press Your Luck in which an unemployed air
conditioning mechanic named Michael Larsen figured out a way to beat the "wheel" for over $110,000. It was one of the most amazing things I've
ever seen on TV. The latest out of GSN is that they have the episodes and will soon announce when they'll air. When I hear, I'll post it
in this spot. Stay tuned.
CHASE CRAIG, who edited as many great comics as anyone who ever lived, passed away last night at the age of 91. He was
recuperating from an operation to correct injuries he had suffered in a fall three weeks earlier.
Chase was born in Texas and moved to Los Angeles in the thirties to get into the animation business. His fellow Texan, Tex Avery,
gave him a job in the story unit at Warner Brothers, where he worked for some time without — for some reason — ever getting a screen
credit. After a few years, he decided to turn his attention to print cartooning and left...only to be quickly tapped by Western Printing and
Lithography to write and draw stories for its first Bugs Bunny comics. Chase produced over half of the first issue of Looney Tunes and
Merrie Melodies comics, issued under the Dell label, including the authorship of the Mary Jane & Sniffles strip. (Sniffles the
Mouse had been a character in the cartoons but Chase came up with the format for this long-running strip, naming the character of Mary Jane after his
Western soon hired him as an editor and, through the mid-seventies, he worked out of their Los Angeles office, editing (at one point) a
comic per day, at a time when it was not uncommon for one of their comics to sell over a million copies. He was the editor who kept Carl Barks
producing Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stories, and Paul Murry doing Mickey Mouse and so many others. He was one of the
creators of Magnus, Robot Fighter and worked over the years with an array of talent that included not only the above but also Michael Maltese,
Alex Toth, Russ Manning, Dan Spiegle, Warren Tufts, Pete Alvarado, Mike Royer, Gaylord DuBois, Don Glut, Tony Strobl, Phil DeLara and so many
...including me. I've always said I had two mentors in the comic book business — Chase Craig and Jack Kirby. Chase bought
the first scripts I ever had published in this country and he taught me an awful lot about how to pace and structure a story. I wish I could remember
a tenth of it...
A fuller obit/bio will be on this website in a few days, and will appear in Comics Buyer's Guide.
ANY DORA HALL FANS here? Anyone who knows who Dora Hall even was? Dora Hall was a sweet little woman who, in her
seventies, starred in a flurry of syndicated TV specials in the early seventies, surrounded by guest stars. Since I'd never heard of her, I
assumed she was a British star whose fame had not previously reached this continent and that these specials were being made for, primarily, overseas
consumption. And it turned out I was wrong. Ms. Hall was not a star in England or anywhere. She'd had a very minor performing
career in this country and had devoted most of her life to being a good wife to a man named Leo Hulseman. Now, Mr. Hulseman, as it turned out
was the President of the Solo Cup Company, maker of plastic and paper cups, and he had so much money that he figured he could buy his spouse a couple
of variety shows.
And he did. At a reported cost of $400,000 per show, Mr. Hulseman made his dear wife a TV star. He had previously made her
a recording artist. Hundreds of thousands of Dora Hall albums and singles were recorded and given away when one purchased Solo Cups. Now,
he surrounded her with mid-range guest stars (Rich Little, Roosevelt Grier, etc.) and allowed her to be a TV star.
I remember seeing the shows and being somewhat baffled by them. Dora was about as talented as a decent piano teacher, but not
without a certain twinkle. The guest stars who surrounded and sang with her did a pretty fair job of looking like they were thrilled to appear
with her. But I never knew all that much about her past until I came upon a website called Dora Hall TV Heaven. If any of this intrigues you or you recall those bizarre TV outings, you
might want to pop by and read up on what they call "The Queen of Vanity Television."
DECEMBER 18 will mark one whole year of operations for www.POVonline.com (formerly www.evanier.com). We will mark the festivities by adding a couple of new sections here,
including a list of convention tips, a Laurel & Hardy Filmography (with commentaries by Guess Who), 7 or 8 more articles and a guide to other
comics I've written besides those in the My Comics section. We've recently added some new animal pics to My Backyard and a few other little goodies that you may notice in your browsing. If you're
enjoying the site, please spread the word.
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