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Disney humors all Mark Twain fans with a weeklong festival


Classics: a book which people praise and don't read .

--Mark Twain

Mark Twain's truism could apply to any number of novels, but probably not his. Many of his classic tales have been turned into films, varying in quality and adherence to the original. A good number of them show up this week as part of the Disney Channel's "Mark Twain Week," (Tuesday through June 27) with movies and specials airing every evening at 7 p.m. Some of his most popular stories will be presented.

The special week grew out of the discovery of a rare print of Will Rogers' Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee. Its world television premiere became "a springboard for Twain week," says Bruce Rider, senior vice president of programming for Disney. "We've played Twain programs from time to time and they have always been among our most popular."

A classic retelling of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer airs Tuesday at 7-8:30 p.m. and features Josh Albee and Buddy Ebsen. It's followed by Huck Finn: An American Classic Comes to Life at 8:30 p.m.

Dennis Dugan, Jim Dale, Kenneth Moore and Ron Moody star in A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court, a 1979 contemporary version of Twain's tale in which an astronaut and his robot companion land in 6th-Century England after lightning strikes their ship. It airs Wednesday at 7 p.m. and is followed by the TV premiere of Will Rogers' 1931 version of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee at 8:35 p.m., which also stars Maureen O'Sullivan and Myrna Loy, and features many of Rogers' witticisms along with Twain's.

Disney's 1962 adaptation of Twain's The Prince and the Pauper is set in 1537 London, where two boys, identical in looks, are born. One is Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales, and the other is Tom Canty, the son of a pauper. When the two accidentally meet, the prince suggests they change places for a short while. However, once they've switched, they find it's not too easy changing back. The movie, starring Sean Scully and Guy William, airs Thursday at 7 p.m.

On Friday, the 1982 Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn airs at 7 p.m., featuring Anthony Michael Hall, Patrick Creadon, Anthony Zerbe and Ed Begley Jr. Tom and Huck chase three cons who've stolen money raised by townspeople to buy new angels for their church.

Jason Robards stars in Mark Twain and Me, which premieres Saturday at 7 p.m.

Back to Hannibal: The Return of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, which takes Twain's characters into adulthood, introduces Tom as a lawyer in Chicago and Huck as a struggling cub reporter in St. Louis. They return to Hannibal to investigate the murder of Becky Thatcher's husband, for which their old friend Jim is the prime suspect. The movie will premiere on "The Magical World of Disney" at 7 p.m. on June 27.

All programs for ages 6 and up.

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