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The original ''Flintstones''' pilot: 'The Flagstones'

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Talk about fossils. The Cartoon Network has unearthed the pilot for The Flintstones, a 1-minute-and-45-second snippet of animation that hasn’t been seen in more than 30 years. ”It was this mythological sort of thing-animators had heard of it, but nobody had actually seen it,” says Mike Lazzo, the Cartoon Network’s head of programming. ”So we sent out teams of researchers to look for it all over. It was like the search for the Holy Grail.”

The long-lost film, produced in 1960 (the series ran until 1966), was finally dug up in a storage warehouse in New York City-and will be broadcast for the first time on May 7 at 8 p.m. (with frequent repeats throughout the month). The cartoon cavepeople look pretty much the same, but Daws Butler (who voiced Huckleberry Hound) supplies Fred’s vocals, not Alan Reed, and Betty is voiced by June Foray (Rocky the Squirrel), not Bea Benaderet.

”We had all sorts of different ideas for it at first,” recalls William Hanna, 83, who cocreated the cartoon with Joseph Barbera, 83. ”We tried making Fred and Barney Pilgrims and Indians and Romans and hillbillies. Then one of the fellows came up with a sketch of a man and a woman in animal skins, and we instantly knew that was it.”

The family Flintstone has gone through some evolutionary changes over the years. The biggest: The pilot was called The Flagstones. ”It turned out there was a comic-strip character with that last name,” says Barbera. ”So we had to come up with a new one. At one time we were going to call it The Gladstones.”

Yabba dabba oy vay.

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