Traditional Christmas programming now available in HD
The Yule duel is heating up again.Two separate versions of “The Yule Log” will beckon families as they open their gifts: The traditional log, burning brightly since filmed by New York’s WPIX in 1970, and another that will air uninterrupted for 24 hours on INHD. For many years a peculiarly New York tradition — the concept resonated with Gothamites sentimental for the notion of home and hearth while living in apartments without fireplaces — both Yule logs now will glow in most of the country. The log has burned for so long, at least in New York, that many anticipate its return as they do eggnog. Fred Thrower, then general manager of WPIX, lit the log in 1966. He was looking to do something different as a holiday gift for viewers. But the original film lasted only four years before it wore down and a new one had to be made in Palo Alto, Calif. That seven-minute film loop is still in use today. “The Yule Log” was gradually cut down to two hours and moved to Christmas morning (Christmas Eve commercial time was too valuable) before being canceled in 1989. When WPIX decided to revive the tradition for a wounded Gotham in 2001, “The Yule Log” film was tracked down in the station’s New Jersey archive, where it was misfiled in a film can for a “Honeymooners” episode titled “A Dog’s Life.” “The Yule Log” does very well in the ratings, and WPIX decided to restore the show to its original three-hour version for this year’s 40th anni. An accompanying one-hour special on its origins, “The WPIX Yule Log: A Log’s Life,” is a winking reference to the film can where it was found again. The soundtrack — filled with mid-1960s easy listening artists — was painstakingly re-recorded by Chip Arcuri, a holiday music collector. The WPIX “Yule Log” will air on 10 other stations also owned by Tribune Broadcasting and on the WGN Superstation. Reflecting the tech boom among modern auds, the original “Yule Log” now is available as a podcast. And since 2003, a competing high-definition version has been served up by INHD, a network that caters to some 24 million homes with high-def TVs. Jason Patton, VP for business development on INHD, thought a new version of “The Yule Log” would be a great way to let HDTV owners show off their image quality to friends and family at the holidays. INHD’s version was filmed by Ron Roy, the man behind those computer screensavers that look like tropical fish tanks. The INHD “Yule Log” will air for 24 hours starting at 7 a.m. ET on Christmas.