Sean Astin Stars in New Playhouse Disney Animated Series

SPECIAL AGENT OSO, a new animated television series starring Academy Award-nominee Sean Astin as the voice of Oso, a fuzzy, lovable, bumbling stuffed panda bear who is a special agent-in-training, premieres with two consecutive episodes Saturday, April 4 (8-9 a.m., ET/PT) during Disney Channel's learning-focused Playhouse Disney programming block.

The interactive series, which emphasizes discovery, humor and organizational skills, calls upon viewers to help accomplish special missions by breaking down everyday tasks using three simple steps, just as Oso does.

Programming events across multiple platforms will herald the series premiere beginning Saturday, March 21, when a full-length preview episode becomes available at PlayhouseDisney.com, as well as on mobile for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon wireless customers and via a free preview on iTunes. A full episode will be available on Disney Channel On Demand beginning Saturday, March 28.

PlayhouseDisney.com will also offer preschoolers and parents a 360 degree experience where kids can earn a special Digi-Medal featured in the day's new episode. Online visitors can unlock and collect additional Digi-Medals by helping Oso complete pop-up assignments, equip Oso with a variety of special agent gear, gadgets and props, and customize Oso's training environments by populating them with vehicles and characters from the show.

SPECIAL AGENT OSO will launch simultaneously on the UK's Playhouse Disney channel and will continue to roll out through mid-2009 on Playhouse Disney channels and Disney Channels around the world.

Paying homage to special agent classics, the series follows Oso, a stuffed panda bear who works for U.N.I.Q.U.E. (United Network for Investigating Quite Usual Events), an international organization of stuffed animals charged with helping kids accomplish everyday tasks such as mailing a letter, cleaning their room or learning how to use the library. Throughout every special assignment the accident-prone Oso maintains a sunny outlook on life and an enthusiasm for his job with his catchphrase, "It's all part of the plan."

Each episode will consist of two 11-minute adventures featuring clever titles such as "Gold Feather," "Live and Let Ride," "A View to a Book" and "Carousel Royale," and original music that references the classic spy genre in a kid-friendly way that parents and caregivers will also enjoy. At the beginning of each adventure, Mr. Dos, a character who remains unseen, provides Oso with a special assignment. Oso relies on his computerized sidekick, Paw Pilot, a paw-shaped communication device and other gadgets including Shutterbug, a robot video camera lady bug; a grappling hook pen and his special agent vest; customized vehicles, such as a helicopter, a bullet train, a sports car and a motorcycle; and most importantly, viewers at home to complete the task at hand before the ever present ticking clock runs out of time.

An actor since the age of 10, Astin made his feature film debut as Mikey in the Warner Bros. classic THE GOONIES. He then went on to star in the critically acclaimed RUDY and the Academy Award-winning THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, among numerous other film and television projects.

SECRET AGENT OSO also stars Meghan Strange as Paw Pilot; Gary Anthony Williams as Mr. Dos; Amber Hood as Agent Dotty; Disney Channel star Phill Lewis as Agent Wolfie; and Cam Clarke as Whirly Bird and R.R. Rapide.

A production of Walt Disney Television Animation, SPECIAL AGENT OSO features an innovative mixture of digital-cut out, 3D and Flash animation, as well as some collage and papier-mache to create texture and tangibility. Ford Riley (THE LAND BEFORE TIME, HIGGLYTOWN HEROES) is creator and exec producer. Jamie Mitchell (THE TINKER BELL MOVIE, LITTLE MERMAID, HEY ARNOLD) is director and co-exec producer.

Playhouse Disney, seen in a daily programming block on Disney Channel U.S. and on 21 Playhouse Disney channels around the world, encourages preschoolers to imagine and learn through original series, short-form and acquired programming that includes song, movement and entertainment. Guided by an established curriculum, Playhouse Disney supports multiple areas of child development: physical, emotional, social and cognitive; thinking and creative skills as well as moral and ethical development through carefully constructed themes, storylines and endearing characters.

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