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NBC to air 'Mummy' ride special

Programming reflects network's corporate collaboration with Universal's film and theme park divisions.

June 18, 2004|Maria Elena Fernandez | Times Staff Writer

There have been specials on local TV about Fiesta Broadway, the Indian Pow Wow in Orange County and the Kingdom Day Parade. But before Universal joined NBC in the General Electric Co. family, KNBC-TV and KWHY would not have had the opportunity -- nor the inclination -- to create a special about a new roller-coaster ride based on behind-the-scenes footage of the construction process.

Well, it's a new world at NBC Universal, and on Saturday, KNBC will air a half-hour special about Universal Studios Hollywood's new "Revenge of the Mummy -- The Ride," a "psychological thrill ride," based on the movie that opens June 25. Spanish-language KWHY, owned by Telemundo and also a member of the corporate family, will air its special Thursday.

This collaboration between Universal's film and theme park divisions, as well as NBC's Los Angeles stations, shows that the synergy in big corporate deals can also present local opportunities.

"The economic synergy of this turned out great because this was a videotape they shot anyway," said Paula Madison, president and general manager of KNBC.

According to Madison, the unusual special grew out of a meeting she had with her counterparts at the park as a result of the merger. "We never really had a reason to sit in a room with the folks from Universal Studios Hollywood before. I asked them to come here so ... we could see if there was anything on the drawing board that would be of interest in terms of programming opportunities. They brought along tapes they had shot for their own purposes of behind-the-scenes footage. I played the tape and thought it was fascinating and something that would be of interest to our viewers who would frequent Universal."

Both the KNBC and KWHY specials will feature footage of the making of the theme park attraction, which mixes the latest in high-speed roller-coaster engineering with computer-generated animation, special effects and other storytelling techniques. The 2 1/2-minute indoor attraction reaches 45 mph, comes to a complete stop and then goes in the reverse direction almost as fast. Stephen Sommers, who directed the two "Mummy" movies, helped to develop and create the ride.

"It's blow-your-mind kind of amazing," said Ginger Zumaeta, executive producer of both specials. "They're using this magnetized levitation rail-type thing that projects you and stops you and a lot of it hits you by surprise. There's an imaginary safety blanket people feel in a ride but this ride puts you through physical surprises to break that barrier. The special is all about the science and the moviemaking magic of the ride."

Anchors Fritz Coleman and Fred Roggin will host KNBC's special, which airs at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Francisco Quiroz of "Jugar a Ganar" will do the same for KWHY, which will air "Los Secretos de Revenge of the Mummy" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

"What you get is a walk-through and an experiential program with them," Madison said.

"The hard-core content of the shows is the same," Zumaeta added. "But the perspective of the hosts is different."

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