disneybugs1 disneybugs1

Disney Afternoon vs. Tiny Toons (1989)

Rummaging through some old paperwork, animator Mike Kazaleh recently came across a Disney TV publicity packet he obtained in 1989 while working on Tiny Toon Adventures. This was material sent to TV stations around the country to prepare them for the coming syndicated package The Disney Afternoon. What surprised him (and I) was that the material is page-after-page of anti-Bugs Bunny, anti-Warner cartoon information, with charts and graphs and misinformation. I always knew television syndication sales was a cut-throat business back then – and here’s a bit of proof. Click thumbnails below to get a closer look at the first nine pages. Image above was the cover sheet of the packet.

  • I’m sure many will already point this out but, Alivin and the Chipmunks isn’t Warner Bros.

    Did Not Do The Research.

    • Jay Sabicer

      The Ruby-Spears version was distributed through Warner Bros.

      Crow is a bitter dish.

      • Uh, if WB was distributing new Chipmunks episodes for its syndicated block at that time, then Murakami-Wolf-Swenson would have been producing them. Ruby-Spears bowed out after 1987.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        That was probably the case, though I also remember a syndicated set of episodes they aired that had animation produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson for whatever reason.

      • Yeah, I goofed on DiC (the comment has been changed to MWS by now.) There must be some story behind the changeover from Ruby-Spears to MWS and DiC, though I suspect it’s Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. exercising tight control over his intellectual property.

  • L

    Wow, did they get Jack Chick to write that?

    • Katella Gate

      Amen! The True Religion of the Mouse!

  • Yeah, well, since when has anything sanctioned by Disney been known for historical accuracy? This just reads as a corporation scared by the possibility that someone else is going to be putting out product that can hold its own against theirs. I wonder what the Disney press pieces looked like when Nicktoons was starting up…

  • lola

    They weally had it out for that darn wabbit.

  • Just out of curiosity, is any of the data here numbers that are flat out wrong or extremely misleading? Obviously, it isn’t provable that Bugs Bunny is or was “worn out and aged” or that all the Warner Brothers shows add up to “a pale comparison to The Disney Afternoon.” But aside from the chest beating and hyperbole, are the numbers they’re using correct and do they actually mean anything?

    This is quite interesting to see. I wonder if there’s a similar document from Warner Brothers floating around detailing how all of Disney’s shows are just dull reimaginings of out of date characters kids have never heard of (not my opinion, just the likely tone of such a document.)

  • joecab

    If you spend more time knocking the competition rather than promoting your own product, then you have already lost.

  • uncle wayne

    oh my LARD!!! What a startling way to wake up today! I (still) say it’s a damn shame that you can not find a ONE WB cartoon on ANY airwave nowadays! Isn’t there a “petition” (or something) that we “Brewsters” can do!? These films were, and are, a GIANT part of our lives!!

    • Geoff

      Maybe not where you live, but here in the Toronto area (and all of Canada, I believe) we have a station called Teletoon Retro where the program consists mainly of WB cartoons, from old school Looney Tunes up to Batman The Animated Series, with some sprinklings of HB works like Flintstones and Quick Draw McGraw.
      Personally, I would love to find the old Disney toons, too, somewhere on TV (classic Mickeys, up to Disney Afternoon fare)

  • Steve Gattuso

    If you can’t win with facts, baffle ’em with BS.

  • Autumn

    LOL Did Bugs scare them so BADLY that they felt the need to use him so MUCH?

    In all honesty, Bugs had been on the air for 30+ years BEFORE this “Disney block” came out, and for his numbers to still be so high and significant for them to even MENTION is pretty damn impressive. One character against a whole line up. I’m impressed with him even more now.

    I remember scrambling to watch Tiny Toons, The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show and Animaniacs FAR more than I did when Duck Tales was on. Duck Tales barely even registers in my mind when I think of childhood shows I loved. I think I even watched Alvin and the Chipmunks more.

    Didn’t care for Goof Troop, never got heavy into Chip and Dale. The Gummi Bears was too kiddy. What else was there? Bonkers? Pfft. I don’t remember those shows. I remember TTA. I remember Bugs Bunny. Those stayed with me.

