- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More ‘Montana’

Disney Channel is getting more miles out of Miley.

According to Variety, the cable network has ordered a fourth season of “Hannah Montana,” ending speculation that teenage sensation Miley Cyrus would be saying farewell to the youth-targeted series. Disney also has renewed “Sonny With a Chance,” starring Demi Lovato, for a second season, Variety says.

Production on the fourth season of “Hannah Montana” will begin in early 2010. Though Miley is returning, goodbyes will be an ongoing theme in an arc that will see Hannah and her family leave their beachfront Malibu enclave.

“Hannah Montana” averages 4.4 million viewers per episode and holds the record as the highest-rated segment of an ongoing series in basic cable history: 10.7 million viewers on Aug. 17, 2007.

Airing on Sunday evenings, “Sonny With a Chance” ascended to No. 1 among scripted series with youngsters ages 6 to 11 and is on par with “American Idol” in the 9-to-14 demographic, Variety says.

Air date for ‘HSM 4’

In other Disney Channel news, the fourth entry in the “High School Musical” franchise will air on the cable network next year, Multichannel.com reports.

“High School Musical: East Meets West,” which will be helmed by choreographer and director Jeffrey Hornaday, will bow in fall 2010.

Casting is under way for the fourth installment, a classic story set against the crosstown school rivalry between the East High Wildcats and West High Knights.

“High School Musical” premiered in January 2006 on Disney Channel U.S. and posted the highest-ever ratings for an original telefilm on the network at the time, Multichannel notes. “High School Musical 2,” which debuted Aug. 17, 2007, became the most-watched program in cable history, with 18.64 million viewers on a live-plus-seven-day basis.

Walt Disney Pictures debuted “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” in theaters in October 2008. Its premiere weekend box-office sales marked the highest debut ever for a musical and for a live-action G-rated film. It grossed $250 million at the worldwide box office.

Cup-a-‘Joe’ intact

MSNBC’s chief executive says its new sponsorship deal with Starbucks won’t cause the network to avoid tough issues, Associated Press reports.

Like sports stadiums that have sold naming rights, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” news-talk show, hosted by former Rep. Joe Scarborough, Florida Republican, is getting the title “Morning Joe Brewed by Starbucks.” The coffee maker’s logo will appear on the program’s graphics, AP said.

MSNBC boss Phil Griffin says the deal won’t cost MSNBC’s integrity.

He noted that the show’s Mika Brzezinski asked Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz about the high number of calories in some of the store’s drinks on Monday’s program.

Starbucks has been losing money and shutting stores while also trying to fight back challengers offering lower-cost gourmet coffee drinks.

‘Rehab’ cast set

VH1 has announced the cast for the upcoming third season of “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew,” EWOnline.com reports.

The show will feature Mackenzie Phillips (“One Day at a Time”), Heidi Fleiss, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Rodman, country music star Mindy McCready, Lisa D’Amato (“America’s Next Top Model”), Alice in Chains’ Mike Starr, Joey Kovar (“Real World Hollywood”) and Playboy Playmate Kari Ann Peniche. The series is slated to premiere in early 2010 with eight one-hour episodes.

O’s sweepstakes begin

In a bid to keep ratings up over the off-season, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” has launched “Oprah’s Summer Giveaway,” a three-month watch-and-win contest, TVWeek.com reports.

The promotion, announced on Oprah.com, calls on viewers to watch summer repeats of “Oprah” to learn a “word of the day.” Once they’ve heard the word, viewers will be encouraged to visit Oprah.com and enter the word for a chance to win prizes.

“Oprah” is partnering with Target Corp., General Electric Co., Sony, United Airlines and Volkswagen for the contest, TVWeek says. Among the planned prizes: Target gift cards; Sony Bravia TV sets, Vaio computers and video cameras; air travel; and GE appliances.

The show also is giving away tickets to tapings of the first week of “Oprah’s” new season, scheduled to kick off the week of Sept. 14. A grand-prize winner will snag the trip to Chicago plus an assortment of the other prizes.

Oprah’s Summer Giveaway is designed to be interactive, encouraging viewers both to tune in to summer repeats and to visit Miss Winfrey’s Web site. The word of the day also will be available on Oprah.com - which means viewers technically don’t need to watch “Oprah” on TV to win prizes.

Bravo’s new look

Bravo Media is changing its look and its tag line, the Hollywood Reporter says.

The cable network and its digital platforms are undergoing a pop-art-inspired redesign, and Bravo’s “Watch What Happens” tag line is being replaced with “By Bravo.”

The network’s new look will be introduced June 23 with the launch of the new docu-series “NYC Prep,” THR says.

The “By Bravo” tag line will be used to brand the different genres of prime-time series: “Food by Bravo” for “Top Chef,” “Competition by Bravo” for “The Fashion Show,” “Drama by Bravo” for “The Real Housewives” franchise and “Funny by Bravo” for “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.”

“The goal of this redesign is to give Bravo a fresh look that illustrates where our brand is going while staying true to our roots,” says Frances Berwick, Bravo Media’s general manager and executive vice president.

Conan rocks ratings

Conan O’Brien has reason to smile after his Monday debut as “Tonight” show host.

His first Nielsen Media Research report card shows a 7.1 rating and 17 audience share in the nation’s biggest media markets, Associated Press reports. The numbers indicate more people checked out Mr. O’Brien’s show than watched David Letterman’s “Late Show” and ABC’s “Nightline” combined.

A typical “Tonight” show this season had a 4.0 rating. Each ratings point represents 1 percent of the nation’s homes with TV- which means 7 percent of homes had someone watching Mr. O’Brien on NBC.

• Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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