Hairspray Live? A new star arrives and old ones surprise


The re-emergence of live TV musicals has been fun to watch. NBC had the safe-and-solid "Sound of Music," then faltered with "Peter Pan" and bounced back with "The Wiz." Fox triumphed with "Grease," then had a so-so (and not live) "Rocky Horror."

Now comes what seems like the most promising one. "Hairspray" has vibrant music and -- unlike most of the others -- a good story. It plans to sprawl across a movie-studio lot, just as "Grease" did (with the same person doing the TV directing). And it has starpower; here's the story I sent to papers, with glimpses of Ariana Grande, Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson and, especually, newcomer Maddie Baillio.

By Mike Hughes

When a live
“Hairspray” reaches TV Wednesday, we'll see stars doing some
familiar (or not) things.

Jennifer Hudson and
Kristin Chenoweth will belt; Harvey Fierstein will rasp. We expect
that. But then:

-- Ariana Grande
will mostly be acting, not singing. We don't expect that, but she
says this is the role that pleases “my theater geek inside.”

-- Derek Hough will
often be singing; we don't expect that either. Before “Dancing With
the Stars” brought him back to the U.S., Hough did star in the
“Footlloose” musical in London. “Hairspray,” he said, lets
him “re-ignite that sort of musical passion.”

-- And Maddie
Baillio? We don't expect anything from her ... mostly because we've
never heard of her. She's never had a TV role ... or a professional
theater role. Now she's the star.

Baillio came from
nowhere ... or from League City, Texas, which is just north of
nowhere. “This was my first audition, outside of school .... There
were over 1,300 girls and I was No. 344,” she said.

Still, this is her
second time at winning big. Two years ago, she won Michael
Feinstein's search; she sang at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center,
even Carnegie Hall. Now it's national TV, working live.

How daunting is
that? Even Jennifer Hudson – an Oscar-winner who's done Broadway
and “American Idol” – said she's nervous. “Just doing the
first (Broadway) opening night was traumatizing to me,” Hudson
said. “So now I'm like, 'Are you crazy? Are you really going to do
this on live television?'”

Now imagine Baillio,
barely out of her teens and following a life-long goal.

“I started doing
community theater and voice lessons when I realized that I wasn't
good at sports,” said Baillio, who grew up in a suburb between
Houston and Galveston. “And I just loved singing.”

She does it well, as
people can find by checking the Internet for Madelyn Baillio. There,
they can see her sing a couple classics ... and can even buy her
single, a lush “Can't Stay Away From You.”

Baillio was named
the 2014 Youth Ambassador for Feinstein's group, the Great American
Songbook. She went to Marymount Manhattan College for two years and
tried the long-shot audition. “I decided at like 3 a.m., the night
before the big open call in New York City, that I was going to go out
and do it.”

She was called back
for four more auditions and then for what she thought was yet
another, with director Kenny Leon and writer-star Harvey Fierstein.
This time time, there was a camera there.

“They told me that
they were doing a behind-the-scenes thing .... Kenny walked into the
room and said, 'Hey, Harvey asked me to give this to you so you can
read it. Project and look into the camera.

“And so I pulled
the paper out and it said, 'Maddie Baillio will be Tracy Turnblad in
NBC's “Hairspray Live!”' And I was so excited and I had to call
my mom immediately.”

This is clearly
worth calling mom about. As Robert Greenblatt, NBC's programming
chief, explains it, “Hairspray” is “a really joyous and funny
show set in Baltimore about a young girl who just wants to dance on
television – and then she unwittingly becomes an advocate for
inclusion and diversity.”

Greenblatt is the
one who brought musicals back to TV with the “Smash” series and
with live shows – triumphing with “Sound of Music,” faltering
with “Peter Pan,” then rebounding with “The Wiz.”

Now he has an ideal
vehicle: “Hairspray” was a 1988 movie, transformed into a 2002
musical by the same songwriters who did “Smash.” It won eight
Tonys, including best musical and ones for Marissa Winokur as Tracy
and Fierstein (in a tradition started by the '88 movie) as her mom.

Grande remembers
being awed by the show when she was 10 or 11. “Every time Harvey
speaks, my heart burts.” At 15, she was on Broadway in “13,” an
all-Broadway musical. “Theater is like everything to me,” she
said. “Pop music is so fun, but this is way much more fun.”

At least,this
version could be. Following the lead of Fox's “Grease” (and using
the same TV director), it will sprawl over the Universal Studios lot.
Mixing in new songs from the 2007 movie, it will let familiar stars
soar and give a new one a chance to emerge.

-- “Hairspray
Live,” 8-11 p.m. Wednesday, NBC; live in Eastern and Central time
zones

 

 

 

Tinker pushed TV to new (and, alas, temporary) levels

Keywords

Grant Tinker's approach was both basic and logical: Hire really good, really creative people ... and then get out of their way.

