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Disney ani antes up

Buena Vista Television is investing more than $ 50 million to beef up its Disney Afternoon animation franchise, adding two weekly series next season to the two-hour weekday block, along with the “Disney’s Aladdin” strip.

Under the new creative and marketing approach, Disney Afternoon will include two theme days: Monday Mania and Action Friday.

The two new half-hour series, both strip candidates for the 1995-96 season, will be paired with the five-day-a-week “Aladdin” cartoon on Mondays and Fridays (replacing “Bonkers”) inthe second half of Disney Afternoon.

BVTV has ordered 13 episodes of “The Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show,” which will consist of three short segments (“Shnookums & Meat” and two untitled cartoons) and serve as the centerpiece of the comedy-themed Monday block.

The 13-episode weekly Friday adventure series “Gargoyles,” which involves characters based on the stone sentinels adorning medieval castles and cathedrals coming to life in modern-day Manhattan, will employ new animation technologies and special effects.

Disney’s syndie wing has cleared the new programming concept of combining shorts and half-hour episodes for Afternoon, which began with “DuckTales” in 1987 and evolved three years later into the full two-hour programming block, in roughly 50% of the country.

“This is something that we for several years have wanted to do in terms of expanding the creative envelope,” said BVTV prez Bob Jacquemin.Additionally, it will permit Disney to test more potential strip product. Until now, BVTV has introduced a new strip each season without the benefit of previous on-air tests.

Although Jacquemin said it is unlikely the new weekly series could both become strips by 1995-96, he doesn’t rule it out if they perform well. The exec emphasized that BVTV is not seeking to create a checkerboard format — airing different shows each day of the week.

The new series will also create more work for Disney’s staff of animators, who are under contract until 1997, according to Jacquemin.

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