Disney Channel Looking For Family Ties

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Disney Channel will look to spread a little more family love among its predominately tween-targeted comedy series this year.

The network in April will launch Good Luck Charlie, a series that revolves around the exploits of three siblings whose lives get turned around with the birth of their baby sister. With their parents having to return to work to pay the bills, it's up to the older siblings to take care of their new family edition.

Unlike other family-oriented Disney shows like Hannah Montana and the Wizards of Waverly Place which revolve around the unique circumstances of the children, Good Luck Charlie is based on the lives of an ordinary family, but tries to capture the essence of family life as told through both the kids and the parents' experiences, Gary Marsh, Disney Channel Worldwide President of Entertainment told Multichannel News.

Disney Channel's Good Luck Charlie

"What we really want to do is set up a true family sitcom that has kids and family storylines as a way to flex the brand," he said. "For many years we lived in a world of high concept shows -- a girl who is a secret pop star, a girl who has psychic abilities -- but this is very low concept, traditional sitcom, and the comedy comes from the reality of the characters that we built."

The April 4 premiere episode of Good Luck Charlie will have as its lead-in the television premiere of High School Musical 3, the only entry of that Disney's successful franchise to be released theatrically.

The network will also return all of its top series later this year, including Suite Life On Deck, Sonny With A Chance and Wizards Of Waverly Place. The network's top-rated series Hannah Montana will also return for a fourth season in the fall, but Marsh said it's still unclear as to whether the series will continue beyond that.

The network will also ramp up its original movie development with the debut of Den Brother, Avalon High and the sequel to its successful Camp Rock movie, with Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers reprising their roles from the 2008 telefilm.

Marsh is optimistic that the network can maintain its ratings momentum coming out of strong 2009 campaign that saw the network average 2.5 million viewers, up 7% from 2008.

This is all cyclical but I feel really confident that we are sticking to our brand really closely," he said. "We're not reacting to other people and we're not trying to do foolish things as an experiment, but really staying close to what works and what our audience wants us to do."

Disney will also look to boost the programming lineup for its one-year-old boys-targeted network Disney XD. The network benefit from Disney's September 2009 acquisition of Marvel Comics to debut this fall a new animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, based on the team of Marvel superhero characters Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Giant Man and Wasp, said Marsh.

The network will also air in summer 2011 a new original movie based on Disney XD and Disney Channel hit animated series Phineas and Ferb.

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