    I dunno, I don’t feel their line up came close to touching Bugs, let alone Tiny Toons. Perhaps it’s all a matter of opinion?

    • Wiredwizard

      The only thing I really remember out of that “Disney Afternoon” is Darkwing Duck. Other than that & the occasional old Goofy cartoon, I’m a WB fan all the way. Long live the Wabbit… =)

  • Kelly

    “Worn out and aged”? That about sums up the corporate mindset for things not made in the last 6 months. Makes me think of the BLAM! story from a few days ago. Pinocchio? Worn out and aged! Give it the BLAM! treatment with 3D and then we’ll be getting somewhere!

  • Tom Pope

    I don’t think they’re claiming Warners made Alvin, only that Warners was airing the show in a block of shows.

  • Kelly

    Forgot to add to my comment from 8:04 that my six-year-old daughter is fascinated by the old WB cartoons. A whole cabinet full of kids’ films of all sorts, and she consistently picks out the WB collections.

    • James E. Parten

      Your six-year-old is not alone. Chuckles Gardner has been showing vintage cartoons to his boss’s kids (oldest of which just turned seven), and they love Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry–and even Mighty Mouse!

      As for the parents, I get the impression that they would rather that the kids be watching the good old good ones than “Ben 10” or “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”.

      At least the kids are not into Pokemon and its progeny!

  • Dave O.

    They forgot to mention that on the suck factor, “Duck Tales” and “Tiny Toons” are at about 95%. Saw some episodes of each recently and well… they haven’t aged well.

    • Jeff

      The first season of Duck Tales (before Bubba Duck and GizmoDuck were introduced) were good. What episodes did you see?

    • Anna

      wow really? I was rewatching a lot of season 1 TinyToons, and its still utterly hilarious to me (in a total 90s way, but its still funny!)

  • This is hilarious, two companies who could care less for its history fighting each other and almost blaming the other for the lack of history! Well, when I was growing up, I, too, saw far more LOONEY TUNES cartoons than I’d seen Walt Disney’s classic toons. While I enjoyed the strictly theatrical experience of Walt Disney’s classic cartoons, I felt more at home with the laugh-out-loud gag content of any Warner Brothers or MGM cartoon you could name…or Jay Ward for that matter. We owe it to film history accuracy to preserve these cartoons…and you know, someday, even the Disney dinosaur will have to answer to the fans who have enjoyed swopping the classic cartoons that they still will not restore and release for whatever reason! We as a country should stop beating our chests until we are once again able to stand on our own two feet and show off brilliantly conceived product that all will enjoy on all levels! We’re far from that now!

    • “laugh out loud carotons of Warners,”
      Even the arety What’s Opera Doc, or those later, dreadful Speedy and Daffy’s, with Speedy’s disrespectful stereotyping?

      or MGM or even Jay Ward..”
      Or Hanna-Barbera, too.

  • Autumn

    I agree with Sara. Are there any FACTUAL numbers we can see from that time period? Is there any PROOF to their arrogant claims? Or are they just (obviously) trying to drag Bugs and the whole WB animation line up through the mud to draw attention from themselves?

  • Scarabim

    I’ll bet that packet was Eisner’s idea.

  • Theodore

    Katzenberg slung plenty of mud in that day, too. Both he and Eisner lived for it. Things all changed once Jeffrey became partners with Steven, the guy who was being indirectly smeared in the above marketing piece.

  • Jorge Garrido

    But I’m sure it’s totally different now, right guys?

    • Yeah, because Disney would NEVER say anything bad about Spongebob…



    Man I love stuff like this. Nothing like good old fashioned shit talkin’

  • Sheesh! They give tons of reasons why Warner Bros. shows are inferior, but absolutely nothing to say why there’s are superior!

    If you were one of those networks showing Warner Shows, it would seem that Disney is calling you out for being a schmuck.

    Suggesting your customers are idiots will do you no favours. It’s a good thing David Ogilvy was still alive then, otherwise he’s be spinning in his grave at the thought of such poor treatment of customers.

