Synergy strikes again! Disney's ABC television network is refusing to air ads for Fox's Anastasia or any other rival studio's animated movies during broadcasts of the Wonderful World of Disney, which ABC will revive on Sunday nights. Disney also told Fox that it might ban ads for live-action, family films as well during that time period.

An ABC spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that the policy was set "because we believe there may be confusion in the minds of viewers that these may be Disney products." The ban doesn't apply to other ABC shows, she emphasized.

"What's happening to the world as we know it?" Fox film-marketing president Bob Harper anguished. Perhaps this is too much for a guy whose sister network gets to air the studio's big hit, Independence Day. Anyway, he said Fox wouldn't retaliate in kind. Blocking commercials "just seems like a bizarre way to be competitive. Let your movies be competitive."

Disney's protectiveness may be motivated in part by the disappointing performance of this summer's animated offering, Hercules. At a $100 million gross, it hasn't lived up to the expectations raised by The Lion King's $300 million showing in 1994. Around the time that Fox plans to release Anastasia, Disney will re-release the animated Little Mermaid, plus a remake of the family film Flubber with Robin Williams.

The Wonderful World of Disney returns to television September 21, hosted by everyone's favorite uncle, Michael Eisner, the chairman of the company. It will feature Disney movies like Pocahontas but also family fare from other studios, such as Universal's Babe.

But wait minute. Isn't Fox sponsoring the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on ABC in November--including an exhibition of skating to a song from Anastasia? Yes, and we suspect the poor ad-sales rep who brokered that deal is still standing in front of the blackboard somewhere writing "synergy, synergy, synergy..."

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