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In search of tweens

Disney signs with creators of 'Lizzie,' 'Raven'

This article was corrected on November 4, 2004.

HOLLYWOOD — Disney Channel is hooking up with the creators of its biggest franchises — “Lizzie McGuire” and “That’s So Raven” — to produce more series for its core tween audience.

Cabler has teamed with “Lizzie” creator-exec producers Terri Minsky and Stan Rogow for a half-hour “Lizzie” spinoff dubbed “Stevie Sanchez.” Series follows the ups and downs of Lizzie’s best friend’s sister, Stephanie “Stevie” Sanchez, and her Latino family.

Project reps the first TV offshoot of “Lizzie,” which halted production in December 2002 soon after which series star Hilary Duff deemed it so yesterday. While the skein still does solid ratings in repeats, “Stevie” would give Disney a fresh dose of “Lizzie”-related programming.

Meanwhile, Michael Poryes, who co-created “Raven” with Susan Sherman, is working on “Hannah Montana,” a half-hour revolving around a pint-sized pop star who has an alternate identity in order continue living life as a “normal kid.”

Pilots for both projects are set to begin production in January. Casting is under way, with both out to directors.

Minsky, who previously served as showrunner and exec producer of the ABC laffer “Less Than Perfect,” penned the pilot for “Stevie.” Minsky and Rogow will exec produce.

“Stevie” will focus on the 12-year-old character, first introduced in “Lizzie” via her older sister Miranda (played by Lalaine), who often feels like an outsider in her own family. Stevie’s internal thoughts will be articulated by an animated alter ego.

When “Lizzie” launched in January 2001, it turned Disney Channel into a major player among the kids cablers, upping it the No. 1 programmer for young girls. Series launched Duff’s career.

“Raven” is the web’s top-rated series, leading the kids, boys and girls 2-11 and 9-14 demos.

Both shows, which air in 40 countries outside of the U.S., have reaped boffo revenue from soundtracks, book series and videogames. There was also a “Lizzie McGuire” feature film; a “Raven” clothing line will bow soon.

Minsky recently penned a half-hour comedy for Sarah Timberman’s 25C Prods. (Daily Variety, Nov. 1), which is being shopped to networks. She created “The Geena Davis Show” and has written for “Sex and the City” and “Central Park West.”

Rogow’s credits include the series “State of Grace,” “Nowhere Man,” “Middle Ages” and “Fame.”

Poryes was a co-exec producer on “Veronica’s Closet” and a producer on “Cybill.” Writing credits include “The Facts of Life” and “Who’s the Boss?”

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