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The reason the button stops working is because Flash does not allow events to pass through objects. Once you attached the mouse event capture routines to your movieclip they will stop there and not be passed to any elements within your movieclip.
I am not sure what you mean when you say secondary highlights so I am not sure what to tell you to help you solve the issue.
Thank you for your reply, I think I understand the 'why' now.
What I mean by the secondary highlights is what I show on the right-side of my example. I want to mouse over a button and have another button become 'highlighted' in a way that is different than the normal button over or down state.
I'm really trying to solve this. I can make it work if I use a movieclip for all of the button 'states' of up, over, down, highlight 1, highlight 2 (each in their own frame). I then just add all of the 'go to frame 2' kind of code and the 'go to frame 4 in this other button' kind of code to the movieclip. The problem is that I have 77 of the same 'button' symbol on one page, thats alot of code to make mistakes with. And I can't make a symbol with all of the code for 'go to frame 2 on mouseover' already in the movieclip symbol or I run into the same problem i already have.
Please help me understand this, it seems like it should be simple.