KIKI: Wow, now can you tell us a little more specifically what these books are about, what information a reader can expect from them? Because I know from reading The Christmas TV Companion, that if you start now with a notebook and pen in hand, you may just by December have your TV viewing agenda completed. I am big on watching holiday TV, but I never imagined that there was this much!
Christmas on TV is the best and the worst that TV has to offer. TV’s highest quality productions have included the very first Hallmark Hall of Fame production--the first opera specifically written for television, “Amahl and the Night Visitors” as well as the highly acclaimed “Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory.” However Christmas on TV also means the all too common superficial sitcom adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol.’ It can also be the worst, derivative conspicuous commercialism disguised as children’s entertainment. Yet we all watch our favorite holiday programs every year, it has become a common language for everyone and I’m endlessly fascinated by the diversity of what’s been created.
KIKI: Obvious next question is how did you find all this programming?
KIKI: Where can we find you on the web?
JOANNA: Like most people, my favorites are the ones I watched when I was a kid and continue to enjoy as an adult. My favorite specials are ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special.’ My favorite episodes are ‘The Voice of Christmas’ from The Brady Bunch, ‘A Vision of Sugar Plums’ from Bewitched, and the Dick Van Dyke Show’s holiday episode ‘The Alan Brady Show Presents.’ My favorite movies are ‘The House Without a Christmas Tree,’ ‘The Homecoming: Walton’s Christmas,’ and ‘A Christmas Story.’ I also love some of the non-traditional more bizarre programs that I covered in The Christmas TV Companion such as ‘Hey, Hey It’s Knishmas’ from Chowder, ‘Rebel With a Claus’ from Squidbillies and the made-for-TV movie based on the Terry Pratchett sci-fi/fantasy book ‘Hogfather.’ Just for you, Kiki, my favorite horror episode is ‘And All through the House’ a Christmas-themed episode of the TV series ‘Tales from the Crypt.’ My favorite horror movie is the original 1974 ‘Black Christmas’ directed by Bob Clark, the same director that made ‘A Christmas Story.’
"Director Bob Clark did more to permanently associate his name with Christmas films than create the now-classic 'A Christmas Story.' He also blazed a trail with his brilliantly made 1974 cult slasher flick, 'Black Christmas.' The story takes place in a sorority house at Christmas time as female residents begin to disappear and obscene phone calls are received by the remaining house mates who are unaware that the deadly danger is lurking in the house with them.
The thrill in watching 'Black Christmas' today is in the rarely imitated, open ended conclusion of the story. The film ends before the killer is caught! This terrifying lack of completion also means viewers are left to speculate just who is the serial killer and why he does what he does--making the imagined far more scary than the usual tying up of loose story ends with a complete explanation provided in most other horror films. There is speculation amongst this film's fans concerning its legacy and the extent of influence this film has had on the slasher genre. Many claim it as the inspiration for 1978's better remembered 'Halloween' and its tremendous success.
The influence of 'Black Christmas' was strong enough to inspire a 2006 remake. This updated and bloodier version of the story removes the mystery behind the supposed killer, the no longer unseen, Billy. Here, the character of the criminally insane Billy is expanded and explained, and he’s not working alone! There’s also an update on the story line with the obscene phone calls. In this remake, cell phones reveal the origin of the calls and ring tones sound off the location of the caller within the house. Whimsically, it recasts actress, Andrea Martin, also from the original film, now playing the more age-appropriate house mother instead of a sorority sister."
KIKI: A lot of special things have happened to you since The Christmas TV Companion came out. Can you give us a few highlights, like your favorite review you got for the book?
JOANNA: One exciting thing that has happened was that I participated in a TV special, talking about the history of Christmas on TV for the History Channel. This documentary about the culture of Christmas is scheduled to air this holiday season in 2010. I’m also very proud of receiving a glowing testimonial from Barry Williams, the actor who played Greg Brady on ‘The Brady Bunch’ TV series.
Information for Sales…
My book The Christmas TV Companion can be purchased through the publisher’s website: http://1701Press.com as well as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble online, and Oldies.com. The encyclopedia, Tis the Season TV, will be available for purchase from the same sources upon its release in November 2010.