Disney Channel has given a pilot order to “Austin and Ally,” which the cabler describes as a pint-sized “Entourage.”
Kevin Kopelow and Heath Siefert are writing and exec producing the comedy through It’s a Laugh Prods.
Casting is underway for “Austin and Ally,” which centers on 15-year-old Ally Dawson, an aspiring singer with a terrible case of stage fright. Another wannabe singer, Austin Ray, takes one of Ally’s songs and posts a YouTube video of himself singing it. As fast as you can say “Justin Bieber,” the song goes viral and Austin and Ally join forces to figure out what to do next.
“Austin and Ally” would in some ways fill the void left at Disney Channel by the retirement of another teen-turned-superstar sitcom, “Hannah Montana.”
Pickup also comes as Disney Channel and sister cabler Disney XD continue to ramp up live-action production under entertainment boss Gary Marsh and programming senior VP Adam Bonnett. Disney told reporters last month that it hopes to boost its episodic orders by 30% in 2011.
Most recently, the channel’s new series “Shake It Up” wound up No. 1 among kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14 in November.
Kopelow’s and Siefert’s credits include the feature “Good Burger” as well as Disney Channel’s “Jonas” and Nickelodeon’s “All That” and “Kenan and Kel.”