A Christmas Story is “its own genre,” EP Marc Platt told TV critics at TCA today, noting its un-Christmas-like lack of sentimentality.
“TV has the unique opportunity to take musicals, live events, so it has that feeling and excitement and spontaneity, but still has a camera between you and what you are watching,” said Platt, who produced last year’s Grease: Live for Fox. “I try to create a grammar that takes from cinema and the live world and put it in every scene.”
Two new songs have been written, on which composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — Tony nominees for Dear Evan Hansen and A Christmas Story: The Musical, and lyricists of La La Land’s Oscar-winning song, “City of Stars” — already are at work. Jonathan Tolins and Robert Cary (Grease: Live) are adapting the book.
The fact that the Broadway musical produced no built-in hits does not concern Platt, who forecasts big crowds who love the movie and will be experiencing the musical for the first time when it airs December 17.
This play not being so well known “is the fun and the challenge of it,” Platt said, calling it “a Christmas gift – that’s what it is, a gift to the world.”
And, he noted, the songwriters have matured as composers since the Broadway musical opened on Broadway.
“We wrote the show seven or eight years ago. You don’t often get the chance to open back up your show” and ask if there are moments they “could have made better,” Paul agreed. “That’s what we get to do,” he said, calling it “a great Christmas moment for us.”
The 1983 A Christmas Story movie was based on Jean Shepherd’s 1966 book, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, and was set in the late ’30s/early ’40s. The three-hour live holiday musical event will “take place in the period” but with contemporary book-ending, he said. Fox announced separately today that Emmy nominee Maya Rudolph will play the mom of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker. Other castings will be announced soon, Platt said.
When asked, Platt said there have been no conversations about cross-promoting the live special with the Turner networks, which have played the heck out of the original movie for years.
And yes, there will be a big “Shoot Your Eye Out” number with tap-dancing kids among the musical adaptations of the movie’s fantasy moments.
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