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June 17, 2003 ELCA News Service
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ELCA's 'Davey' Documentary to Begin Airing in September

Augsburg Fortress
Davey and Goliath

Chicago (ELCA)-JAC* — On Sept. 14 the ABC television network will begin airing "Oh Davey ... History of the 'Davey and Goliath' Television Series," a documentary featuring Davey and Goliath, a value-based children's program that aired on commercial television networks from 1960 through the mid-1980s.

ABC-TV affiliates will show the documentary beginning Sept. 14. Affiliates will determine local broadcast times.

The original "Davey and Goliath" television series, created and owned by the former Lutheran Church in America (LCA), promoted "basic Christian values," said the Rev. Eric C. Shafer, director, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Department for Communication. It reached an estimated 1.7 million children and was aired in seven languages in 19 countries around the world.

Premavision/Clokey Productions, Los Osos, Calif., producers of the "Gumby" television series, also produced the original "Davey and Goliath" programs with the LCA.

"Davey and Goliath" is now a property of the ELCA, formed through the 1987 merger of the LCA, the American Lutheran Church and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches.

"The ELCA was chosen to produce a documentary by the National Council of Churches and the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, which works closely with the networks to bring faith-based programming to general market television," said Ava Odom Martin, broadcast production manager, ELCA Department for Communication, and producer of the documentary.

"There is no other pop-culture icon owned by a church," Shafer said.

The documentary will be hosted by Clifton Davis, from the television sitcom "Amen," and Mary McDonough, best known for her role as Erin on the television series "The Waltons." Set in a 3-D virtual environment and to be taped in Chicago by Post Effects Studio, the documentary will move through the history of "Davey and Goliath" beginning with its inception in 1958 and continuing through the decades to the program's current productions, Martin said.

Initial screenings for the documentary are planned for Sept. 7 in Chicago, and Sept. 15 in Washington, D.C., she said. Screening dates are to be announced for sites in New York and Los Angeles. Created by both Art and Ruth Clokey, the original series was made through a technique known as stop-motion animation, a process where puppets are staged and moved little by little in each frame of film to give the illusion of movement when shown at broadcast speed. "These are real things in real environments," said Martin. It takes 24 still frame images to create one second of video, she said.

"The most appealing quality of Davey is that he presented scenarios that children could relate to," Shafer said. "The plots were often similar -- Davey got into trouble, Goliath acted as his conscience, and Mom and Dad saved the day."

"Davey and Goliath" dealt with issues facing children in the 1960s and 1970s and was progressive for its time, Shafer said. Themes included racism, gangs and guns in school, he said.

Though it dealt with controversial themes, "Davey and Goliath" always focused on God's love for children, he said. "The basic message throughout was that God loves you no matter what," Shafer said.

The ELCA is also merchandising many "Davey and Goliath" items such as lunch boxes, toys, bobble head dolls and neckties through the official Web site and through Augsburg Fortress, the publishing house of the ELCA. Proceeds from merchandising will go to fund new "Davey and Goliath" episodes, said Shafer. The ELCA is seeking $5 million in financial gifts for future productions, he added.

*Jessica A. Crane is completing her bachelor of arts degree at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. This summer she is an intern with ELCA News and Media production.