We Love TV!
This is just an unofficial fan page, we have no connection
to any shows or networks.
Please click here to vote for our site!
Interview with Marc Platt, Executive
Producer of "A Christmas Story LIVE"
on FOX 12/13/17
Final Transcript FBC PUBLICITY: Conference Call with Marc
Platt of A Christmas Story Live
December 13, 2017/10:45
SPEAKERS Michael Roach Ė FBC Publicity
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen,
thank you for standing by and welcome to the Conference Call
with Marc Platt of A Christmas Story Live. At this time, all
participants are in a listen-only mode, and shortly we will
conduct a question and answer session. Instructions will be
given at that time. [Operator instructions]. As a reminder,
todayís conference is being recorded.
I would now
like to turn the conference over to Mr. Michael Roach.
Please go ahead.
Michael Thanks, everyone, for joining us
today on this call with Marc Platt, Executive Producer of A
Christmas Story Live, which will air this Sunday, December
17th at 7:00 p.m./6:00 p.m. Central on Fox. A Christmas
Story Live stars Maya Rudolph, Matthew Broderick, Jane
Krakowski, Chris Diamantopoulos, and it guest stars David
Alan Grier, Ken Jeong and newcomer, Andy Walken, and pretty
much we have a great cast.
I just wanted to get this
started, so thanks, Keeley, weíre ready to begin the call.
Moderator Thank you. [Operator instructions]. Our
first question will come from the line of Caryn Robbins with
BroadwayWorld. Please go ahead.
Caryn Hi. How are
Marc Good. How are you doing?
good. Thanks. Iím so looking forward to the broadcast on
Sunday. I was wondering if you could give us any details on
the new Pasek & Paul songs that were written for the show as
far as how and when theyíll fit into the storylines.
Well, some of it we want to save as a surprise, but Pasek &
Paul have written some beautiful and exciting new music for
our telecast. Some of the songs from the original Broadway
version have been revised or actually completely rewritten.
When a writer gets a second chance to look back on
something, itís a great opportunity to say, this was really
good, but we could even do it better.
There are a
couple of those. For example, thereís a song in the original
Broadway version called ďSticky SituationĒ which still
exists in our telecast, but itís been completely redone as a
new song. Although the first one was good, this is more
exciting, it fits into the narrative and itís a bigger, more
robust number, as an example.
The other thing that
this telling of A Christmas Story has enabled us to do in a
very exciting way is to elaborate upon the beloved film in a
couple of different ways. Iím going to give you just one
example, I donít want to reveal too much because I do want
to sort of save it for fun, but in the film, there is a
character of Schwartz, who is little Ralphie Parkerís best
friend, and if you know the film when Ralphie ends up saying
a very bad word his mom says where did you hear that from?
And, he blames it on his friend, Schwartz.
done is weíve createdóand in the movie the mom then calls
Schwartzís mother and you just hear her screaming on the
phone when sheís been informed that her son was the one who
taught Ralphie the bad word. In our storytelling, because we
have the time to elaborate and to do it, weíve actually
created the character of Schwartzís mother, Mrs. Schwartz,
so Ralphie gets to go to the Schwartz house and apologize to
his best friend Schwartz for blaming him, and in so doing he
gets to meet Schwartzís mom and a new musical number ensues.
He goes to Mrs. Schwartz and she says, ďWhy do you look
so glum?Ē And he tells her what heís been seeking for
Christmas, which is sort of the essence of A Christmas
Story, the one present, the one toy that the kid wants, and
she sings a new song in there thatís been created just for
the telecast. So, thatís an example of a new song.
Caryn Awesome. Can I ask a follow up question, or would you
prefer I come around again?
Marc No, Iím good. Iím
sure there are other questions, but go ahead and ask a quick
follow up. Sure.
Caryn I was just wondering, when
adapting a musical from stage to television, what are some
of the biggest roadblocks youíve found in making sure it
works on the smaller screen?
