Annie" Watched by Some 40 Million; Video Release in December

News   Annie" Watched by Some 40 Million; Video Release in December The Nov. 7 airing of the TV musical, "Annie," was a smash for ABC and "Wonderful World of Disney," luring an estimated 40 million viewers to the small-screen version of the Broadway hit.

The Nov. 7 airing of the TV musical, "Annie," was a smash for ABC and "Wonderful World of Disney," luring an estimated 40 million viewers to the small-screen version of the Broadway hit.

It was second highest-rated Disney TV movie ever, and earned the largest audience in the 7-9 PM time period in two years (since Disney's "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella" in 1997, and excluding The Academy Awards).

A video release of the holiday-themed picture is expected in December, according to a spokesman.

Alicia Morton's stock has also risen: The young actress who played the title orphan (and is a vet of Broadway's Les Miserables) has signed a one-year deal with ABC and Touchstone in anticipation of a series, according to the Nov. 8 Hollywood Reporter.

ABC was the No. 1 network for total viewers and adults 18-49 the night of Nov. 7. "Annie" producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan of Storyline Entertainment (TV's "Gypsy, "Cinderella") are developing a number of musical ideas for Disney and ABC, including a TV version of Jerry Herman's Mame, executive produced by Barbra Streisand. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel ("City Slickers") have already delivered a script.

Meanwhile, theatre buffs are wondering if the smashing success of "Annie" opens a new window for the consideration of a TV version of Annie Warbucks, the Off-Broadway sequel about the board of orphans objecting the Annie's adoption on the grounds that Oliver Warbucks is single.

A plot point or two would need to be finessed for a TV sequel: At the end of the new TV movie, Warbucks (Victor Garber) presents his assistant, Grace (Audra McDonald), with an engagement ring.

-- By Kenneth Jones