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''High School Musical'' News

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 12, 2007

When my column about ''HSM: The Concert'' ran yesterday, a reader called to ask why I was writing about a concert that was sold out. I tried to explain that ''HSM'' is a cultural phenomenon and still deserves attention. To provide more evidence of that, here's an ''HSM'' announcement from today:

Disney Channel will invite fans of the worldwide smash hit "High School Musical" to determine elements of next summer's highly-anticipated sequel "High School Musical 2," via an online programming event and poll, "High School Musical:  Play Your Part," beginning FRIDAY, JANUARY 12 at  Kids around the world can also vote via their local Disney Channel website.  The announcement was made today at the Television Critics Association press tour by Gary Marsh, President, Entertainment, Disney Channel Worldwide.

Marsh said, "It was our viewers who catapulted 'High School Musical' to one of the biggest entertainment stories of the year so we consider it our privilege to give them a chance to participate in the storytelling, to determine elements of the sequel which will be seen by millions of kids and families worldwide."

From January 12-31, Disney Channel viewers can play a part in determining certain elements of "High School Musical 2" by answering 10 poll questions that will determine, among other things, what's written on Mrs. Darbus' chalkboard, what kind of sandwich Troy packs for his picnic with Gabriella, the type of dessert Zeke bakes for Sharpay and the clever sayings on Chad's tee-shirts.  The winning elements will be revealed when the movie premieres. 

"High School Musical 2" begins filming in Utah this spring with the cast reprising their roles and Emmy Award-winning Kenny Ortega directing and choreographing.  It will premiere in August on Disney Channel U.S. and soon thereafter, on Disney Channels around the world.

In the sequel, school's out for summer and now, the competition moves from the fields of high school to the lawns of high society -- also known as the Country Club, not coincidentally founded by Sharpay's grandfather.  When the other East High students get summer jobs there, before long, they face off over the country club's annual mid-summer's night musical production.

On SATURDAY, JANUARY 20 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET/PT), Disney Channel U.S. marks the one-year anniversary of the musical's premiere with a special encore presentation that shows how the movie has spanned the globe.  The programming event, "High School Musical Around the World," will be hosted by stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman who will be seen in videotaped segments originating from London, England, where the movie broke Disney Channel UK records, a double Platinum soundtrack and #1 DVD and then soared to deliver 3.4 million viewers, ranking #1 with Kids, in its BBC One broadcast at the end of December.

"High School Musical Around the World" will be preceded by (12:00 noon-8:00 p.m., ET/PT) foreign language music videos from Disney Channels throughout the world, re-mixed renditions of songs from the "High School Musical" soundtrack performed by local pop stars:  Latin American recording artists Belanova, Ludov ("What I've Been Looking For"), Spain's Conchita ("Breaking Free"), Italy's Luca di Risio ("Breaking Free"), France's Sofiane ("Breaking Free"), Singapore's Alicia Pan, the Philippines' Nikki Gil, Malaysia's Vince Chong ("Breaking Free") and Japan's Hitomi Shimatani ("When There Was You and Me").

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