Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Does 'Wizards of Waverly Place' Have The Magic Emmy Touch?

Gold Derby by Tom O'Neil (LA Times)

In past years there wasn't much hope for traditional drama and comedy series to win the Emmy Award for best children's program. Sometimes shows like "Hannah Montana" and "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" — even mega-hot movie "High School Musical 2" — got nominated, but they usually lost to high-minded, real-life fare like "Nick News with Linda Ellerbee."

This year, however — presto, change-o — "Nick News" has been zapped off into a newly created category for nonfiction children's shows, leaving the main slot to nominees "The Wizards of Waverly Place," "iCarly" and Miley Cyrus' "Hannah Montana."

"Wizards of Waverly Place" is a popular new show about a magical family that includes one smart-cookie girl and her two brothers (one bright, one dimwitted). It was created by Todd J. Greenwald, who once wrote for "Hannah Montana" and other tween hits like "Saved by the Bell."

Greenwald is happy about the new Emmy rule change. "The fact that they split the categories makes it a fun and level playing field now," he says in our podcast. Click the arrow below to listen to our chat.

In our dishfest, we cover what makes shows like "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "Hannah Montana" such hits: They give frustrated tweens the feeling of secret empowerment.

"'Hannah Montana' is a genius formula," Greenwald says. "Kids love music and they love being popular. Imagine being popular in your own school, but nobody knows about it. It's a fantasy for every kid to have.

"As far as wizards go, you can do whatever you want whenever you want, but if it's against the rules, that makes it more exciting for the audience. There's a little rebel in every kid."

Photo: Disney Channel

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