He did that while developing a show for his then-wife, Mary Tyler Moore ... And while building their company into a cauldron for smart comedies and (with "Hill Street Blues" and beyond) innovative dramas ... And then while taking NBC to the top.

Tinker's death at 90 (Monday, but confirmed on Wednesday) causes us to recall how much he pushed TV forward ... then saw it slip a bit.

At the semi-annual Television Critics Association sessions, NBC felt different during the Tinker era. Even the dress code was new; ties disappeared, the look and the approach was casual. People talked about good TV. Led by Brandon Tartikoff (Tinker's programming chief), they found a little fluff and a lot of greatness, from "Cheers," "Family Ties" and "The Cosby Show" to "St. Elsewhere," "L.A. Law" and "Miami Vice."

It was easy at first, because NBC was the only place that seemed excited about giving creative people full control. Eventually, other networks tried that a little. Then cable was able to lure the best people by offering fewer episodes and fewer restrictions about content and commercials.

A lot of people have been at the top of NBC since Tinker and Tartikoff left. The current one, Bob Greenblatt, clearly is trying hard; this year, he's given TV its best new broadcast-network drama ("This is Us") and comedy ("The Good Place"); he's also propelled the new passion for live musicals, with "Hairspray" coming Dec. 7.

Still, such highlights are often outnumbered by sorta-adequate shows with "Chicago" in the title. TV can do much better; Grant Tinker proved that. 

 

 

 

Wanna brighten Christmas? Try 250,000 lights and a band


Right now, TV is busy with its Christmas cascade. If you go two blogs down, you'll find a Christmas mega-list; it's edited to trim shows once they air and add new ones when they're scheduled. Above that is a look at Sofia Carson, who had three new shows on Thanksgiving weekend and will be back for the Disney Parks special on Christmas morning. And here's a look at one of the cheeriest (or, at least, brightest) of the shows: For three straight Mondays, ABC's "Great Christmas Light Fight" celebrates sheer spectacle; here's the story I sent to papers. 

 

By Mike Hughes

Many towns might
have a few families that brighten up the holiday – literally.

They loads up on the
lights, sounds and images of Christmas. For kids (and
spectacle-inclined kids), they inject extra “wow” into the
season.

Now multiply that by
a kajillion, approximately, and you have the families in “The Great
Christmas Light Fight,” which fills three Monday on ABC.

“Some of them have
this amazing pyrotechnics,” said Carter Oosterhouse, one of the
show's judges. “One had a live jazz band that was timed to the
light show.”

And there's more.
“One has animatronics, like you'd see at 'A Small World,'” in the
Disney parks, said Taniya Nayak, the other judge.

Yes, these have size
and spectacle. One has 250,000 lights; another has a train ride
through many acres.

Still, Oosterhouse
said, this isn't sheer overkill. “The design sense is quite
amazing.”

One family has
engineers, emphasizing precision; another has a retired Navy pilot,
with a salute to servicemen. And a New York man began his display as
tribute to his wife, who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

These are displays
that go up every year ... but started earlier this year, so they
could be judged for the show. In October – while many Americans
faced election rage – Oosterhouse and Nayak found themselves
encased in Christmas cheer.

“We get there, not
knowing what to expect,” Nayak said. “All of a sudden, there's
this big reveal.”

Both grew up around
Christmas spectacle ... but not neccesarily design requirements. “I
don't think there was any rhyme or reason to where we put the
lights,” Oosterhouse said.

And both grew up
with links to celebrations in other countries.

Oosterhouse, 40, is
Dutch on his father's side and Mexican on his mother's. He grew up in
Traverse City, Mich., and recalls classic Christmases -- “very
Midwestern-Mexican, with big family dinners.”

A soccer star in
high school and at Central Michigan University, he went to California
to be an actor and model. Instead, he thrived on his carpentry
skills; he did “Trading Spaces,” “Three Wishes” and several
HGTV shows, where he also developed a designing sense.

He's married to Amy
Smart, an actress who's had recurring roles in “Felicity,”
“Shameless,” “Justified” and more. They have houses in her
home state (California) and his, but Traverse City wins at
Christmastime, he said. “We want to get back to where there's
snow.”

Nayak, 43, was born
in India, but moved to the U.S. with her family as a baby. Her
Christmases in Boston were fairly quiet, she recalls, because few
family members lived there. But during visits to India, she saw the
grandness of Christmas and Diwali celebrations.

Design was a family
thing -- her dad is an architect – and she became a designer on
“Restaurant: Impossible” and other TV shows.

Nayak likes to throw
Christmas parties, with one catch: “My husband is a restaurant
proprietor, so people seem to expect more. I'm not going to lie; I've
called on his chefs to rescue me sometimes.”

And life is
different from the old days, she said. “When one light went out,
they all went out. You'd have to figure out which one it was.” Now
try that with a 250,000-light display.

-- “The Great
Christmas Light Fight”

-- 8 and 9 p.m. on
three Mondays (Dec. 5, 12 and 19), ABC.

