Production on Disney Channel Original Movie ‘Avalon High’ Has Begun in New Zealand

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Production has begun in New Zealand on “Avalon High,” a fantasy-filled Disney Channel Original Movie starring Britt Robertson (“Life Unexpected”) and Gregg Sulkin (“Wizards of Waverly Place,” Disney Channel UK’s “As the Bell Rings”). Based on the award-winning novel by best-selling author Meg Cabot (“The Princess Diaries”), the movie follows Allie Pennington, a new student to Avalon High who is shocked to discover that her new classmates are reincarnations of King Arthur and his Court. “Avalon High” is slated to premiere in fall 2010.

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ABC Family Acquires Basic Cable Rights to NBC’s ‘Friday Night Lights’

ABC Family has acquired the basic cable television rights to the Emmy® Award-winning television series “Friday Night Lights,” in a deal with NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, it was announced today by Tom Zappala, Executive Vice President, Program Acquisitions & Scheduling, ABC Cable Networks Group, and Frances Manfredi, Executive Vice President/General Sales Manager, Cable and Non-Theatrical Sales for NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

The deal gives ABC Family the rights to five seasons of the critically acclaimed series. ABC Family is tentatively set to begin airing the series’ first season in September 2010. The fourth season of “Friday Night Lights” is currently airing on NBC (Fridays, 8 p.m. ET/PT.)

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Disney Channel Orders New Dance-Filled Buddy Comedy Series, ‘Shake it Up!’

Disney Channel has ordered “Shake It Up!,” a buddy comedy centered around a teen dance show, created by Chris Thompson (“Laverne and Shirley,” “Bosom Buddies,” “The Naked Truth,” “Action”) and executive-produced by Thompson and Rob Lotterstein (“The War at Home,” “Ellen”). It stars 12-year-old Bella Thorne (“Big Love”) and 13-year-old Zendaya. The multi-camera series will begin production in Hollywood, California, in July for a scheduled Fall 2010 premiere on Disney Channel. The announcement was made today by Gary Marsh, president, Entertainment, and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide.

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‘LOST’ Series Finale to be Simulcasted Around the Globe

In purported efforts to thwart online piracy and spoilers, Disney Media Distribution has announced that 59 countries around the world will be allowed to air the series finale of ABC’s LOST (titled ‘The End’) up to 48 hours after its original United States airing, a move that schedules the program several days ahead of its normal schedule in many of the countries.

In addition, viewers in some countries  such as Canada, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom will be able to watch a simulcast of the show’s final episode in sync with the US west coast feed.

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‘Under the Same Moon’ Director Patricia Riggen to Direct Disney Channel’s ‘Lemonade Mouth’

Award-winning film director Patricia Riggen, who directed the critically acclaimed “La Misma Luna” (aka “Under the Same Moon”) and this week presents her short film, “Revolución” at Critics’ Week in Cannes, will direct the music-driven “Lemonade Mouth,” a Disney Channel Original Movie.

The “Lemonade Mouth” script was written by April Blair based on the popular novel by Mark Peter Hughes. Executive-produced by Debra Martin Chase (“Just Wright,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” Disney Channel’s “The Cheetah Girls” movies), it will begin production in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in July.

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ABC Owned Television Stations Group President Walter Liss Retires; WABC President Rebecca Campbell Named Successor

Esteemed television executive Walter Liss today announced his retirement as President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group.  He will immediately move into a consultancy role for the Station Group to assist in the transition.

In commenting on the announcement, Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company said, “I’ve worked with Walter for almost 25 years, and I know him to be a one of a kind person: a great executive who knows his business well and has always had a passion for it. He is a no-nonsense guy, who ran the best station group in the country, and loved every minute he spent in the station business! We are all grateful for his leadership, his contributions and his friendship, and we are thankful for ensuring our stations are so well-positioned for the future. Although he has definitely earned the right to retire, he will be sorely missed.”

“I’ve been in this wonderful business for over 50 years.   More than 30 of those years have been with the best Company in the world…The Walt Disney Company,” added Mr. Liss.  “Early next year I’ll go to work on my golf game.  All those guys on the Champions Tour better watch out.”

Walter C. Liss was appointed president, ABC Owned Television Stations Group, in May 1999.  In this role he had chief management responsibility for the 10 ABC owned television stations and for the Group’s ABC National Television Sales rep firm.

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ABC Unveils 2010-11 Primetime Schedule

NEW FALL AND MIDSEASON SERIES – DRAMA

“BODY OF PROOF”
Dr. Megan Hunt (Dana Delany) was in a class of her own, a brilliant neurosurgeon at the top of her game. But her world is turned upside down when a devastating car accident puts an end to her time in the operating room. Megan resumes her career as a medical examiner, determined to solve the puzzle of who or what killed the victims. Her instincts are sharp, but she’s developed a reputation for graying the lines of where her job ends and where the police department’s begins. It turns out her career isn’t the only thing that will need to be rebuilt; Megan’s family has taken a backseat to her ambition, and now she’s discovering there’s a lot of work to do when it comes to dissecting her relationships with the living.

Dana Delany stars as Dr. Megan Hunt, Jeri Ryan as Dr. Kate Murphy, Geoffrey Arend as Dr. Elliot Gross, John Carroll Lynch as Detective Bud Morris, Windell Middlebrooks as Dr. Curtis Brumfield, Nic Bishop as Peter Dunlap and Sonja Sohn as Detective Samantha Baker.

“Body of Proof” is from ABC Studios. Christopher Murphey wrote the pilot, which was directed by Nelson McCormick. Murphey and Matt Gross serve as executive producers.

