Christmas parade back in primetime

Associated TV Int'l steps in for Hollywood event

The production company that stepped in to save the Daytime Emmys is looking to do the same for the Hollywood Christmas Parade.

After last year’s annual event failed to be televised — the lowest point yet in the parade’s lengthy decline — Associated Television Intl. signed on to produce this year’s event and bring it back to primetime.

ATI plans to take footage from the Hollywood Christmas Parade, which took place on Nov. 29, combine it with performances from the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at L.A.’s Grove shopping center and turn it into a two-hour special.

“The Hollywood Christmas Parade” airs Thursday on MyNetworkTV and then again on Christmas Eve.

“I’ve been going to the parade as long as I can remember,” said ATI prexy David McKenzie. “Then one year, it just fell apart, and I was sad about that. There aren’t many things in this town to take your family to if you don’t have a lot of money. So we came in at the 11th hour.”

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce created the parade in 1928 (originally dubbing it the “Santa Claus Lane Parade” — immortalized by Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Santa Claus”). But after years of declining interest and lack of star power, the kitschy parade turned into a money loser, and the org ended its run after 2006.

The city of Los Angeles stepped in to take over the event in 2007, renaming it the “Hollywood Santa Parade,” but couldn’t secure a TV partner in 2008.

The Hollywood parade had traditionally been telecast locally by KTLA (and later, KCOP) and distributed nationally via syndication. NBC had aired the event as a primetime special in 2004 as the “Blockbuster Hollywood Christmas Spectacular,” but auds didn’t tune in.

ATI’s McKenzie said he saw opportunity in retooling the special, bringing back the “Hollywood Christmas Parade” name, for starters. It’s something McKenzie and ATI did earlier this year with the Daytime Emmys, which they stepped in to produce after the kudocast couldn’t find a home. (The Daytime Emmys eventually ran on the CW; ATI will continue to produce it next year, but there’s no word yet on where it may air.)

“This is a long-term commitment for me,” McKenzie said of the Hollywood parade. “I don’t want to see it go away. I’m pleased my daughter got to see a parade.”

But McKenzie also sees this year’s parade as an opportunity to promote ATI’s new syndicated property “World’s Funniest Moments,” which the company plans to distribute — via a partnership with MGM — to stations this fall.

“Moments,” which previously ran as a series of specials on MyNet, is hosted by Erik Estrada and Laura McKenzie, who also hosted this year’s “Hollywood Christmas Parade.”

The parade’s roving reporters, Kyle Massey (“That’s So Raven”) and Christopher Massey (“Zoey 101”), are also involved in the weekly “Moments.”

Susan Lucci served as the grand marshal for this year’s parade. Performances to be included from the Grove event include Five for Fighting, Jon Secada and Cirque du Soleil.

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