-- Each hour has
four families, with the judge awarding $50,000 to one. On opening
night, Carter Oosterhouse judges the first hour, Taniya Nayak the
second.

Disney dreams? For Sofia Carson, they became reality


Righrt below this, you'll see the Christmas mega-list -- an attempt to compile all (well, most) of the holiday TV specials. But first, let's pause to meet one of the stars. Sofia Carson has Christmas specials Thursday and Friday (Nov.24-25) and then stars in a cable movie Sunday; in between, her "Descendants" movie reruns. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Step into Disney
World and you might see wide-eyed girls, staring at a stage. They
imagine themselves up there, singing and dancing as Belle or Elsa or
Ariel.
Sofia Carson recalls that feeling, from her Miami
childhood. “We went to Disney World every year,” she said. “And
I had some Cinderella pajamas I never wanted to take off.”

Yes, she envisioned
herself in the stage shows; now, however, she's leaped past that.
When Carson stars in a cable movie Sunday, it will wrap up a
remarkable weekend on three Disney-owned networks:

-- Thanksgiving
(8-10 p.m., ABC), co-hosting a Disney parks party with Derek and
Julianne Hough.

-- Friday (8-9 p.m.,
Disney Channel), at a similar special with her colleagues from
“Descendants.”

-- Sunday (8-10
p.m., Freeform), starring in “A Cinderella Story: If the Show
Fits.” She plays Tessa, a mechanic who dons a wig and auditions as
a flashy diva.

The mechanic part
was an extreme stretch, Carson admits. “My family cracked up at the
thought of me putting together an engine. I'm a total klutz.”

But the diva part?
That's been most of her 23 years. “My mom says I was singing before
I was talking.”

She started dance
classes at age 3. There were lots of competitions (often at Disney
World) and more. She had the same performing passion as Tessa ... but
a much easier route.

Her parents grew up
and prospered in the U.S., where they're in property management, but
both were born in Colombia. Her mother is Irish on one side, but
related on the other to the Char family that is prominent in
Colombian business and politics.

Christmases were in
Colombia ... but were also done Irish-American style with her
grandmother. Sofia spoke (and sang) in English and Spanish ... and
was minoring in French at UCLA. Then came Disney.

The company has a
habit of spotting young acresses – Hilary Duff, Selena Gomez, Demi
Lovato – and propelling through guest roles, movies, series,
specials and its Hollywood Records label.

For Carson –
that's her mother's maiden name – it's been on hyperdrive. She had
guest roles in three TV episodes in 2014 ... then was one of the
stars of TV movies for 2015 (“Descendants”), 2016 (the
“Adventures in Babysitting” remake and “If the Shoe Fits”)
and 2017 (“Descendants 2”). She also cut her first singles (“Love
is the Name” and “I'm Gonna Love You”) and sort of entered
Mileydom.

In Disney's “Hannah
Montana” series, Miley Cyrus played a pop star who would remove her
wig and be an ordinary teen-ager. In “If the Shoe Fits,” Carson
dons the wig and poses as a pop diva. It's a role that required quick
transformations, spectacular dance moves and a month of rehearsals.

Then it was back to
being Evie, daughter of the Evil Queen. In the “Descendants,” the
young characters are the children of classic Disney villains. That
explains why they combine to sing “Rotten to the Core” ... which,
for the Christmas special, becomes “Jolly to the Core.”

Carson also gets to
do some serious singing. “Silent Night has always been one of my
favorite songs,” she said, “so that's what I really wanted to
do.”

She ended up taping
two versions of it at Disney World, once for Friday and once for
Christmas morning on ABC. She sings one at the Tree of Life and the
other , the other at Cinderella's castle ... sort of fulfilling all
those little-girl daydreams.

So much Sofia

-- ABC special, 8-10
p.m. Thursday; Freeform movie, 8-10 p.m. Sunday

-- Disney Channel
has the “Descendants” movie at 6 p.m. Friday, 3:20 p.m. Saturday
and 4 p.m. Monday; the “Descendants” special is 8 p.m. Friday and
7 p.m. Sunday.

 

 

Here's the Christmas TV mega-list, revised to Nov. 29 and beyond

Keywords

The first week of the TV's Christmas system was wildly busy -- complete with "Grinch" and "Frosty" and about 10 new movies. But the Christmas cascade goes on. Here's a revised version of the mega-list, updated to be good starting Nov. 30:

By Mike Hughes

The cartoon classics

-- “Rudolph the
Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 8-9 p.m. Dec. 10, CBS. Flaws and
all, this keeps stirring memories and bringing strong ratings.

-- “A Charlie
Brown Christmas,” 8 p.m. Dec. 1, ABC. Here's one of TV's finest
moments, from 1965.

-- “Mickey's
Christmas Carol,” 7 a.m. Dec. 10, Freeform. Instead of humor, this
half-hour offers gorgeously crafted animation; it reruns at 11:30
a.m. Dec. 18.

