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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON CO. AND REBUILD L.A. COMMIT $3.5 MILLION

TO `THE PUZZLE FACTORY,' NEW PBS MULTICULTURAL PRE-SCHOOL SERIES
 From KCET/Los Angeles and Lancit Media/New York; Gift is Largest Single Corporate Grant Ever to a Pre-School Series
 HOLLYWOOD, Calif., April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Edison Co. (SCE), in partnership with the Rebuild L.A. (RLA) community redevelopment effort, announced today that it has committed $3.5 million for the production and national outreach campaign for "The Puzzle Factory," a major new daily pre-school series for PBS. The series, a co-production of Lancit Media Productions Ltd. of New York and KCET/Los Angeles, uses a cast of delightful and captivating puppet characters to teach young children the values of multiculturalism, self-esteem and the importance of getting along with others.
 The grant is the single-largest corporate grant ever awarded to a public television pre-school series.
 It is part of Edison's $35 million commitment to Los Angeles-area community renewal.
 The announcement, which came today at a press conference held at KCET's Hollywood studios, was made by KCET President William H. Kobin, SCE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John E. Bryson, Lancit Media President Larry Lancit and RLA Co-Chairperson Barry Sanders.
 The funding by the utility company, in partnership with RLA, will supplement a $4.5 million grant already awarded to the series by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). It is the largest single program grant that CPB has given for a young children's series. CPB television program fund director Don Marbury joined the press conference via satellite from Washington, D.C.
 Edison's significant support of "The Puzzle Factory" was made possible by RLA, whose Racial Harmony Task Force reviewed and endorsed Edison's underwriting of the program. A portion of the funding provided by Edison to "The Puzzle Factory" comes from funds the company had earmarked for RLA-related projects.
 "Diversity is to be Celebrated and Embraced"
 "The viewers who rely on public television for quality children's programming owe a tremendous debt to Southern California Edison and RLA for this extremely generous gift," said Kobin. "The goal of `The Puzzle Factory' -- to teach youngsters that diversity is to be celebrated and embraced -- is a responsibility that each of us shares, and we are grateful to have these community-spirited partners support this landmark production."
 According to Bryson, this grant is the first of its kind for the company. "We have focused our efforts on three major areas which need attention and in which we believe we can make a real difference: job creation, job skills training and augmenting education, particularly focused on our region's ethnic diversity.
 "Most of our nation's pre-school age children will be watching `The Puzzle Factory.' We believe the values that will be taught in this new program -- awareness, acceptance and appreciation of each individual's traits, self-esteem and problem-solving -- will help to promote racial harmony in our region and beyond as the children who grow up with these values become members of our society."
 "RLA enthusiastically endorses `The Puzzle Factory,'" said Sanders. "It is an excellent means to help achieve racial harmony in our communities. As in other aspects of our regional recovery efforts, Edison is showing real leadership and vision in taking this step."
 According to Lancit, "The key is that `The Puzzle Factory' will be enjoyed by youngsters as pure entertainment; the puppet characters are warm and lovable, the scripts are funny and touching, the sets colorful and whimsical. And within this delightful setting, the positive messages will come through."
 "The Puzzle Factory," according to its producers, is a magical environment inhabited by a cast of "people puppet" characters who together attempt to solve the little puzzles of life. The half-hour episodes will be complete stories, filled with music, comedy and drama.
 The senior creative consultant on the series is Kevin Clash, who has designed all of the puppets. Clash is an Emmy Award-winning puppeteer who has appeared as Elmo on "Sesame Street," Baby Sinclair in the ABC series "Dinosaurs" and in the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" feature film.
 Series to Have Major National Outreach
 Plans for "The Puzzle Factory" include a massive national outreach campaign targeted to early childhood education centers, parents and young children ages two to five. Ancillary activities and materials directed to these audiences will be a key aspect of the outreach plan, as will an all-encompassing "Puzzle Factory" club for caregivers. Club members will receive educational materials designed to foster in young children an understanding and respect for diversity, promote good social skills and encourage problem-solving.
 "The Puzzle Factory" is tentatively scheduled to begin production this summer. A demonstration pilot episode of the series was recently taped at KCET and completed at Lancit Media in New York.
 The entire "Puzzle Factory" project, including its outreach component, will have a total budget of approximately $13 million for an anticipated initial season of 65 half-hour episodes. It is currently scheduled for its national PBS premiere during the winter season of 1994/95.
 "PBS has always played a leadership role in providing quality children's programming to American families," said Jennifer Lawson, executive vice president of programming at PBS. "This important grant from Southern California Edison and RLA for `The Puzzle Factory' indicates that American corporations continue to view public television as a vital force for good in our society."
 "CPB is delighted that Edison and RLA have stepped forward to join us in making `The Puzzle Factory' a reality," said Marbury. "CPB applauds their vision and commitment."
 KCET, soon to enter its 30th year of broadcasting to Southern and Central California, is an award-winning producer of national and local television programs and series. Among its national credits are "Cosmos," "American Playhouse," "WonderWorks," "The Astronomers," "Secret Intelligence," "Trying Times" and numerous other series and specials.
 Lancit Media Productions continues to produce the long-running Emmy Award-winning children's series "Reading Rainbow" for PBS. Its acclaimed series "Ramona" airs weekly on the Disney Channel, and its first prime-time TV movie, "Miracle Child," aired last night on NBC.
 -0- 4/7/93
 /EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo of a group of multicultural puppets available without charge on your photo receiver. Have photo editor dial-in to 212-967-1293, 212-643-2005, or 212-643-2006, for PRN0407LA1D./
 /CONTACT: Barbara Goen, 213-953-5244, or Laurel Lambert, 213-953-5246, both of KCET; or Steve Hansen of Southern California Edison, 818-302-2255/


CO: KCET-TV; Southern California Edison;
 Lancit Media Productions Ltd. ST: California IN: ENT UTI SU:


MS-JL -- LA017 -- 3774 04/07/93 12:32 EDT
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Date:Apr 7, 1993
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