Originally created 01/29/97

Looney for 'toons



Kids and adults alike enjoy cartoon classics

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Frances Pennington just can't wait to get out of bed on Saturday morning.

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She bounds into the living room and turns on the television.

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Her eyes open wide, a smile spreads across her face and she's content.

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She's watching her favorite cartoons - Warner Bros.' Looney Toons.

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Ms. Pennington is not your typical cartoon viewer. She's 50 years old.

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"It brings out the child in me. Everybody says I never really grew up," she said.

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Mrs. Pennington didn't watch cartoons when she was a child. She discovered them as an adult, she said.

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The popularity of cartoons and the availability of related merchandise have exploded in recent years. And many of the viewers and buyers are adults with disposable income, like Ms. Pennington.

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Executives at the Atlanta-based Cartoon Network estimate that 35 percent of their audience is adults. However, they said the cable station hasn't tried to attract an adult audience - it just happened.

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"We acquire programs or we create programs that we feel are attractive to our 6- to 11-(year-old) audience. A lot of those programs - just because of the way they were created - have a dual appeal," said Craig McAnsh, senior vice president in marketing. "Some of the recent shows we've acquired - Bullwinkle, Underdog - to a kid today, they haven't seen them before."

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Many times, parents or grandparents tune in with their children. Other times, it's just the avid fan, Mr. McAnsh said.

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Rick Osbon, who often watches cartoons when there's nothing else on television, said he sees them as a happy diversion from the hectic pace of daily life.

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"It's not something you have to think about," said the 28-year-old president of his family's drycleaning business. "It's something you can enjoy when you come in after a long day's work. It's something to laugh at and not be serious. It's a nice little getaway from the harsh realities you see on television all the time."

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Cartoon Network has also shown itself to be popular among college students. At some colleges, the station has achieved cult status.

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Dan D'Alberto, a 21-year-old senior at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, says he and his three roommates watch the Cartoon Network every day.

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"We're at school sitting with our heads in books all day. You want to come back home and get some quality entertainment," said Mr. D'Alberto, a political science major, who said he'd rather watch cartoons than "Jenny McCarthy being obnoxious" on MTV.

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Among his favorite shows are Bugs & Daffy, the Flintstones and Droopy Dog.

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"I watched Looney Toons as a kid," Mr. D'Alberto said. "I haven't ever stopped watching them."

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Animation is seen among many adults as an extension of their personalities, Mr. McAnsh said.

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"I think cartoons, to that audience, are a lot like music," he said. "It almost helps define who you are by the types of cartoons you watch, just like the type of music you listen to is somewhat defining of who you are."

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Last year, two highly successful compilation albums based on cartoons were released. One was Saturday Morning Cartoon Hits, which featured popular groups performing cartoon theme songs, such as the Ramones' version of Your Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman.

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Another popular release was a compilation of Schoolhouse Rock tunes based on the five-minute educational cartoon shorts that ran in the 1970s and '80s on ABC. The album features cuts like Better Than Ezra performing Conjunction Junction.

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The Cartoon Network even sponsors a NASCAR race car, which reaches children and adults alike, Mr. McAnsh said.

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Disney and Warner Bros. have capitalized on the growing popularity of cartoons by opening a chain of stores that sell related merchandise. Both giants have designed lines of clothing and executive items, such as business card holders, featuring popular characters.

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Cartoon Network hasn't followed that marketing strategy. The cable station has stuck with traditional items, such as T-shirts that feature Scooby Doo, Fred Flintstone or other popular characters, Mr. McAnsh said.

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"We've said let's give the people what we want, as opposed to saying, `Hey, let's design a line of Scooby Doo merchandise to make adults like Scooby Doo,'??" he said.

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However, the network was recently bought by Time Warner, which owns Warner Bros., and is looking at creating clothing lines and other items based on its characters.

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"They're the experts in licensing," Mr. McAnsh said. "We are, right now, working with them and looking at the assets we own. We want to see how they complement the Warner Bros. lines and see which appeal to mass markets and which are niche categories."

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So don't be surprised. Scooby Doo won't be the last brightly colored creature coming to store shelves.

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Here's a list of the Cartoon Network's schedule Monday through Friday. Note: The station shows Super Chunk, six back-to-back episodes of a single cartoon series, from 2 to 5 a.m. on Fridays. See the Chronicle's weekly TV book for programming.

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6 a.m.: Perils of Penelope
6:30 a.m.: Josie & The Pussycats
7 a.m.: Down Wit' Droopy Dog
7:30 a.m.: World Famous Toons
8 a.m.: Yogi Spinoffs
8:30 a.m.: Richie Rich
9 a.m.: Fantastic Max
9:30 a.m.: Snorks
10 a.m.: Paw Paws
10:30 a.m.: Pound Puppies
11 a.m.: New Scooby-Doo Movies
Noon: Smurfs
12:30 p.m.: Tom & Jerry Kids
1 p.m.: Flintstones
1:30 p.m.: Flintstone Kids
2 p.m.: A Pup Named Scooby Doo
2:30 p.m.: Bugs & Daffy Show
3 p.m.: Godzilla
3:30 p.m.: Captain Planet
4 p.m.: Centurions
4:30 p.m.: Super Adventures
5 p.m.: Speed Racer
5:30 p.m.: Super Friends
6 p.m.: Garfield
6:30 p.m.: Taz-Mania
7 p.m.: Jetsons
7:30 p.m.: The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest
8 p.m.: Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
8:30 p.m.: Flintstones
9 p.m.: Bugs & Daffy Show
9:30 p.m.: Tom & Jerry
10 p.m.: Speed Racer
10:30 p.m.: Super Friends
11 p.m.: The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest (repeat 7:30 p.m.)
11:30 p.m.: Rocky & Bullwinkle
Midnight: Snorks (repeat 9:30 a.m.)
12:30 a.m.: Jetsons (repeat 7 p.m.)
1 a.m.: Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (repeat 8 p.m.)
1:30 a.m.: 2 Stupid Dogs
2 a.m.: Bugs & Daffy Show (repeat 2:30 p.m.)
2:30 a.m.: The Popeye Show
3 a.m.: Flintstones (repeat 1 p.m.)
3:30 a.m.: Johnny Quest
4 a.m.: Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (repeat 8 p.m.)
4:30 a.m.: 2 Stupid Dogs (repeat 1:30 a.m.)
5 a.m.: Bugs & Daffy Show (repeat 9 p.m.)
5:30 a.m.: The Popeye Show (repeat 2:30 a.m.)