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My Top 12 Songs of Christmas

Christmas music is beloved by many and is a library of festive songs. So, with two days left until Christmas, I'm ranking my top 12 favorites.

(Note: after due consideration, I have decided not to include any numbers from The Nutcracker on the list. These songs are purely instrumental, and are heard often during the month of December, but aren't really Christmas songs.)

(I have also decided not to include Christmas songs of my own composition, such as "Someone to Bring Me Home", which I wrote for my 2017 holiday screenplay of the same title.)

(I have also decided not to include songs that aren't about Christmas but that I associate with Christmas for various reasons, such as "Together We Can Change The World", which I first heard at a school performance at Christmastime, or "Everlasting Light", which was used in a 2017 Macy's commercial.)

So here's the list, and sorry if I made you wait.


12. "We Three Kings" (????)
This balla…

The LeoFinelli.com Most Influential Person of 2017

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SHE ARRIVED ON A STRANGELY warm March evening in New York earlier this year. She was loaded off her truck and fixed opposite a thirty-year-old statue of a charging bull. She was the brainchild of advertising agency McCann and State Street Global Advisors. She was five feet tall, and she had the same proactive attitude as every other girl in New York. She had hair blowing in the wind, she wore a T-shirt and a skirt, she wore sneakers. She was just like every other girl in New York.

Except she could not move.

The "Fearless Girl", a statue aimed at promoting the power of women in leadership, sculpted by Kristen Visbal, was unveiled the following morning, and the news media poured down on her. She got crowned with anti-Trump pink hats. She was the #1 trending topic on all social media. Many people knew and heard her message. She was initially only meant to stay for a week. But a week became a month, and a month became a year. Nira Desai even started a Change.org petition to mak…

In My Opinion: The 12 Greatest Christmas Specials of All Time

In addition to the wide-eyed wonder of children and the good music, one of my favorite things about this time of year is watching the Christmas TV specials and movies. I ranked my top 12 essentials, not counting my own scripts. Why top 12? Well, 12 days of Christmas...so here goes, with types (see my July post on types of Christmas specials) enclosed.

12. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1965 TV Special, Type 4)
Upside: The fight against prejudice wasn't a common topic in family shows in 1965 and it's one of the reasons this special has stood the test of time. This classic shows that prejudice doesn't have to be based on gender or race - it can be as simple as choice of career. The message resonates well with me, because I have faced prejudice (mostly from myself, though) my entire life.
Downside: The songs can be too catchy at times, and it utilizes the old cancel/save Christmas trope too clearly. Santa (Paul Frees) is grumpy and not at all what a good Santa shou…

My Top 10 Favorite Television Commercials

Since most of my screenplays are based on TV commercials, I figured I'd rank my top ten favorite TV commercials I've ever seen. Many, if not most of these, have made me cry, but very few seem to have the magic touch that results in a screenplay.

10. "The Camp Gyno", Hello Flo
This ad for women's hygiene products may be a little disgusting because it uses words like "vagina", "menstruation", and "period", but its unrepentant usage of those terms isn't what I like about it. It's the unstoppable girl characteristics and assertiveness the girl (Macy McGrail) shows in her leadership role. That enough sealed the deal.

9. "This Girl Can", Sport England
This ad is aimed at getting girls to exercise and, to an extent, avoid the false perceptions that come with their body's shape and size. Yet another emotional "femvertisement" that really made me emotional, yet I did not cry.

8. "Real Beauty Sketches", …

The Complete Guide to The Family Programming Month (And My November 1 Post Wasn't That Already)

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A couple weeks back I posted some of the biggest telecasts of the Family Programming Month (what they are, mostly). Now, I am posting a complete guide to ALL network television family and big-time programming during the month, an unabridged list of where and when you can catch these telecasts. All times Eastern.

First up, the lineup on...





4:30 PM, Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 23): NFL Football: L.A. Chargers at Dallas Cowboys. Thanksgiving Day football game number two. Keep an eye on Dak Prescott. 8:00 PM, Black Friday (Friday, November 24): Frosty the Snowman. A lovable snowman comes to life but will melt away unless a little girl with a big heart can protect him and his magical hat. 51st straight year on CBS. 8:30 PM, Black Friday (Friday, November 24): Frosty Returns. A sequel to Frosty the Snowman that pales in comparison and cheapens the original. I advise you not to watch it. 8:00 PM, Saturday, November 25: Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire. Whateverthatis. 8:30 PM, Sa…

Update

"Isabella vs. the Womp Womp" is cancelled. Upon watching the Old Navy music video that inspired the idea, I've decided I need to tell a story with similar themes that's not necessarily based on that ad.


November 1: The Countdown Begins

It's officially on. Slowly approaching is The Family Programming Month - the stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas when network TV - CBS, ABC, and NBC - airs programs that can attract the entire family. Not all of these telecasts are Christmas or Thanksgiving related, but most of them are, and no telecasts during The Family Programming Month are bigger than the Big Eight.

