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Charlie Brown/Peanuts Specials - Press Release: Peanuts Producer Lee Mendelson Talks to TV Time Machine about Warner's DVD Releases

Jim Benson talks to Mendelson about the making of the classic specials, esp. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Posted by David Lambert
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Remastered Deluxe Edition box art

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A Charlie Brown Christmas Interview
With Producer Lee Mendelson

The producer of the Peanuts animated specials talks about
the classic holiday show and its release on DVD

On the Internet radio show
TV Time Machine

December 22, 2008 - Lee Mendelson, producer of A Charlie Brown Christmas, talks about his classic holiday special and his participation in Warner Home Video's Peanuts Holiday Collection DVD set, in a special Christmas edition of the Internet radio show TV Time Machine, hosted by TV historian Jim Benson.

In this one-hour interview, Lee Mendelson reveals the fascinating story behind this beloved 1965 animated holiday special including the genesis of A Charlie Brown Christmas; casting the children to play the Peanuts gang, and legendary creator Charles Schultz. Mr. Mendelson also discusses participating in the Peanuts Holiday Collection DVD set, which includes A Charlie Brown Christmas.

"Warner Brothers has recently digitally remastered the holiday shows and released them as a boxed set," says Mendelson. "The Charlie Brown shows and the sales of the DVD's continue on and on. It's amazing to me how long and enduring this has been. We were lucky that we were producing TV specials in the 60's and 70's, where we got a huge audience. Those audiences are now parents and grandparents and they've stuck with us throughout the years. It's been a wonderful and joyful ride for all of us."

Along with his late partner, director and animator Bill Melendez, Lee Mendelson and company have produced scores of Charlie Brown TV specials since 1965, including It's a Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown's All Stars, It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown, Be My Valentine Charlie Brown, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, and It's Flashbeagle Charlie Brown, among many others.

On TV Time Machine, Lee Mendelson also talks about hiring noted jazz musician Vince Guaraldi to compose the now-classic score for A Charlie Brown Christmas that also includes the legendary musical piece Linus and Lucy, which has become the signature tune for all of the Peanuts TV specials.

"Vince's jazz music was the type of music I was looking for," says Mendelson. "It had both an adult and children's quality to it. After I hired him, Vince called me one day and said he wanted to play a song for me to see if he was on the right track. When he played Linus and Lucy for me for the first time, I got goose pimples all over. Not only was it perfect, but I had the feeling that it was going to have a long-range impact. It was a very exciting moment."

In addition to producing and occasionally directing and writing the Charlie Brown TV specials, Lee Mendelson has also produced The Story of Babar the Little Elephant, Eight is Enough, Here Comes Garfield, The Romance of Betty Boop, Wrinkles: In Need of Cuddles, Cathy, and the feature films A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home. Mr. Mendelson's production company, Lee Mendelson Film Productions, Inc. has produced over 100 prime time specials since 1963, and has been the recipient of several Emmy and Peabody Awards over the past forty-five years.

TV Time Machine is a unique Internet radio show that explores classic TV and its influence over the past five decades. Far beyond nostalgia, TV Time Machine spotlights TV's impact on our culture and society, and explores how present-day television and its movers and shakers have been -and are still - influenced by the stories, programs, and characters of television's past.

TV Time Machine host Jim Benson has interviewed a multitude of legendary TV celebrities, authors and experts of all stripes on his radio program, covering shows ranging from Mr. Ed to Meet the Press and topics such as Technology on TV and TV's Turning Points. A TV historian for over twenty-five years, Mr. Benson has contributed to dozens of TV productions- including a recent appearance on Penn & Teller's Bullshit!, and is a Historical Consultant on Universal Studios' DVD release of Rod Serling's Night Gallery: Season Two. He is the co-author, with Scott Skelton, of the book Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour, published by Syracuse University Press.

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