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I'm Dreaming of a Faux Christmas
by Christopher Stone

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Southern California Santas suit up.

Southern California Santas suit up.
I'm dreaming of a White Christmas; in reality, it will be green.

Here, along the Southern California coast, a traditional White Christmas is always a dream, not a reality. However, nobody does a faux, or fake, Christmas better than Hollywood. Just for openers, think MIRACE ON 34TH STREET, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Or, how about MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, THE POLAR BEAR EXPRESS and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS? The list of movies reflecting a traditional White Christmas is endless, but let's start at the very beginning.

Most motion picture historians agree that the first ever Christmas flick was literally a silent flicker: The Edison Company's 1906 short, THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, based upon the poem of the same name.

Since that long ago film, one hundred and four Christmases ago, Hollywood has produced hundreds of Christmas-themed films that re-created a traditional snow-covered holiday.

"White Christmas" has been around as a household term at least since 1942. In that year, on May 29, Bing Crosby first recorded the now classic Irving Berlin composition, joined by the Kim Darby Singers, and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, for his movie, HOLIDAY INN. Legend has it that the song was committed to vinyl in a scant 18 minutes. It went on to win the Best Song Oscar for 1942, and, to this day, it
Paramount created a faux WHITE CHRISTMAS at its Hollywood studio on Melrose

Paramount created a faux WHITE CHRISTMAS at its Hollywood studio on Melrose
remains the best-selling holiday ditty of all time.

There are many stories about how Irving Berlin supposedly came to write his winter classic. Two tales are most popular. In the first, and most commonly accepted account, in 1939, the Dean of American songwriters was working on a film score in Beverly Hills, at Christmas-time - separated from the wife and kiddies in New York. Watching the orange and palm trees sway in the warm So. Cal breeze; he fantasized about being up north with his family. In the second most popular account, the legendary composer wrote most of "White Christmas" around the pool at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel and Spa, in Phoenix. Take your pick: one, or neither, of these popular accounts may be true.

Little matter. In addition to being used in HOLIDAY INN, "White Christmas" spawned a 1954 movie of the same name, not surprisingly starring Bing Crosby.

I'm staying put in So. Cal this holiday season, and so my traditional Christmas will again be of the faux kind. Here are a few real flicks I may see to insure that my holidays are merry and bright. Regrettably, none of this season's titles depict a Christmas that's even faux White.

HARRY POTTER & THE DEADLY HALLOWS: PART 1 (November 19): Yes, this most successful franchise of all-time, kicked off the Holiday movie season the Friday before
BURLESQUE: Is star-making what becomes a legend most?

BURLESQUE: Is star-making what becomes a legend most?

Newsweek dubbed DEADLY HALLOWS "Deadly Boring." Time magazine complained that this first finale film "gets lost in the woods. The reviewer went on to claim that Match-Flickers gravest challenge with DEADLY HALLOWS "is sitting through it." I'm not about to forsake POTTER at this stage of the game. I've watched Harry, his pals and his nemeses, grow from tots to teens, to young adults, and I can't resist the finale movies just because Newsweak decides "the film itself looks as if it were filmed under a storm cloud. Harry scowls nonstop. Hermione and Ron must have food stuck in their teeth because they don't crack a smile either.... In 146 minutes, not much happens. The most disturbing revelation is the film's title: PART 1. You mean there's more?"

BURLESQUE (November 24): The billboards in and around Hollywood proclaim, "It takes a legend to make a star!" In the case of BURLESQUE, the legend is Cher and the want to-be star is Christina Aguilera. Simply put, I can't miss Cher's first major motion picture diva turn in more than a decade. Described as CABARET with fewer Nazis and more glitter, BURLESQUE may not be the Oscar contender that the Nazi-filled, glitter devoid CABARET was, but then I never could resist "a star is born" scenario with a legendary lady. Whether or not BURLESQUE launches Aguilera
The Wizard of Hogwarts may have wrapped up the holiday box-office race.

The Wizard of Hogwarts may have wrapped up the holiday box-office race.
to film stardom remains to be seen.

SOMEWHERE (December 22): I'd better not look for a White Christmas here, faux or otherwise. This flick takes place at West Hollywood's legendary Chateau Marmont, on the even more legendary Sunset Strip. In SOMEWHERE, Stephen Dorff plays a hard-living actor who gets a big surprise when his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) moves in. Countless stars have lived it up at the Chateau, and at least one, comedy supernova John Belushi, died there. But that's not what peaks my interest.

I'm always there when a movie or television show uses this residence hotel as a location.

That's because, early in my career, I stayed at the Chateau Marmont for several weeks when the President of a Sunset Strip advertising & publicity company imported me from Honolulu to rejoin his company as an account executive.

HOLIDAY BOX-OFFICE WATCH: Match-Flickers, who among you is surprised by the magical $24 million that HARRY POTTER conjured up in 3700 locations for its midnight debut on Friday, November 19? Take that, Time and Newsweek. When Friday ended, POTTER had pocketed $61.2 million at the domestic box-office. By weekend's end, HARRY reigned supreme with $125 million in the coffers. Match-Flickers, the holiday season box-office race may have already been won on its first weekend by the Wizard of Hogwarts.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns

Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.

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