Will tonight’s Disney Channel Original Movie, “Lemonade Mouth” establish the next generation of Disney Channel stars? That is the hope of producer Debra Martin Chase, and you’d better believe, it’s the network’s hope as well — especially now that the stars of the “High School Musical” franchise, “Camp Rock” and “Hannah Montana” have all grown up and moved on.
If Chase’s track record with fresh talent is any indication, the new gang will be well worth following. Her “Princess Diaries” movies gave us Anne Hathaway and Chris Pine. “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” introduced Blake Lively and gave America Ferrera a teen following. Lucy Hale, so hot in “Pretty Little Liars,” got an early career boost in “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” as did “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Jesse Williams.
What does Chase hunt for? “I hate to sound like a cliche, but you really do look for that ‘It’ — that very special quality that makes someone stand out. Sometimes I call it, people have light in their eyes, something that shines from within, coupled with intelligence,” she says. “They need to be attractive, but an interesting attractiveness. They need to have some soul and depth to them, you know? That’s how it happens, they just come in and you say, ‘Okay. that person is special.’”
As Chase points out, both Bridgit Mendler (“Good Luck Charlie”) and Adam Hicks (“Zeke and Luther”) are already Disney Channel stars. Other members of the title high school band of “Lemonade Mouth” are starting to take off as well. Hayley Kiyoko has opened for Justin Bieber. And, “Subsequent to the filming of our movie, Naomi Scott was cast by Steven Spielberg as one of the leads in his new Fox series, ‘Terra Nova,’” points out Chase. “She has already shot the pilot in Australia.”
Heartthrob-to-be Blake Michael “is really the Cinderfella of this whole thing. He sent in a self-made tape with his mother reading lines with him in Atlanta. The tape just popped. We knew we had to have him,” Chase recalls.
Casting was a three-month process that made good use of new technology. Rather than going city to city looking at candidates for the roles, Chase and her team viewed video posted to their website. British actress Scott “auditioned via Skype. That’s the first time we’ve done that.”
As for whether there will be a “Lemonade Mouth 2″ — Mark Peter Hughes, who wrote the popular novel, is writing a sequel now — Chase smiles. “It all depends on how we do Friday night.”
TRAFFIC ADVISORY: L.A residents who want to catch a glimpse of a classic style pop superstar mob scene can drive over to Sunset Blvd.’s BookSoup book store in West Hollywood tomorrow (4/15) around three p.m.. (Others, take note and avoid.) Janet Jackson will be there to sign a few hundred copies of her No. 1 best-selling book, “True You,” and it doesn’t take much imagination to predict what the scene will be like. Miss Janet will have to tear herself away to perform at Universal City’s Gibson Amphitheatre in the evening. All three of her concerts there sold out in ten minutes.
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Tim Allen’s pilot is sounding like a better and better prospect now that Nancy Travis is aboard as Tim’s wife, and Hector Elizando’s in the mix, playing Tim’s boss at a demolition company — at least for awhile. (The character steps down, moving Tim’s character up.) Elizondo automatically confers quality upon anything in which he appears, as his buddy Garry Marshall would be first to agree. Garry insists on using Hector in all his movies as his good luck charm.
Sounds like HBO’s planned television treatment of Femme Fatale magazine will be sexy stuff. The producers (who have “NCIS” and “Castle” in their collective credits) put out a casing call for a “hot ethnic woman in her twenties, a hot ethnic woman in her thirties, a hot caucasian woman in her twenties” and four good-looking guys in their twenties and thirties. Nudity required for everybody.