×

Disney sets ‘High School Musical’ spinoff series

'Madison High' pilot on fast track for Jan. debut target

Disney Channel aims to turn its “High School Musical” franchise into a regular series with the project tentatively titled “Madison High.”

Series would find Ms. Darbus, the drama teacher character from the “HSM” pics played by Alyson Reed, moving from Albuquerque’s East High to a new school in a different state where she has to rebuild its drama program.

Project is exec produced by “HSM” stewards Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush, as well as Lester Lewis (“The Office”) and Paul Hoen (“Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam”). Pilot was penned by Lewis and will be directed by Paul Hoen. The plan is to fast-track production of the pilot in the hopes of getting the series on the air as early as January.

The “Madison High” project aims to build on the Mouse’s boffo success with the first two “HSM” pics, which made stars of Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale, and the respectable, if not spectacular, B.O. perf of the 2008 theatrical release “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.”

A fourth “HSM”-themed telepic, “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventures,” starring Tisdale, will bow on DVD this spring and on Disney Channel later this year.

For “Madison High,” Disney Channel execs mounted extensive searches for triple-threat teenage comers who can handle the rigors of a tuner series.

Series’ male lead role of a motocross racer who turns to drama as a new hobby went to Luke Benward, 15, while the femme lead went to Leah Lewis, 14.

Benward, a native of Nashville, has had roles in the Disney Channel telepic “Minutemen” and features including “How to Eat Fried Worms,” “Because of Winn-Dixie,” “Mostly Ghostly,” “Dear John” and “We Were Soldiers.” Lewis, from Orlando, Fla., is a newcomer with only a few commercials under her belt. Also set for the series is G Hannelius, a 12-year-old thesp who has logged appearances on numerous Disney Channel shows.

Casting is still under way for three more moppet roles.

If “Madison High” clicks as a series, it would allow Disney Channel to harvest steady ratings returns from an ongoing series in contrast to the event programming of the telepics. With “Glee” generating such heat for Fox, Disney Channel execs are eager to remind the biz that they were the first to take the gamble on a teen-focused tuner.

“With ‘High School Musical,’ we introduced the joys of musicals and musical theater to a whole new generation and kids and families embraced the themes explored in those movies — about expressing oneself and following your dreams,” said Gary Marsh, prexy of entertainment and chief creative officer for Disney Channels Worldwide. “And now, with ‘Madison High,’ we hope to give kids a whole new set of characters with whom to engage — along with more great original music, dance numbers and songs.”

More TV

  • David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

    'Game of Thrones' Showrunners Will No Longer Attend Comic-Con Panel

    “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with some beloved “Thrones” actors, have canceled their scheduled appearances at San Diego International Comic-Con. Actors Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei of Naath), director Miguel Sapochnik, and dual writer-producers Benioff and Weiss are no longer attending, HBO revealed in a revised panel lineup [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Mr. Robot' Drops

    TV News Roundup: 'Mr. Robot' Drops Season 4 Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, USA releases a trailer for the final season of “Mr. Robot,” Apple plans a “Snoopy in Space” series and Variety has an exclusive clip from Season 3 of Netflix’s “The Epic Tale of Captain Underpants.” CASTING Golden Globe-winner Ian McShane will guest star in the season premiere of “Law & Order: SVU.” [...]

  • Mike Fleiss

    'Bachelor' Creator Mike Fleiss Under Investigation in Kauai After Wife Accuses Him of Attack

    Mike Fleiss, creator of “The Bachelor,” is under police investigation in Kauai after his pregnant wife Laura Fleiss accused him of attacking her in their Hawaii home on July 4. A police report is not currently available to the public since the incident “remains under police investigation,” per Kauai public information officer Kim Tamaoka, who [...]

  • Elisabeth Moss Handmaid's Tale

    Why Elisabeth Moss Deserves More than 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Column)

    Elisabeth Moss has a long talk with a somewhat less-than-present conversation partner, to which Moss herself brings a certain wired tension. Her physical posture, upright even as her voice frays with exhaustion, indicates as much as do her words a new resolve to do better than she’s done as a caretaker. Having run out of [...]

  • jeffrey hirsch Starz

    Listen: Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch Spots an Opening in the Global Streaming Market

    Streaming content is about as competitive as a business gets these days, but don’t tell that to Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch. He’s aggressively moving to establish the Lionsgate-owned premium programmer around the world while the time is right for his company to stake its claim. “Other than Netflix, we’re probably be the second or third [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    USA Network Gives Series Order to 'Cannonball' Competition Show

    USA Network has given a series greenlight to a competition reality series “Cannonball,” from ITV Entertainment. The show revolves around 16 contestants who compete in a series of physical challenges. One contender will be eliminated in each episode. USA has ordered 10 episodes. The series is expected to bow next year. ” ‘Cannonball’ is pure [...]

  • A.P. BIO -- Pilot -- Pictured:

    'A.P. Bio' Revived for Forthcoming NBCUniversal Streaming Service

    “A.P Bio” has made the grade after all, with NBCUniversal reviving the comedy for its unnamed, still-unlaunched streaming service. The NBC series, which ran for two seasons before getting canceled, performed well online, according to the network, with ratings showing a long tail on streaming platforms as new viewers came to the show late. Nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content