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April 29, 2010

Disney Channel orders 'Lemonade' movie musical

Exclu: Disney Channel is readying a new high school musical.

The network has ordered an original movie based on the novel “Lemonade Mouth,” the story of five Rhode Island freshmen who meet in detention and decide to form a garage band using unusual instruments, including a ukulele.

Emmy-nominated producer Debra Martin Chase will lead the project, having also produced the network’s musical movie franchise “The Cheetah Girls” in addition to films “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “The Princess Diaries.”

The script is from April Blair, based on the novel by Mark Peter Hughes. The project’s title (and the band’s name) comes from a student-led protest in the book to save the school’s organic lemonade machine.

Although Disney Channel’s movie-musical franchise has dropped from the frenzied peak of 2007’s “High School Musical 2” — the most-watched cable telecast of all time with 18.6 million viewers — the network’s movie musicals continue to generate blockbuster numbers. The most recent contemporary big-ticket project was 2008’s “Camp Rock,” the most-watched scripted cable telecast that year with 10.1 million viewers.

Disney Channel recently announced a sequel to that project, “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam,” which will debut in September. “Lemonade” likely will debut a few months later. Album sales, too, are a key part of the equation. Since 2006, soundtracks from Disney Channel original movies have sold 27 million discs worldwide

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