  • Tee

    This is interesting. I’ve always wondered what it would have been like at the time to try to sell a two hour, high profile animation block for afternoons. In my opinion, the half hour adventures stuff they did aged better than the showbiz jokes and blackout skits in Tiny Toon or Animaniacs, so I think they won the day there, but at the time the Tiny Toons and other WB shows were being hyped incessantly, with promotional tie ins everywhere, so it’s easy to see how the Mouse would have been a little reluctant to just take it on faith that local television stations would opt for Scrooge McDuck and Chip and Dale.

    Not long ago, a friend and I were watching an Animaniacs collection, and with the exception of a few spots that were really brilliant, like Yakko’s songs naming the states in the US, or the countries in the world, almost all of the other cartoons aged like a saucer of milk. Painful doesn’t begin to describe them. From the Animaniacs’ opening theme song’s reference to “pay for play contracts” through references to Spielberg, Geffen and Katzenberg, Mike Ovitz, meta mentions of “back end deals” on the eventual home videos of the cartoon you’re watching, the whole thing felt very adult and very “industry”. Tastes vary, but I’ve always disliked that kind of thing, even when it’s fresh.

    • Excellent point, Tee. That kind of self-referencing was overdone to DEATH on those shows [not just WB, to be fair mind you, btw].


  • ‘DISNEY – THE ONLY CHOICE’ That sounds… evil… 1989 you say? I find this kind of funny considering ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ came out a year before. Really, though, if you think about it, Disney didn’t really have any other big competitors in the business back then so I can understand why they would say bad things about Warner and Bugs… but it baffles me as well they would say so much slander about them. It seems almost like propaganda.

  • Christopher Cook

    And what’s Disney shilling out today, 20 years later? Teenybopper drivel passed off as E/I fare?

  • DonaldC

    “It’s no secret…..the quality programing gets the highest clearances.”

    If only that where true.

  • Christopher Smigliano

    This was the animation equivalent of teabagging today.

  • Some Bunny

    This is deeply bizarre and fascinating. What a great find! As an aside, I think a book about the long-running Disney/Warner Bros. rivalry would be fascinating.

  • bluenowait

    The Mouse is calling Bugs worn out and aged?! If that’s not a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is! Sorry if it seems like I’m stooping to Disney’s level.

    • Autumn

      I agree, was Mickey even on the air at the time?

      • Only on the then-premium pay Disney Channel.

  • Mike birtwistle

    It’s kind of funny reading this, since, in my region anyway, I remember the Disney afternoon airing on the wb!

  • Kristjan

    All I can say love-hate relationship and im not surprised. I wonder if it was that heated back th GAC days.

  • Jeff Haynes

    I was glued to the TV for every episode of Gummi Bears!
    Not only did they rot kid’s teeth they also rotted their brains.

  • cst

    Funniest part: Disney’s GARGOYLES and DARKWING DUCK are both BLATANT attempts to cash in on the success of Warner’s BATMAN cartoon.

    • Christopher Cook

      You win the Internet.

    • childisfatheroftheman

      Neither DD nor Gargoyles were being produced in 1989/90. Batman wasn’t either, the same people that worked on TT ended up working on Batman but that was a couple of years later

    • Only Gargoyles. Darkwing was a comedy.[Or so it CLAIMED! :)]

  • childisfatheroftheman

    Actually, as a child of the early 90s, I’ll say this-hyperbole aside, it’s pretty close to how I remember things at the time. Tiny Toons and Tasmania were popular, but not like the Disney Afternoon. Every kid, even ones that didn’t like cartoons otherwise, enjoyed at least ONE of those shows, often several. Ducktales was huge. Alvin & the Chipmunks, with it’s 80s music/clothing/sense of styles, already felt retro.

    I think the statement about Bugs Bunny is comparing old MM/LT being aired against hot new properties like DT and C&D. Maybe they were, I don’t know, I was in the Buffalo market (see fig 4, circle with slash)!

  • juan alfonso

    Obviously the Disney folk getting scared of “Tiny Toons” shows how paranoid they are.I’m sure they are worried now about the Chipmunks compared to how they did with “The princess and the Frog”.and with Harry Potter landing at rival Universal studios and the Disney parks raising their prices,don’t expect the parks to bail them out anytime soon.

  • Giovanni Jones

    Isn’t it neat how impressive-looking charts and graphs can lend credibility to “nyahh-nyahh-nyaaaah” and “nannee-nannee-boo-boo?” I’m going right over to Staples now.

