August 30, 2006 11:01 PM by Joe Blackmon
Howie Mandel is set to narrate the USA Network holiday movie "The Great American Christmas," it was announced today by Jeff Wachtel, USA’s executive vice president, original programming. "The Great American Christmas" is a groundbreaking unscripted movie from executive producers Gary Auerbach and Julie Auerbach, the creative minds behind MTV’s breakout series "Laguna Beach." The special will premiere on Tuesday, November 28.
A break-through collaboration from USA’s Alternative and Longform teams, "The Great American Christmas" will examine our nation’s biggest holiday through the eyes of six extraordinary families, each hand-picked for their distinctive and interesting take on celebrating Christmas. Executive produced by Gary and Julie Auerbach, "The Great American Christmas" will showcase the same incredibly rich look, style, music, casting and storytelling that the Auerbachs have famously achieved on their inventive MTV hit series "Laguna Beach."
"Howie Mandel was our first choice," explained Wachtel. "We knew that whoever would narrate this film would need to be both comedic and warm – someone who people of all ages and backgrounds would feel good about."
Scripted holiday movies are a longstanding television tradition but no script can capture the magic, the anxiety and the expectations of the real thing. "The Great American Christmas" will follow the lives of six very different families. Together, these families paint a truly unforgettable, often funny and moving holiday portrait to which all viewers can relate in one way or another. The storyline for each family is unique and connected to each other only by their overall expectations of the holiday. While the participating families hail from various parts of the country and are of diverse backgrounds, the project will illustrate that everyone shares the same hopes, dreams and fears that come at holiday time. The featured families, including the Schullers of Orange County’s Crystal Cathedral, were filmed on location in 2005 celebrating the holidays in various cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Park City, UT.
Howie Mandel’s career has encompassed virtually all aspects of the entertainment spectrum, including television, film and stage. He spent six seasons on the Emmy-Award winning "St. Elsewhere," and produced eight seasons of the Emmy nominated "Bobby’s World," which he also created and wrote, as well as provided the voice of Bobby, Bobby’s dad and other characters. Mandel has done countless specials on both cable and network television. He has also hosted his own syndicated talk show, "The Howie Mandel Show," and continues to perform as many as 200 concerts a years throughout the U.S. and Canada. Mandel will return this fall as host of the NBC hit, "Deal or No Deal."
"The Great American Christmas" is produced by NBC Universal Television Studio and Go Go Luckey Productions with Gary Auerbach serving as executive producer and Julie Auerbach as co-executive producer. The project was developed by Optomen Productions.