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Sunday, December 22, 2013

The WPIX-TV Yule Log

Ahhh......Christmas in New York.

Since 1966 (save 1990-2000), the WPIX-TV Yule Log has been gracing NYC TV screens every Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Continuously and commercial free. Turning RCA console TVs to 60 inch flat screen into instant cozy fireplaces for New Yorkers everywhere.

Why? Well, New York City doesn't have many fireplaces. People mostly live in apartments. So the producers at WPIX-TV thought this would be a nice way to give the illusion of being around a big fireplace without all the fire safety issues of living in a typical New York City apartment building.

It was originally filmed in Gracie Mansion, the home of the mayor of New York. It was originally a 17 second video loop that on repeat, you can see the edit point (the flames suddenly flickered awkwardly.) However the producers removed a fire grate so that the fire could be seen better and a stray spark damaged a nearby antique rug valued at $4,000.
When this loop wore out in 1970, the producers went back to the station film archive to find the master reel. And they couldn't find it! They requested a retake at Gracie Mansion. But the producers were denied. After the rug incident, the mayor's office wanted no more filming of the fireplace at Gracie Mansion.
So the producers searched until they found a similar fireplace - in California!

The 1970 shot was over six minutes in length (and no rugs were destroyed during this filming.)
In the 1980s, commercial VHS video tapes were made of fireplaces similar to the WPIX Yule Log - a testament to the program's influence well beyond the New York City area. 

This program also featured a stereo simulcast of the music on WPIX-FM until 1986.
However in 1989, it was announced The Yule Log would no longer be broadcast on WPIX-TV. Being commercial free, it wasn't making money and the new station manager wasn't having any of that. And for 10 heartless years, New York City TV viewers pleaded with WPIX management to no avail. The Yule Log wasn't seen on WPIX.
In 2000, a web site was created to petition WPIX to bring back The Yule Log. But it was December 2001 (after the 9/11 attacks) when WPIX gave in and The Yule Log returned. Where it's still the most watched program in New York City on Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. I bought a DVD version in the $1.00 bins at Target a fews year ago - just because I could. Have never opened it though.


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