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TV Yule Log

December 25, 2011 by staff 

TV Yule Log, If history repeats itself, one of the most popular programs on television Christmas Day will be a looped, seven-minute piece of film that’s more than 40 years old. In some cities, it’s consistently in the top three programs on Christmas morning, and yet it has no plot, no actors and it never seems to end.

It’s the WPIX yule log – a New York City tradition that now airs across the country. In the 45 years since its first broadcast, it has become a cult classic even though it’s never been released on DVD. It’s also helped spawn a quirky genre of film that’s finding new popularity on high-definition televisions.

When yule log first aired in 1966, it was a huge hit with New Yorkers – many of whom didn’t have a fireplace. Lawrence “Chip” Arcuri vividly remembers the first time he saw it. It was 1972 and his family had just moved to New Jersey. They found the program on television by accident.

“We have the fireplace on one side of the family room blazing away in full color and vigor and then on the other side of the family room, the TV would be blazing away with the yule log,” Arcuri says. “And we probably watched the TV more than the real fireplace.”

Arcuri was enchanted by the music and looped video. Since then, he’s become one of the yule log’s biggest supporters. He started a fan website for it and even helped create a new hour of the program in 2006.

He says the yule log broadcast has always signaled a moment of peaceful reflection for him at the height of the busy holiday season.

“Everything stopped. You knew that when the yule log was on, it was time to relax, put the gifts down, stop wrapping, stop the baking, stop whatever you were into and and just enjoy the solemnity of the moment,” he says.

The WPIX yule log has consistently been a ratings hit, but it probably won’t ever be released on DVD. Arcuri says that’s due to the cost of licensing the iconic Christmas music used in its soundtrack.

But even though the original log isn’t on DVD, today there are dozens of generic fireplace movies on the market. Most are created by small production companies.

George Ford, the producer of Fireplace for Your Home, says filming a fireplace was a lot harder than it sounds.

“I thought, you know, I would put a fire together like I did in Boy Scouts and create this ultimate fire,” Ford says. “Well, when I set up the camera equipment and lighting, the first fire just didn’t burn right.”

He spent more than a year trying to perfect it and made more than 30 fires. Each time he changed an element – like the lighting, log set-up or type of wood.

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