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‘Bittersweet’ Times for ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ Creator as Final Season Progresses

David Henrie, Jake T. Austin, Jennifer Stone, Selena Gomez, David DeLuise, Maria Canals Barerra

Selena Gomez just got her driver’s license last week, joining “Wizards of Waverly Place” cast mates David Henrie and Jennifer Stone as legal behind the wheel of a car.  Her TV younger brother Jake T. Austin, meanwhile, has applied for his learner’s permit – and has undergone a dramatic growth spurt since last season.

That’s the word from “Wizards” creator-producer Todd J. Greenwald, who is back into production of the popular Disney Channel series — for what will be its fourth and final season.  “It’s definitely bittersweet,” admits Greenwald.  He says he’s set up the number-being-served sign on the show’s deli set so that “it’s counting down the episodes we have left to shoot.  When we get down to zero, it’s going to be pretty emotional.”

On the sweet side, both the series and its 2009 telepic spinoff are up for Emmy honors.  Last year, “Wizards of Waverly Place” was named Outstanding Children’s Program.  The awards will be a family affair for Greenwald, whose mom is coming from New York to be on hand – and whose real-life son and daughter, Jordan and Julia, served as the models for Henrie’s and Gomez’ characters on the show.

As “Wizards” fans are well aware, the series is moving toward a day of reckoning when one of the three siblings will become a full-fledged wizard and the other two will go on to lives as mere mortals.

“Alex is going to have a wave of not wanting to be a wizard and then really wanting to be a wizard.  Max is definitely getting a little wiser, beginning to look like someone who could win.  And Justin, who has graduated from high school, is becoming more prominent in the wizarding world,” he notes of Gomez’, Austin’s and Henrie’s characters, respectively.  “With their maturity, anyone could win competition.  What I’m really looking forward is doing that episode.  It’s where we’ll go for broke.  We’re getting so many ideas, from classic games shows to shows like ‘Survivor,’ to high tech productions like ‘Avatar.’”

As for the already-greenlit next “Wizards” TV movie, he says, “I think it’s a great idea to explore what the family is like after one of the kids becomes a wizard – what happens after the big event.”