  • Mike Russo

    “Funniest part: Disney’s GARGOYLES and DARKWING DUCK are both BLATANT attempts to cash in on the success of Warner’s BATMAN cartoon. ”

    Uh, no.

    The Batman series began in 1992. Darkwing Duck began in 1991, but was in development as early as at least 1990.

    • Indeed. And Gargoyles began development back in 1991, and was originally pitched as a more light-hearted and comedic show than what it ultimately became.

    • Jeffrey M. Mandingowitz

      “Darkwing Duck” was deep in production by mid 1990 and premiered in September of 1991. It was intended as sort of a Disney version of the look of Chuck Jones’s cartoons, done as a half hour episode series in the storytelling tradition of what became known as The Disney Afternoon. It played like ‘what if Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble had a higher cel count but Carl Barks was their writer instead of Mike Maltese.’ Gargoyles was heavily influenced by the look of BTAS by the time it was done. Had there been no BTAS, Disney never would have gone in that direction. Same reason that Black Cauldron, a heavily rotoscoped feature, came about after Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings”, seven years later. Disney has been trying to copy what they deemed hot for decades. The amusing thing about this marketing piece is that they’re slamming what they were at the same moment trying to copy.

  • 1989.


    Say, wasn’t the number one cartoon on Saturday mornings in 1989 The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show on ABC? Also, didn’t Bugs & Friends do relatively well on TNT? And didn’t Looney Tunes on Nickelodeon actually become that network’s highest-rated show on weekday afternoons and evenings?

    “Worn out and aged.” Feh. Also, what Warner Bros. afternoon block? Did I miss something? Also, I think that Disney aimed all their energies on the wrong target. It wasn’t Warner Bros. they should have been afraid of.

    They should have looked at what the Fox Broadcasting Company was planning for fall 1990. That Fox Kids block all but killed the Disney Afternoon. And for two seasons, Fox Kids had those “worn out and aged” Bugs Bunny cartoons on its weekday lineup. Warner Bros’ own block, which came in Fall 1995, was the knife that did kill the Disney Afternoon. And who was on the daily Kids’ WB block for its first four years?

    Those worn out and aged Bugs Bunny cartoons.

    Funny situation, ain’t it, Disney?

  • Joel

    I watched BOTH Ducktales & Tiny Toons!
    Figure ME out ye grand high exaulted Masters of Research!

  • James E. Parten

    Interesting. . .

    I wonder if all this folderol was not aimed at small- and middle-sized TV markets that did not have a lot of stations that would be contending for these programs.

    Here in Los Angeles, one station had the “Disney Afternoon” block, while another would have “Tiny Toon Adventures”. On top of that, you had shows from DIC, and from Claster as well.

    But if you were running a station in Fresno, say, or in Fort Smith, there would not have been so much competition. (Never mind Glendive, Montana–America’s smallest TV market!)

    Bugs Bunny had been running, in various packagings, since 1956, and was still doing quite well, thank you so very much!

    I guess you can’t blame Disney for being a little spooked by the prospect of Warner Bros. and Spielberg getting together to offer them some competition.

    • Fresno didn’t have any VHF stations, only UHF, so there was no shortage of indie stations to run just about every block of shows that aired, from Amazin’ Adventures to the Power Block.

      Guh, half a million people and we still refuse to think of ourselves as anything but a cowtown…

  • Gerard de Souza

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
    Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 222–230

  • I know of at least one lie: “Bugs Bunny” was airing in Portland. However, that year it was being aired as the second half of the “Ramblin Rod” cartoon show in the mornings. If that technicality was enough to count as “not cleared,” it makes me wonder about the rest of the markets listed there.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Around ’89 the post-48 package was being shown on “ToledoVision 5”, a cable-only station that had began that same here here in Toledo (later to be a WB affiliate, now with CW).

  • It seems weird to me that there are no pictures of actual cartoon characters in this. Or is this just a small part of the packet?

    If this is what it takes to sell a show, no wonder some of us are languishing in obscurity.

  • Mark McD

    Wasn’t there more than one package of WB theatricals in syndication at that time? If so, Disney was fudging even more by comparing stats for only one “Looney Tunes” package against “Disney Afternoon.”

