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SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : An Annie for the '90s--ABC movie sends her to England for royal adventure

November 12, 1995|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When John Feltheimer, president of Sony Entertainment Television, baby-sat for his goddaughter Whitney he could count on one thing: He'd take her to the video store and she'd rent "Annie."

After multiple viewings, Feltheimer realized what an impact Ray Stark's 1982 movie had on children. And so he called Stark and asked if he could make a non-musical follow-up. Stark said, "Sure."

Stark owned sequel rights to the movie, based on the Broadway musical, which in turn was based on Harold Gray's "Little Orphan Annie" comic strip.

This week, ABC airs Annie: A Royal Adventure, in which Annie ("Maybe This Time's" Ashley Johnson) and Daddy Warbucks (Tony winner George Hearn) head to London, where Warbucks is knighted.

"I know that 'Annie' was originally set prewar, but we skipped over the war and they're now in postwar London," explains executive producer Wendy Dytman. Annie and Daddy Warbucks become embroiled not only with nefarious English gangsters, but also with the decidedly ignoble Lady Edwina Hogbottom (Joan Collins).

"We have a very '90s Annie," says Dytman. "She's very self-reliant, very compassionate."

Ashley, who says she "loved London and all the castles and the double-decker buses," thinks her friends "will love that they go on this really fun trip together."

"It's got a lot of fun energy," Dytman adds. "It's really a movie that both boys and girls can watch, but it's a girl, Annie, who gets to save the day."

Even though this TV movie isn't a musical, it wouldn't be "Annie," without that signature song.

"I get to sing a song at the end," says Ashley. You can guess what song it is. And here's a hint: It's not The Beatles' "Yesterday."

"Annie: A Royal Adventure" airs Saturday at 8 p.m. on ABC. For ages 4 and up.

More Family Shows

Combining live action and animation, Reality Check (Sundays 12:30 p.m. KCOP) incorporates lessons in language arts, social studies, and math and science in each of its three "interactive computer adventure" segments. The new series revolves around the lives of two elementary school children and an eccentric teen computer programmer. For ages 6 and up.

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A new show hopes to "bug" Barney and Big Bird: The Huggabug Club (weekdays 2 p.m. KOCE)looks to teach preschoolers social skills and self-esteem. Actresses and sisters Judy and Audrey Landers star (as does Judy's daughter, Lindsey, 6). Their mother, Ruth Landers, produces the show centered around a four-armed, two-legged bug, his pal, a giant flower, the Landers sisters and seven kids. For ages 2 to 6.

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The new Peter Rabbit tale, The Tale of Flopsy Bunnies and Mrs. Tittlemouse (Monday 6 p.m. Family Channel) shows the dizzying side-effects of Benjamin Bunny and his family's gorging on Mr. McGregor's lettuce. When the garden greens make Benjamin and family snoozy, Mr. McGregor bags the bunnies for chow! Thank goodness Mrs. Tittlemouse is able to chew through the bag to save them. For ages 2 to 8.

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Luther Vandross guests as "The Great Wizard" on Eureeka's Castle Special: Don't Touch That Box (Tuesday 1 p.m. Nickelodeon). For ages 2 to 6.

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Disney's "Aladdin" spawned a straight-to-video sequel and there's a third "Aladdin" feature in the works. Now, you can catch Disney's Aladdin on Ice (Friday 8 p.m. CBS), which combines animation, skating and song and stars four-time World Champion Kurt Browning and two-time World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi. The show was shot in Cairo, Egypt. For ages 4 and up.

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Cashing in on comic-book mania, The Anti-Gravity Room (Saturdays 8 a.m. Sci-Fi Channel), examines the world of comic books as well as comic book-influenced media, music, CD-Roms, TV animation and computer games. For ages 8 and up.

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"Sister Sister" stars Tia and Tamera Mowry guest on Are You Afraid of the Dark's "The Tale of the Chameleons" (Saturday 9:30 p.m. Nickelodeon). For ages 8 and up.

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