×

A documentary about kids’ holiday letters to Santa that was originally created as a promotional effort for the United States Post Office is set to become a new miniseries aimed at inspiring consumers around holiday time.

Dear Santa” was released in 2020 and put a spotlight on “Operation Santa,” a USPS initiative that has people “adopt” letters sent by kids to Santa Claus and help to fulfill their wishes. The film, directed by Dana Nachman, examined various “Operation Santa” centers around the U.S. some in big cities and others in small towns. A new six-episode series will continue the work, showing different letters from kids and people who step up in unexpected ways to create a happy ending. The miniseries is directed by Nachman  and produced by her company, Sweet World Films, along with Chelsea Matter, Brendan Gaul and Brett Henenberg, and Christopher Karpenko.

The original documentary had a brief release in theaters due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the distribution strategy behind the miniseries aims to spur new response, says Gaul, global chief content officer of Mediabrands.  The miniseries will appear around holiday time on eight local ABC stations as well as on Hulu. “This highlights stories in local markets,” says Gaul. “People are then inspired to go on a web site and adopt letters.” Stations can use the series to fill gaps in programming when there’s no local football on the air, says Gaul, and might support the show with news reports.

The original film got a good response on Hulu, prompting Disney to be interested in new concepts. “While holiday magic is universal, the series features stories from seven of the eight cities where it will premiere. That direct connection with local audiences is pure magic, just in time for the holiday season,” Disney said in a statement.

The show’s journey is unique. “It certainly started as a brand-funded work that now is really running a true play entertainment model,” says Gaul

The series will air in December across ABC stations including WABC in New York, WPVI in Philadelphia, WLS in Chicago, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham, KTRK in Houston, KABC in Los Angeles, KFSN in Fresno and KGO in San Francisco. Additionally, the episodes will be available across ABC’s Localish and on Hulu.

“We’re excited to welcome Dear Santa to the slate of December programming made to bring viewers holiday cheer,” said Jennifer Donohue, senior vice president of Disney Advertising Local, in a statement. “By leveraging the entire Disney portfolio, not only will the episodes reach audiences on the local networks where parts of the series were filmed, but also be widely available on Hulu for fans of the film to enjoy.”