Stars set for animated tribute to King

Oprah Winfrey, John Travolta, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg are among the thesps set to provide voices for an animated tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. produced by the King estate and DIC Entertainment.

“Our Friend, Martin” likely will have a pay cable window before being released on homevideo in 1999 by Fox Video. The hourlong production will blend audio and video footage of the late civil rights leader with computer-generated animation, according to sources familiar with the project.

Other stars lending their voices to “Our Friend, Martin” include Danny Glover, James Earl Jones, Jaleel White, LeVar Burton and Lucas Black. Dexter King, the slain leader’s youngest son, will provide the voice of his father as a young man. Executive producers on “Our Friend, Martin” are Dexter King and Phillip Jones, who oversees licensing and copyright issues for the Atlanta-based King estate.

DIC prexy Andy Heyward con-firmed the King project was in devel-opment but declined to elaborate. Heyward did confirm that the Disney-owned animation house has partnered with syndie kidvid distributor Bohbot Entertainment to produce two new animated strips for fall 1998: “Sonic Underground” and “Pocket Dragon Adventures.”

“Sonic Underground” is a prequel to DIC’s earlier animated skein “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog,” based on the popular Sega Entertain-ment videogame. Sega will release a new “Sonic” vidgame title to coincide with the bow of the new series next fall. DIC plans to produce 40 half-hour episodes of “Sonic Underground” at its production facility in France, Le Studios Tex Prods.

Also in 1998, DIC and Bohbot will bring out 52 half-hours of “Pocket Dragon Adventures,” another ani-mated series based on a popular toy line.

— Cynthia Littleton

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