Al Michaels and 'Oswald,' Switching Channels

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TV sportscaster Al Michaels was "traded" from ABC to NBC for, among other things, the rights to a cartoon bunny: Walt Disney's early creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.


This week ABC decided to let the voice of Monday Night Football, Al Michaels, go to NBC in exchange for a cartoon character. There were some other considerations, including money and broadcast rights. NBC's corporate home, Universal Studios, has apparently owned the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the character Walt Disney created for Universal in 1920s before he created Mickey Mouse. Oswald looks somewhat like Mickey but with shorter ears. Of course even Leonard Nimoy has shorter ears than Mickey. When Mr. Disney struck out on his own he couldn't afford to take Oswald with him. Oswald Rabbit appeared in cartoons until 1938. Mickey Rooney was one of his voices. But new Disney President Robert Iger told the Disney family that he wanted to bring Oswald back into the family of characters the founder created, and saw a chance when they got to bargain away Al Michaels. Mr. Michaels says he's honored, but now Goofy is threatening to become a free agent.

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