Marc Well, what weíve
done here is we have a film, first and foremost, thatís
beloved by people everywhere. Itís become such a classic.
Many people can quote you scenes and lines like ďDonít shoot
your eye out,Ē or they can remember the tongue sticking to
the flagpole. And so we start with the film and we lean very
much into the film.
Then you have this wonderful
musical written by Pasek & Paul that was an adaptation of
the film, and what a televised event, a live event allows us
to do is to create a new genre, if you will. We take
elements of the film, which we mean cinematic elements, we
take elements of the stage production, which is the live
theater and we combine them together.
going to see is something that very much resembles certainly
a live film. Itís going to feel very cinematic, the
environment is very immersive. Youíre going to feel like
youíre in that town in Indiana and in that home of Parker,
but it will also be live and youíll be very well aware of
I think the challenges of adapting something so
beloved is to first make sure that you are respectful of the
original material and that youíre delivering for an audience
all the elements that people who loved the film need to see
to be satisfied, and the same would stand with the musical.
You want all those great musical moments and that beautiful
score to land, but you also want to deliver an experience
that is unique, that no one has ever experienced before by
this new genre of a live television version.
that fans of the film will be very satisfied and then some.
Fans of the musical will be satisfied and then some. For
those in the audience who donít know the film or the
musical, theyíre going to be delighted with a very charming,
nostalgic, funny and warm and witty entertainment.
Caryn Great. Thank you so much.
Marc You bet.
Moderator Thank you. Next, weíll go to the line of Mark
Dawidziak with Cleveland Plain Dealer. Please go ahead.
Mark Hi, Marc. Greetings from the home of the Christmas
Marc Indeed. Iím well aware of that. I
gather thereís a block party going on the night of the
Mark Yes. We kind of claim the film as our
own because of how muchóI know itís set in Indiana but so
much of it was filmed here.
And with that, you
referenced how well-known the film is. In fact, it already
is a television tradition because thereís a 24-hour
With that kind of recognition, where you can
literally see peopleís mouths moving with the film
sometimes, is that an advantage or a disadvantage for you,
or both when youíre trying to do this new kind of
incarnation, which is recalling the film but yet trying to
be something very much on its own?
Marc Itís a
challenge is what it is. Itís a challenge, as I alluded to
earlier. Itís a challenge because our entertainment wants to
satisfy all the expectations of all those millions of people
who love the film, and I think those expectations will be
satisfied. The Parkerís are there, the Parker home is there,
all the iconic moments are delivered in a very respectful
way. There are actually certain shots that are from the
film, literally specific shots that will be recreated live,
so that if youíre familiar with the film you will recognize
moments, where, my gosh, thatís right out of the film.
All the elements that delight audiences, that they
embrace from the film, that make them nostalgic, that make
them enjoy the film as a family are all present in A
Christmas Story Live. But it will also have an elaboration
to it. First, thereís the music and the music both embraces
the humor of the piece, the warmth of the piece, but it
really underscores all the elements that people love about
the film, which is the family, the tradition of Christmas,
the things that go wrong on your Christmas Day, that you
plan for but they just donít go quite right. All of those
elements are elaborated upon. Then weíre able also to go
into a couple of different storylines in a little bit more
depth that I think the audience will feel delighted.
So, I look at it as a challenge and I think the test of
it is its success will be, as I said earlier, how satisfied
audiences are, and I really believe that if you love the
movie youíre going to love A Christmas Story Live. If you
love the musical, youíre going to love it.
youíre not familiar with it, youíre going to be introduced
to the wonderful Parker family and that town in Indiana, and
itís an event that the entire family, like the film, can
watch together, enjoy together, laugh together and quite
frankly, cry a little bit together. Itís very moving and it
taps into the kind of nostalgia that feels, at this moment,
at this particular moment in time with all thatís going on
in the world, and itís such a complicated world that weíre
living in, it feels like A Christmas Story Live is the kind
of nostalgia that is comfort food for everyone.
will also say that whatís really interesting about a live
television event is that one recognizes the actual relevancy
and power of network television to provide an in-the-moment
collective experience thatís sort of unparalleled. So that
while you might watch A Christmas Story Live with your
family, the whole country will be watching, and whether
youíre aware of that on social media or whether just aware
that weíre all experiencing it in the same moment, thereís
something very exciting and very powerful about that.
