‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2 Interview: Producer Jason Winer

Premiering on Disney+ November 8th is the second season of ‘The Santa Clauses,’ which is a continuation of ‘The Santa Clause’ movies and once again stars Tim Allen (‘Toy Story’).

Tim Allen in Disney+'s 'The Santa Clauses' Season 2.

Tim Allen in Disney+’s ‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2. Photo: Disney/James Clark.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with executive producer and director Jason Winer about his work on the second season of ‘The Santa Clauses,’ where the new season begins, expanding on the Santa Claus mythology, Scott Calvin’s quest to find a replacement, the sets, new characters, returning favorites, Christmas themed amusement parks, working with multiple directors, and the chance of a third season.

'The Santa Clauses' Season 2 Executive Producer and Director Jason Winer.

‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2 Executive Producer and Director Jason Winer.

You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch the interview.

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about where we’ll find the characters when the new season begins?

Jason Winer: Well, if the audience recalls, Betty mentions in the first season the darkest time in North Pole history, and that was the reign of the Mad Santa. When the second season begins, events have transpired to bring the Mad Santa back to life. He was never actually dead. He was frozen inside of a nutcracker as part of a spell to incapacitate him. So, with Mad Santa back in the mix, our lovable Claus family is in trouble, as is Christmas itself. I think the second season is funnier than the first. We wanted a more formidable villain for the second season, and we have found that in the Mad Santa, played by Eric Stonestreet.

MF: Can you talk about expanding on the Santa Clause mythology?

JW: Well, just to be clear, the idea that Santa is a mantle that can be passed and not just to a singular person is the central idea of the franchise established by the movies back in the ‘90s. That was what was so kind of cool and innovative. When Santa slips off Scott Calvin’s roof and essentially passes his jacket along to him, we are suggesting in that action that Santa is this mantle passed on from Santa to Santa. So that central idea is so rich because it suggests a whole history of Santa’s that have reigned over the North Pole. It suggests the idea that Santa can retire and pick a successor, and how is that successor chosen? Having fun with both the history of the role of Santa and the idea of passing it along is essentially the heart of the series.

Related Article: Tim Allen and Elizabeth Allen-Dick Talk Disney+’s ‘The Santa Clauses’

Tim Allen and Austin Kane in Disney+'s 'The Santa Clauses' Season 2.

(L to R) Tim Allen and Austin Kane in Disney+’s ‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2. Photo: Disney/James Clark.

MF: In the first season, Scott Calvin was not successful trying to find a Santa Claus replacement. How is that working out in season 2?

JW: Well, Scott’s son Cal and a lot of people say, “Hey, at the end of the third movie, Mrs. Claus had a baby, and they called that baby Buddy. Why is his name Cal?” Well, we’ve said it a couple times in the show for careful listeners. His name is Buddy Calvin Claus, and they call him Cal for short. So, for those thinking that we’ve made an error in the chronology or the mythology of the show, we have not. It’s a nickname. But Cal is a guy who loves the real world, and that was established in the first season. He has a lot of curiosities about what college and relationships might be like in the real world. He meets a girl in the first season and is obsessed with her even more in the second. So, all these reasons make him a questionable choice to be the next Santa because he’s not sure he wants to stay at the North Pole, though he wants to please his dad. He’s also a bit of a klutz, which makes him not a great Santa choice. He’s deathly afraid of heights, which also makes him a very difficult choice to become the next Santa, which is why the legendary figures from the movies are back, worried about Scott Calvin choosing his son as the next Santa.

MF: Can you talk about your use of green screen versus practical sets this season?

JW: We have a tremendous amount of fun designing this world. The residence of the North Pole, which by the way is based on the residence of the White House, that’s the design of it. The long central hallway, the two grand rooms at either end with semicircular windows, that’s all based on the residence of the White House, which was a question we asked ourselves season one. Like where else does the family, a whole family live upstairs from where they work? The White House was a grand notion for our inspiration. But that said, that is a practical set, the hallway, the living room, the bedroom at Santa’s office and Betty’s office. When we go to the workshop, the size of the workshop is like two football fields, and it was established as being that big in the movies. For the series, we couldn’t possibly afford that. So, we’ve used technology to compensate and designed the workshop virtually on the volume. We do that on the volume. Now this season we’ve expanded to be able to use the balcony of the workshop as a play space that overlooks the whole elf village. It’s a cool environment and we designed that under the volume as well. This season, we get to go home with Betty and Noel. We designed their cottage, which we see the exterior of in some of the digital shots. But we go inside of it and that’s a set designed by our incredible production design team.

Marta Kessler and Eric Stonestreet in Disney+'s 'The Santa Clauses' Season 2.

(L to R) Marta Kessler and Eric Stonestreet in Disney+’s ‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2. Photo: Disney/James Clark.

MF: What new characters can fans expect in season 2?

