Q: Why didn’t Brad Paisley co-host the CMA Awards in November, as he usually does? – Nancy Greer, Canton, Ohio
A: The most apparent explanation was that the event was themed as a celebration of women, thus Carrie Underwood got Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton as co-hosts instead of her usual partner Paisley. As it turned out, he wasn’t even at the show, since he was vacationing with wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley … but there’s clearly no ill will between him and ABC, which gave him his own December showcase titled “Brad Paisley Thinks He’s Special” (and also gave it a recent primetime repeat).
Q: I enjoyed watching “White Christmas” on AMC again during the holidays, but please settle a debate for me and a friend. Is it or isn’t it a remake of “Holiday Inn”? – John Fahey, via e-mail
A: The best phrase to use is “partial remake,” since some of the same elements certainly are used in both films … far from the least of which is the Irving Berlin-composed song “White Christmas,” which Berlin himself proposed being the springboard for a separate motion picture. The central concepts of a show-business team and an inn with holiday-themed staged shows also are shared by the two movies, though “White Christmas” logically was focused on a yuletide production.
Considerable rewriting was done on that 1954 release to accommodate Danny Kaye, who actually was the third choice to be Bing Crosby’s partner in the picture. Initially, it was intended to reunite Crosby and Fred Astaire, who were paired in 1942’s “Holiday Inn” (as well as 1946’s “Blue Skies”) …but Astaire didn’t like the script and dropped out. Donald O’Connor was signed as his replacement but fell ill, resulting in the signing of Kaye, who made quite a deal for himself that included 10 percent of the movie’s gross profits. The picture was a smash hit, which made Kaye’s bank account very happy (and Crosby’s, since he shared half of the film’s profits with Berlin).
Q: I thought “The Moodys” was quite funny. Will there be more of it? – Dave Wills, Grand Junction, Colo.
A: Denis Leary said in our interview about the Fox limited-run holiday comedy that the actors also signed up for potential revisitings of the title family for other occasions … weddings, funerals, etc. As of this writing, the network hadn’t said anything about such sequels, plus that also would take schedules lining up.
Leary, Elizabeth Perkins and Jay Baruchel have particularly active workloads, and Leary mentioned that one of the big reasons he was able to do the first “Moodys” was that he had enough of a break to fit it in. The production pace was fairly frantic by his account, owing partially to the fact that the show was going to be on the air only about a month later.
Q: I’ve always wondered why the Kennedy Center Honors honorees don’t give acceptance speeches during the show. – Elizabeth Neal, via e-mail
A: That’s always been part of the structure of the CBS-televised show, that those receiving the medals have that part of the pressure taken off them by just sitting in the Presidential Box and getting to enjoy the tributes to them by other artists. Recent honoree Linda Ronstadt told us that was a big part of the ceremony’s appeal to her … but related events also are staged in Washington, D.C., throughout that weekend where recipients do get to speak if they so choose.
Q: Will there be as many new holiday movies next Christmas season as there were this last time? There were so many, it was hard to keep track of them all sometimes. – Joyce Smith, Rutherford, N.J.
A: We feel your seasonal pain, and the simple answer to your question is that you absolutely can count on it. Other networks took their cue from certain ones by seeing how popular the festival was with viewers, so not only did they get in on the action, they started earlier, ensuring new yuletide far through November as well as December. So, yes, you have a little less than 10 months to get ready to start that all over again.