Disney Channels Ramp Up Series Episodes By 30 Percent
Company orders 'Tron' spinoff, martial arts comedy for Disney XD; live-action musical comedy for Disney Channel
By Melissa Grego -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/4/2010 3:15:00 PM
Lightcap and Gary Marsh, president of entertainment and chief creative officer for the company, on Thursday morning (Nov. 4) previewed for reporters the company's programming plans, which include the ramp up on series across the Disney Channel brands, what the execs call a "renaissance" for animation at the company and a bump up in original movies from five in 2010 to seven in 2011.
The execs also unveiled three new series got the green light:
--Tron: Uprising, an animated spin-off of the "Tron" feature films and featuring voices of many of the actors in the film franchise to premiere on Disney XD in summer 2012;
--Wasabi Warriors (working title), a live-action comedy set at a strip mall martial arts studio also for Disney XD, with production slated to start in January;
--and A.N.T. Farm (working title), a live-action comedy series for Disney Channel set to begin production in early 2011 and starring 12-year-old China McClain as a musical prodigy enrolled in the gifted program at the local high school.
The execs indicated production on the third season of Demi Lovato-led Disney Channel series Sonny With A Chance, which is scheduled for mid-January, would depend on the actress/singer. Lovato recently bowed out of her music tour with fellow Disney Channel stars The Jonas Brothers while seeking treatment for mental health issues. Lightcap says the priority is that Lovato gets better.
At the press briefing, Lightcap and Marsh played clips of shows in various stages of development across Disney Channel, Disney XD and their new Disney Jr. brand.
Disney Jr. will replace the Playhouse Disney block on Disney Channel in February 2011 and expand to a full channel in 2012 when it takes over the space occupied by SoapNet. The new Disney Jr. will have an expanded target of kids 2-7 (Playhouse is aimed at kids 2-5), allowing children "permission to keep watching" past pre-school, Lightcap says. She adds that educational value in pre-school programming has become the cost of entry rather than a differentiating point and the Disney Jr. rebrand from Playhouse takes that into account. The new brand will educate but also "embrace the Disney brand essence like no one else can."
The Disney Jr. logo incorporates Disney characters and the brand vision for its series will incorporate "magical storytelling," Lightcap says. Marsh showed clips of Disney Jr. shows underway, including animated Jake and the Neverland Pirates, which features classic Disney characters (Captain Hook) mixed with new characters; animated Doc McStuffins, about a girl who heals broken toys; Little Princess, in which the title character learns to be a princess, in part via visits from famous princesses, after her mom marries into royalty; and Minnie Mouse, in which Minnie Mouse and Daisy run a hotel.
Among the other sneak peeks, Marsh also showed clips of an animated show for boy tween brand Disney XD called Motorcity, which is set in futuristic Detroit.
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