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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Curious George stars in TV series

By Nancy Rabinowitz
Associated Press

Curious George and Jumpy the Squirrel discover kite-flying in one episode of the new children's series airing on public television.

Universal Studios/Houghton Mifflin via AP

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He's flown a kite, traveled in a space ship, become a movie star and had a long friendship with a tall man in a yellow hat.

Now he's on public television, and the creative team behind his new children's series is hoping precocious monkey Curious George will help turn kids into budding scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

The series, which airs at 7 a.m. on weekdays, is based on the classic books by Margret and H.A. Rey dating back to their first Curious George story in 1941 and is geared toward ages 3 to 5. It's narrated by actor William H. Macy.

"The global lesson of George ... is telling kids, 'It's your job to figure out what's going on and to play, don't worry about the rules. Your job is to be happy, to test the boundaries, that's your job,' and that's a lovely thing to say," Macy said.

Producers of the television show are hoping to piggyback on the success of the "Curious George" movie that was released in February and grossed nearly $60 million. The series is being produced by Imagine Entertainment, WGBH-TV in Boston and Universal Studios Family Productions.

Curious George and his constant companion, the man in the yellow hat, were creations of the Reys, German Jews who were living in Paris when the imminent invasion of the Nazis forced them to flee. Riding on bicycles that Hans had assembled from spare parts, the two rode to freedom. One of the items they carried with them ultimately to Cambridge, Mass., where they settled was a manuscript that featured the character Curious George.

The Reys published their first book in the U.S., "Curious George," in 1941 and the last of their George adventures, "Curious George Goes to the Hospital," in 1966.

H.A. Rey died in Boston in 1977. Margret Rey died in 1996.

Over the years, there have been other Curious George books besides the original Rey editions, but this is the first time he'll be starring in his own TV series, said Mary Wilcox, the director of franchise publishing of children's books for Houghton Mifflin.

The writers for the series picked as many story lines as possible from the original seven books, but head writer Joe Fallon needed to write others in the same spirit.

"The first thing he did was he combed through the original books and looked for things that kept recurring. In every one of them, you could see a little wiener dog. So, he decided to turn that into a character," said Carol Greenwald, the show's executive producer.