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‘Sonic’ is the top hog on DIC toon slate

Saturday morning versions of “Dennis the Menace” and vidgame “Sonic the Hedgehog” topline a slate of more than 200 half-hours of animated programming next season from DIC Enterprises, which will supply series to ABC, CBS and Fox as well as syndication and cable.

In addition to a CBS revival of “Dennis”– hoping to capitalize on John Hughes’ live-action feature this summer starring Macaulay Culkin — and 13 episodes of “Sonic” at ABC, DIC is said to be negotiating with the Fox Children’s Network to produce 13 animated half-hours based on the computer game “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” a program that would likely qualify toward complying with the Children’s Television Act. A live-action version of “Carmen” airs on PBS.

DIC’s existing Fox show, “Super Dave,” won’t be back next fall but will be retooled to be more friendly with the Children’s TV Act and could return in 1994 . The Fox affiliate co-op venture and DIC are also in discussions regarding two five-part animated miniseries, which Fox has ordered in the past to test potential series, taking advantage of its unique status as a weekday and weekend programmer.

Those entries include possible shows based on magicians Siegfried and Roy (which failed to take off earlier when offered as a syndicated Marvel Prods.-New World Entertainment strip) and “Gadget Girl,” a spinoff of DIC’s “Inspector Gadget,” which continues to tinker around in syndication and on the Family Channel.

CBS’ “Dennis” is expected to premiere with a half-hour prime time special that would air in September, just prior to the launch of the web’s Saturday morning lineup.

As for “Sonic,” the ABC show will be designed separately from 65 half-hours titled “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” being distributed in five-day-a-week syndication for next fall by Bohbot Entertainment, part of the media-buying arm of Toys R Us. The deal marks the third consecutive year ABC will carry a series launched concurrently in syndication, having pursued a similar strategy with Disney TV Animation on “Goof Troop” and “Darkwing Duck” the past two seasons.

Those deals mark something of a network resurgence for DIC, once the most prolific supplier of Saturday-morning series — at one point doing eight shows in a single season — but squeezed down to one series last fall, “Super Dave,” by deep-pocketed competitors like Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal.

In the meantime, the company has diversified by increasing original production for cable and syndication, supporting those efforts through co-production arrangements with Italian Silvio Berlusconi Communications and Scottish TV.

DIC will produce 13 new episodes of “WishKid,” for example, for the Family Channel, which has been rerunning the NBC kidvid series. That basic cabler, which has an output arrangement with DIC, has also ordered 20 half-hours of “Madeline,” based on the books by Ludwig Bemelmans, which aired previously as occasional specials.

Other syndicated properties include Turner Program Services’ “Captain Planet, ” which has aired as a weekly series for two seasons but shifts to strip form next fall as well as weekends on TNT; “Hurricanes,” a long-in-the-works show about a soccer team, distributed by Bohbot and produced with Scottish TV and Berlusconi; and “Double Dragon,” a martial arts action show based loosely on the Trade West characters also handled through Bohbot.

DIC president Andy Heyward has also tried consistently to get into the live-action arena, where the company is working on a youth-oriented weekly magazine in association with Guess? jeans, a concert special on children’s singer Raffi for the Disney Channel, a Spanish-language series/NBC daytime pilot based on the concept “Incredible Mall,” and quarterly hour sports interview specials fronted by sportscaster Marv Albert.

In addition to licensing library product to the Family Channel, cable’s USA network has picked up “Dynosaucers”– apparently hoping to cash in on the buildup toward “Jurassic Park”– and CBS has just added a series called “COPS” (repackaged under the title “Cyber-COPS” because of the “cyberpunk” fad) to its kidvid lineup.

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