COVID couldn't stop it, but this year the SAG-AFTRA strike has led the organizers of the annual Ed Asner Family Center's celebrity-stacked charity reading of It's a Wonderful Life to pull the plug.
"Over the past three years, we've honored the essence of humanity and the strength of love and community by assembling a remarkable ensemble of actors to present 'It's a Wonderful Life' to a virtual audience," the nonprofit's president and CEO, Matthew Asner, said in a statement.
While they sought to continue the tradition this year, Asner said "time was not on our side." He explained, "With the SAG strike, we could not begin the process of building our cast early enough."
Asner said, "Instead, we will be offering everyone a second opportunity to relish the magic of the last three years by making each of those performances available for streaming during the month of December."
The table readings from 2020, 2021 and 2022 featured Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen, Brendan Fraser, Mark Hamill, Maude Apatow, Jean Smart, Mia Farrow, Ken Jeong, Martin Sheen, Kathy Bates and Jason Sudeikis, as well as musical performances by Jennifer Hudson, Wallows and more.
This year's supporters will have the opportunity to rent a specific year's performance for $15, or $35 for a VIP package that includes all three readings, "plus the chance to win one of 5 grand prizes ... a deluxe gift basket with exclusive It's a Wonderful Life swag given to cast members over the last 3 years."
The Ed Asner Family Center is "dedicated to helping 'differently-abled' individuals (and their families) with Autism, developmental delays, and all types of special needs."