Musicians Taj Mahal and Koko Taylor Guest Star On Arthur

ARTHUR wraps up its eighth season final five new episodes Christmas week, Dec. 22-26, 2003 (check local listings), culminating with blues musicians Koko Taylor and Taj Mahal guest starring in "Big Horns George."

In this episode on Dec. 26, a chance meeting with legendary Queen of the Blues Koko Taylor inspires George to write and perform his own blues song. Stage fright and self-doubt overwhelm him, but fortunately, Taylor and fellow blues great Taj Mahal give George the encouragement he needs to keep singing those blues!

The ARTHUR team was inspired by WGBH co- production, Martin Scorsese's THE BLUES, which featured Taylor and Taj Mahal. They collaborated with THE BLUES producers to find guest stars ideally suited to introduce kids to blues music.

"I see my participation in ARTHUR as a great opportunity to give kids a leg-up on a musical legacy that's important to the whole world," says Taj Mahal. "Introducing kids to the blues is especially important now when so many public arts and music programs are being discontinued."

Taylor adds, "Children are tomorrow's generation and I'm doing the show for them. This is a superb opportunity to educate children about the blues and its importance."

A special two-part episode, "Postcards from Buster," premieres Dec. 22, providing viewers a glimpse at POSTCARDS FROM BUSTER, the ARTHUR spin-off series premiering on PBS KIDS in fall 2004. In this episode, which combines live action and animation, Buster travels to New York City with the Reads to meet his dad, Bo. While D.W. enjoys Central Park, takes in a Broadway show and daydreams of living in the glamorous Metropole Hotel, Bo gets lost with Arthur and Buster in the neighborhoods of Chinatown and El Barrio. They capture the adventure on Buster's new video camera that his mother gave him for the trip.

The P.O.V.-style, live-action video footage Buster records is the first example ARTHUR fans will sample of the innovative POSTCARDS FROM BUSTER format. The style seamlessly weaves playful, first person, documentary footage of real kids into animated stories.

"Blending live-action footage with the same high-quality animation that viewers love in ARTHUR will make for a fun and visually dynamic way to explore this country," says exec producer Carol Greenwald.

ARTHUR -- based on Marc Brown's best-selling books -- has won numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award and three Daytime Emmys in the Outstanding Children's Animated Program category. ARTHUR is produced for by WGBH Boston and CINAR Corp. Executive producers are Carol Greenwald (WGBH) and Lesley Taylor (CINAR). Marc Brown is creative producer. The award-winning ARTHUR Website is pbskids.org/arthur. Funding for ARTHUR is provided by the Corp. for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers. Corporate funding is provided by Libby's Juicy Juice, Teddy Grahams and Chuck E. Cheese's.

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