- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

‘Raven’ 2.0

The Disney Channel is looking to leverage its most successful series.

This November, the channel will premiere “Cory in the House,” a spinoff of the long-running “That’s So Raven,” the Associated Press reports.

The channel’s first series spinoff will feature characters Cory and Victor Baxter from “Raven” and will be set in the White House.

“Raven” stars Kyle Massey and Rondell Sheridan will reprise their roles as the son and father, now adjusting to life in Washington after dad Victor is chosen as personal chef to the newly elected president, Richard Martinez.

The role of President Martinez has yet to be cast.

Living in the staff quarters of the White House with his father, teenager Cory has to contend with the antics of the president’s 8-year-old daughter and adjust to life at an exclusive Washington school.

Marc Warren and Dennis Rinsler, executive producers for “That’s So Raven,” are in charge of the new “House.”

“That’s So Raven,” which debuted in 2003 and stars actress-singer Raven-Symone of “The Cosby Show,” has wrapped production but will continue to air new episodes in which she pursues her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

The series was the channel’s most-watched and had the most episodes produced (100). It also spawned a merchandising wave of DVDs, video games, clothing, dolls and books.

Raven-Symone, who begins a concert tour next week, just completed filming on the Disney Channel movie “The Cheetah Girls 2,” about four friends aspiring to be pop stars. The TV movie will debut in August.

ABC’s online reach

The latest numbers from ABC’s Internet division reveals an appetite for Web watching.

Viewers have watched the network’s shows online about 3 million times since the Walt Disney Co. network started the free service just over two weeks ago, Reuters reports.

ABC began a two-month Internet trial earlier this month, allowing viewers to watch four of its programs, including blockbuster hits “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost,” on the Web with commercials.

Disney is looking at a variety of options for expanding the service, which airs shows on the ABC.com site about 12 hours after they are first broadcast on television.

Each online episode kicks off with a 10-second sponsorship message from a single advertiser. It is followed by three commercials that air during breaks in the program.

Viewers have to watch or click through ads to get to the next segment of the program.

In addition to offering ad-supported programming on ABC.com, Disney currently sells ad-free downloads of top-rated ABC shows through Apple Computer Inc.’s ITunes online store.

Beam this up

Trekkers, Trekkies or just plain nostalgia fans will have a chance to take a piece of the “Star Trek” universe home with them soon.

This fall, Christie’s is holding the first official studio auction of memorabilia from all five “Star Trek” television series and 10 movie spinoffs, Reuters news agency reports.

CBS Paramount Television Studios is cleaning out its vaults for the sale, comprising more than 1,000 lots totaling some 4,000 items, to be held Oct. 5-7 in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the original “Star Trek” series, Christie’s announced last week.

Fans and collectors will have a chance to acquire “Star Trek” artifacts ranging from models of the USS Enterprise to Capt. James Kirk’s uniform or Capt. Jean-Luc Picard’s jumpsuit. Other items to hit the block include props, weapons, prosthetics and set dressings unearthed from five Paramount warehouses. The auction is expected to raise more than $3 million.

Cathy Elkies, director of special collections at Christie’s, told Reuters the value of the objects was difficult to gauge because “we don’t factor in that emotional fury generated around this kind of material.”

Past estimates for auctions associated with the likes of Marilyn Monroe or Jacqueline Kennedy, who enjoyed dedicated followings, have been far off the mark as actual sale prices soared to five, 10 and even 100 times presale projections. “Star Trek” fans, with their Web sites, conventions and clubs, have proven among the most wildly devoted in all of pop culture.

Conceived by author Gene Roddenberry in the mid-1960s, the original “Star Trek” series debuted in 1966.

The last TV series, “Enterprise,” set in the early 22nd century, about 100 years before the adventures of Kirk’s five-year mission, ended its run on the UPN network in 2005.

Complied from Web and news service reports by Christian Toto.

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