Disney Has New Stars ‘On Deck’

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Disney Channel is hoping its lineup of
new original summer series will help fill the void left with
the recent departure of staples Hannah Montana and The
Suite Life on Deck
.

The network has finished in
second place to USA Network
in total primetime viewers
among all basic-cable networks
in each of the last five
years except 2007, when it
finished in first ahead of the
“Characters Welcome” network.

During its recent run of success
in the summer ratings,
Disney has been led by such
powerhouse series franchises
as the Miley Cyrus starrer Hannah Montana and The Suite
Life of Zack and Cody
, as well as Suite Life off shoot Suite Life
on Deck
.

With both Hannah Montana and Suite Life on Deck ending
their respective runs on Disney earlier this year, the network
will have to rely on its new and existing series to fill the
void. Disney Channel Worldwide president of entertainment
Gary Marsh said he’s not worried that losing his biggest franchises
will cost the network viewers.

MORE PREMIERES

“Everybody thought that when Hannah Montana ended, the
network would roll up and go away,” said Marsh. “We have
30% more episodic content premiering this summer, compared
to last year, so we’re really stoking the fires so that we
wouldn’t have a letdown, despite the fact that some of betterknown
series are leaving.”

The network is looking to 12-year-old China McClean, who
stars in the network’s upcoming (June 16) new series A.N.T.
Farm
, as its next big star. In A.N.T. Farm, McClean plays a
middle schooler attending a gifted program at the local high
school dubbed the “Advanced
Natural Talents.”

“China is a huge talent who is
destined for greatness,” Marsh
said. “I’m hoping that we can be
the ones who put her on that trampoline
and launch her into the
stratosphere.”

Other new original shows slated
for the summer include My
Babysitter’s a Vampire, a send-up
of the scary movie genre; and So
Random, a sketch/variety series
spinoff of Disney’s Sonny With a Chance, which stopped production
last year after star Demi Lovato checked herself into
a treatment facility due to “emotional and physical issues.”

“So Random is an opportunity that we saw to fill a void that
has existed for a long time in kids’ TV, which is a sketch comedy/
variety show that has great guests and music acts doing
what they do best,” Marsh said. “My Babysitter’s a Vampire is
something completely diff erent and fresh, from a tonal perspective,
from what we do, but having that core comedy and
DNA of what makes a great Disney Channel show.”

‘FERB’ FILM COMING

With its new shows, as well as an original movie based on its
hit animated series Phineas & Ferb and new episodes from
returning series Wizards of Waverly Place, Shake It Up! and
Good Luck Charlie, Marsh said he’s confi
dent Disney has the right programming
elements in place to continue a summer ratings
run while appealing to its core tween
audience.

“If you look at the strength of Good Luck
Charlie
and Shake It Up!, as well as what I
think what is going to be the reception for
our new series out of the gate, I’m not particularly
worried [about a ratings decline],”
he said. “Both [Hannah Montana] and [Suite
Life on Deck
] will continue to air in repeats,
so I’m not really concerned there will be a
material fall-off .”

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