THAT WAS FAST: A month ago, two major business magazines devoted feature space to a resurgent Disney and the not-old-enough-to-vote engine that was driving it: Miley Cyrus. Those issues haven’t hit the recycling bin yet and already the reign of Hannah Montana at Disney looks to be waning, though it isn’t likely that it was just a couple of sullen photos in Vanity Fair that did it.
Audiences declined in just one week by 14 per cent as of last Sunday, according to a New York Daily News story, and Nielsen figures went on to report that ratings were down 26 per cent since since January. None of this seemed to affect Disney chairman Bob Iger, who said in effect that the ship was on course, and that icebergs are normal this time of year: “With a new season of shows coming up, a new record in July and a theatrical film next year, the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus franchise is incredibly robust.”
When people in the entertainment business use language like that, it’s always best to look around the back to see if they’re emptying out the store. As any parent will tell you, childhood is brief and cuteness briefer, so why is Disney banking so much on an artist whose audience was wearing Dora sneakers two years ago and will be posting “happy slapping” videos on YouTube in another two?
The Daily News story summed it up in one sage sentence: “Experience shows that kid franchises such as Hannah that hit the rare white-hot phase are good for roughly 18 months, then start to fade.” As parents will also tell you, by the time you’ve figured out what your kids are watching, listening to and talking about long enough for you to buy them the DVD, CD or souvenir t-shirt from the touring show, they’ve already abandoned that fad for their younger siblings and have moved on to new enthusiasms – like illegal pharmaceuticals, or self-mutilation. It’s nice to know that business writers and the people who employ them are as hopeless as you.
MARS NEEDS SHOWRUNNERS: NBC’s adaptation of the hit UK show Life On Mars is tipped as one of the fall’s hot new shows, but months before it’s supposed to debut, it already looks like it’s in trouble. It was being tipped as a return to form for former hitmaker David E. Kelley, but according to a Variety story, Kelley may already be leaving the show.
“Such a move would be a stunning twist for a project that's all about stunning twists,” wrote Variety, recapping the delays and false starts on the series, whose pilot was apparently shot last summer, and added that “financial considerations” are rumoured to be behind Kelley’s departure. Kelley’s departure will bring ABC Studios on to produce alongside 20th Century Fox Television, with the executive producers of October Road likely to take over as showrunners. In a month we’ll hear that the show’s been recast; by mid-summer the lead will have been changed to a woman, and by the time it airs it’ll be a buddy comedy set in a Pittsburgh bar.
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