Disney net revs up series

The Disney Channel has shifted its original production machinery into high gear with a slate of six series poised to surface on the revamped cable net beginning in August.

First up will be the kid-driven animal shows “Going Wild With Jeff Corwin” (from Popular Arts Entertainment) and “Omba Mokombo,” which means “Ask Mokombo” in Swahili. Both have 13-episode orders.

Also on tap is the little-kid series “Bear in the Big Blue House” from Jim Henson Prods. The morning half-hour has a 26-episode order and is due on the channel in October. Another tiny-tot series, “Rolie Polie Olie,” will get a 13-episode tryout starting in fall. Produced by Nelvana, “Rolie Polie Olie” centers on the adventures of a robotic everyboy.

Due to arrive in early 1998 are “Bug Juice,” from Evolution Film & Tape Inc., and the previously announced “PB&J,” a preschoolers series earmarked for a February ’98 launch.

Disney Channel senior VP of programming and production Rich Ross is particularly high on “Bug Juice,” a half-hour carrying an order of between 18 and 22 episodes that’s aimed at kids 13 to 15. It’s a “Real World”-style show about a group of real kids attending an actual summer camp.

“Everybody says you can’t create reality programming for kids, but we’re doing it,” says Ross.

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