Disney Channel’s Newest Live-Action Comedy Features Original Musical Performances
Disney Channel tomorrow night will debut Hannah Montana, another live-action comedy series targeted to older kids and tweens. Hannah joins an impressive lineup of similar programs on Disney, including That’s So Raven, Phil of the Future and last year’s hit The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, but unlike those shows Hannah features original music in every episode. This seems to be the perfect time for Disney to launch a weekly comedy with music, as enthusiasm for the network’s mighty High School Musical is still going strong and young Disney Channel viewers are eagerly awaiting another original production with music produced just for them. Hannah will certainly benefit from that growing expectation. Heavy on-air promotion on the network throughout the ongoing High School Musical phenomenon won’t hurt, either.
Note: Hannah Montana will debut Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET following the Disney Channel original movie Cow Belles. As of March 31 it will be seen in its regular 7 p.m. ET time period.
Hannah Montana is the story of 14-year-old Miley Stewart, a girl from Tennessee who leads a double-life as an international singing sensation known as Hannah Montana. Residing in Malibu with her widowed father Robby and her brother Jackson, the sometimes socially awkward Miley seeks to live a normal life–as normal, that is, as life can be in that formidable enclave of the wealthy and powerful. She’s able to do this simply by not wearing the signature blonde wig she dons whenever she appears as Hannah, a suspension of disbelief that might be a stretch for adult viewers but will be readily accepted by kids.
Hannah’s performances in each episode provide the kind of musical entertainment for which Disney Channel viewers have shown great enthusiasm. Miley Cyrus, the 13-year-old actress who portrays Miley/Hannah and does her own singing in the show, could become the next iTunes superstar. Hannah Montana might also bring a new generation of fans to Miley’s real-life father, actor and country singer Billy Ray Cyrus (Achy Breaky Heart), who plays her father in the show.
MediaVillage junior correspondent Maya Motavalli recently interviewed Miley Cyrus in New York City. Primed not so much by Disney’s press department as by the advance promotion for Hannah Montana on the network and Disney’s Web site, Maya was anxious to learn as much as she could about Miley Cyrus, Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana. Miley was getting her first real taste of the interview circuit and was flustered by the “strange” questions from a journalist she had just spoken with, several of them about her “favorite cheese.” We assured her there would be no talk of cheese or other dairy products. An edited transcript of the interview follows.
Maya Motavalli: What is it like having your dad on the set?
Miley Cyrus: It’s kind of cool, but like with anybody it’s kind of weird at the same time. But it’s really good to have him there when he can support me. If I ever have a question my dad’s right there!
MM: Does your dad ever embarrass you on the set?
MC: Oh, yeah! When we’re doing photo shoots or something he’ll just yell out things I wouldn’t want anyone to know. Just random stuff. “Remember that time when you were a kid?” That kind of stuff. But it’s funny. It breaks the ice. It makes everyone smile. If it takes embarrassing me to make everyone happy I’ll take it.
MM: Do you do your own singing on the show?
MC: I do. All the songs that are in the show, even the theme song, will all be me singing. I recorded eight or nine songs already. Nine episodes, nine songs.
MM: Will you do a soundtrack album?
MC: Right now we’re just all really focused on making Hannah Montana the show as good as it can be, but hopefully in the future there may be a Hannah Montana soundtrack. Or a Miley Cyrus album. They’re talking about a [ring tone]. You never know. I don’t really have a for-sure answer yet.
MM: Was your dad ever a musical influence on you?
MC: Yes, he was. He taught me to keep going, keep pushing.
MM: Who are your musical and acting influences?
MC: For music it’s [American Idol winner] Kelly Clarkson. For acting it’s not a person. I always try to be really real. It’s kind of hard to [let yourself shine] through a character. Anyone who has the ability to do that I really look up to.
MM: Do you think Hannah Montana is going to become really popular?
MC: I hope so. Hannah in the show is enormous, like a Hilary Duff of TV. I hope everyone really likes her. (Laughs) She’s a great person!
MM: How would you feel if you were recognized like Hannah every time you went out in public?
MC: Now that commercials [for the series] are starting some people recognize me. I really like it. I think Hannah gets nervous just like any other person would. She’s like a dork, personally. She’s just really, really fun.
MM: What are some of the upcoming stories on Hannah Montana?
MC: There’s one about me having a boyfriend and having to be torn between being Miley and being with him or being Hannah and being with the band.
MM: What’s next for you?
MC: Hopefully continuing to follow my dream and getting to do all this kind of stuff. I don’t really know what’s in store but I hope I can pursue this.
Maya Motavalli with Ed Martin.