Mark Itís a tall order for your actors too because
theyíre not only live, theyíre playing these roles which are
iconically emblazoned in peopleís minds, like Darren
McGavinís performance and such. So, talk a little bit about
your cast and how you set about that because thatís
obviously vital to this.
Marc Yes. We were very
fortunate to have attracted a brilliant cast, many of whom,
by the way, interestingly enough, have had tremendous
experience on film, on live television and on stage, which
is very, very unique to find so many actors who have all of
those different experiences. Thatís number one.
Number two is they all share, interestingly enough, a love
of the film as well. And I think that any adaptation when an
actor walks into a role that has heretofore been indelibly
imprinted on people from a past production or a past film, I
think that the trick of it is to inhabit the essence of
those original characters but then to make it very much your
own, your own interpretation.
What is it that Maya
Rudolph brings to the mom, that, like in the original film,
will make moms everywhere feel like I know that mom. Thatís
who I am. Thatís what I feel like. And Maya does it
What is it about Matthew Broderick as a
storyteller? In the musical version, for those of you who
donít know it, the voice of Jean Shepherd, the reminiscences
that he has as the grownup Ralphie, if you will, are told in
voice-over, and itís a very, very significant part of the
In the stage version, which also exists in A
Christmas Story Live, the storyteller becomes a character.
The grownup Ralphie is actually a storyteller who takes the
audience throughout the evening and tells us the story, much
like the stage manager does in Our Town. Matthew Broderick
is a great storyteller. He feels like he is Ralphie grownup
and when he looks into the camera and tells us with irony
and humor and warmth about his childhood and about all the
things that happened to him on that particular Christmas,
you canít help but be engaged, you canít help but relate to
As a sidebar, I find it interesting that the
last time Matthew Broderick looked into a camera and spoke
to the audience was a film called Ferris Bueller which was
actually made right around the exact same time that A
Christmas Story was. So, thereís a degree of familiarity to
it and comfort as well, and thatís just the tip of the
Jane Krakowski plays Miss Shields, the
teacher, and weíre able to make a bit more of her character
as well. Not only is she known for television, not only has
she performed in film, but sheís also a great actress of the
stage, an award-winning actress, so to have her perform
musical numbers and to bring the comedy of that teacher to
life is a gem and a real gift to everyone.
a wonderful discovery. Once you get past the fact that he
looks so much like Peter Billingsley, the original Ralphie,
he becomes his own Ralphie, with his wide blue eyes and his
beautiful singing voice, and heís a real kid. I think what
we tried to do in all the casting, which I think is one of
the secrets of A Christmas Story casting, is to make all of
our characters feel like real people, not like actors
playing people, but like real people; that Ralphie is like
the kid next door, or heís like all of us, and that Chris is
like the dad whoís always trying hard to do stuff and you
think isnít paying attention, but you know at the end of the
day really is paying attention and was all along.
think that audiences will not only appreciate the
magnificence of the performances, but theyíll feel that they
relate to these characters, which is one of the secrets of A
Christmas Story, itís a relatable story. They feel like our
Mark Thanks, Marc.
Marc You bet.
Moderator Thanks. Weíll go next to the line of Clint
OíConnor with the Akron Beacon. Please go ahead.
Clint Hi, Marc. How are you doing?
Marc Iím good. How
Clint Iím great. Iím great. Thanks for
taking some time. I was just wondering, a couple of great
questions have already been asked, but I was wondering with
your experience with Grease Live, I just wonder, what were
your biggest takeaways from that in preparing for this? Oh,
boy, this is the thing we need to definitely do. This is the
thing we need to definitely avoid. Any lessons from that
leading up to this production?