    Certainly getting a whole bloc of new cartoons at what must have been a group discount must have been attractive to local stations. And a new series with some background (like the not-old, not-tired Huey, Dewey & Louie with that kid-friendly newcomer Scrooge McDuck) would have no trouble getting clearance in a lot of markets… in its first year. Every “Oprah” spinoff gets all top 50 markets its first year, before dwindling off to UHF-land to fill space between trade school commercials.

  • BJ Corbitt

    The whole argument seems to be an attempt to “prove” Tiny Toons would be irrelevant because the old Bugs Bunny cartoons weren’t as widely syndicated as Ducktales and Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers.

    But that makes no sense. It would basically be like looking at how widely distributed Disney’s old Donald Duck/ Chip & Dale cartoons were, and using that as a barometer for the “relevance” of Ducktales and Rescue Rangers. That’s a deeply cynical attempt to undercut Tiny Toons before it ever got a chance to prove itself, and one that would have sunk Disney’s entire afternoon block (which consisted of re-branding characters who had lost exposure and relevance to kids over the decades) if the same logic had been applied.

    Not only that, but they spelled Talespin wrong.

  • Wasn’t Turner slowly pulling away syndication of their chunk of the Warner library by 1989? Also, with Bugs Bunny being such a powerhouse on Saturday mornings, would stations really want to clear weekday syndication of the same brand of cartoons? That theory, after all, was why ABC canned Super Friends in the early ’80s after Hanna-Barbera started syndicating the show.

    Besides, there’s an irony about calling those Warner programs outdated when The Disney Afternoon’s run of Gummi Bears was simply reruns from a show that had run its course.

  • They really spend money doing this kind of research? Trying to find causation from correlations in things that can’t be measured that way. Usually, the conclusions to this type of thing is always the same: if something is successful, it was because of all our market research and subsequent marketing. If something fails, its because the artists were being to edgy and experimental.

  • The Gee

    I didn’t read through every page (though I would have it a PDF option were available*)

    The thing about the info in the document is it wasn’t meant for any of us. That is unless we were in programming at local, mostly independent, TV stations or for the parent companies of a group of stations. Parts of it are likely bogus and boisterous for one simple reason: it is a sale pitch to the people who make the spending decisions.

    So, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that the easiest way to sell its own product is to discourage a station to consider the competitors. Disney has done it other venues, I’m sure. And, most companies in other industries do it as well.

    Soooo, no one should really get ticked off at the info they are laying out (as if they don’t really know or underestimate YOU). It really isn’t about you, it is about what would best fill those two hours blocks on broadcast TV back in the early 90s. Neither You (even if you were a part of the target demographic) nor I were not on the radar of who put together that package.

    * *hinthint* to those bloggers who post sequential pages of jpegs. If you’re interested and don’t know how, just ask. If not, oh well.

    • Mark McDermott

      It might not be so much to steer a potential station away from potential competitors to the Disney Afternoon, but to draw in a potential station looking for a way to counter THEIR competitor which is running WB cartoons and skedding (“Variety” talk) TTA that fall.

  • Mark Morgan

    I think the thing to keep in mind is who’s arguing and why. There are only two good reasons for a debate or an argument.

    1. To establish and/or prove a philosophical, social, or personal truth.

    2. To prove your better than the other guy so people will like you more.

    A sale department is worried about their product being better. They’re worried about whether or not people will buy more of it than they do of their competition. This whole package is giving me flashback to Aaron Eckhart’s character from “Thank You For Smoking”.

    As a fan of both Tiny Toon Adventures and several of the Disney Afternoon shows, I find it interesting to see what was going on at this time. I have to wonder if Sunbow and Hanna-Barbera didn’t produce something similar while simultaneously making both Transformers and Go-Bots.

    Thanks for posting, Jerry. I really enjoyed this.

    P.S. Speaking of the Disney Afternoon, I wonder if anyone is aware that at least one DA show (Darkwing Duck) has become such a runaway hit as a comic book that another one (Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers) is planned to become an ongoing series come this December. Now that’s something I’d like to see Mr. Beck weigh in on.

