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‘High School Musical’ returns to roots

Fourth installment to air on Disney Channel

The fourth installment of “High School Musical” will return the franchise to where it started: the Disney Channel.

Featuring a new cast, the “High School Musical 4” telepic is skedded to begin production later this year and premiere on Disney Channel in 2010.

Peter Barsocchini, who penned the first three installments, returns as screenwriter. Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush also are back as exec producers. Disney Channel did not say whether Kenny Ortega would return as director.

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” helmed by Ortega, took in nearly $250 million last year in worldwide theatrical release.

The “HSM” franchise, which bowed as a sleeper telepic hit for Disney Channel in 2006, made stars out of leads Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu. The “HSM 2” telepic sequel set a basic cable ratings record with 17.2 million viewers in its 2007 debut.

Disney Channel didn’t specify the cast members for “HSM 4,” but the “Senior Year” feature introduced a number of new characters, and one of the thesps expected to return is Jemma McKenzie-Brown.

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