New Network, Format for Disney TV Series

Times Staff Writer

Following three seasons on ABC, "The Disney Sunday Movie" will have a new incarnation on NBC as a family anthology series in the 1988-89 season.

NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff said the agreement between NBC and Disney, reached late Tuesday evening, calls for Disney to "provide the network with an innovative concept in television viewing" rather than simply moving the existing show to NBC. On ABC, the show ranks 59th among the 85 series aired this season.

The new program will be composed of what NBC calls "a unique blend of Disney style entertainment" and will include four recurring series, including a new version of the Davy Crockett story, and specials such as "Mickey's 60th Birthday," "Celebrity Circus" and classic Disney theatrical movies.

The agreement marks the return of the Disney hour to NBC, where "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" ran from 1961-81. Under various titles, a Disney family hour has been part of television for more than 25 years.

In a prepared statement, ABC said: " 'The Disney Sunday Movie' has been subject to the classic inconsistencies of the anthology form, with no story or character thread to attract habit viewing. Rather than retain this showcase, ABC is actively developing entertainment alternatives in the series form with several suppliers, including the Disney company."

Tartikoff and Richard Frank, president of Walt Disney Studios, said they had begun discussions several weeks ago about the possibility of NBC acquiring the Disney Sunday night movie.

"What we said back to them was that we have a tremendous interest in being the home of the Disney flagship franchise, but we did not want to simply take the existing show and transport it across the channels" to NBC, Tartikoff said. He said that the network has not confirmed a day for the show, but that it will air at 8 p.m. rather than at 7 p.m. as it has on ABC.

Although Tartikoff acknowledged that "It (the Disney ABC format) wasn't working," he said he did not expect the same problem with the new format on NBC. "Part of Disney's desire to get over to NBC was the strength of our schedule and the compatibility of our schedule," he said.

He added that the show, like the network's Jim Henson hour slated to debut in January, 1989, would help strengthen NBC's family appeal.

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