By MANNIE HOLMES
A high school film filled with show tunes fared well for Disney Channel nine years ago. The network gives the High School Musical recipe another try with helmer Kenny Ortega in its biggest production to date, Descendants.
Disney Channel president Gary Marsh said two and a half years of work went into the project. "We have now made 100 Disney Channel original movies, and this is by far the biggest and most ambitious movie we've ever attempted," Marsh said.
The feature follows the malevolent teenage offspring of popular Disney villains from Sleeping Beauty, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, 101 Dalmatians and Aladdin. The live-action movie fuses classic tales and high school drama with original music for Mouse fans of all ages, an attempt at reaching past the network's target demos.
"Because it deals with fairytales that we all know and love in every generation, the continuance of these stories will bring everyone together," said actress Sofia Carson about her Disney Channel original movie debut.
Her fellow cast members include Disney Channel veterans Dove Cameron (Liv And Maddie) and Cameron Boyce (Jessie) along with network newcomer Booboo Stewart.
The sinister parents in the movie include Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil and Jafar, and Disney seized the opportunity to up the star power in the cast: Kristin Chenoweth, Kathy Najimy, Wendy Raquel Robinson and Maz Jobrani play the baddies.
Every cast member described Ortega as an ideal leader throughout the film's production. "Working with Ortega – it doesn't get better," Chenoweth said. "He's my mentor ... He's, in my opinion, the guy."
Ortega said that he has made a home with Disney Channel after working there for a decade. "It's really given me a voice, support and really allowed me to do everything that I've ever wanted to do. I'm ready for another 10 years," Ortega said.
"I'm hoping that next year we can do another big-time celebration for High School Musical.”
Descendants will air on Sept 13 on Disney Channel (Astro Ch 615). — Reuters