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SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Family's 'Wenceslas' is here via Christmas carol and a Dalmatian's walk

November 20, 1994|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The newest Family Channel movie, Good King Wenceslas, was inspired by a Dalmatian paw print.

Producer Michael Deakins was walking his dog, Bonzo, in the snow when the traditional Christmas carol came to him. "There's that line in the song, 'In his master's step he trod,' and I realized, my God, that song would be a great film and it's never's been done," he says from his London home.

Deakins packed up an English and American crew--with actors Jonathan Brandis, Stefanie Powers, Perry King and Joan Fontaine--and traveled to Prague for six weeks to shoot the movie based on the Czech folk tale.

The fable, originally set in the Dark Ages, was pushed to the mid-14th Century to give it more of a "fairy-tale feel," says Brandis, 18. While the story of a teen-age king about to be usurped by his wicked stepmother sounds much like fiction, it's based on fact.

"It's an important story," Brandis says. "The prince has definite goals, and there's a major element of his life missing. He's somewhat of a victim and getting absolutely no support from anyone around him. It's about his triumph over this constant struggle he has. He stays positive throughout."

"Good King Wenceslas" airs Saturday at 8 p.m. on The Family Channel. For ages 6 and up.

***

Continuing to wage that ever-present battle of evil vs. good are Mighty Max and Skullmaster (voice of Tim Curry). And just in time for Thanksgiving, a new villain, Nactrone, is introduced on the animated show.

Instead of being designed and drawn by a professional animator, Nactrone was created by 9-year-old United Kingdom resident Adam Shaw, who won a contest sponsored by show producers Film Roman ("The Simpsons" and "Garfield") and Lumiere in London.

Adam isn't quite sure where his inspiration came from: "Well, my sis told me that the show was on the telly and then when the contest came around, I just came up with the name and the character," he says from his home in Middlesbrough, England. Adam decided he knew "the way he looks, the way he spoke and that he's got big hands. It just came up in my mind and I drew it. I watch it every time it's on here and I watch videos too. I've got three."

When the modest Adam didn't want to brag to his friends that he'd won, his "mum rang them all up and told them!" This summer, Adam and his family won a trip to the Film Roman studio in North Hollywood and were given an animation cel of the character he designed. Right now, he's at work on a "Mighty Max" comic book featuring Nactrone. He's also determined to be a cartoonist when he grows up.

Nactrone appears in Thursday's and Friday's "Mighty Max" at 7:30 a.m. on KCAL. For ages 4 to 10.

OTHER EARLY HOLIDAY SHOWS

The Muppet Christmas Carol comes to the Disney Channel even before we've had time to carve the Thanksgiving turkey. You can catch it Sunday at 7 p.m. Michael Caine plays mean old Ebenezer Scrooge and Kermit the Frog (who else?) essays Bob Cratchit. For ages 2 and up.

Can Santa find a snowbound family, trapped in a cabin deep in the woods? Sure he can, especially if he gets help from Holly and Christopher, the children's faithful Teddy bears, who are determined not to let their family down in The Bears Who Saved Christmas (Friday 7 p.m. KCOP). The special features the voices of Jonathan Winters, Henry Gibson and Pam Dawber. For ages 2 to 8.

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