-- “How the Grinch
Stole Christmas,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 TBS; 8 p.m. Dec. 14, TNT. Here's a wondrous mix
of humor, music and emotion. 

-- “Rudolph the
Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 8-9 p.m. Dec. 10, CBS. Flaws and
all, this keeps stirring memories and bringing strong ratings.

-- "Frosty the Snowman," 9 p.m. Dec. 10, CBS. This one is pleasant enough; its sequel, at 9:30, is not. 

Some classic movies

 

-- “Christmas
Vacation” (1989), 7:05 p.m. Dec. 1, Freeform. Chevy Chase finds
delightful excess. This reruns at 8:45 p.m. Dec. 4; 7 p.m. Dec. 5; 9
p.m. Dec. 13; 5 p.m. Dec. 14; 7:35 p.m. Dec. 16; 4:40 p.m. Dec. 17;
8:55 p.m. Dec. 19; 6:50 p.m. Dec. 20; 9:45 p.m. Dec. 24; and 7:45
p.m. Dec. 25.

-- “The Santa
Clause” (1994), 9:15 p.m. Dec. 1, Freeform. Tim Allen is nudged
into Santa's job. Reruns are 7:15 p.m. Dec. 2; 9 p.m. Dec. 6; 7 p.m.
Dec. 7; 9 p.m. Dec. 14; 7 p.m. Dec. 15; 6:50 p.m. Dec. 17; 5:10 p.m.
Dec. 18; 8:50 p.m. Dec. 20 6:50 p.m. Dec. 21; 8:50 p.m. Dec. 23; and
5:35 p.m. Dec. 24.

-- “The Polar
Express” (2004), 9:20 p.m. Dec. 2, Freeform. Visually, this film
(with a performance-capture technique) is gorgeous; storywise, it's
so-so. It reruns at 4:40 p.m. Dec. 3; 7 p.m. Dec. 6; 5 p.m. Dec. 7;
9:55 p.m. Dec. 11; 7 p.m. Dec. 12; 9:45 p.m. Dec.16; 2:35 p.m. Dec.
17; 3:15 p.m. Dec. 21; noon Dec. 22; 3:30 p.m. Dec. 24; and 1:25 p.m.
Dec. 25.

-- “It's a
Wonderful Life,” 8 p.m. Dec. 3, NBC. Each December, NBC runs this
warm classic twice, the second time on Christmas Eve.

-- “Elf” (2003).
8:50 p.m. Dec. 3, Freeform. At 6-foot-3, Will Ferrell should have
suspected he's not a real elf. When he finds out, he leaves the North
Pole and enters an unfamiliar world. There's humor, plus sweet
moments with Zooey Deschanel. It reruns at 6:40 p.m. Dec. 4; 9 p.m.
Dec. 7; 7 p.m. Dec. 8; 9 p.m. Dec. 12; 7 p.m. Dec. 13; 9:50 p.m. Dec.
18; 6:50 p.m. Dec. 19; 8:55 p.m. Dec. 21; 6:45 p.m. Dec. 22; 7:40
p.m. Dec. 24; and 5:40 p.m. Dec. 25.

-- “Mary Poppins”
(1964), 8-11 p.m. Dec. 10, ABC. Filled with clever songs and dazzling
visuals, this won five Academy Awards, including best-actress for
Julie Andrews.

-- “The Wizard of
Oz” (1939), 7 and 9:20 p.m. Dec.
12 and 5:40 p.m. Dec. 14, TNT.

-- “Meet Me in St.
Louis” (1944), 8 p.m. Dec. 12, Turner Classic Movies. Here's the
dandy Judy Garland musical in which she introduced “Have Yourself a
Merry Little Christmas.” And at midnight is a documentary about
Christmas movies.

-- “Christmas in
Connecticut” (1945), 10 p.m., Dec. 15. Barbara Stanwyck stars in
this light tale. It reruns at 8 p.m. Dec. 24, to launch host Robert
Osborne's choices for Christmas Eve viewing.

-- “Frozen”
(2013), 8-10:04 p.m. Dec. 17, ABC. Now for a new classic, one that
took Oscars for best animated feature and for the powerhouse song
“Let It Go.”

-- “The Sound of
Music” (1965), 7-11 p.m. Dec. 18, ABC. A year after “Mary
Poppins,” Julie Andrews scored again. She didn't win the Oscar this
time, but the movie did.

- “Home Alone”
(1990), 8 p.m. Dec. 18, AMC. This became a box-office smash by
skillfully blending seasonal warmth and broad sight gags. Its sequel
follows at 10:30.

-- “A Christmas
Story” (1983), 8 p.m. Dec. 24, TBS and TNT. A 1940s Christrmas is
viewed with a sharp (and sometimes very dark) wit. It repeats every
two hours, for 24 hours.

“A Christmas
Carol,” with Scrooge played by ...

-- Jim Carrey
(2009), 5:10 p.m. Dec. 2, Freeform. Performance-capture technique
lets Carrey play Scrooge and all three ghosts. Reruns include noon
Dec. 3, 9 p.m. Dec. 8, 6:45 p.m. Dec. 23.

