Programming

VIDEO: Q&A With Disney Channels Worldwide President Rich Ross

The Disney Channels Worldwide president talks HSM, Jonas Brothers and the next big Disney Channel stars 3/06/2009 12:23:38 PM Eastern

Following the decision to debut the next installment of
hit Disney Channel franchise High School
Musical
on the cable network
and the lower-than-expected $12.5
million opening box office for the Jonas Brothers' 3D concert movie, Disney
Channels Worldwide President Rich Ross talks HSM, Jonases and the next big stars of
Disney Channel with B&C's
Melissa Grego at the Hollywood Radio
& Television Society's Cable Chiefs Newsmaker Luncheon on March 4. An edited
transcript and video of the interview follows.

Walk me through
the decision to debut HSM4 on Disney Channel after rolling out HSM3 in
theaters.

We knew we had a great opportunity with High School Musical 4 to introduce new
castmembers so it made sense to take it back to television. It made sense to go
to the movie theaters [with HSM3]
because we needed to be able finish the story of those first Wildcats, which I
think we did well from a storytelling perspective and it was certainly very
profitable.

What can you tell
us about
HSM4?

You'll be meeting the cross-town rivals, which is
probably not a surprise to people who are High School Musical fans. And you'll be
meeting new Wildcats that go to the school. There may be guest stars from the
past but that remains to be seen; we're still writing the
script.

When will this
debut on Disney Channel?

We're looking at fall 2010.

Disney channel is
known to launch big stars and big shows from scratch. What's the next big star
or show?

It always goes back to having great stories and finding
great people to tell them. We already have had such a fascinating success with
Sonny With a Chance, [series
star] Demi Lovato coming off [Disney Channel original movie] Camp Rock, shooting the series that's
captured the hearts and minds of viewers so quickly. We're looking at the Jonas
series which will come in early May. There are a couple great Disney Channel
original movies. And certainly the launch of Disney XD, which is debuting a big
new series for us called Aaron
Stone
, starring I believe a big new star, Kelly
Blatz

How do you pick
these stars?

We have a small group of people who look for the best
there is. And we nurture them, we work with them, we work with their families
and we show them a place that is going to be patient and show them a place that
will give them a variety of options. We do it all over the U.S.
and now we're starting to do it all over the world. So it's challenging,
exciting and very fruitful.

As you said, you
have a new series coming up in May starring the Jonas Brothers. Were you
surprised the Jonas movie didn't do bigger numbers in its opening this
weekend?

It's where it is in its gestation for us. Hannah Montana was a giant series for
years on the air, and [Hannah
Montana
star Miley Cyrus'] concert [movie] was a capper for that
experience midway in their lifecycle. The Jonases, while incredibly successful
musicians, are really coming into their own. So I think the movie showed a side
of them that we expect to dimensionalize with the series so I'm really excited
about May.

Is there an age
cutoff? When does somebody become too old to be a Disney Channel
star?

We really like when our Disney Channel stars actually
mimic the ages that they are playing. One of the not-so-mysterious parts of
High School Musical was [star]
Zach Efron was 17. It's a lot easier to play a role of a character of the age
you're going through than do it as a memory. Miley is 16 and Demi is 16 and
Selena [Gomez, of several Disney Channel series] is 16. so I'm a big fan of
getting as close to the actual age as possible. And not having sort of the old
days when the 38 year old person was playing someone 15 and you're like, isn't
he a little too old?

Watch video of the interview below:

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