Is that Bing and Clay at Nick's door?

KOST-FM (103.5) has started its all-Christmas-music programming, so now, bring on the kitschy TV specials.

In one of the first of what will be an avalanche of holiday-themed shows during the next month, "The Nick at Nite Holiday Special," premiering Friday at 10 p.m., is a nod-and-a-wink tribute to old-fashioned network specials where stars would drop in at a cozy home, gather around the fireplace and sing Christmas carols.

"Our inspiration," said Larry Jones, executive vice president and general manager of TV Land & Nick at Nite, "was thinking about what the modern-day holiday special would be like if Bing Crosby or Andy Williams were still doing them. There was always a wonderful, warm feeling about those shows, as well as wondering, 'Hey, why is that star showing up? Why are they knocking on the door? Were they just in the neighborhood?' "

On the program, Natalie Cole, Sarah McLachlan, Vince Gill, Chaka Khan, Blair Underwood and Ted Danson make their way to "The Nick at Night Lodge" after the "Big Blizzard of 2003" leaves them stranded at the airport. Martin Mull appears as the innkeeper, French Stewart is the bellhop and Joyce DeWitt is the housekeeper.

Highlights include "American Idol" sensation Clay Aiken performing "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" alongside 1962 footage of Crosby, re-creating the crooner's classic 1977 duet with David Bowie.

Then there's Cole performing "The Christmas Song," a tune made famous by her father, Nat King Cole. Amy Grant and Vince Gill sing "Winter Wonderland," Khan and Lil' Romeo team up on "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" and Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald duet "On Christmas Morning."

Amazing that they all would have been caught in the same blizzard....

-- Greg Braxton

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