-- Bill Murray
(1998), 9 p.m. Dec. 5, Freeform. In the clever “Scrooged,” he's a
soulless TV executive. It repeats at 5 p.m. Dec. 6; 11:55 p.m. Dec.
24; and 9:55 Dec. 25.

-- Robert Wagner
(2007), 9:35 a.m. Dec. 11, Freeform. In “A Dennis the Menace
Christmas,” he's Dennis' grumpy neighbor Mr. Wilson, visited by the
three ghosts. It reruns at 3 p.m. Dec. 15; 7 a.m. Dec. 16; and 8:30
a.m. Dec. 19.

-- George C. Scott
(1984), 8 p.m. Dec. 17, AMC. Richly filmed, this adds lots of
talented Englishmen – Edward Woodward, Roger Rees, etc. It's
followed at 10:30 pm. by “White Christmas” (1954).

-- Patrick Stewart
(1999), 8 and 10 p.m. Dec. 19, TNT. The actor who conquered space and
Shakespeare also showed he's a master of Dickens.

-- Alastair Sim
(1951), 11:30 p.m. Dec. 22, Turner Classic Movies. Less flashy that
the others – it's black-and-white and only 86 minutes – this has
still drawn great praise.

Lots of music

-- “Christmas in
Rockefeller Center,” 8 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 30), NBC. This one has
some classic stars – Tony Bennett, Dolly Parton and Neil Diamond –
plus newer ones, with Tori Kelly, Jordan Smith, Josh Groban and Sarah
McLachlan; also, a really big tree is lit.

-- “Taraji's White
Hot Holidays,” 8 p.m., Dec. 8, Fox. Taraji Henson hosts an hour
that has her “Empire” colleagues, Jussie Smollett and Taye Diggs.
Also performing: Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, Missy Elliott, Snoop
Dogg, TLC and Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC. It reruns at 8 p.m. Dec.
23.

-- “A Pentatonix
Christmas Special,” 8 p.m. Dec. 14, NBC. The Grammy-winning vocal
group will be joined by Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire and more.

-- “iHeartradio
Jingle Ball,” 8-9:30 p.m. Dec. 15, CW. Justin Bieber and Ariana
Grande lead a line-up that includes Meghan Trainor, Ellie Goulding,
Charlie Puth, Lukas Graham, Diplo, Daya, Fifth Harmonty and the
Chainsmokers. It reruns at 8 p.m. Dec. 26.

-- “Tony Bennett
Celebrates 90,” 9-11 p.m. Dec. 20, NBC. Four-plus months after his
real 90th birthday, Bennett will sing a little and hear
tribute songs from Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Elton John,
Michael Buble, Andea Bocelli, Diana Krall, k.d. lang and Rufus
Wainwright.

-- Concert, 10 p.m.
Dec. 21, TBS and TNT. The splendid “Christmas in Washington” was
cancelled after 33 years, but the networks plan a new concert
(rerunning at 7 p.m. Dec. 24), with details pending.

-- “A Home For the
Holidays,” 8 p.m. Dec. 23, CBS. Each year, this entwines strong
music with stories about adoption. Details are pending.

Parades

-- “Hollywood
Christmas Parade,” 8-10 p.m. Dec. 16, CW. Billed as the largest
American Christmas celebration, this has music and celebrities ...
well, semi-celebrities, including Erik Estrada, Dean Cain, Montel
Williams and grand marshal Olivia Newton-John.

-- And the annual
Christmas Day parade for families to watch after the presents are
opened. That's 10 a.m. to noon Dec.25 on ABC, with pre-taped music by
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Kelly Clarkson, Gavin DeGraw,
Jordan Fisher, Sofia Carson, Alesia Carson and OneRepublic

Humor, etc.

-- “I Love Lucy
Christmas Special,” 8-9 p.m. Dec. 2, CBS. Here are two “I Love
Lucy” episodes, each colorized and fun after 60 years. One – a
moderately funny Christmas one – reruns each year; the addition
this year has Lucy finally landing a role in a movie.

-- “Greatest
Holiday Commercials Countdown,” 9 p.m., Dec. 12, CW. This looks at
the top 12 holiday commericals ever, and at others from around the
world. It reruns from 9-10 p.m. Dec. 20.

-- “The Top 12
Greatest Christmas Movies of All Time,” 8 p.m. Dec. 14, CW. Dean
Cain hosts this special, which has one of the top 12 greatest most
redundant titles.

Home and kitchen

--"The Great American Baking Show" debut, 9-11 p.m. Dec. 1, ABC. There will be a holiday theme this year, with Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding" hosting with her husband Ian Gomez. It's a short-term competition on Thursdays.

- “The Great
Christmas Light Fight,” 8-10 p.m. Dec. 5, 12 and 19, ABC. For three
Mondays, we'll see the best – or, at least, the most zealous -- of
holiday decorations. In each hour, judges (Carter Oosterhouse and
Taniya Nayak) will hand out a $50,000 prize.

