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Never mind about finding the perfect Christmas present. Help JHM discover what the "Naughty vs Nice" Easter Egg in "Operation Secret Santa" is

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Never mind about finding the perfect Christmas present. Help JHM discover what the "Naughty vs Nice" Easter Egg in "Operation Secret Santa" is

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When you watch Disney's "Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa" tonight following ABC's annual airing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," keep a sharp eye out for ... something.

Sorry that I can't be more specific here. But there's an Easter Egg hidden in this 7 minute-long "stocking stuffer." An item that will seem particularly significant this time next year when "Prep & Landing" 's really-for-real sequel, "Naughty vs Nice," debuts on the Alphabet Network during the 2011 holiday season.

Speaking of that "Prep & Landing" sequel: When I got to talk with "Operation Secret Santa" producer Dorothy McKim last week, she admitted that Walt Disney Animation Studios staffers are still hard at work on "Naughty vs Nice."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"We'll be holding our third screening of the work-in-progress version of that holiday special shortly. But we've still got nine months worth of work left on 'Naughty vs Nice,' "Dorothy admitted. "Which is why we'll be taking a break on Tuesday night so that we can then all watch the East Coast feed of 'Operation Secret Santa.' Take a few minutes out to celebrate that 'Prep & Landing' short before we then plunge right back into working on 'Naughty vs Nice."

But when I brought up the topic of that Easter Egg, it was suddenly Silent Night. McKim was mum, as were "Operation Secret Santa" 's co-directors Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton. Though Kevin and Stevie were willing to talk about how ironic it was to now be working on a "Prep & Landing" short.

"You have to remember that 'Prep & Landing' initially started out as Chris Williams' idea for a theatrical animated short. Something similar to what Walt Disney Animation Studios did with 'How to Hook Up Your Home Theater,' " Wermers-Skelton explained. "But as it turns out, John Lasseter just loves Christmas specials. Which is why - when Chris was busy working on "Bolt" - John asked us if we could take the characters & concept that Chris had originally come up with for that 'Prep & Landing' animated short and then use those as the basis for a new holiday special."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"So to now - on the heels of the success of the original 'Prep & Landing' - have ABC come to us and ask if we could please create something quick to tide the audience over 'til 'Naughty vs Nice' gets here in 2011, that was pretty cool," Deters said. "That said, the production of 'Operation Secret Santa' was kind of a windsprint for us. We were grabbing people as soon as they finished working on 'Tangled' and  then immediately putting them to work on the 'Prep & Landing' short."

Of course, what made things a whole lot easier this time around was that many of the WDFA staffers who worked on "Operation Secret Santa" were "Prep & Landing" veterans. And among those who were helped make this "stocking stuffer" happen was Andy Harkness. Who - back in September - actually wound up winning an Emmy for his art direction of the original "Prep & Landing" holiday special.

"That was an amazing evening," Harkness recalled. "Given that we were up against some pretty heavyweight competition like 'South Park' and 'The Simpsons' and this was Disney's first holiday special, we honestly didn't expect much. But to then win four Emmys - including Outstanding Animated Program - I never thought that would happen in a million years."

(L to R) Stevie Wermers-Skelton, Chris Williams, Dorothy McKim and  Kevin Deters at
the 2010 Emmy Awards. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

To hear Andy tell the story, the reason that "Prep & Landing" turned out as well as it did was because WDAS had a really motivated team on this project that shared a single vision. That everyone working on "Prep & Landing" wanted Disney's first-ever Christmas special to become an immediate holiday classic.

"That's why we were all so excited to here that Disney wanted to turn 'Prep and Landing' into a franchise. While we were looking on the original holiday special, we developed lots of other story ideas, lots of other gadgets that the Prep & Landing elves were supposed to use that we didn't get the chance to show the first time around," Harkness continued. "Which is why it's great that we now get the chance to circle back and actually use some of these ideas."

And speaking of showing ... When I pressed Andy about that "Naughty vs Nice" Easter Egg that's supposedly hidden in plain sight in "Operation Secret Santa," he went all St. Nicholas on me (i.e. "He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work"). Other than to say (SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD) that that dark green suit which is in a display case in Santa's secret workshop (see photo below) ISN'T what people should be looking for.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So what do you folks think? Do you have any theories about what this "Naughty vs Nice" Easter Egg might be? If you'd like to get in on the holiday fun, why not watch "Operation Secret Santa" (which airs on ABC tonight right after "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Which starts at 8 p.m. ET /PT) and then come back here and post your ideas about what this Easter Egg might be.

Your thoughts?

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  • Why is it that when Jim supposedly "quotes" people they very often end up speaking in his odd vernacular. Go back and read his articles. It's amazing how many people use the phrase "given that" when they speak to him. I haven't seen any "why for's" yet though. I love your articles Jim, but if you're not actually quoting someone, leave off the quotation marks please. Paraphrasing is allowed if I recall correctly.

  • maybe it is an actual "easter egg"? perhaps a gift from the bunny to the jolly old elf. that said, i'll be watching with eyes peeled! thanks for the great coverage jim!!!

  • Was that... a sillouetted Roger Rabbit toy I saw? Or what that some other character?

  • I saw the 7 dwarfs and a map of disneyland. I also noticed a character in the shadows. I first thought it was a who-ville character.

  • I thought it was Donald in the shadows, but I think the easter egg might just be the box they replaced the other box with.  Maybe it holds something they wanted to get rid of....

  • I think it was Roger Rabbit in the shadows. Missed the DL map though - will have to look for that. It was a great short though!

  • Was that sillouette Figment?

  • In the picture at the very top of the page I think that there are the two moose from brother bear. It bears quite some resemblance to them!

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