M-Net co-develops Disney reality show

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In a world first, South African pay-TV broadcaster M-Net is co-developing a reality format based on The Disney Channel’s phenomenally successful television movie franchise, High School Musical.

On air as from August, High School Musical Spotlight South Africa! will document the talent search for a local Troy and Gabriella, the two lead characters in the Disney films played by Zac Effron and Vanessa Hudgens. The prize for the two winners will be starring roles in the South African stage version of High School Musical, scheduled for later in the year. The television show is being produced by EdenRage Media and will feature live broadcasts from both Cape Town and Johannesburg, a first for M-Net.

At the Johannesburg launch of High School Musical Spotlight South Africa!, appropriately held in at a school - Holy Family Convent in Parktown - M-Net’s director of Local Productions Carl Fischer talked about how negotiations between Disney and M-Net had been underway for the past four months. “Disney has been aware of M-Net’s work in the reality arena, with our locally produced versions of Big Brother, Idols and Survivor. We were also the first in the world to launch Big Brother 24/7 on a digital platform. It’s this kind of extensive multimedia experience that enabled us to secure the deal with Disney and we’re very proud that Disney chose us”.

“This is the first television talent hunt for Troy and Gabriella in the world and Disney is hoping to use our production as a model for roll-out in other countries. High School Musical is very popular in South Africa and it’s a great family show. I think that worldwide there is a trend which is moving away from gritty material to clean, fresh and wholesome product like this.”

Fischer stressed that Disney has a very ‘hands-on’ policy regarding all its properties and will be closely involved in both the television series and the stage show. Auditions will take place in June and 40 talented young performers will be chosen to go into the elimination rounds. The competition is open to anyone in the 16 to 25 age group and M-Net is approaching in the region of 500 schools in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth to participate in auditions.

Contestants will be assessed by a creative team comprising of a producer, choreograpaher, a musical director and vocal coach. The public vote will decide who the winners are. For more info visit www.mnet.co.za.