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SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Spielberg's 'Tiny Toons' break for prime time and the rites of spring

March 27, 1994|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Even ACME Looniversity students need a break. A full-on, wild-style spring break. And what better place to take it than Sunday on prime time, when the cartoon creation of producer Steven Spielberg, who's gotten a bit of attention for his other entertainment projects this past year, will air.

The Fox nighttime special came about, says story editor Peter Hastings, because Spielberg wanted to do a spring break story and, more important, because "we wanted to make sure that the audience knew that 'Tiny Toons' was alive and living. More of an audience will get to see the show at night." Usually, "Tiny Toons" airs weekday afternoons on KTTV.

Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toons Spring Break promises the same irreverence that characterizes the afternoon program, plus surprise celebrity cameos.

As with Fox's "The Simpsons," the producers hope the episode will engage and attract an adult audience, because "the writers write to make each other laugh," says Hastings. "Consequently, adults can enjoy the show as much as their kids."

They'll be tuning into tiny toons Buster Bunny, Babs Bunny, Plucky Duck, Hampton the Pig, Almira and their buddies chartering a bus south for that Florida hot spot, Fort Lauderdale. The toons, now in their fifth season, are fashioned in the tradition of Bugs, Daffy, Porky et al. "Buster is the sort of guy every kid can relate to, since he's always in search of fun," Hastings says. Babs--"no relation"--Bunny is "one of the very few animated female characters who has a strong personality," Hastings notes. "She's often leading Buster."

In Sunday night's story, little Almira, the human toon, hasn't forgotten it's Easter. Though her unattuned friends, Buster and Babs included, opt for optimum fun in the sun, she goes on an obsessive search for the Easter Bunny.

The spring break special, as all "Tiny Toons" episodes, features original music. "Tiny Toons" and "Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs" are the only animated television shows that now use a live 30-piece orchestra for each episode.

"Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toons Spring Break Special" airs Sunday 7-8 p.m. on Fox. "Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toons Adventures" airs weekdays at 3:30-4 p.m. on KTTV. For ages 2 and up.

More Family Shows

Many classics have been updated for contemporary audiences. One recent--and notable--success is Disney's live-action feature Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (Sunday 7-9 p.m. Disney Channel). The movie, based on Shelia Burnford's novel "The Incredible Journey," premieres this week. Disney's original version of the tale, about two dogs and a cat making their way home, was made in 1963. This time around, instead of voice-over narration, each animal has its own voice, provided by Michael J. Fox, Sally Field and the late Don Ameche. The update also expands the pets' relationship with their family. For ages 4 and up.

Still in search of a good meal and a full "pic-a-nic" basket, Jellystone Park's lovable, green-hatted bear returns in Yogi, the Easter Bear (Friday 5:05-6:05 p.m. TBS and next Sunday 3-4 p.m. KCAL). Disguised as the Easter Bunny, Yogi pigs out on the park's entire Easter candy stash. When Ranger Smith finds out, he makes plans to send Yogi to the Siberian circus. When he learns the Supreme Commissioner (of rangers) will attend Easter festivities with his grandchildren, the ranger goes ballistic. Yogi decides that the only way he can avert the Siberian plan--and help Ranger Smith--is to find the real Easter Bunny. With the help of his pal Boo-Boo, Yogi sets off on an adventure. And yes, he does save the day.

Comedian Jonathan Winters lends his voice to two characters: the Ranger's goofy assistant Mortimer and the Grand Grizzly, a wizened bear. For ages 2 to 8.

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