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May 7

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May 7, 2000 – The Television Musical Geppetto Premieres on The Wonderful World of Disney


“All right, so I didn’t sleep so well. But who cares? I have a son unique in all the world. It’s not every boy who can trace his family tree to a tree.”

On May 7, 2000, the made-for-television musical Geppetto aired on The Wonderful World of Disney program on ABC. The story is loosely based on the 1940 film Pinocchio, reusing the characters of the Blue Fairy and Stromboli, but it adds many new aspects of the film when Geppetto searches for Pinocchio after he leaves with Stromboli’s traveling puppet show. The music for the film was written by Stephen Schwartz, save for the reuse of the 1940 song “I’ve Got No Strings”; the film was written by David I. Stern (with the original source material written by Carlo Collodi). It was directed by Tom Moore, and stars Drew Carey as Geppetto, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Blue Fairy, Brent Spiner as Stromboli, Rene Auberjonois as Buonragazzo, Wayne Brady as the Great Lazardo, and Seth Adkins as Pinocchio. Recording artist Usher makes a special cameo as the Ringmaster of Pleasure Island. The film was nominated for four Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special.

The story is narrated by Geppetto, beginning when he finished the new toys for the season. All of the children of the village of Villagio run to the toy story in a frenzy, with their parents trying to keep up with them. The children spy the toys through the window, and when Geppetto opens the shop, they rush inside. The parents voice their complaints of trying to get their children to behave, and Geppetto, who has longed for a child of his own, voices his own sadness that “those that see children as bothers are the ones who get to be fathers.” After everyone leaves that evening, Geppetto returns to his work on his puppet, Pinocchio, wishing that the puppet were a real boy. That night, the Blue Fairy appears in Geppetto’s house, granting his wish. Geppetto is confused, then overjoyed to find that Pinocchio has come to life. As they try to go to sleep, Pinocchio keeps his father awake with many questions, which Geppetto tries to answer good-naturedly, but his patience grows thin.

Geppetto takes Pinocchio around the town,introducing the residents to his son

Geppetto takes Pinocchio around the town,introducing the residents of Villagio

The next day, Geppetto is ready to show Pinocchio off to the town. Unfortunately, Pinocchio lets his mischief get the better of him, causing problems for several people in town. The next day doesn’t get better, as Pinocchio doesn’t listen to his father. When Geppetto gives Pinocchio a tricycle, Pinocchio ends up crashing and breaking the tryke. By the third morning, Geppetto is rather upset by Pinocchio’s willfulness. When Geppetto tries to teach Pinocchio how to be a toymaker, Pinocchio refuses to learn, wanting to be a train engineer instead. Geppetto then decides to send Pinocchio to school the next day, with the advice of acting “just like the other children.” Unfortunately, Pinocchio takes his advice quite literally, and gets into a fight with another student. Pinocchio is then asked to leave the school until he can behave, much to Geppetto’s annoyance. On the way home, they are accosted by puppeteer Stromboli, who wishes to make Pinocchio part of his show. At home, Pinocchio breaks Geppetto’s music box, and his nose begins to grow when he lies about breaking it. The two argue, and Geppetto begins to look for the Blue Fairy, calling Pinocchio a disappointment. Pinocchio overhears this, and decides to run away to join Stromboli’s traveling puppet show.

Geppetto finally finds the Blue Fairy, and tells her that her magic was defective. The Blue Fairy takes a bit of offense, but tells him that maybe it isn’t Pinocchio that is “defective,” and it takes a little bit more than just magic to solve his life. Without answers, Geppetto returns home. He finds that Pinocchio has run away, and muses that maybe it is for the best, but goes to the show to give Pinocchio his teddy bear and favorite train. When he arrives, he sees Pinocchio perform and, thinking that the boy is happy, he decides that Pinocchio has found where he belongs. What he doesn’t see, however, is how Stromboli treats Pinocchio, locking him in a cage. When Geppetto stops by Stromboli’s tent, he asks to see Pinocchio, but Stromboli tells him that Pinocchio has already left. Geppetto rushes off to find his son, and when Stromboli returns to his cage, he finds Pinocchio gone, boarding a carriage for Pleasure Island. Stromboli goes after Pinocchio, needing his cash cow.

The Blue Fairy stops by, once again using magic to teach Geppetto a valuable lesson on fatherhood

The Blue Fairy stops by, once again using magic to teach Geppetto a valuable lesson on fatherhood

Geppetto searches for his son, and runs across the Blue Fairy again, who is pleased to see that Geppetto is beginning to realize that he is responsible for what he created, but Geppetto protests that it’s about Pinocchio rather than himself. As he runs away from the Blue Fairy, he comes across a magician who isn’t very good at being a magician. After looking around at the magician’s props, Geppetto remarks that Lazardo has a talent for making toys, but Lazardo tells him that he became a magician because his father was a magician, and his father before him was a magician. He wanted to be a toymaker, but he couldn’t bear to disappoint his father. Geppetto finally understands the message, and resolves to make it up to Pinocchio once he finds him. Geppetto then comes across the town of Idyllia, where an inventor named Professor Buonragazzo creates “perfect children.” Although Geppetto is at first taken by the idea of a perfect child, he realizes that he doesn’t want a child that’s perfect, he wants his son. As he leaves Idyllia, the Blue Fairy appears again, directing him to Pleasure Island, where Pinocchio is, and revealing Stromboli’s lies.

Geppetto finally arrives at Pleasure Island, where boys are encouraged to act naughty. Stromboli finds Pinocchio, but the Ringmaster has Stromboli dragged away, as adults aren’t allowed in Pleasure Island. As Geppetto searches for Pinocchio, he finds out what happens to boys at Pleasure Island – they turn into donkeys. Pinocchio begins to board the rollercoaster, but is stopped by Geppetto, as he tries to rescue his son. Pinocchio refuses to listen to Geppetto, and boards the rollercoaster. As he begins the ride, he begins to change into a donkey. Seeing this, Geppetto boards the ride to rescue him, but is too late, as Pinocchio is shipped off to the salt mines. Geppetto then races out to sea to rescue him, but is soon swallowed by Monstro, the whale. Pinocchio leaps from the boat to save him, and his selflessness causes him to change back into a puppet. The two reunite in the belly of the whale, with Geppetto wishing he could go back in time and do everything over to make things right by Pinocchio. The two come up with a plan to escape the belly of the whale, and they return to Villagio.

Stromboli appears in Geppetto's workshop, waiting to stake his claim to Pinocchio

Stromboli appears in Geppetto’s workshop, waiting to stake his claim to Pinocchio

Back in Villagio, Stromboli appears in Geppetto’s workshop, staking his claim to Pinocchio, as Pinocchio signed a contract to stay with Stromboli’s puppet show. Geppetto tells Stromboli he’s willing to give up everything to keep Pinocchio, including his home and all of his possessions. Stromboli refuses, as he still wants Pinocchio. He storms away with the boy, and Geppetto calls out for the Blue Fairy for help. She appears, but sadly tells him that there is little she can do now. Geppetto pleads with her, asking her to turn him into wood, or stone, or clay, as he cannot continue to live without his son. She surprises everyone by turning Pinocchio into a real boy, making Stromboli’s contract void. She tells Geppetto, “What good would it do making Pinocchio a real boy if he did not have a real father to come home to,” making Geppetto realize all that he’s learned on his journey. She leaves him with one more surprise: turning the store sign of “Geppetto’s” to “Geppetto and Son,” with a happy ending for all in Villagio.

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