'Phineas and Ferb' creators keep it real

The Disney Channel/Disney XD animated series “Phineas and Ferb” clicks with kids because there’s a boyish believability to the antics of its titular not-quite-tween stepbrothers — an authenticity reinforced by the use of young thesps in key roles. Teenagers Vincent Martella (who voices Phineas) and Thomas Sangster (Ferb) aren’t far removed from the age of their characters.

The toon has tapped the well of Mouse House talent by enlisting “High School Musical’s” Ashley Tisdale as well as “Hannah Montana’s” Mitchel Musso and Moises Arias and “Camp Rock’s” Alyson Stoner for semi-regular roles. The show’s growth in the past year has made it a hot ticket for guest stars ranging from Malcolm McDowell to Jack McBrayer.

Episodes are built around the brothers’ wild adventures (such as trying to build a NASCAR track in their backyard) and those of their pet platypus, Perry, who leads a double life as a secret agent. But creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh take great pride in grounding the show in contemporary reality by depicting a blended family with no fanfare or “very special episode” messages.

“Once we got the idea for this show we believed in it so much,” Povenmire says, noting that it took them 16 years to find a buyer.

The exec who finally told them “yes” says he was sold on the way Povenmire and Marsh emphasized that the title characters were dreamers, not miscreants.

“It’s a humor built on optimism and hope, not negativity and nastiness,” says Disney Channel Worldwide entertainment prexy Gary Marsh (no relation to Jeff Marsh).

Impact: Their “Phineas and Ferb” was the top-ranked toon with tweens for most of 2009.

Next: “Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation”

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