This year marks the 50th anniversary of the holiday classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and tonight on ABC there will be a star-studded TV event to commemorate it.
Lee Mendleson, the Emmy Award winning producer of the original special says that the job came to him in a roundabout way — originally, he wanted to make a documentary about Peanuts creator Charles Schultz.
“If we’re going to do a Christmas special, we’ve really got to do it the right way and talk about what Christmas is all about.“ — Charles Schultz
In this KCRW radio interview, Mendleson shares lots of other interesting tidbits: The cartoon classic was made as part of a Coca-Cola holiday marketing campaign, ABC TV executives hated the special — until they had a very special focus group take a second look and other insider stories. Pretty great stuff.
It’s a fascinating sneak peak behind the curtain of the highs and lows of making of a holiday classic.