(March 27, 2007)
F. "CHIP" ARCURI
Owner/Webmaster of The Yule Log.com
Well gang, the weather is getting warmer, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time to discuss the Yule Log!
For this spring edition of “Chip’s Tips,” I’d like to focus primarily on a post-premiere analysis of our restored Yule Log broadcast, and also address some questions and comments that we received from viewers across the country, as well as various members of the Yule Log.com message board.
First and foremost, Joe and I are painfully aware that there were technical problems, both audio and video, with the transmission of the program from Superstation WGN in Chicago. Sadly, the source of these problems is still as of yet, undetermined. As for the WPIX broadcast, there were thankfully no technical problems and it came off without a hitch. For those of you who did not have the option of viewing the entire uncut program on a local Tribune affiliate, and were limited to WGN, many were disappointed that they only aired a 2-hour abridged version of the Yule Log presentation itself; this was simply because the Superstation only committed 3 hours to its Yule Log programming for 2006 and they also elected to air the 40th anniversary special. While we can’t say for certain, it is our guess that later this year, for Christmas 2007, Superstation WGN will most likely air the entire 3-hour presentation, as they will probably not re-air the anniversary special. As usual, as soon as we receive any scheduling information from WGN, or for that matter, any of the Tribune affiliates, we’ll let you know via the website and message board. By the way, the local WGN station in Chicago actually committed a total of 5 hours to its Yule Log programming for 2006: 1 hour for the anniversary special and 4 hours for the Yule Log presentation itself (they repeated the first of the 3 hours of music). The only hitch was that 2 minutes into the repeat of the first hour, they cut away for a 5-minute local WGN news update, and then rejoined the Yule Log in progress with another song playing. Again, this was only on the local WGN – not the Superstation, which is what the rest of the country receives.
Regarding the aforementioned message board; with all the publicity surrounding the 40th anniversary of Yule Log last year, our membership more than doubled for a current grand total of 109 members. For 2006 as a whole, we received 64 new members – 48 in the month of December alone! Many of these new members shared terribly personal and poignant memories of growing up with the Yule Log and how much the program means to them, while others made comments or asked questions. For this year 2007, I was on hiatus from the board for pretty much the entire first quarter attending to personal business, but I am now back and available once again for your questions. Speaking of those questions, there is one in particular that we were probably asked more frequently than any other: Is the Yule Log available on DVD or VHS? Unfortunately, the answer is no; the original and authentic WPIX Yule Log is not currently, nor has ever been available for retail purchase. However, that is not to say that it never will be. While it goes without saying that the commercial release of the Yule Log on home video would be a prodigious, as well as expensive undertaking for Tribune Broadcasting, it does not necessarily preclude the possibility that it will happen. This is something that was being investigated by former program director Julie O’Neil and is still under consideration by WPIX. My suggestion to all of you out there who wrote to us, is to contact the station, either by letter, email, fax or phone, and express your desire to see it happen – let your voices be heard!
We also received several inquiries questioning whether the still photograph that was shown on the 40th anniversary special, “The WPIX Yule Log: A Log’s Life,” was indeed the original and authentic Gracie Mansion fireplace that was used for the Yule Log broadcasts from 1966-1969. I can tell you categorically that it was, and I verified this with former program director Julie O’Neil. However, there was one obvious error in the program: the doll and stockings that hung over the fireplace of the original Gracie Mansion fireplace were unequivocally not the same ones used for the California re-shoot. It was obvious that Kay Cooper was incorrect in her recollection. The problem, Julie said, was that if they edited out her remarks, it would have compromised the part of the interview they wanted to keep – so unfortunately, it stayed in the program.
On the CD front, there’s another great discovery I made last December: It’s a Japanese import of Raymond Lefevre’s original 1968 Christmas LP entitled appropriately, “Merry Christmas.” It has been digitally remastered and sounds great. The 2 main differences between this CD reissue and the original Kapp Records LP, is that the songs are not in the original order and regrettably, it does not have that original cuckoo-groovy artwork with that hot chick gracing the front cover. For those who are not familiar with this album, here was the original cover:
Now tell me, am I exaggerating? – No my friends, I don’t think so…Now why couldn’t she have been under my tree last Christmas! – I now have serious issues with Santa.
For those of you interested in this CD, you should act
quickly as I’ve read reports online that it is now out of print.
It’s a bit pricey, but well worth the money – even if it
doesn’t have the original artwork.
Well my friends, that’s it for this edition of “Chip’s Tips.” I wish everyone a Happy Spring and remind you to keep the spirit of Christmas all year through.
Lawrence F. “Chip” Arcuri
Thanks to all who have contacted me (via email
and on the message board) with information about where I can pick up
the Raymond Lefevre vinyl LP, but I’ve had this album in my collection
for over 30 years now.
Thanks again everyone!