-- “Terry Crews
Saves Christmas,” 8-9 p.m., Dec. 20-23, CW. Crews (“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine”), a big fan of the holiday, intervenes on celebrations,
with a team of food, drink and design experts.

-- Also: Specials on
the Food Network include“Kids Sweets Showdown,” at 8 p.m.
Wednesday (Nov. 30); and “Holiday Baking Championship,” Dec. 5.
The Cooking Channel has “Christmas at Tiffani's,” at 8 p.m. Dec.
4.

 

More cartoons
(broadcast networks)

-- “Toy Story That
Time Forgot,” 8 p.m., Dec. 8, ABC. Here's a fairly recent one, from
2014. It's also on Freeform at 10:20 p.m. Dec. 10, 9:25 p.m. Dec.11,
6:20 p.m. Dec. 21 and 4:40 p.m. Dec. 22.

-- “Shrek the
Halls,” 8:30 p.m., Dec. 8, ABC. Shrek keeps mishandling the
holiday, in ways that are meant to be humorous.

-- “Grandma Got
Run Over By a Reindeer,” 8 p.m. Dec. 12, CW.

-- “Prep &
Landing” and “Prep & Landing 2,” 8 and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 15,
ABC. Quick and clever, both of these animated films focus on Santa's
skilled advance men. These are also on Freeform at 4:10 and 4:40 p.m.
Dec. 17 and 5:20 and 5:50 p.m. Dec. 21.

-- “I Want a Dog
for Christmas, Charlie Brown,” 8-9 p.m. Dec. 17, ABC. This 2003
cartoon is not considered a classic.

- “Ice Age: A
Mammoth Christmas,” 8 p.m. Dec. 20, Fox. This gently fun
tale has Sid (John Leguizamo) desperate to get off Santa's naughty
list.

Cartoons (cable and
streaming)

-- “The Year
Without a Santa Claus,” 6 p.m., Dec. 1, Freeform. Mrs. Claus takes
over the job. Reruns include 2:30 p.m. Dec. 2; 5:35 p.m. Dec. 4; 4
p.m. Dec. 5; 11:40 a.m. Dec. 11; 5:35 p.m. Dec. 20; 2:10 p.m. Dec.
21; 5:40 p.m. Dec. 23; 12:20 p.m. Dec. 24; and 4:35 p.m. Dec. 25.

-- “Jack Frost,”
11 a.m. Dec. 2, Freeform. Jack briefly becomes human. It reruns at 7
a.m. Dec. 24.

-- “Mickey's Once
Upon a Christmas” and “Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas,” 7 and
8:30 a.m. Dec. 3, Freeform. The first (which reruns at 7 a.m. Dec.
19) has Mickey and friends in three classic stories; the second has
five more. They rerun together at 8:05 and 9:40 a.m. Dec. 24.

-- “Nestor, The
Long-Eared Christmas Donkey,” 7:30 a.m. Dec. 4, Freeform; reruns at
8 a.m. Dec. 17.

-- “Rudolph and
Frosty's Christmas in July,” 10:05 a.m. Dec. 4, Freeform.

-- “Santa Claus is
Comin' to Town,” 4:30 p.m. and 10:55 p.m. Dec.4, Freeform; 4:30 p.m. Dec. 20; 1:10
p.m. Dec. 21; 4:35 p.m. Dec. 23; 11:15 a.m. Dec. 24; and 3:30 p.m.
Dec. 25.
. Fred Astaire
narrates a tale of Kris Kringle (Mickey Rooney)

 

-- “Frosty's
Winter Wonderland,” 11 a.m. Dec. 9, Freeform. Reruns: 4:10 p.m.
Dec. 22; 3 a.m. Dec. 23.

-- “Albert,” 7
p.m. Dec. 9, Nickelodeon. Here's a new one, done with computer
graphic animation. It's the tale of a tiny Douglas fir that wants to
be more famous than the big guys. Bobby Moynihan and Sasheer Zamata,
both of “Saturday Night Live,” lead the voice cast.

-- “An Elf on the
Shelf,” 8 p.m. Dec. 10, TBS. An elf tries to help a boy believe.

-- “The Little
Drummer Boy,” 7 a.m. Dec. 11, Freeform; it reruns at 11:30 a.m.
Dec. 22.

New TV movies (key
ones)

-- “Christmas of
Many Colors,” 9-11 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 30), NBC. In a sequel to
her ratings-hit “Coat of Many Colors,” Dolly Parton sets another
story in her childhood. As a blizzard nears, Dolly's dad struggles to
finally buy a wedding ring for his wife.

-- “Heaven Sent,”
8 p.m. Dec. 3, Lifetime. As a marriage seems ready to crumble, an
8-year-old runaway angel intervenes. This is produed and directed by
Michael Landon Jr., a master of the genre. He directed the “Love”
prairie films for Hallmark; also, his dad played an angel for five
seasons.

