CBS Christmas Eve Special 2013


The holiday season started a little early this year for the parishioners and friends of St. Paul the Apostle Church on the Upper West Side in New York City. The 2013 Christmas festivities started on December 5th for guests who were a part of the live audience for A New York Christmas to Remember at St. Paul The Apostle. The live-to-tape production aired on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013, on CBS from 11:35 PM - 12:35 AM, during what is usually the Late Show with David Letterman time-slot.

Paulist Productions and Scott Mirkin Productions produced the event and television special. Rev. Gilbert Martinez, Marybeth Sprows, Rev. Eric Andrews, Scott Mirkin and John Blessington were Executive Producers. As Mirkin, Sprows, and Andrews began pulling together the concept of the show, they approached the Henson Family about being part of the special. Heather and Cheryl Henson came up with the heart-warming idea to include puppetry created by their mother, the late Jane Henson, which told the Nativity story. Heather and Cheryl worked to bring their mother's passion to television to share with the nation. "We couldn't be prouder of how this came together quickly to create a lasting tribute to our mother," said Cheryl Henson.

The landmarked late 1800s cathedral provided an opportunity and challenge for the show. There are no hanging positions in the church; therefore all lighting was ground supported, and freestanding. In order to preserve the architecture, nothing could be attached to any part of the church structure. In order to preserve the open wide shots through the nave of the church and allow movement of the large kites, all lighting was located at the outer edges of the immense nave, greatly restricting lighting positions and angles. The intent was to provide dramatic theatrical style lighting for the puppet sequences. The small-scale puppets, some no more than a few inches in size, were located in the center of the nave, and lit with specials, which were as far as 50 feet away. The very active parish remained open throughout preparations for the taping, continuing normal operations and providing services to the community. Parishioners wanted to see the transformation of the church as workers continued building the set. Both production crew and church staff worked together to ensure the safety of guests as they viewed the transformation of the historic church for broadcast.

Scripture passages read by Regis Philbin and musical interludes showcasing the talents of The Fordham University Choir, The National Children's Chorus, and the St. Paul The Apostle Choir accompanied the puppet performances. The audience viewed video packages, which shared the history behind the magical night. They highlighted the story of Paulist Productions, the history of St. Paul the Apostle Church, and the passion behind Jane Henson's final work. Additionally, the night featured a moving performance of Heather Henson's kite work. Dove shaped kites were flown across the church's stained glass ceiling. Together, all the elements created an experience that won't soon be forgotten.

Equipment List:

(52) VL3500 Spots
(26) Sharpy Wash
(26) MAC Aura
(16) 14° Source 4 Lekos with Iris, Correction Gel & Frost
(10) Source 4 Juniors with Gel & Frost
(20) Source 4 Pars with Lens Kits for Floor Stands
(12) Chroma Cue Color Force 10
(2) Each - 14°, 19°, 26°, 36° Source 4 Leko Barrels
Hand Dimmers for Christmas Trees
Full Size GMA ONE Lighting Console

Design Team

Scott Mirkin, Executive Producer & Scenic Design
Rene Lagler, Production Designer & Scenic Design
Vandy Wood, Puppetry Set Designer
Abigal Rosen-Holmes, Lighting Design
Ron Reeves, Sound Design & Live Mix for Broadcast

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