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Tune Thursday: 2010 brings “Camp Rock 2,” ”High School Musical 4” as well as the “Hannah Montana” series finale

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Tune Thursday: 2010 brings “Camp Rock 2,” ”High School Musical 4” as well as the “Hannah Montana” series finale

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It’s often been said that there are only seven basic plots in the world. Seven distinctly different story ideas which have then provided the inspiration for every single play, movie and TV show that’s ever been produced.

Well, if this is really the case, then someone needs to make the executives in charge of the Disney Channel aware of those other six ideas. Because the suits at that cable channel seem to have grown overly fond of recycling that star-crossed-lovers / “Romeo & Juliet” routine.

Camp Rock
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Don’t believe me? Then let’s talk about that recently announced “Camp Rock” sequel, "Camp Rock 2: Final Jam.” This Disney Channel Original goes into production later this summer and will debut on that cable channel in the Spring of 2010.

Featuring a script by Dan Berendsen with Karin Gist & Regina Hicks, “Camp Rock 2: Final Jam” sends Demi Lovato and Joe, Kevin & Nick Jonas’ characters back to the woods. Where they then discover that many of their Camp Rock bunkmates have bailed on the place. Opting instead to spend their summers at far trendier digs right across the way, Camp Star.

“So where do the Montagues & the Capulets come in?,” you ask. Well, that’s when Nate (Nick Jonas) falls in love with Dana (newcomer Chloe Bridges), the daughter of Camp Star's owner.

Camp Rock
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Meanwhile, on a complete separate development track, we have “High School Musical 4.” And even though “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” was a hugely successful theatrical release (During its domestic run, “HSM3” had the highest opening weekend totals ever for a new movie musical. With this Kenny Ortega film then going on to earn over $250 million at the worldwide box office), this franchise will be returning to its cable television roots in 2010.

If all goes according to plan, “High School Musical: East Meets West” will go into production in Utah during the latter part of 2009 and then air on the Disney Channel sometime next Fall. And as for this Disney Channel Original’s storyline …

Well, according to what Mouse House insiders have told me about the teleplay that Peter Barsocchini (who wrote the first three installments of the “HSM” series) has written, “High School Musical: East Meets West” will also drift into Capulet-and-Montague territory. With “HSM4” touching on the previously-unmentioned heated cross-town school rivalry between the East High Wildcats and the West High Knights.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year
(L to R) Matt Prokop, Justin Martin and Jemma-McKenzie-Brown
from "High School Musical 3: Senior Year."
Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

To be fair here, Barsocchini and his writing partners aren’t “borrowing” all of “Romeo & Juliet” ‘s key plot points. Instead of star-crossed lovers this time around, “HSM4” will deal with a love triangle.

Now where this gets interesting is – rather than make use Matt Prokop, Justin Martin and Jemma McKenzie-Brown (whose Jimmie Zara, Donny Dion and Tiara Gold characters were deliberately introduced in “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” so that this Disney franchise would then have some recognizable-but-still-affordable performers to built future “HSM” installments around) – is that “High School Musical: East Meets West” is reportedly going to feature an all-new cast.

Mind you, that’s most likely because Ortega is no longer directing the “High School Musical” movies. Kenny’s moved on (Most recently, Ortega was the director / choreographer for the now-canceled Michael Jackson “This is It!” concert that was planned for London’s O2 Arena). In his place, Disney has hired Jeffrey Hornaday. Who is probably best known for the choreographer of “Flashdance” and “Captain EO.”

Camp High Hannah
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Okay, I know. I’ve kind of been beating up on the scriptwriters for “Camp Rock 2: Final Jam” and “High School Musical: East Meets West” in today’s article. Accusing them of “borrowing” most of their ideas for these two projects from Shakespeare.

But the upside is … Rich Ross, head of Disney Channel Worldwide, doesn’t much care who first came up with that star-crossed-lovers idea and/or that Montague-Capulet-rivalry thing. In the end, what really matters to Rich is “Is the script solid?” And in the case of “Camp Rock 2: Final Jam,” the advance word is that this soon-to-begin-production Disney Channel Original has a surprisingly entertaining teleplay. And provided that helmer Paul Hoen (who previously directed “Jump In!” for the Disney Channel) can pull all of the pieces together, “Camp Rock 2” should actually be a better TV movie than the first “Camp Rock” was.

As for “High School Musical: East Meets West” … From what I hear, “HSM4” has a good-but-not-great script. And when it comes right down to it, the ultimate success of this Disney Channel Original – as well as the entire “High School Musical” franchise -- depends on who Hornaday casts. Whether Jeff is able to find the next Zack Efron & Vanessa Hudgens.

Camp High Hannah
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

And speaking of maintaining Mouse House franchises … Back in April, the Disney Channel made a very big deal about how it had renewed “Hannah Montana” for a fourth and final season. With the plan being to shoot 11 regular episodes of this hit sitcom as well as an hour-long finale for the series next year.

Now many folks in Hollywood seemed surprised that Miley Cyrus (who had been previously been quite vocal about her desire to ditch “Hannah Montana” so that Cyrus could then concentrate on her film career) would reverse herself like that and then opt to re-up with the Disney Channel.

Well, truth be told, it wasn’t the Mouse that persuaded Miley to continue on with her sitcom. But – rather – WalMart.

Miley Cyrus
(L to R) Miley Cyrus and Max Azria 

To explain: Ms. Cyrus and that big box retailer are now in business in a big way. That – in addition to sponsoring Miley’s next concert tour (which will kick-off in Portland, OR this September and then play 44 other dates before finally ending in Miami) – WalMart is also about to launch a Miley Cyrus clothing line.

And since it will be a lot easier for tween girls to really get behind Miley’s new clothing line (which – FYI – is being designed by Max Azria) if “Hannah Montana” is still on the air in 2010 … Well, that’s why Ms. Cyrus ultimately agreed to do that fourth & final season. Not because there are so many loose story threads that need to be tied up on this hit Disney Channel series. But – rather – because there are threads that now need to be sold at WalMart.

“Hannah Montana” fans needn’t worry, though. In spite of the fact that Miley’s really only doing Season 4 for the money, Rick Ross (who thinks of this sitcom as a key turning point in the Disney Channel’s history) is going to insist that “Hannah Montana” comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Hannah Montana 

My understanding is that – for several years now – Ross has had a definitive idea about how he wants to bring “Hannah” to a close. Which may factor into the Disney Channel’s recent decision to shift this show’s setting from down on the beach to up into the hills of Malibu for Season 4.

Hmmn … I wonder which of those seven basic plots Rich will want to use for the "Hannah Montana" finale?

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