A ChatterBlast Holiday: The Complete Oral History

December 8, 2017

Will the ChatterBlast Gang have a happy holiday? Menorah candles may be flickering into the night, but Evan has the Yuletide blues. To get in the seasonal spirit, he takes Matt’s advice and directs the Festivus play. But everyone makes fun of the short, spindly nevergreen Jackie brings back – until the real meaning of the season works its magic once again!

Ah, A ChatterBlast Holiday. A timeless classic. A film we all know true to be a cinematic staple in every household through the holiday season. A tale of love, loss, redemption, and yuletide joy, we need not revisit the critically acclaimed plot that we all know and love.

Instead, during this very special holiday season which marks the film’s 50th anniversary, we’ll celebrate it through remembering some notable moments you didn’t know happened on set during the filming of this cornerstone of international holiday tradition. Well – to the furthest extent that we can, that is. 50 years is a long time ago!

But first, let’s revisit some of our favorite characters that make this film so great.

Matt: An everyman with ever-changing mood and grace; both befriended and befuddled by everyone; the group’s fearless leader who rises out of every downfall with shining hope and determination. His best friend is a sweet lil raccoon named Bitey.

Evan: He is distinguished by his precocious skill at playing the piano, as well as by his love of classical music and the composer Ludwig van Beethoven in particular. His favorite food is meatloaf.

Jackie: An outgoing and sporty girl, Jackie is the leader of the group’s baseball team. She is almost always accompanied by her best friend Marc who refers to her as “sir.”

Johanna: Evan’s older sister who runs a booth where she offers advice and psychoanalysis for five cents to the other characters in the group, most frequently an anxious Matt.

Justin: Matt’s blanket-toting comrade; the most intellectual out of all the characters; a philosopher and theologian. Justin is the catcher on the baseball team and the owner of Gideon, an energetic dog that still hasn’t warmed up to the rest of the gang.

Valerie: Valerie is the presumed name of the girl that sits behind Evan in school. She also goes by a different name every day, leading an exasperated Evan to stick with the name Valerie. Her antics drive him crazy, but at the same time he finds her fascinating.

Kyle: A loyal, imaginative, and good-natured friend of the group. He is a genuinely happy guy. A running gag within the film is that he does a “happy dance.” The only thing that truly upsets him is a lack of supper. Brenda is his sweet little pup who spends most of her time sleeping, woo-ing, and scrolling through her Instagram feed.

Shivani: Shivani moved to Matt’s neighborhood from another state, though which state was never specified. She was also one of the girls who was nicer to Evan, often hanging out with him and playing board games.

Anaïs: Anaïs is the resident chatterbox, but the gang loves her for it. She sits behind Matt in class, but due to her constant talking, Matt claims not to have heard a word of what their teacher has said all year!

Jeanie: Jeanie believes the world owes her an explanation. Why does she have to go to school? Why can’t she exclusively drink coffee? And what’s the capital of Pennsylvania? Jeanie is always on the hunt for answers — and when she doesn’t get them, she comes up with a whole new philosophy: “Who cares?

Grace: Grace never met a school day she didn’t hate. But this tough girl has a soft side, too: She’s hopelessly in love with her pal Marc “Marcie” Snitzer — who has no idea! Luckily, she can confide her feelings in her loyal chocolate lab, Timber.

Jeremiah: Justin’s quiet friend and confidant, Jeremiah has never uttered an unkind word about anyone. At school, Jeremiah sits one seat ahead of Kyle, where he gets a front row seat to his ridiculous “happy dance.”

Gianna: Gianna is the girl who brags about her “naturally curly hair” and manages to work it into every conversation, much to the amusement of those around her.

Marc: Forever known for his unassuming sweetness and intellect, Marc’s bookishness is contrasted with his best friend, tomboy Jackie, who he always refers to as “sir” — one of his many malapropisms.

