04 August 2006

Harvey Fierstein is Mr. 101!

Today's New York Times brought news that Harvey Fierstein has replaced Chris Elliott as Heat Miser in this year's remake of The Year Without a Santa Claus. To which the only reasonable response seems to be...


Granted, the 1974 Rankin-Bass stop-motion filming wasn't the best of that studio's TV movies. In other words, it was no Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or even Rudolph's Shiny New Year. The only thing most people remember about Year Without is the duel/duet of Heat Miser and Snow Miser, and I, at least, have trouble remembering exactly which holiday special those scenes appeared in.

But did that 1974 version leave unanswered questions? Does Phyllis McGinley's 1957 novel have scenes that the filmmakers just weren't allowed to show young audiences during the Nixon administration? Does stop-motion animation not appeal to kids who want the sinuous movement of computer animation?

No, I bet the key to NBC's green light lies in the original's appeal to adults who were kids back then. Hence the cast of celebrities from adult comedy shows, starting with John Goodman as Santa and Carol Kane as Mother Nature.

The director, Ron Underwood, did the fine Mouse and the Motorcycle and Runaway Ralph TV adaptations back in the pre-CGI 1980s. (The latter starred young Fred Savage.) So perhaps this remake will outshine the original. But still, it seems like the child audience might in fact be an afterthought.

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