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December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Here's the, um, Yule Log.

According to the description..

The Yule Log aired every Christmas Eve in the 70's and 80's in the New York metro area on WPIX channel 11.

Yep. Every Christmas Eve.

And more from Wikipedia:

The Yule Log was created in 1966 by Fred M. Thrower, President and CEO of WPIX, Inc. Inspired by an animated Coca-Cola commercial a year earlier that showed Santa Claus at a fireplace, he envisioned this television program as a televised Christmas gift to those residents of "The Big Apple" who lived in apartments and homes without fireplaces. This also provided time for employees of the TV station to stay home with their families, instead of working for the usual morning news program.

The original film was shot at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the Mayor of New York City John Lindsay. An estimated $4,000 (US) of advertising (along with a roller derby telecast that night) was canceled on Christmas Eve for the show's inaugural airing. Thrower, and WPIX-FM programming director Charlie Whittaker selected the music, largely based on the easy listening format the radio station had at that time, with the likes of Percy Faith, Nat King Cole, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Mantovani and The Ray Conniff Singers to name a few. During the shoot, the producers removed a protective fire grate so that the blaze could be seen to its best advantage. Unfortunately, a stray spark damaged a nearby antique rug valued at $4,000.

The program was both a critical and ratings success, and by popular demand, it was rebroadcast for 23 consecutive years, beginning in 1967. However, by 1969 it was already clear that the original 16 mm film was quickly deteriorating from wear and needed to be re-shot. (In addition, the original loop was only seventeen seconds long, resulting in a visibly jerky and artificial appearance.) Station producer William Cooper, a future recipient of a Peabody Award, again asked to shoot the loop at Gracie Mansion. However the mayor's office, remembering the mishap with the rug, refused permission. So in 1970, WPIX found a fireplace with similar andirons at a residence in California and filmed a burning log on 35 mm film there on a hot August day. This version's loop runs approximately six minutes and three seconds [1].

Sometimes they didn't play music. Sometimes they just played the log burning:

It was sort of crazy, but every Christmas Eve we'd have this Yule Log on tv, and usually we'd also have a real fire.

I don't know why the Yule Log was always on. It was just what was done. No one could really explain it.


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posted by Ace at 01:43 AM

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