  • Joe

    I enjoyed the misspelled “TaleSpin”.

  • One has Gumby @54%. If the music-rights holder that be had allowed, the original soundtracks would have been leased, and GUmby woiuld have been bigger [& I can do WITHOUT “new episodes” of that or anything.]

    Hey, Brandon, I didn’t notice the non-WB or non-Disney reference to The Chipmunks [the ACTUAL, 1960 original has been owned by the VIacom co.].But the way inferoir [being kind] R/S, MWS and DIC are WB owned..coincidentally, the R/S version used some WB sound effects.

  • As a viewer in 1989 I had a very clear sense that Disney pwned tv animation, in terms of quality and output. Then Tiny Toons walked all over them and established a clear and unchallenged dominance from WB products throughout the 90s.

    Funny and sad that Disney adopted this particular agitprop attitude at the exact moment they lost their handle. There’s a lesson there.

  • Ahaha! This is hilarious! Thanks for posting, Jerry, you made my day:)

    Disney whining in broad daylight about how threatened they feel by a 50-year-old Warner Bros. character, and shouting out loud that the ‘spirit and vibrancy’ of their new Gummi Bears and ‘Tailspin’ can’t hold a candle to the classic Bugs Bunny. It doesn’t get much better than this.

  • Pez

    I think the reason for the article may be this…

    I’m From St. Louis Mo. and before the Disney Afternoon my afternoon tv was as follows. Not sure of the exact order.

    Denver the last Dinosaur
    Scooby Moives (the show)
    Bugs Bunny and Friends (cheap Public domain prints)
    Batman Adam West.

    Eventually Chip and dale was added in and I think Denver was thankful lost.

    Before DuckTails they had these things called Disney Days on for Labor Day and other Holiday times when kids were not a school. those would run all day until 3:00pm when the normal programing would start.

    But when the Disney Afternoon took over Bugs and Scooby had to move to another network. Bugs was still on ABC Saturday mornings.

    I think the Fact was that these cheap older cartoons made a nice diverse programing block that kids were tuneing into already. So maybe the Disney Company felt the need to convince local affiliates that their programing block was worth the money.

    Cause Duck Tails was really expensive to produce.

  • RobAlister

    This is one of the coolest things (relating to the animation industry) I’ve ever seen.

  • It won more Emmys.

    It was a show that I remember (Animaniacs being the most remembered 90’s WB cartoon show for me)

    And, it had a higher cel count, no matter where it was farmed out to.

    It had main characters based on LT characters younger than Mickey (you hear that, Disney of ’89?)

    It had a theme that was moving ahead of the 80’s unlike DuckTales. Even Bonkers was a little dated tempo-wise it almost had a DuckTales feel to it.

    And don’t get me started on how clever “Animaniacs” and “Pinky and the Brain” were.

    If it hadn’t been for Pokemon and E/I FCC rules, maybe Kids WB (and possibly less action shows on Fox Kids, Animaniacs’ original network block) would have saved the network Saturday Morning ritual and make Disney’s One Saturday Morning/ABC Kids cry wee-wee-wee all the way home to Walt’s grave or frozen head.

  • Billy Bob

    Just found this.


    Still, the fact that Bugs was kicking ass and taking names on saturday mornings makes it kind of a weak argument.

    Even though the WB toons win against the Disney toons in my opinion, Disney still did put out some solid work in the 90s. Ducktales, Darkwing Duck, Talespin, Gargoyles, Goof Troop, etc. I watched the Disney Afternoon to a various degree for a while in the 90s.

    Some stuff doesn’t hold up as well to a 22 year old, but for youth television the Ducktales revolution was a HELL of a lot better than the schlock my cousins and aunts were forced to sit through in the 80s.

    (Although Garfield was very good).

  • I would have loved to have seen not only back then Disney but reruns of UPA as well. Strange thing is Nickelodwon would, on Weinerville, which also had the 1961-1962 Alvin show, show the Magoos. Those were in the day hailed lkike Disney as a relaxing, refreshing alternative given how the Warner Bros.cartoons became mindless violence [though it was more true later on..Tiny Toons aged very bad for me and made me wish for Muppet Babites., its obvious influence, something I hated wishing for!!]