'Elf' reunion with Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel denied 'Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town' ending
Beloved holiday movie classic "Elf" brought back cast members Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, Andy Richter, Amy Sedaris and Mary Steenburgen for a reunion - a Democratic fundraiser on Sunday night.
John Lithgow, Wanda Sykes, Ed Helms and other stars joined, playing various roles during a live "Elf" virtual script table-read. By the end, the reunion surpassed its goal of raising more than $400,000 for the Democratic Party of Georgia.
The event was a lively, virtual reunion that was capped off with a group version of "Jingle Bells."
However, the famed ending for the 2003 comedy, directed by and starring Jon Favreau, featured Deschanel's Jovie starting a rousing version of "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" as Buddy the Elf (Ferrell) arrives with Santa Claus (Asner) on his sleigh before a suddenly-believing crowd of New Yorkers.
The Georgia-native Helms explained during an intermission that organizers of the "Elf" reunion had sought, but had been denied, the rights to the song "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" for the Democratic fundraiser.
"We sadly will not be able to sing 'Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town' at the end of this reading, even though that's a huge moment that everybody loves in this movie," said Helms. "But we think that perhaps Republicans own the rights to that song. We got an unkind email when we asked for the rights to do it today. That's what I heard. So when you donate you'll actually be helping us save Christmas."
He promised the show would go on without the original song.
"So we're going to sing 'Jingle Bells' instead," said Helms. "Since this is 2020, and we're all used to making do, that's how we're going to make this reading work – 'Jingle Bells.' "
Deschanel started off the "Jingle Bells" song for the finale. Lithgow, reading the part of Buddy's father Walter (originally played by James Caan), was especially emphatic in hitting the notes.
The "Elf" event featured a virtual reprise of the famed scene in which Ferrell's Buddy the Elf walks into the department store changing room where Deschanel's Jovie is showering and singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
In a story twist, "Pod Save America" host and speechwriter Jon Favreau filled in for the same-named, but missing, "Elf" director Jon Favreau, who played a doctor in the film.
"Yes there are two Jon Favreaus in this universe," said Helms. "One directed this movie ... and we got the other one, who is also a brilliant podcaster."
Podcaster Favreau teased the performance on Twitter, saying, "Come see me and the Elf folks reenact a movie I was totally a part of!"
The "Elf" reunion will be available for viewing again Monday. The money raised will be directed to the campaigns to elect Democrats Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock to Senate seats in the January run-off election.