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The Smurfs Return to U.S. TV on DIC Kids

Things will be looking Smurfy, (which is a good thing) on the DIC Kids Network when it starts airing one of the worlds most popular and successful animated series in television history, THE SMURFS. DIC Entertainment (DIC) acquired the broadcast rights to 26 half-hour episodes of the hit series produced by Hanna-Barbera in the 80s from Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution.

THE SMURFS will begin airing in January 2005 on DIC Kids Network, a unique three-hour programming block designed to provide stations with childrens programming that meets core FCC requirements. DIC selected certain episodes of THE SMURFS that were produced with an educational basis to meet the standards of the programming block.

The traditionally animated television series was first bought by Fred Silverman when he was president/ceo of NBC, where the series dominated the NBC Saturday morning lineup for nearly a decade, boosting the network from last place, in 1981, to first place in kids, virtually overnight. The international hit series still airs on major broadcast outlets around the world. Already a hugely successfully comicbook series from Belgium in Europe, the little blue figurines from Wallace Berrie & Co. (which later became Applause) took America by storm as the series hit the airwaves a quarter-century ago.

THE SMURFS evolved into a global brand sensation with a successful line of toys, books, music and a feature film. What a great idea for DIC to bring THE SMURFS back to television: I have no doubt that it will be as popular today as it was when it first aired nearly 25 years ago, said Silverman.

"I had the privilege to work at Hanna-Barbera in the late 70s and early 80s and to collaborate closely with the original creator, Peyo [Culliford], said Andy Heyward, chairman/ceo, DIC. We watched the series command a 60 share rating on NBC. Ratings like that have not been seen before or since, and I believe we can bring the series to the top of the ratings charts once again on the DIC Kids Network.

Heyward adds, THE SMURFS is one of those rare timeless jewels that became one of the first mega-entertainment brands for kids, and with the retro trend showing no signs of slowing down, we believe the environment is right to re-awaken this sleeping giant to a new generation of young viewers.

After all these years, this series is just as entertaining, relevant and enjoyable as when it first aired, said Eric Frankel, president, WB Domestic Cable Dist. We couldnt be more pleased than to be introducing THE SMURFS to a whole new generation of kids and, in the process, give a few parents a trip down memory lane.

THE SMURFS television series follows the adventures of the Smurfs, who live in the mushroom cottages of Smurf Village with their leader, Papa Smurf (voiced by the late Don Messick). The lively blue creatures, that captivated children around the globe for years, lead an almost perfect life except for the evil wizard, Gargamel (voiced by Paul Winchell) and his evil henchcat, Azrael (performed by Messick), who spends his days trying to capture them.

The American version of THE SMURFS featured top voice acting talent in Hollywood at that time (June Foray, Frank Welker, Lucille Bliss, Winchell, Janet Waldo, Messick, Michael Bell, Bill Callaway, Hamilton Camp, Alan Opppenheimer, Alan Young, Bob Holt) and helped launch many upcoming actors into their voice acting careers (Susan Blu, Julie Dees, Charlie Adler). Jonathan Winters credits casting recording director Gordon Hunt (director/father of actress Helen Hunt) for saving him from depression when he was brought in to do the voice of Grandpa Smurf.

THE SMURFS made their first appearance in 1956 when creator Peyo introduced them in a story of Johan & Peewit in LE JOURNAL DE SPIROU.

The DIC Kids Network, launched in September 2003, reaches 100% of the U.S. markets and airs on more than 450 stations. The programming block airs on major broadcast outlets, including local FOX, WB and UPN affiliates, and offers three separate exclusive programming feeds, along with a Spanish Language feed on virtually every series for the SAP channel (airing on over 200 different stations). The programming feeds are comprised of six half-hours of animated programs from DIC Entertainment's extensive library of over 3,200 half-hours of popular animated programming.

DIC Ent. (www.dicentertainment.com) a leading children's entertainment company, is a full-service studio dedicated to creating, developing, producing, distributing, marketing and merchandising family-based intellectual properties. DIC is headquartered in Burbank, California with international offices in New York, Paris, London and Cologne.

Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Dist. is one of the leading suppliers of programming to the cable and satellite marketplaces. It is responsible for sales, marketing and distribution of Warner Bros. Studios already-produced feature films, television series, miniseries, television movies and specials to the pay television and basic cable markets, as well as feature films to the broadcast networks. WBDCD supplies programming to a dozen broadcast networks, 30 pay television and nearly 100 basic cable networks.

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