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SHEEPISH MOUSE; DISNEY PULLS TAPE FOR SUBLIMINAL SMUT.

Byline: Dave McNary Daily News Staff Writer

The Walt Disney Co., in an embarrassing stumble, announced Friday that it pulled 3.4 million copies of its just-released ``The Rescuers'' video, reportedly because it contains photos of a nude woman's torso on two of its 110,000 frames.

The entertainment giant, which has never previously recalled a video, said Disney employees discovered the photos, which company officials would characterize only as something some people might consider objectionable.

The images had been inserted into the master negative of the 1977 animated movie during production and then transferred onto the video. The images were not discovered until this week because they are only visible while viewing the video frame by frame. The video advances at the rate of 30 frames per second, making one frame impossible to see unaided.

``We have no idea how the images were placed in the master originally,'' said Disney spokeswoman Claudia Peters. ``They weren't visible when the film was shown in theaters.''

Burbank-based Disney, the world's most successful brand in family oriented entertainment, said in a statement that the videos were being recalled ``to keep (the company's) promise to families that they can trust and rely on the Disney brand.''

``The Rescuers'' involves two mice, Bernard and Miss Bianca, and their albatross friend Orville trying to save a young girl named Penny from treasure hunters. Voices include Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor and Pat Buttram.

``The Rescuers'' was re-released in theaters in 1983 and 1989, and first released on video in 1992. Disney said the earlier version of the video does not include the image because it was made from a different master.

The company is offering refunds through the mail for the new video, which was being sold at the standard price of $18 to $20 a copy. It declined to say how much the recall will cost but said it plans to restock inventories within a short time.

Videotapes cost only a few dollars per copy to duplicate and analyst Linda Bannister of Edward Jones said she does not expect the recall to have a material impact on Disney's bottom line.

``People hold Disney up to a higher standard and expect them to be near-perfect, so they look at the company with a microscope,'' she said. ``So this will receive a lot more publicity than if it had happened at another company.''

Wall Street also shrugged off the development as Disney shares rose 75 cents in trading Friday to $32.50.

The disclosure likely will buttress contentions by some religious groups that Disney is undeserving of its reputation as a purveyor of wholesome entertainment. In 1997, the Southern Baptists Convention announced a boycott of Disney to protest the company's ``gay-friendly'' policies, particularly the ABC-TV series ``Ellen,'' and told its 15 million members to abstain from purchasing Disney products.

Anti-Disney advocates have claimed that other Disney animated films such as ``The Lion King'' contain subliminal sexual imagery but Disney has denied those allegations. The Rev. Wiley Drake of First Baptist Church in Buena Park, an active boycott proponent, said the latest development is no surprise.

``We believe there are many people within Disney doing this kind of thing deliberately,'' he said. ``I don't think it's a practical joke, but more a part of a deliberate internal agenda from people inside the company. The list goes on and on and on.''

Drake cited violence in such Disney-produced films as ``Pulp Fiction'' and ``Scream,'' ``gay days'' at Walt Disney World and anti-church and pro-gay attitudes in films, TV shows and books.

WHAT TO DO

Customers who bought ``The Rescuers'' video since its release Tuesday can make an exchange by mailing it to BVHE, Dept. 100, 1240 E. 230th St., Carson CA 90745. For more details, call (800) 723-4763.

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Photo

PHOTO (Color) no caption (Scene from ``The Rescuers'')
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 9, 1999
Words:639
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