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DISNEY SETS ABC PIX

Waterston, Dunst among TV movie topliners

Disney Telefilms has inked Sam Waterston to star in “Miracle at Midnight,” one of the studio’s upcoming TV movies for sister network ABC.

Also, the studio has signed on Lucas Black (“Sling Blade”) and Kirsten Dunst (“Interview With the Vampire”) to star in two other of its ABC telefilms.

Waterston, who stars on NBC’s “Law & Order” and was Oscar-nominated for “The Killing Fields,” will portray Karl Koster, who headed a Danish family that risked their lives to protect 7,500 Danish Jews from Nazis during World War II.

Although the topic certainly is adult and educational in nature, the movie will air as part of the Disney movie franchise for ABC on Sunday nights in the 7-9 p.m. time period. Charles Hirschhorn, president of Disney Telefilms, said that while the film is “clearly ambitious in subject matter, if you can tell an important story and make it accessible to families it will be very exciting.”

“Miracle at Midnight” is a production of Davis Entertainment in association with Disney Telefilms. John Davis is executive producing and Merril Karpf is the producer, with Ken Cameron on board to direct.

Black and Dunst are the latest young talents to sign on for Disney’s ABC movies, which are set to start next season in the 7-9 p.m. Sunday slot. Other talent includes Elijah Wood in “Oliver Twist,” Ross Malinger (“Sleepless in Seattle”) in “Toothless” and David Gallagher (“Phenomenon”) in “Angels in the Endzone.”

Black, who co-starred in “Sling Blade” and whose TV credits include CBS’ “American Gothic,” is signed for “Flash,” a story about a boy and his horse in rural Kentucky. Simon Wincer (“Free Willy”) will direct. Roger Birnbaum will executive produce and Riley Ellis will produce. The teleplay was written by Monte Merrick.

Also, Dunst is joining Steve Guttenberg and Nia Peeples in “Tower of Terror,” a Halloween telefilm with a touch of corporate synergy. It is based on the Walt Disney World theme park attraction Hollywood Terror Hotel. The telefilm is being produced by ZM Prods. in association with Disney Telefilms. George Zaloom, Joey Plager and D.J. McHale are executive producing and McHale also will direct from his own teleplay. Iain Paterson is producing.

Hirschhorn said Disney Telefilms will make its ABC debut Sept. 28, and hopes to have at least 16 original movies for the web next season.

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