Marc Well, what I try
and do is think about what kind of storytelling, what kind
of grammar, is the word I use, to employ for each particular
story. Grease was very much about celebration and
exuberance. Itís a beloved film. Everybody knows every song,
so it was like letís put on a party with like everyone, so
there was a lot of deconstruction of the live musical. You
saw what was going on backstage, you were a participant in
the party, if you will, which suited Grease.
course I learned much from it, the complexity of the
logistics of putting on a live production are amazing, if
you think about it. We have 14 cameras at work, as we did on
Grease on A Christmas Story Live and the way that I shoot it
is like a film. It feels very cinematic. There are moments
where youíre going to feel like youíre in the film, youíre
going to almost forget that youíre live, so that means the
cameras are cutting the different points of view within
Now, think about it, how do you
do that live? There are 14 camera guys in different
positions. The choreography of how the cameramen move around
so that you donít see a camera guy pointing a camera when
youíre cutting around, is as intricate as the choreography
you see onscreen when thereís a dance number. So, learning
that was a big thing.
In A Christmas Story Live, the
lean in is a different story, so what weíre leaning into is
the nostalgia of the piece, of the warmth of the family, of
the humor, of the period. Youíre going to see many different
little surprises that will feel like youíre experiencing
Christmas of a bygone era but itís still a Christmas of
today. So, itís going to feel different. Itís still live and
thereís still great tricks of, oh my God, how did we do
that? How did that guy change into that costume in the two
seconds when I wasnít looking, or how did this environment
all of a sudden become a different environment, all the fun
that you can have with a camera with a live event that an
audience takes delight in.
But itís going to feel
different from Grease in a way that this is more of what I
call, as I said earlier, sort of a live film because the
film is so beloved. So, the camera is going to move in a
very cinematic way, in some ways even more so than Grease
Live, and the world is going to feel like a real world,
youíre going to feel very planted in a particular time and
place. But like the film, A Christmas Story, itís going to
feel very universal. As I said, youíre going to relate to
the moments that we all have around this holiday season, or
Clint Great. Thanks.
Marc You bet.
Moderator Thank you. Going forward, so we can get
through as many questions as possible, please limit yourself
to one question.
Our next question will come from
the line of Ruthie Fierberg of Playbill. Please go ahead.
Ruthie Hi, Marc. Thanks so much for being here.
Marc Of course.
Ruthie You were talking about Grease
Live and about this idea of it being more cinematic, but I
wanted to know, is the audienceóone of the things Alex did
for the first time with Grease Live was having this live
audience be a part of the broadcast. Is that going to happen
this time around?
Marc Yes. Itís going to happen.
What we tried to do on Grease was make the audience
characters in the scene, so you really felt and saw the
audience in a gym, because a gym would have people in the
bleachers. Similarly, there are opportunities here, which
youíll have to tune in and see, where the scene calls for
crowds of people and you will see a live audience there. So,
there will be that action.
And Iíll also say, because I
donít think itís been announced yet, I think itís [audio
disruption] and this was one of the first questions asked,
one of the new songs for the piece is a song called ďCount
on Christmas,Ē which is a very contemporary song. Itís how
the show opens and itís a song that will be performed by
Bebe Rexha, which I donít think has been announced yet. I
only reference that at this moment in time because from the
very get-go you will feel and see the live audience and
understand that this is happening in the moment, and that
the theme of A Christmas Story, the film, which is the theme
of A Christmas Story Live, is you that can count on
Christmas, that everybody has A Christmas Story. Thatís what
Everybody has that time in the holiday
season where you remember that toy that you wanted more than
anything, the Christmas dinner that didnít go quite right,
the gift you got that you didnít want, the love of a family,
the dynamics of a family that sometimes go up and sometimes
go down, but always seem, particularly at the holiday time,
to come together in a way that reminds you of warmth and
love and growing up and childhood.
