Friday, February 10, 2006

The sportscaster and the rabbit

Did you see all of the things NBC Universal was willing give ABC (Disney) in exchange for Al Michaels, who will now do play-by-play on NBC’s Sunday Night Football? Here’s the laundry list (taken from today's edition of “Cynopsis”):

Paired again with John Madden in the NBC booth, Michaels was in effect traded to NBC, and in return for letting him out of the final 8 years on his current ABC contract, NBC came up with a shopping cart of stuff to give ABC. In that shopping cart are the rights for ABC to rebroadcast the Friday coverage of NBC's Ryder Cup coverage for four consecutive championship matchups, broadcast highlights from the upcoming Olympic Winter Games thru the 2012 Summer games, air highlights from a variety of other NBC Sports events including the Kentucky Derby and Notre Dame football games, and finally Disney will get back Oswald, a 1927 cartoon series of 26 episodes created by Walt Disney, to which Universal had the distribution and licensing rights.

Note the last item. “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” was a character Walt Disney and his animators were contracted to create for Universal Studios. After a falling out, Disney broke off to create his own studio and a new character who looked suspiciously like Oswald, only with round ears.

But Universal retained the rights to Oswald and created more shorts without Disney throughout the 1930s.

The Al Michaels deal gives Disney back the original 26 shorts Walt Disney created. Universal keeps the non-Disney episodes.

Oswald is also credited with being a forerunner of another famous animated character. So in a sense, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny started as split personalities of one character!


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