-- “A Nutcracker
Christmas,” 8 p.m. Dec. 10, Hallmark. Amy Acker plays a ballerina
whose dream “Nutcracker” role was snatched away by Mark (Sascha
Radetsky of America Ballet Theater). Years later, her niece (Sophia
Lucia of “So You Think You Can Dance”) has the role ... with Mark
in charge.

 

More movies (made
for theaters)

 

-- “The Nightmare
Before Christmas” (1993), 11:20 p.m. Dec. 1, Freeform. Tim Burton
reminds us that any holiday can be made to seem creepy. Reruns at
3:35 p.m. Dec. 2; 5:30 p.m. Dec. 12; 3 p.m. Dec.13; 1 p.m. Dec. 17;
noon Dec. 18; 5:10 p.m. Dec. 22; 3 p.m. Dec. 23.

-- “The Holiday”
(2006), 10:55 p.m. Dec. 3, Freeform. In a pleasant-enough movie,
Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap their American and English homes
for the holiday. It reruns at 1:25 p.m. Dec. 20.

-- “Arthur
Christmas” (2011), 6:45 p.m. Dec. 3, Freeform. Santa has a
high-tech operation ... but one present gets lost. His youngest son
Arthur tries to help, in a fairly enjoyable animated film. It repeats
at 2:20 p.m. Dec. 4; 10:50 p.m. Dec. 10; 12:45 p.m. Dec. 11; 7 p.m.
Dec. 14; 5 p.m. Dec. 15; 1:25 p.m. Dec. 24 and 11:20 a.m. Dec. 25.

- “I'll Be Home
for Christmas” (1998), 12:10 p.m. Dec. 4, Freeform. Stranded in a
Santa suit, Jonathan Taylor Thomas must hitchhike cross-country, in
time to get his dad's Porsche.

-- “Jingle All the
Way” (1996), 5 p.m. Dec. 5, Freeform. Arnold Schwarzenegger faces
one of his toughest action-hero tasks – finding the popular toy his
son wants. It reruns at 5:30 p.m.Dec. 16, 8:30 a.m. Dec. 17, 8:55
p.m. Dec. 22 and 1 p.m.Dec. 23.

-- “Deck the
Halls” (2006), 5 p.m. Dec. 8, Freeform. Matthew Broderick and Danny
DeVito try to top each other in sheer quantity of Christmas lights.

-- “Fred Claus”
(2007), 3 and 8:30 p.m., TBS. In a mildly pleasant comedy. Santa
(Paul Giamatti), a good guy, is visited by his scheming brother
(Vince Vaughn). It's also on TNT, at 3, 9 and 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 14
and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 24.

-- “Home Alone:
The Holiday Heist” (2012), 7:30 a.m. Dec. 11, Freeform. After
moving to a new house, Finn sets traps for ghosts and, ultimately,
thieves. It reruns at 3:25 p.m. Dec. 16.

-- “Jack Frost”
(1998), 9:10 a.m. Dec. 16, Freeform. Too busy to spend time with his
son, Jack dies in a car accident and returns as ... well, a snowman.
It reruns at 2:05 p.m. Dec. 22 and 7:30 a.m. Dec. 23.

-- “Surviving
Christmas” (2004), 6 p.m. Dec. 19, TNT and 10:30 a.m. Dec. 24, TBS. Ben Affleck
plays a rich guy who decides to buy a family and have an ideal
ho

More new TV movies

 

-- The UP cable
channel debuts movies at 7 p.m., rerunning them at 9. There's “Girlfriends of Christmas Past”
on Dec. 4 and Laura Bell Bundy in “Season's Greetings” on Dec.
11

-- “A Christmas in
Vermont,” 11 p.m. Dec. 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 24, Ion. A young woman is sent to close down
the factory that provides a small town with most of its jobs.

-- “A Dream of
Christmas,” 8 p.m. Dec. 3, Hallmark. An ambitious young woman wakes
up one day in a different existence, suddenly wealthy and single.

-- “A Firehouse
Christmas,” 9 p.m. Dec. 3, Ion. A hockey player hopes to spend the
holiday with his girlfriend, a firefighter. But his divorce isn't
final and his wife, who writes relationship books, wants to fake a
happy marriage. It reruns at 5 p.m. Dec. 4 and 3 p.m. Dec. 24.

-- “Looks Like
Christmas,” 8 p.m., Dec. 4, Hallmark. Anne Heche plays “Christmas
Carol,” who obsesses on her kids' Christmas pageant – until a
newcomere (Dylan Neal) wants to join the project.

-- “Hearts of
Christmas,” 9 p.m. Dec. 4, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Sharon
Lawrence plays the head nurse at an elite unit, now being nudged into
retirement. Her colleagues and former patients decide to give her a
big send-off at a giant Christmas party.

