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Hundreds try out for shot to be the new Captain Kangaroo

March 6, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Hundreds of would-be TV stars auditioned Wednesday by reciting the following line with feeling: ``You know, I’m really worried about Mr. Moose. He’s not acting like himself lately. He hasn’t even tried to trick me with a knock-knock joke.″

The role they were vying for was Captain Kangaroo, the kindly, mustachioed seafarer made famous by Bob Keeshan. The hopefuls ranged from a Santa Claus-like teacher to a cable TV show producer decked out in sailor-type garb.

The producers of the ``Mighty Morphin Power Rangers″ and Anheuser-Busch are teaming up to revive the popular kids show, which ran on CBS from 1955 to 1984, then carried on PBS until 1993.

This time, the Captain will be aimed at the 2- to 7-year-old children of the baby boomers who watched the original show.

``I was born and raised on Captain Kangaroo,″ said Captain hopeful Steven Fiorenza, who produces a local children’s educational TV show. He wore seafaring attire to the tryouts at Anheuser-Busch’s Busch Gardens theme park, where some of the new series will be filmed for syndication.

The rights to Captain Kangaroo were bought several years ago by Saban Entertainment, maker of ``Power Rangers.″

``We are looking to contemporize the show and give it the sense and the look of a kid’s show in the nineties,″ Saban spokesman Barry Stagg said. ``It will be interactive, computer-related, high-tech with an MTV-style approach.″

Saban plans 26 half-hour episodes for the first season, starting in September.

Keeshan, in California shooting an episode of the ``Jeff Foxworthy Show,″ said through a spokeswoman he will not be associated with a show that uses his name but doesn’t allow him to have artistic control.

Still, Stagg said Saban is negotiating to bring him on board.

``Maybe we’ll have him elevated to admiral and make periodic appearances on the show,″ he said.

Wednesday’s tryout brought out amateurs and local acting professionals, such as Patrick Doyle, 45, a veteran of a national bug-spray commercial.

``I’m sure I did OK,″ Doyle said. ``But it really doesn’t matter if you do somersaults. You’ve got to have the look they want.″

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