Xfinity has caused problems for millions of cable, internet and telephone subscribers over the years. But we have to hand it to them for getting the approval of director Steven Spielberg to create an E.T. The Extra Terrestrial sequel in the form of a touching holiday commercial that reunites Elliot, now all grown up with a family of his own, with the alien who changed his life forever. Now you can see how it was made with a look behind the scenes at the making of the E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Christmas commercial.
Henry Thomas sets the stage for how this holiday commercial came together at Xfinity. It’s nice to hear the actor has just as much reverence for the film that everyone came to love when it was released in 1982. Thomas wasn’t necessarily invested in making it happen unless Steven Spielberg was on board, and he was surprised to learn when his approval had already been given.
Even though this commercial is in the hands of director Lance Acord, you’ll find plenty of touches from the original movie throughout. There’s a photo of the dog Elliot had as a child, Gertie’s cup, the original bike from the movie, and some more subtle references and Easter eggs that can be noticed on repeat viewings of the commercial. They even went so far as to meticulously recreate the machine E.T. used to call home.
As for E.T. himself, Legacy Effects is responsible for bringing him to life through the use of both puppetry and digital effects used to touch him up. E.T. is able to move in a much more easy and sophisticated way, largely thanks to the fact that it’s much easier to erase puppeteers from a scene digitally, something that simply wasn’t possible back when the original movie was made.
If you haven’t seen the commercial in question yet, you can watch it over here.
A marketers across sectors have asked to pause their advertising plans or shift messaging, NBCUniversal said that starting today it will have less commercial time and more uninterrupted content, according the Linda Yaccarino, the company’s chairman, Advertising and Partnerships.
It’s a nod to the turmoil the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked on the advertising sector despite a surge in TV viewing. Some brands are still on, others, like airlines, have seen their business decimated and had to pull out, and still others want a presence but find their commercials suddenly irrelevant. To help, NBCUniversal is waiving fees for creative services and resources to help marketers shift their messaging.
In a blog post called “When Less is More: Giving Back to Our Audiences and Partners,” Yaccarino said brands “are looking for ideas, tools, and strategies from their most trusted partners. So, in light of everything we’re seeing and hearing, we want to do what’s right for our audiences and marketers … so starting today, you will see more content from us, new ad innovations, and therefore less commercial time.”
She didn’t quantify the reduction. But it will cross dayparts and genres.
The move will reduce commercial time on newscasts and special programming across NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, and Telemundo at a time when people are glued to the events of the day, the company said.
Short clips of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night With Seth Meyers and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen! will appear in primetime in lieu of some ads.
NBCUniversal will usher in semi commerical free family movie nights.
New resources for marketers include scaling commerce technologies and waiving technology fees; opening up more creative services; building custom marketing materials; and giving partners more access to remote production teams, brand assets, and talent at no cost. NBCUniversal is also offering free editing and translation services to help brands reach people in both English and Spanish. It is donating inventory in addition to existing media schedules for brands to air public service messages.
“Especially now, with many brick and mortar stores closed around the country and other companies facing significant challenges, our clients need more support to grow their businesses and remain connected to customers. Meanwhile, producing traditional marketing assets has become more challenging. We've heard all of this from our partners, and we want to help. Especially now, with many brick and mortar stores closed around the country and other companies facing significant challenges, our clients need more support to grow their businesses and remain connected to customers,” Yaccarino said.
While we’re all sitting around daydreaming about an alternate reality in which the coronavirus doesn’t exist, it may be interesting to mix it up for a second and try to envision a world in which Samuel “Screech” Powers – the scrawny, Lisa Turtle-obsessed goofball on Saved by the Bell – was played by late night talk show host and comedian Stephen Colbert instead of actor Dustin Diamond. Colbert says he auditioned for the role of Screech in the 1980s and was rejected for a pretty humorous reason. Watch him tell the story below.
Stephen Colbert Saved by the Bell Audition Story
Around the 3:00 mark in this video, The Late Show guest Ryan Reynolds makes a joke about Saved by the Bell, sparking Colbert’s memory about the time he tried out for the role of Screech and didn’t get it.
“I auditioned for Saved by the Bell!” he exclaims. “That was my first professional audition. 1986? [Editor’s note: this must have been when they were auditioning Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which was eventually reworked into the hit show Saved by the Bell.] They came to Chicago. I was a student at Northwestern University, and I don’t know, somebody had seen me do something, somebody had scouted me at school. I got called down to a casting agent on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I walk in, they hand me the thing, and I was auditioning for the part of – was the character’s name Screech?”
Reynolds bursts into laughter and thinks Colbert is messing with him, but the late night host swears it’s real. “I’m not joking!” he continues. “I auditioned for this part of Screech, and let me tell you how big I was. Imagine how that character ended up in broadcast. I did my audition, and they said to me, ‘There’s a term you’re going to need to know about as a professional. It’s called over the top. You just went over the top. Don’t do that anymore.’ And I saw the subtle interplay of status dynamics that Dustin Diamond brought to that part.”
Saved by the Bell was a massive show for a certain generation, and its actors – Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Mario Lopez, etc. – will always be remembered first and foremost for the characters they played on that show, regardless of whatever else they’ve done in their careers. Imagining Colbert playing the wacky, ineffectual Screech is sorta blowing my mind right now, and needless to say, I think everyone on Earth is glad he didn’t land that role. Except for maybe Dustin Diamond, who may have been better off in life if he didn’t get the job, either. To avoid a depressing rabbit hole, it’s probably best not to look into what became of him after that show went off the air.