Disney Channel sets sights on next-gen stars

Ross Lynch and Laura Marano set for 'Ally and Austin' pilot

Disney Channel has set the cast for what it hopes will be its next tween hit, “Austin and Ally.”

The comedy follows teenaged singer-songwriters Austin and Ally, so it will showcase the singing, dancing and acting chops of 14-year-old Ross Lynch and 15-year-old Laura Marano, playing Austin and Ally, respectively.

Judy Taylor, senior veep of casting and talent relations for Disney, continued the company’s tradition of casting from within its family. Lynch appeared in Disney XD’s shortform series “Moises Rules.” Another thesp cast in the pilot, Raini Rodriguez, who will play Ally’s best friend, Tish, has been seen on “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and Disney XD’s “I’m in the Band.” The 17-year-old, sister of “Modern Family” trouper Rico Rodriguez, also plays Tess in the Mouse House’s upcoming feature “Prom.”

Marano’s credits include “Back to You” and “The Sarah Silverman Program.”

In consideration to premiere later this year, “Austin and Ally” begins production next month in Hollywood. Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert, whose credits include Disney Channel’s “Sonny With a Chance” and “Jonas,” created and are exec producing.