SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : The absolutely untrue adventures of ABC's new 'Great Mom Swap' movie

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Remember when you thought you were so much cooler than the school dweeb? So much cooler that you wanted to prove it?

ABC does. This week's Saturday night family movie, The Great Mom Swap, examines the consequences of a longstanding teen rivalry gone awry.

Cheerleader Karen (Hillary Tuck) and nerdy Terry (Mary Kate Schellhardt) have been going at it since grade school. To make matters worse, their moms are former friends who are none too crazy about each other. When Karen sabotages Terry's science project and Terry retaliates, juvenile authorities are called in. A unique sentence is meted out: The girls must swap families for a month.

Karen's mom, socialite Millie (Shelley Fabares), struggles with studious Terry, while Terry's mom, deli owner Grace (Valerie Harper) copes with frivolous Karen. The quartet finally learn a lesson in tolerance and understanding through Grace's father Papa Tognetti (Sid Caesar).

"No one's ever happy with their family and I get to switch to a totally new family and setting--it's such a fantasy," Tuck says from the set's makeup trailer. "I think a lot of kids will be able to relate to it. I learn some really valuable lessons about life."

Harper, from the same trailer, says as the mother of a 12-year-old she relates to the "wonderful little odyssey" of the story, which is about "bigotry, prejudging people and 'walk a mile in my shoes.' "

In his own dressing room trailer, Caesar, whose character draws them all together, says, "It's a fun picture, a wild idea and there's fun and sympathy, and it's what goes on with kids today. The only way you can learn is from failure. You learn nothing from success. The girls learn each other's lives and what it's like to be the other. A good lesson."

"The Great Mom Swap" airs Saturday at 9 p.m. on ABC. For ages 5 and up.

Another Family Show

The folks at Disney had a dilemma: How could they freshen up the many animation shorts in their library for the TV-viewing kiddie audience?

Last season, the studio offered up the afternoon "Toon Town," with two vivacious teen hosts cavorting at Disneyland while introducing cartoons.

This year, Sing Me a Story With Belle offers classic toons with a new twist: original songs written to the shorts, with a theme.

"We used the existing animation" and wrote songs to them "in a storytelling mode," explains executive producer Patrick Davidson.

New songs are set to 6- to 8-minute shorts from the '30s, '40s and '50s. "We told our six songwriters, 'Write a song that matches the picture,' " Davidson says. The shorts selected had themes that "kids can relate to, timeless tales with a real moral."

Each of the 17 new shows offers two old shorts hooked up with new songs with similar themes.

Davidson and Disney execs had about 400 shorts to go through. "We looked at them with the mind of what are important themes and let's find two shows with similar messages." Issues covered: "best friends, feeling left out, sharing, valuing things, music and sibling rivalry."

Songs set to animation with a theme was a fine concept, Davidson realized, but "we needed a sense of place," and they came up with none other than Disney's popular caregiver, Belle (Lynsey McLeod).

"Belle," Davidson asserts, "isn't going to live up in that castle there. We need her to sing the story and the logical place would be for her to take over the bookshop in the village." So they created Belle's Book and Music Shop.

The live-action Belle reading to a group of youngsters bookends, so to speak, the toons.

"Disney Presents Sing Me A Story With Belle" airs Sunday at noon on KCAL. For ages 2 to 5.

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