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LPWire: Disney Channel to Introduce Preschoolers to New Latino Hero in Handy Manny

Disney Channel to Introduce Preschoolers to New Latino Hero in "Handy Manny," A Learning-Focused Playhouse Disney Series

A new multi-cultural series about making things work, "Handy Manny," will join Playhouse Disney, the learning-focused programming block for preschoolers on Disney Channel. The announcement was made today by Gary Marsh, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and Production, Disney Channel. Wilmer Valderrama, best known for his role as Fez on the "That '70's Show," stars as the voice of Latino hero Manny Garcia, a helpful, determined young man who, with the assistance of his eclectic set of talking tools, is the town's expert when it comes to repairing all that's not working. The main title theme song is performed by Grammy Award-winning Hollywood Records' recording artists Los Lobos. The series is scheduled for an early 2006 premiere.
All programming seen during Playhouse Disney, a daily block which is delivering its best ratings since its 1999 launch, is designed to promote age-appropriate learning, nurture young children, stimulate their imaginations, reflect Disney-quality storytelling and values, and encourage viewer participation.

Marsh said, "The storytelling in 'Handy Manny' immerses preschoolers in a bilingual world, one where the protagonist models conflict resolution and problem solving skills and it will fit beautifully into our mission to help kids imagine, learn and grow up well-rounded. We're pleased with the response the project has received from the creative community especially with the enthusiastic participation of Wilmer Valderrama and Los Lobos."

Produced in eye-catching 3D computer animation, Manny's comedic escapades will embrace Spanish culture and language while Manny and his tools show young viewers how to best navigate everyday predicaments. The cultural consultant is Marcela Davison Aviles and Dr. Renee Cherow O'Leary is the curriculum advisor.

Children's television veterans make up the team behind "Hanny Manny." The series was created by Marilyn Sadler and Roger Bollen (of the Disney Channel Original Movie blockbuster "Zenon" trilogy). It was developed for TV by executive producer Rick Gitelson (producer/writer, "Rugrats"). The voice direction is by acclaimed animation veteran Susan Blu. The series is a production of Nelvana, Ltd.

Manny Garcia is the young man for every job – he's the eternal optimist in a world that certainly needs repair and he's always respectful of others and quick to offer a "please" or "gracias." Manny has the right tools for the job and although they are always gung-ho to help, they are also a noisy, fussy, bickering bunch. Through it all, Manny and the preschool age viewing audience gain a greater understanding of how to navigate through life's minor turmoil and reach one's goals.

At the top of each episode, Manny is called by a neighbor in need and whether it's a clogged drain, damage from rain or a broken horn on the town's only train, Manny's up for the challenge. All he needs is his handy tools. They are: Pat, the bumbling hammer, Turner, a grumpy screwdriver, Felipe, a very ambitious screwdriver, Dusty, the not-so-dainty hand saw, Stretch, the nearly perfect tape measure, Squeeze, a curious pair of pliers and Rusty, a fearful monkey wrench. They're all on a common mission, yet they each have a different way of doing things. And they're loaded with quirky personality traits that make reaching their goals a constant struggle.

Playhouse Disney is seen daily (weekday, 6:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and weekends 6:00-10:30 a.m.) on Disney Channel which is available in over 85 million U.S. homes. All programming and content for Playhouse Disney is informed by the Whole Child Curriculum developed by Dr. Renee Cherow-O'Leary. This philosophy of education is based on Howard Gardner's work on Multiple Intelligences which states that intelligence and learning is a much broader concept than just mastering ABCs and 123s. Playhouse Disney's preschool learning promotes a child's development in: social skills, early academics, thinking skills, self-expression, life skills and motor skills.

--Posted April 5, 2005
Source: Disney Channel