WASHINGTON — Hollywood's plan to send Bugs Bunny and his friends into the fight against drugs won applause from Congress today but also a request for more than just the cartoon special set to air on national television Saturday.
"I hope this doesn't devolve into a mere self-promotion activity in which we finally hear from Hollywood and this is the last shot," said Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).
"Showing this once or twice isn't really going to change anybody's mind who's going to use drugs," he said.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee watched a sample of the 30-minute special, "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue" and applauded the effort to reach youngsters.
"The most powerful weapon that we know in politics is the cartoon and we hope that the cartoon will be the most powerful tool to educate our children," said committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware.
The program, a unique collaboration of animation studios, tells the story of Michael, a 14-year-old drug abuser who is saved with help from Bugs Bunny, the Chipmunks, Daffy Duck, Garfield, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, Slimer, the Smurfs, Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles' Michelangelo and Winnie the Pooh.
He is also saved from Smoke, a sinister, drug-pushing apparition whose voice was provided by actor George C. Scott.
The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presentation, funded by Ronald McDonald Children's Charities and McDonald's restaurant, is set to air at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The cartoon will be aired on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and numerous independent stations and cable outlets.
Roy Disney, vice chairman of the Walt Disney Co. and head of its animation department, was executive producer of the program.
Asked about long-range plans, Disney Studios President Richard Frank said the studios have been working so hard "to get this particular special out that we really haven't had time to sit down and plan other ones."
Actually, only 15 minutes of the production were shown to the lawmakers and some of the music as well as all of the sound effects were missing. "What you're going to see is minus those embellishments," Disney explained.
"I know what I'm going to be doing Saturday morning," Biden said after the screening. "I want to hear the music."