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OF, BY AND FOR THE CHILDREN

Bravo brings the arts to kids in the serious yet fun 'Opening Shots'

August 01, 1993|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bravo's popular "South Bank Show" brings arts around the world to adults. Now the cable network is offering a kid-sized version called Opening Shots.

Producer Gerald Fox, speaking by phone from his London office, says he got the idea while producing a segment of "South Bank."

"I was doing a story on Russian violinist Dmitri Sitkovetsky," he recalls, "who has a nephew named Sasha, who also plays violin. We used old footage of Dmitri as a child, intercutting with shots of Sasha playing and it made me realize that children are wonderful documentary subjects. They respond well to the camera, and there was room to depict the arts in both American and British television for a younger audience, a show that would be exciting and fast."

On the heels of a trend, the premiere features a look at the prehistoric in television, books and films. Included is an interview with director Steven Spielberg on his dino-sized movie "Jurassic Park."

The British-American co-production also will highlight such topics as Marvel Comics, home of Spider-Man, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and Captain America; the Young Swans, a program created by London's Royal Ballet and the Dance Theater of Harlem for underprivileged kids; a look at the young stars of the Peking Opera, and a profile of Savion Glover, known as "The Tap Dance Kid."

Fox hopes "Opening Shots" will encourage children to become involved in the arts on many levels.

"There's so much violence around these days and negative television, it's great to make films which are about someone who is great," he adds. "I hope these documentaries encourage kids to do things creatively. It's educational in an entertaining way. It's really fun with fun graphics. For example, for the show on Marvel Comics, we are talking to Stan Lee, who's the head of the company. In the middle of the interview he turns into a comic-book character."

"Opening Shots" premieres Thursday at 5 p.m., then it airs biweekly on Sundays at 2 p.m. Bravo. For ages 10 and up.

MORE FAMILY SHOWS

Disney's 26th animated classic, The Great Mouse Detective (Sunday 7-9 p.m. Disney Channel), stars a Sherlockian mouse-- super sleuth Basil of Baker Street--in Victorian England who matches wits with the evil Prof. Ratigan (voice of Vincent Price), who kidnaps a master toymaker in his efforts to dethrone the mouse queen. For ages 2 to 11.

Shades of the old "College Bowl" game for even younger competitors. The Walt Disney Company Presents the American Youth Citizenship Competition (Sunday 8:30-8:50 p.m. Disney) is an academic competition designed to inspire middle-school students to take an active role in government. Seventh- and eighth-grade classes select a current issue facing their community and prepare a portfolio based on their examination of a problem. The regional winners of the competition competed in finals at Disneyland in June. For ages 11 and up.

With "Free Willy" in theaters these days, kids might find Undersea Safari's "The Orca and the Manatee/The Harp Seal" (Tuesday 7-8 p.m. Discovery) engaging. The show looks at how, though physically different, killer whales and manatees share many similarities. Both marine mammals breath air, give birth to live young and have no natural enemies other than humans. Social creatures, the carnivorous killer whales and herbivorous manatees congregate in groups and enjoy being touched. Where hunting threatened these Orcas and sea cows in the past, destruction of their habitat endangers them today. For ages 10 and up.

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