All of that will be
present as well, but the live audience, as in Grease, will
be a character in our piece.
Ruthie Fantastic. Can
you just repeat the name of that opening number that Bebe is
Marc ďCount on Christmas.Ē
Great. Thank you so much, Marc.
Marc You bet.
Moderator Weíll go next to the line of Melanie Votaw of Reel
Life with Jane. Please go ahead.
Melanie Hi, Marc.
Excuse me, Iím losing my voice here. Greetings from a very
cold New York.
Marc Greetings and stay warm.
Melanie I wanted to ask you, you have quite a relationship
with Pasek & Paul. Can you talk about that relationship and
what you think it is about their music that is hitting the
zeitgeist so much these days?
Marc Well, I first
think theyíre very talented songwriters in addition to being
themselves good fellows. Itís a long story, which is
probably not for this conversation, how I sort of became
part of their lives, but years ago, one of my kids would
listen to some of their music that they wrote in college,
and thatís how I was first introduced to their music and I
thought there was a real voice to it.
turns out that that same kid went on to star in a Broadway
show written by Pasek & Paul, and my professional journey
with them is hanging around to where Iíve worked closely
with them in La Land. I helped them and guided them a bit on
their show Dear Evan Hansen. A Christmas Story was something
that when I heard the score, I thought well this is really
special and the movie is beloved and wouldnít this make a
wonderful event for everybody at Christmastime. It felt to
me like just what was the kind of entertainment, at this
moment in time, that would really be particularly needed.
And so as is our relationship, I sat down with them and said
I would like you to dig in and even do better and write some
new music, and we worked on that.
Itís a wonderful
collaboration and itís one that weíll continue in the
future. We have many more exciting things lined up together.
They have an understanding of how music and narrative
interact. They have a sense of how to write from character
as much as just writing good music, and all of that for
storytelling, myself, itís kind of a perfect marriage in
that part. Music has always been a character in much of my
work, even when Iím not producing a musical film like La La
Land or a new stage musical like Wicked or a television
musical like A Christmas Story.
If you look at a lot
of my work, music is always a big character in them, so itís
a natural and easy collaboration. Itís one that has had some
great success and one that I look forward to continuing for
years to come.
Melanie Alright. Thank you so much.
Marc You bet.
Moderator Thank you. Weíll go next
to the line of Art Shrian with myNew Yorkeye. Please go
Art Thank you. Hi, Marc. How are you doing?
Marc Good. How are you?
Art Great. Thank you for
taking the time. I just wanted to share that growing up in
India as a non-Christian, we always loved Christmas and A
Christmas Story, so Iím so excited for this to be coming
As a storyteller, I know you talked a little
bit about it, but if you could talk a little bit more about
that, why do you think that A Christmas Story as a film and
as a productionómany Christmas films have such a wide reach
beyond boundaries worldwide and to everybody, and why these
stories connect with people and how that was important for
you as a storyteller to make sure that that essence remains
and it speaks to everyone.
Marc Well, itís somewhat
what I said, I donít celebrate Christmas either, by the way,
but I celebrate the holiday season because itís a time of
connectivity and connection and family and tradition,
whatever your traditions are, it yields that feeling and
that warmth and I think all people yearn for that. What
makes A Christmas Story universal, whether you celebrate
Christmas or not, is that feeling of I recognize that
family. I recognize when the brothers donít get along but
they really love each other, or when mom and dad have a
fight and then they make up. Or when disaster strikes, and
the dinner is ruined they find a way as a family to get
through it. The one thing that I wanted the most and I get,
and I always thought my dad wasnít listening, but he was. I
think those are very universal, relatable ideas that are
found in the movie that are centered around Christmas, which
is why I think itís so beloved.