What are the Big Eight? They are the telecasts that advertisers rush to get their commercials played during (though nowhere near as big as that football game in February). They are the eight most watched television events during The Family Programming Month. They are:

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeRudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerFrosty the SnowmanHow the Grinch Stole Christmas (the 30-minute cartoon, not the feature film with Jim Carrey)A Charlie Brown ChristmasA Charlie Brown ThanksgivingSanta Claus is Coming to TownIt's a Wonderful Life Here's a brief (just kidding, it's in-depth) history of …

My Second 'SNL' Celebrity Jeopardy Sketch

Banned Books Week 2017: Thursday

Welcome to another post on banned books - and thanks for your comments, Walt.
First, sorry for not doing a post yesterday. I was too distracted by an incident involving the Oogieloves (don't ask) but here's my post for today, on books in our house that I haven't mentioned have been challenged and/or banned.

"Frog and Toad are Friends"
Why: Because of the use of "shut up".
Yes, you read that correctly. A coalition of concerned parents in Pennsylvania asked that this book be removed because it used "a rude phrase that was never properly explained as being rude". Even more surprisingly, it was banned in that PA school district.

"Charlotte's Web"
Why: Talking animals.
Yes, you also read that correctly. An evangelical parent in the 1980s believed that depicting animals communicating on the same level as humans was "an insult to God's handiwork." But why this book and not the millions of other books about talking animals?

The …

Banned Books Week 2017: Tuesday

Today, Tuesday of Banned Books Week, we go over the strangest reasons that books have been banned and challenged. So here they are - and no, even Fahrenheit 451, which has been banned because it contains books being banned, is not on the list. These are even more ridiculous than that, in my opinion.

10. My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Why: Uses the word "bitch"... to describe a female dog.
We all know the non-offensive meaning of "bitch". This is like banning a book because it uses "ass" to refer to the animal.

9. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.
Why: Digestion of a turtle.
Some of Judy Blume's other books have been banned, as previous posts have indicated, but this is just ridiculous. Would it have been banned if Fudge (the little brother in the book) ate a hamster instead?
Why so worked up about a turtle?

8. Superfudge by Judy Blume.
Why: Tells children that Santa Claus doesn't exist.
This sequel to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing h…

Banned Books Week 2017: Monday

As Banned Books Week continues, today (read: yesterday - I am posting this one day late) I will go in depth to the top ten most common reasons for banning and challenging books. Some of these are reasonable, others less so, so here they are:

1. Offensive language, profanity, and/or swearing.
Example: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
Gone Girl was challenged during its time as the #1 NY Times Bestseller due to its use of "****", "****", and "****". Thousands of other books have gotten in trouble for this - even children's books, such as the 1978 classic Bridge to Terabithia, which has been challenged and banned for its use of "Oh my Lord". (As well as its "unhappy ending". You read that right.)

2. Sex and sexually explicit content.
Example: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.
This one got challenged recently by a public library on the grounds that "we are concerned that the book's readers may want to try it out." I know what …

Banned Books Week 2017: Sunday

The phenomenon of books that are censored from school libraries has always been fascinating to me. So all this week, which libraries officially recognize as "Banned Books Week", I will be doing blog posts on banned books.

First up, on Sunday, September 24, a look at the most banned and challenged author in America. 
No, not J.K. Rowling. Or Judy Blume.
No, it's the seemingly innocent Dr. Seuss.
Born in 1904 as Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss has written over 50 books that remain children's classics. Over 75% of them have been challenged (meaning, parents have written schools letters saying that these books should not be in school libraries). Here are his most challenged and censored titles. 

"Horton Hears a Who".  You'd think everyone would have positive sentiment to the famous quotation "A person's a person no matter how small." Like most of his work, Horton Hears a Who has been referred to by the author as an allegory that makes a social…

My SNL "Celebrity Jeopardy" Sketch

(The letters in “Jeopardy” appear one by one on the screen. We cut to the studio. Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek stands at a podium. Three impersonators, dressed as contestants, stand at podiums opposite him.)
TREBEK: Welcome back to a special celebrities-under-25 edition of...Celebrity Jeopardy! Before we begin, I’d like to point out that our former contestant Sean Connery has recently passed. This is good news for me, but we still have heavy security aimed at keeping out his ghost. That said, let’s take a look at the scores.
(Cam on impersonator dressed as Kylie Rogers.)
TREBEK: Kylie Rogers is in first place with 600 dollars, having buzzed in over 100 times but only answering correctly twice.
ROGERS: I like the sound of the buzzer. (hits it)
TREBEK: You have to answer questions when you buzz in.
ROGERS: No, I don’t. I just wanna hear the buzzer. (hits it again.)
TREBEK: No, you don’t. Moving on.
(Cam on impersonator dressed as Darci Lynne Farmer.)
TREBEK: Darci Lynne Farmer is in last place w…