At New York's Radio City Music Hall, the network showed clips from "Father of the Pride," along with excerpts from an interview with a scarred and partially paralyzed Horn on a huge video screen.
"It really gave people the creeps," said Shari Anne Brill, programming director for ad-buying firm Carat USA. "You know, the public's memory is very fleeting, but then they put that guy up there and they remind you that [he] was almost murdered by the cartoon characters this show is based on."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 04, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Siegfried & Roy -- Articles in various sections of The Times have been in conflict about the weight of the tiger that mauled illusionist Roy Horn on Oct. 3. Times reports have given its weight as 300, 550 and 600 pounds. Siegfried & Roy's publicist and Las Vegas animal control officials said the tiger weighed about 380 pounds.
Zucker acknowledged that NBC "did a bad job" with the clips. Network executives said they probably were trying too hard to assure people that Horn was on the mend. In numerous test screenings, they said, no one was turned off by the show because of the tiger attack.
"It was one of those things that we over-thought way too much," Zucker said. "All the audience wants to do is laugh."
But for advertisers, the age of that audience has been a puzzle.
Initially, many thought the show's content would be kid-friendly, especially because NBC received money for the show from the Family Friendly Programming Forum. The mission of the advertising group is to support prime-time programs parents can watch with their children.
But in an opening scene of Tuesday's episode, for example, the John Goodman character, Larry the lion, hurries home to his wife, who is in heat. He swivels his furry hips and announces: "Big Daddy's home.... It may be 9 o'clock in New York, but right here it's mountin' time."
Sensitive to the growing criticisms, NBC last month amended its on-air promotions to include the disclaimer that the show is "an adult comedy." Despite reservations, advertisers have purchased commercial time in all 13 episodes that have been ordered from DreamWorks.
Katzenberg, Zucker and others involved in the program insist that "Father of the Pride" was always intended to reach NBC's target demographic of 18-to-49-year-olds. "This show is edgy, subversive and a little irreverent," Katzenberg said.
These days, he suggested, that's the only breed of animated program that can claw its way to the top.
Times staff writer Maria Elena Fernandez contributed to this report.
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With the exception of Fox, the major broadcast networks haven't had much luck with prime-time cartoons since "The Flintstones." A sampling:
Status: Still airing
King of the Hill
Status: Still airing
Status: Ended in 1966
Status: Ended in 2003
Networks: Fox, WB
Status: Ended in 2001
Status: Ended in 2002; new episodes slated for next season after DVD sales and reruns create new interest.
Networks: ABC, Fox
Status: Ended in 1995
Status: Ended in 1963
The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo
Status: Ended in 1965
Premiere: Aug. 12, 1998
Status: Ended Sept. 2, 1998
Premiere: June 23, 1993
Status: Ended July 28, 1993
God, the Devil and Bob
Premiere: March 9, 2000
Status: Ended March 28, 2000
Premiere: May 31, 2000
Status: Ended June 7, 2000
Premiere: Aug. 8, 2000
Status: Ended Aug. 15, 2000
Sources: Baseline, Times research