TV keys it to the kids Markie Post, Disney take younger viewers inside an inauguration

January 18, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Los Angeles -- Their goal is to use TV to involve children and teens in the national celebration of a new presidency this week, says actress Markie Post.

"TV is at the center of an effort to make these events more accessible to more people than ever before," the co-star of the hit CBS series "Hearts Afire" said in an interview here last week. "And, hopefully, for the first time, that is going to include everybody down to pre-schoolers and up through teens. That's what Hillary really wanted."

Of the many TV shows from Washington this week, Post will be producing two of the more ambitious: the Disney Channel's "Salute to Children" and its "Salute to Youth," which will air at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. tomorrow, respectively.

She also will co-star in the "Salute to Children," which is aimed at children ages 3 to 7; her co-host will be Kermit the Frog. Wil Smith, of NBC's "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," will star in the "Salute to Youth," which is aimed at pre-teens and teens. Also starring in each production will be President-elect Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, as well as Vice President-elect Al Gore and his wife, Tipper.

Post said the idea for the show had come from Hillary Clinton, who wanted to find a way to explain all the hoopla in Washington this week to children.

Hillary Clinton told her friends, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason, the wife-and-husband TV producers of such shows as "Hearts Afire." And they in turn told their friend, Post, who was only too happy to produce such a show for "Hillary and Bill," even though it would be her first production.

Disney is so happy to be involved that the premium cable channel is unscrambling its signal so that anyone who has basic cable can see the TV shows, which will be taped at the Kennedy Center. The shows will feature performers ranging from Mr. Rogers to the Joffrey Ballet. Among other acts scheduled to perform are Raffi, the Muppets, Boyz II Men, the Mickey Mouse Club, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris and saxophonist Clarence Clemmons.

Post said performers will not only entertain, but also will explain what is taking place in Washington, especially in the case of the children's show.

"With the children's show, what we basically want to do is explain, in an entertaining way, what it's like to begin a new job, to move to a new house, to go to a new school -- to kind of put themselves in mind of what might be happening to President Clinton now," said Post, the mother of two girls ages 2 and 5.

"We want kids to feel that they're safe, that there's somebody in charge. I don't think kids that age -- we're talking about something like 3 to 7 -- I don't think they really need to know what their responsibilities are to the world. That's more of a teen issue. Kids need to know that they are going to be taken care of . . . and that what is happening (the inauguration) is good."

Post said Mr. Rogers and Raffi will be a key part of the children's show. "Mr. Rogers will talk about when he was a child and what he felt, and, also, when Bill (Clinton) was a child. And he's going to try and show what they have grown into."

The teen show was a different agenda, Post said.

"It will deal more with empowerment of yourself and what you can do for your country, what you can expect from your country, what you can contribute," she said. "It won't be preachy at all, but it will have messages about the environment, reuniting ethnic bonds or lack of bonds -- just touching on those things.

"Again, I don't mean anything heavy-handed. It's going to be entertaining. We're going to have Boyz II Men, Clarence Clemmons . . . and the Clintons and Gores.

Post said that she did not feel the TV shows were political or ideological.

"The theme is reunion," she said, "meaning Democrats, Republicans, all ethnic groups, everybody is included. It isn't by any means a Democratic celebration. It was never intended to be. It might be construed that way, because it's a Democratic president. But the intention is not to exclude anybody."

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