-- “A Cinderella
Christmas,” 9 p.m., Dec. 4, Ion. An oft-overlooked woman makes a
big impression at a masquerade party, leaves before revealing her
identity. It reruns at 11 p.m. Dec. 11 and 11 a.m. Dec. 24.

-- “Holiday Joy,”
3 p.m. Dec. 8, Freeform. As her widowed dad struggles, teenaged Joy
(Bailee Madison) envies the Wellmans next door. Then a magical quirk
makes her a Wellman. It reruns at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 9 and 7:30 a.m.
Dec. 15.

-- “A Christmas
Wedding Date,” 8 p.m., Dec. 10, Lifetime. Fired from her
high-powered job, Rebecca (Marla Sokoloff) reluctantly head home to
see her mom and go to a friend's Christmas Eve wedding.

-- “Merry Ex-Mas,”
9 p.m. Dec. 10, TV One. A single mother schemes to shatter the
Christmas wedding being planned by her ex. It reruns Dec. 24 at 9
p.m. and 1 a.m.

-- “Christmas With
the Andersons,” 9 p.m. Dec. 10, Ion. When a dad loses his job
shortly before the holidays, he assues Christmas will be scuttled.
Then wacky Aunt Katie (Julie Brown) arrives with other ideas. It
reruns at 5 p.m. Dec. 18 and 1 p.m. Dec. 24.

-- “A Husband for
Christmas,” 9 p.m. Dec. 11, Ion. It reruns at 7 p.m. Dec. 18, 5
p.m. Dec. 24.

-- “Love You Like
Christmas,” 8 p.m. Dec. 11, Hallmark. Bonnie Somerville plays a
high-powered executive who accidentally ends up in the
holiday-obsessed Christmas Valley.

-- “The Sound of
Christmas,” 9 p.m., Dec. 11, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. A
single dad and his daughter's music teacher are a perfect match ...
except his company is buying her school building.

-- “My Christmas
Love,” 8 p.m. Dec. 17, Hallmark. A hopeless romantic tried to
figure out who's duplicating the gifts from “The12 Days of
Christmas.”

-- “Sleigh Bells
Ring,” 8 p.m. Dec. 18, Hallmark. Rushing to geta sleigh read forthe
Chhristmas parade, a busy woman is startled to find it seems to have
a mind of its own.

-- “A Christmas to
Remember,” 9 p.m. Dec. 18, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Mira
Sorvino plays a harsh TV personality who crashes during a blizzard.
Rescued by a friendly widower (Cameron Mathison) with three kids, she
has amnesia and (for now, at least) a new life.

-- “The Christmas
Swap,” 7 and 11 p.m. Dec. 24, TV One. A single father (Dondre
Whitfield) questions his decision to give up his dreams and care for
his mother. 

-- “When Calls the
Heart Christmas,” 8 p.m. Dec. 25, Hallmark. This frontier series
pauses for a story that finds displaced settlers facing poverty at
Christmastie. Also, an intriguing peddler has an impact.

“The Nutcracker”

-- “Battle of the
Nutcrackers,” Dec. 12-16, Ovation. Each day, at 7 a.m., this
arts-oriented cable channel will have a different ballet company
performing “The Nutcracker.” Viewers will pick their favorite,
with the winner rerunning at 7 p.m. Dec. 21. It will be the Berlin
State Opera on Dec. 12, Bolshoi Ballet on Dec. 13, Mariinsky on Dec.
14, Wiener Staatsballett on Dec. 15 and Semperoper on Dec. 16.

Nostalgia

-- Sitcom
Christmases, 8 p.m. Fridays, TV One. Each week, the cable channel has
holiday episodes, including “The Jeffersons,” “Good Times”
and “What's Happening.”

-- Perry Como
Christmas specials, 10 p.m. Sundays, getTV (via Dish or WSTR
digital). Here are shows from Paris (Nov. 27), Colonial Williamsburg
(Dec. 4), Austria (Dec. 11) and the Holy Land (Dec. 18).

-- And more. For
three hours each Monday, GetTV has Christmas specials and episodes
from Andy Williams, Sonny and Cher, Judy Garland, Johnny Cash, Mac
Davis and Merv Griffin. Other Christmas episodes will be shown
Tuesdays through Thursdays. Then the channel goes non-stop Christmas,
from noon Dec. 18 through Dec. 25.

-- More again, Dec.
24-25, Antenna TV (via DirecTV and WSTR digital). On Christmas Eve,
old holiday episodes will be from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m.; they resume on
Christmas Day, from 7 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

There's more

PBS' Christmas shows
vary at each station. However, many will include:

-- “Frontline”
reruns “From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians,” from 10 p.m.
to midnight on Dec. 13 and 20.

-- “Lidia
Celebrates America,” at 10 p.m. Dec. 16, with Lidia Bastianich
preparing meals for returned soldiers.

-- “A Chef's Life
Holiday Special,” at 9 p.m. Dec. 22.

-- And “Call the
Midwife” continues the British tradition of special Christmas
episodes. It's 7:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 25