In an unprecedented move, the original cast gathered to revisit some fan-favorite moments and behind-the-scenes stories from the set — something that’s remained an enigmatic and secretive topic in Hollywood for years. Let’s see what they had to say.

The Ice Skating Scene

Evan: First of all: What is Justin doing on the ice? His skates aren’t even on!

Matt: At least he got on the ice. Kyle wouldn’t step foot off the snow that entire shoot.

Jackie: Yeah. For someone who likes sports, he is seriously scared of wiping out on skates.

Kyle: Ok, guys. At least I didn’t actually wipe out. *cough* Shivani! *cough cough*

Shivani: 50 years later and I’m still sore from that. I’m cruising in this photo though.

Johanna: No. Anaïs is cruising in this photo.

Justin: Seriously. She was like Michelle Kwan out there. Who knew that she could flawlessly hit a corkscrew spin on the first try?

Anaïs: Let’s not forget Matt’s triple axel!

Valerie: I mean, any time “Man in the Mirror” comes on, it’s basically a given that he’s throwing that down.

Gianna: I’ve seen Matt throwdown many triple axels in my time. Never have I seen one quite like that.

Jeanie: It was…. an experience.

Grace: Marc wouldn’t do the Dirty Dancing move with me.

Marc: Enough, Grace.

Grace: Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Jeremiah: What have I gotten myself into?


The Dance-Off  

Evan: I tried to learn Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” for this scene but was told it was “boring” and “uptight.”

Matt: Much like his CEO style.

Evan: At least the costume department didn’t put me in pants resembling a diaper for this scene.

Jackie: Enough, you two. What I’d like to discuss is how Jeremiah has been the best dancer out of all of us this whole time and we never even knew it until this day.

Jeremiah: I keep my cards close to my chest. There’s still plenty you don’t know about me.

Gianna: Why is Kyle doing the zombie walk? This isn’t Halloween.

Kyle: How I choose to express myself through dance is not your concern, Gianna.

Valerie: Y’know, I get told that I’m tall pretty often, but that standing bass was still nearly twice my size.

Marc: She wouldn’t stop saying, “Cellooooo, it’s a bass!” the whole day. It got old really fast.

Valerie: Was that part of what caused your subsequent meltdown, Marc?

Marc: I’m not ready to talk about that yet.

Justin: On a lighter note, who knew that Gideon, Brenda and Timber were so musically inclined?

Grace: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve had Timber in classical music lessons since he was a puppy.

Shivani: You should have named him Woof-gang, honestly.

Johanna: What instrument was Timber playing here, anyway?

Anaïs: It looks like a treat jar to me.

Jeanie: Timber loves treats.

Kyle: He’s a good boy.


The Finale

Kyle: We had a hard time getting the dogs (and Bitey) to stay still for this scene.

Evan: If I’m remembering correctly, getting Matt to stay still was even more difficult.

Matt: Things were tense between me and Bitey on that day—that’s why he’s standing so far away from the rest of us. I had to keep checking on him.

Justin: What was Johanna waving at?

Johanna: One of the catering guys was dressed up as Santa. I thought he was the real deal for a second.

Valerie: Evan fell off of that roof six times while trying to hang the decorative lights.

Jeanie: Why was he responsible for that, anyway? Didn’t we have set designers?

Shivani: There were some budget cuts.

Anaïs: That’s also why it looks like we’re gathered around something. There was supposed to be a CGI Christmas tree in the middle since the original one Matt found was so small and ugly.

Grace: It’s still hard for me to think about this day because of how it ended.

Jackie: Oh yeah, this is when Marc had his Hollywood moment.

Grace: I think storming off the set in a fit of rage counts as more than just a “moment.”

Jeremiah: I’m surprised he agreed to do this interview with us given how that all went down.

Marc: I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, okay? 50 years, to be exact.

Matt: And?

Marc: I’m sorry. Happy Holidays.

A super huge thank you goes out to Meg Wolensky for her gorgeous illustrations of our ChatterPeanuts gang. You rock, Meg!