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Gimme That Old School Animation

Charlie Brown still rules

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You can try to shove Tim Allen down my throat as Santa, or have Tori Spelling as some mutant form of Ebenezer Scrooge on a new Hallmark holiday special, but give me that old time, old school animation anytime. Especially if it's A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Hang with me here. (Imagine that "da-da-da-da-da-da-da-dum. . .da-da-da-dum" piano phrase from pianist Vince Guaraldi in the background). In 2005, ACBC will be 40 years old, perhaps the longest-running Christmas special ever, and the charm is still there. But like many other TV favorites, it almost didn't get made. According to the Family Education Network's Fact Monster website, without cartoonist Charles Schulz' clout at the time, it would have stayed on the sketchpad. TV executives hated it: they found it too religious, frowned at the jazz music and lack of a laugh track, and were nervous about using real children's voices, except for Snoopy.

Whatever. ACBC was a hit when it first aired in December of 1965, won all the big TV awards, and became an American classic. The best way to watch it is to buy it on tape or DVD and see it without commercials. It's still my favorite. Looking for a bit more joie de vivre in her life, WSOC-TV Suzanne Stevens is calling it quits after 18 years with the station to spend more time with her family and ramp up her own business. The number two female anchor there, Stevens, who was variously called "Su-ZANN" and "Su-ZON" in her career there, will conduct shopping tours in France for her company, Shop France. Stevens is also a mother of two, married to Channel 9 reporter Mark Becker.The news biz around the country is seeing more women cut back or get out of the news game altogether, with "spending more time with family" cited as the reason. Night shifts, on-call status 24/7, and long, stressful hours aren't optimum for any parents, let alone working mothers.

No word on who will replace Stevens at 5 and 10pm, but one bet is on current weekend anchor Laura Palka.

And if Trista and Ryan's wedding on ABC wasn't enough for you, WBTV anchor Jan Jeffcoat's August nuptials are featured on TLC's A Wedding Story on December 30 at 2pm. Hope she skipped all that pink.

Stay tuned.

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