Disney greenlights ‘Sofia’ franchise

Animated pic and series to air on Disney Channel and Disney Junior

Disney TV Animation is launching a new animated movie and series, “Sofia the First,” that will air on Disney Channel as well as its upcoming spinoff network, Disney Junior.

“Sofia” will first appear as an animated telepic in fall 2012, before premiering as a series on 2013. Disney Junior, currently a programming block on Disney Channel, will replace Disney/ABC-owned SoapNet as a separate 24-hour network next year.

Ariel Winter (“Modern Family”), Sara Ramirez (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Wayne Brady and Tim Gunn (“Project Runway”) will lead the voice cast for the project, which is the first in Disney’s history centered around a little-girl princess and is aimed at preschool children. Classic Disney characters such as Cinderella will be incorporated into the show as guests.

“In Sofia, we have a ‘peer to peer princess,’ a relatable girl experiencing the same social issues as our young viewers – learning how to fit in, making new friends, conquering new skills and building sibling relationships,” Disney Junior Worldwide senior veep of original programming and g.m. Nancy Kanter said.

“Although Sofia will have plenty of pretty dresses and sparkly shoes, our stories will show Sofia, and our viewers, that what makes a real princess is what’s inside, not what’s outside.”

Jamie Mitchell (“Special Agent Oso”) will exec produce and direct the series. Craig Gerber (“Pixie Hollow Games”) developed and will co-exec produce the series and scripted the movie.