“DETROIT 1-8-7”
What does it take to be a detective on America’s most dangerous streets? Get ready to be part of the action when a documentary crew rolls with some of Detroit’s finest, offering an insider’s glimpse behind the curtain of a Homicide Unit. The cameras unearth the crisis and revelation, heartbreak and heroism of these inner city cops — moments of raw exposure when they address us directly, as well as private moments when they forget they’re being filmed.

There’s the damaged but driven Detective Louis Fitch, a wily homicide vet who is the most respected — and most misunderstood — man in the division; Detective Damon Washington, Fitch’s new partner, who finds the first day on the job is a trial by fire, complicated by the imminent birth of his first child; Detective Ariana Sanchez, sexy, edgy and beautiful, who has emerged from a rough background to become a rising star in the department; Narcotics undercover cop John Stone, a streetwise smooth talker, clever and quick with a smile made for the movies, who is teamed with Sanchez — a combustible pairing rife with conflict and sexual tension; Sergeant Jesse Longford, a 30-year veteran struggling with his impending retirement from the force and the city he loves, who, together with his partner, Detective Aman Mahajan — a fully Americanized son of Indian immigrants — form an amusing mismatch of experience and enthusiasm, intellect and instinct, old school and new world, but whose combined skills have never encountered a case that couldn’t be cleared; and all are headed by Lieutenant Maureen Mason, a strong-willed single mom struggling to balance home and work.

The men and women of Detroit Homicide are as smart and tough as they come. They have to be, working the neighborhoods of the once and future Motor City, a rebounding bastion of middle America still saddled with the highest murder rate in the country.

“Detroit 1-8-7” stars Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”) as Detective Louis Fitch, Jon Michael Hill as Detective Damon Washington, James McDaniel (“NYPD Blue”) as Sergeant Jesse Longford, Aisha Hinds (“True Blood”) as Lieutenant Maureen Mason, Natalie Martinez as Detective Ariana Sanchez, D.J. Cotrona as Detective John Stone and Shaun Majumder as Detective Aman Mahajan.

The series is produced by ABC Studios. The pilot was written by Jason Richman. Executive producers are Richman, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and David Zabel. Jeff Nachmanoff directed the pilot.

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ESPN’s Chris Berman to Receive Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Chris Berman © ESPNSix-time National Sportscaster of the Year Chris Berman of ESPN, will be honored Monday, May 24, with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a tribute for his more than 30 years of contribution to the sports television industry. Over the past three decades, Berman has become one of the preeminent sports commentators of his generation. He has been with ESPN since October 1979 — less than a month after the network launched.  ESPN announced last month that Berman had signed a contract extension that will keep him at the network.

This year, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce selected just 28 names from more than 200 nominations. Other honorees set to cement a place in Hollywood history in 2010 are director James Cameron, actors Russell Crowe, John Cusack, Colin Firth, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson and Mark Wahlberg, and musicians Bryan Adams, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, the band ZZ Top and Roy Orbison (posthumously).

“A star on Hollywood Boulevard is an iconic honor that has literally blown me away,” said Berman.  “It speaks to 30 years of hard work for thousands of ESPN employees, and I am proud to represent each and every one of them.  I can assure you that this will be the only time that my name will be in a sentence with the likes of Clarke Gable and John Wayne.”

Berman is the leading voice and face of ESPN’s National Football League studio coverage as host of Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and halftime of Monday Night Football, the most-watched series on cable. He has also anchored ESPN’s annual NFL Draft telecast since 1987. His prognosticating alter-ego – the “Swami” – has provided weekly NFL predictions and observations on SportsCenter since 1979.  He also does Major League Baseball play-by-play, hosts the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby and hosts ESPN’s U.S. Open golf coverage.  A regular on SportsCenter for its first 11 years, he continues to anchor the show a handful of times a year.

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Disney XD’s Summer Anthem, ‘In the Summertime,’ by Adam Hicks and Daniel Curtis Lee Premieres May 29

Daniel Curtis Lee, Adam Hicks and Hutch Dano in the Disney XD summer anthem, 'In the Summer Time' (Jaimie Trueblood / Disney XD)A jammin’ hip hop spin on a classic song, “In the Summertime,” with rap lyrics, performed by teen actors Adam Hicks and Daniel Curtis Lee (of the hit comedy series “Zeke and Luther”), will debut as Disney XD’s summer anthem on SATURDAY, MAY 29 (8:00 a.m., ET/PT). The music video for the song, a cover of the instantly recognizable classic released in 1970 by British pop-blues band Mungo Jerry, will rotate throughout the Disney XD summer schedule.

Hicks and Lee’s remake of “In the Summertime” will have its Planet Premiere on Radio Disney FRIDAY, MAY 28. The music video will also be available on DisneyXD.com and the Disney XD YouTube channel on Saturday.

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Brad Garrett Joins Second Season of Playhouse Disney’s ‘Special Agent Oso,’ Premiering July 10

Buffo the Buffalo as voiced by Brad Garrett on Disney Channel's 'Special Agent Oso' © DisneyAcademy Award-winning comedy legend Mel Brooks, Emmy Award-winning Brad Garrett and famed Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz guest star in the second season of Disney Channel’s Emmy-nominated Playhouse Disney series, “Special Agent Oso,” starring Academy Award nominee Sean Astin. The season premieres on SATURDAY, JULY 10 (8:00–8:30 a.m. ET/PT), with new episodes every Saturday throughout July and August.

The season will include the introduction of two new special agent characters: Buffo the water buffalo, voiced by Brad Garrett, is a slightly clumsy and excitable inventor charged with creating all of Oso’s special agent gadgets. And Oso finds a new sparring partner in special agent Musa, a mysterious stuffed animal ninja who has taken a vow of silence and dons a traditional keikogi.

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