The other thing about
A Christmas Story that distinguishes it from all the other
beloved Christmas films is that itís not sentimental. Most
Christmas films are wonderful, by the way, and I love so
many of them, theyíre very sentimental and they wear that
sentiment on their sleeve. If you think of Itís a Wonderful
Life, which is just a magnificent film, it was very
A Christmas Story sort of undercuts that
and was the unsentimental Christmas Story. There is
tremendous sentiment underneath it because ultimately it is
about a family connecting, a family being glued together
through the holiday season, parents who love their children,
and a grownup remembering what it was like to be loved by
his family and his parents.
But itís not done in a
sentimental way, the film, and thatís what sort of made it
so original, and itís funny, itís subversive. Just when you
think itís the perfect holiday dinner, the dogs eat the
turkey and you have to go out for Chinese food. It sort of
undercuts and takes a left turn away from every Christmas
movie, but the feeling is honestly exactly the same.
And what the musical did so brilliantly is it brought out
the sentiment that was in the subtext and it put it in the
music, and if you donít know the musical, thatís what youíll
experience in the telecast. You will laugh, youíll see where
itís funny, youíll see where it goes a left turn from every
other Christmas movie, but at the end of the day youíre
going to feel a warmth, and youíre going to feel a nostalgia
and youíre going to feel comfort and a lot of that does come
from the music.
Art Thank you. I also want to
congratulate you on the wonderful casting and the diversity
of cast as well with Maya and Ken and David, which people
may not expect, but theyíre amazing performers and theyíre
also part of this diverse cast. So, congratulations, Iím
Marc Well, thank you for that and of
course they are. Like I said, A Christmas Story is a
universal story, and although it takes place in a particular
period, in the 1940s, itís a story and a family that feels
like itís a family from today. So, we wanted to make sure
that our world and our Christmas Story reflected the world
that we live in.
Art Thank you.
Marc You bet.
Moderator Thank you. Weíll go next to the line of
Suzanne Lanoue of the TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.
Suzanne Hi. Thanks for talking with us today.
Suzanne I know you talked about casting a
little bit, was there any problem trying to find someone in
Andyís age group that would be believable and look the part
and could sing and dance and all those kinds of things?
Marc Well, I donít know if it was a problem, I would say
it was a challenge and you sort of close your eyes and you
hope. And we cast a very wide net, we had kids who we had
auditions and many kids who are actors or who had agents who
came in through the auditions, and then we also had an open
call, which you can follow online because I think Fox put it
out there, and if not you can get a hold of the Fox folks
and they can send you all the press releases and all the
hundreds of people who submitted themselves on tape over
We pored through every tape and we pored
through every audition and every kid that came in, and
whatís interesting to note is that Andy was one of the first
group of kids that came in as an audition, and he grabbed us
almost instantly. And so it was a wide search, it was a long
search, but we went with one of our first discoveries, and
I guess the movie or the TV gods were
with us so that we were able to find a kid who not only
feels like Ralphie and is recognizable as Ralphie because
from [audio disruption] that character, and like I said,
most importantly he feels like a real kid, he doesnít feel
like an actor kid. He is a real kid, heís just a kid, and
thatís what Ralphie is. And thatís why Peter Billingsleyís
performance as a kid was so fantastic, because it felt like
the kid you knew next door, and Andy embodies that
Suzanne Alight. Thanks. Weíre looking
forward to it.
Marc Thank you so much.
Moderator Thank you. At this time there are no further
questions in queue.
Michael Great. Thank you so much
for joining us today on this call. As a reminder A Christmas
Story Live will air this Sunday, December 17th at 7:00
p.m./6:00 p.m. Central on Fox.
Marc, thank you so
much for taking time out of your busy schedule today for
Marc My pleasure. Thank you, everybody. I
appreciate all the questions. Thank you so much.
Moderator Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, that does
conclude your conference for today. Thank you for your
participation and for using AT&T Executive TeleConference.
You may now disconnect.
Back to the Main Articles
Back to the Main Primetime TV Page
We need more episode guide recap writers, article
writers, MS FrontPage and Web Expression users, graphics designers, and more, so
please email us
if you can help out! More volunteers always
Page updated 2/22/18