JW: La Befana is such a great character. Obviously, there’s truth to her existence as a legend. She is the Italian Santa Claus in a way and has existed in legend for a long time. But the way Laura San Giacomo plays her is just with such fun and glee. It’s so great to see Laura in a role like this where she can just kind of go nuts. She’s really featured this season being a mentor to Sandra’s character and teaching her how to be a witch, Spoiler Alert. So, in terms of the other characters, obviously we have Mad Santa. We’ve talked about him. Eric’s goal with Mad Santa was to make him oddly lovable despite being occasionally evil. He wanted him to be the type of classic Disney villain that kids aren’t sure whether to run from or to hug. So, I think he’s achieved that line. He’s so much fun to watch in this role. Of course, his sidekick is a gnome. Her name is Marta Kessler, and she plays this feral, evil, angry gnome, although she’s only 10 or 11 herself. But she has such fun with this character. It’s hard to say this with Eric Stonestreet, who’s a grown man, and an 11-year-old actress, but they had tremendous comedic chemistry together. They had so much fun playing together and playing off each other. So not only is it fun to see her as a character, but it’s also fun to see the gnomes in general. They’re referenced in the first season as the annoying adversaries of the elves. They always mention them, and they complain about them. So, in this season, we get to meet them. It was fun to design what they look like. Of course, they’re played by kids the same way the elves are, and that makes them fun too. Other characters, of course, we have Gabriel Iglesias who we’re so excited to have in the season. He plays Kris Kringle Moreno, a real-life Santa, a real-world Santa enthusiast. He owns a Santa themed amusement park with a dusty, crusty Santa Museum. He just happens to be the owner of the Mad Santa nutcracker, where unbeknownst to him Mad Santa has been trapped for centuries.

MF: Are Santa Themed Amusement Parks a real thing?

JW: There are things like it. There are Christmas themed amusement parks and or play spaces that pop up around Christmas that open for the season. In fact, Disney is opening a winter wonderland to promote the show in New York City this season. They did it last year on a small scale, and it was such a hit that they’re bringing it back this year on a much bigger scale. That is a set. We built it here on the outskirts of Los Angeles and put Chicago in digitally.

Tracy Morgan in Disney+'s 'The Santa Clauses' Season 2.

(L to R) Tracy Morgan in Disney+’s ‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2. Photo: Disney/James Clark.

MF: Will there be any characters returning from the movies that did not appear in the first season?

JW: Well, there’s some incredibly fun cameos from the legendary figures. We have Kevin Pollak returning as Cupid from the original movies. We have Michael Dorn returning as Sandman. Since the original actor who played the Easter Bunny (Jay Thomas) unfortunately passed away, we have Tracy Morgan capably filling the shoes of the Easter Bunny. We have a fun tiny cameo. We love referring to the original movies. People love them and they’re considered such classics that we like to tie in the action of the series every way we can, and that includes this year a cameo from Paige Tamada. This is a deep cut for fans of the movies. Paige played little Judy the elf who gives Santa the cocoa when he first arrives at the North Pole way back in the original movie. She plays the proprietor of Judy’s cocoa stand that they get cocoa from. It’s unacknowledged, but it’s just an example of the lengths we go to, to tie our series together with the original movies.

MF: As a producer and a director, what is it like collaborating with the other directors on a series like this?

JW: Well, the job of a pilot director, myself in this case, is to establish a style visually that can be copied, and to make a clear set of rules so that, visually, incoming directors can make it their own certainly, but make sure that it’s still connected and consistent. It’s also my job to establish a tone amongst the actors so that everybody feels like they’re in the same show and connected as an ensemble. Hopefully, by the time I’m done doing that with the first two episodes when additional directors come in, the whole thing kind of functions well, and of course I’m around. Even when the other directors are directing, I’m still there in a producorial capacity overseeing, though I don’t want to give short shrift to our amazing ensemble of directors, who also directed the other episodes of the first season. So, we really got on the same page as we were thrown into the fire of the crazy schedule of the first season and just figuring it all out together. So, the chance for everybody to return, and for us all to work together collaboratively the second season, I think, guarantees the tonal consistency of the show.

Tim Allen and Elizabeth Mitchell in Disney+'s 'The Santa Clauses' Season 2.

(L to R) Tim Allen and Elizabeth Mitchell in Disney+’s ‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2. Photo: Disney/James Clark.

MF: Finally, has there been any talk about a third season?

JW: There’s a lot of talk about a season three, and we’ve got ideas percolating. I think there’s a lot of new questions that get asked in the second season that would be fun to dive into in a third season. Not only that, but there’s of a wealth of cameos, people from the original movies that the fans are clamoring to see. Some of them appear in the second season, but there are yet more that we’d like to deliver in the third.

The cast of 'The Santa Clauses' season 2, which begins on Disney+ November 8th.

The cast of ‘The Santa Clauses’ season 2, which begins on Disney+ November 8th. Photo: Disney.

What is the plot of ‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2?

In the second season, the Calvin family is back in the North Pole as Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) continues his role as Santa Claus after retirement plans were thwarted when failing to find a worthy successor in season one. Now that Scott and his family have successfully saved Christmas, Scott turns his focus towards training his son Calvin (Austin Kane) to eventually take over the “family business” as Santa Claus.

Who is the cast of ‘The Santa Clauses’ Season 2?

'The Santa Clauses' season 2 begins on Disney+ November 8th.

‘The Santa Clauses’ season 2 begins on Disney+ November 8th. Photo: Disney.

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