Selena Gomez Reveals Name of “Wizards of Waverly Place” Spinoff

Selena Gomez is going above and beyond Waverly Place

The 31-year-old has announced that the new Wizards of Waverly Place spinoff will be titled Wizards Beyond Waverly Place.

Selena Gomez, Wizards Beyond Waverly PlaceDuring Disney’s upfront on Tuesday, Gomez also shared two first-look images.

The photos give fans a glimpse at grownup Alex and Justin Russo, played by Gomez and David Henrie, who are reprising their roles.

A secondary image introduces the spinoff’s new characters: Billie, portrayed by Janice LeAnn Brown, and the Russo family, played by Mimi Gianopulos (Giada Russo), Alkaio Thiele (Roman Russo) and Max Matenko (Milo Russo).

Selena Gomez, Wizards Beyond Waverly PlaceIn addition, Taylor Cora will join the series’ regular cast in the role of Winter, Billie’s bubbly, quirky and oversharing best friend.

Wizards Beyond Waverly Place follows an adult Justin Russo, who has chosen to lead a normal, mortal life with his family, Giada, Roman and Milo. When Justin’s sister Alex brings Billie to his home seeking help, Justin realizes he must dust off his magical skills to mentor the wizard-in-training while also juggling his everyday responsibilities — and safeguarding the future of the Wizard World.

From Disney Branded Television, the series is slated to premiere on Disney Channel and Disney+ later this year.

Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas serve as writers and executive producers, along with Gary Marsh, Gomez and Henrie. Andy Fickman directed and executive-produced the pilot and will direct multiple episodes.

Ana Ortiz to Star in Season 2 of Disney+’s Anthology Series “Goosebumps”

Ana Ortiz is (goose)bumping up her television plans…

The 53-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress will star opposite David Schwimmer in the Disney+ anthology series Goosebumps for Season 2 as a series regular.

Ana OrtizFrom Disney Branded Television and produced by Sony Pictures Television, the series is based upon R.L Stine’s bestselling Scholastic series. Each season features a new story, setting and cast. Season 2 will follow teenage siblings who discover a threat stirring, triggering a chain of events that unravel a profound mystery. As they delve into the unknown, the duo find themselves entangled in the chilling tale of four teenagers who mysteriously vanished in 1994.

Ortiz will play Jen, a dedicated police detective who remains rooted in her Brooklyn neighborhood after experiencing a tragic event that involved her friends in adolescence.

Nicholas Stoller and Rob Letterman developed the series and serve as executive producers, alongside showrunner Hilary Winston, Neal H. Moritz, Scholastic Entertainment’s Iole Lucchese, Pavun Shetty, Conor Welch, Scholastic Entertainment’s Caitlin Friedman and Erin O’Malley.

Ortiz broke out as Hilda Suarez on ABC’s hit comedy Ugly Betty, earning both American Latino Media Arts and Imagen Awards prizes for “Best Supporting Actress” for her portrayal as Betty’s (America Ferrera) sassy older sister.

Additional television credits include roles in Marc Cherry’s Devious MaidsThe Mindy Project from Fox/Hulu, ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, FX’s Over There and ABC’s Boston Legal, to name a few.

Most recently, Ortiz was a series regular on the Hulu series Love, Victor.

Selena Gomez to Executive Produce & Guest Star in Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” Sequel

Selena Gomez is heading back to the place it all started…

One of Disney’s signature comedies, Wizards of Waverly Place, which helped turn the 31-year-old Mexican American actress/singer into a household name, is getting a sequel.

Selena GomezDisney Branded Television has ordered a pilot for the follow-up, which is executive produced by original stars Gomez and her small screen sibling David Henrie.

Gomez will guest star in the pilot for Disney Channel as the character that helped launch her career, Alex Russo, with Henrie reprising the role of Justin Russo as a series regular.

They’ll be joined by new cast members Janice LeAnn Brown, Alkaio Thiele and Mimi Gianopulos.

The revival pilot comes from writers and executive producers Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas who are behind another Disney Channel comedy spinoff, Raven’s Home.

It picks up after a mysterious incident at WizTech, where an adult Justin Russo has left his wizard powers behind, opting for a normal, human life with his wife and two sons. But he gets a surprise when a powerful young wizard in need of training shows up at his door… and Justin must embrace his past to ensure the future of the Wizard World.

The powerful young wizard Billie, whom Justin takes under his wing, will be portrayed by series lead Brown. Thiele will play Roman Russo, Justin’s oldest son; Gianopulos will play Justin’s wife, Giada.

In addition to Gomez, Henrie, Elinoff and Thomas, Gary Marsh and Andy Fickman will also executive produce, with Fickman directing.

Marsh was the former longtime top Disney Channel creative executive who was the driving force behind Wizards of Waverly Place and was instrumental in getting Gomez on the network after she was discovered during an open casting call in Dallas.

Created by Todd J. Greenwald, the original series, which ran from 2007-2012, followed the Russo family, where three siblings navigated the challenges of adolescence while mastering their magical abilities. The cast also included Jake T. Austin, Jennifer Stone, Maria Canals-Barrera and David DeLuise, all of whom (minus Henrie), reunited for the TV special The Wizards Return: Alex Vs. Alex in 2013.

The pilot order caps years of online chatter about a potential Wizards Of Waverly Place revival or reboot. It also fits into Disney Branded Television’s strategy of beefing up Disney Channel’s lineup of multi-camera sitcoms.

Gomez is currently in the Disney family as a star and executive producer of the hit Hulu/20th Television comedy series Only Murders In the Building.

Disney+ to Release Fourth & Final Season of Frankie Rodriguez’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” in August

It’s curtain call Frankie Rodriguez

The upcoming fourth season of Disney+’s original series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, starring the 23-year-old Mexican American actor/singer, will be its last, with all eight episodes being released on August 9.

Frankie RodriguezThe show’s conclusion was announced on social media by creator and executive producer Tim Federle.

“After four years at East High, it’s time to graduate. This will be our final, endgame season,” he wrote. “This show brought the most extraordinary cast – and crew, and collaborators – to my life. To the fans, who embraced our super-meta series: we ‘don’t not love you.’ We can’t wait to share this epic 4th act with you all.”

Along with The Mandalorian, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series helped launch Disney+, premiering in November 2019. It’s the longest running and most successful Disney Branded Television series for the streamer to date.

Inspired by the hugely popular High School Musical movies, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has launched notable careers such as Grammy Award-winning artist Olivia Rodrigo; Tony Award-nominated Julia Lester; singer-songwriter Joshua Bassett, who recently completed a world tour; and Dara Reneé, who made her songwriting debut on the series and stars in the upcoming Disney+ Original movie Descendants: The Rise of Red.

Season four of the GLAAD Media and Kids Choice Award-winning series will see the Wildcats returning to East High, where they prepare a stage production of “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.” But, in a meta twist signature to the series, plans are disrupted when Disney announces the long-awaited “High School Musical 4: The Reunion” movie will shoot on location at their beloved high school.

Franchise alum Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Lucas Grabeel, Bart Johnson, Alyson Reed and Kaycee Stroh play themselves, reprising their High School Musical roles, and the Wildcats will play featured extras in the movie.

Season 4 stars Bassett, Sofia Wylie, Reneé, Lester, Rodriguez, Kate Reinders and Liamani Segura.

Wilmer Valderrama Developing Drama Series Based on Anthony Almojera’s Memoir “Riding the Lightning”

Wilmer Valderrama is riding high…

The 42-year-old Venezuelan and Colombian American actor is developing a drama series alongside Eric I. Lu based on Anthony Almojera’s memoir Riding the Lightning: A Year in the Life of a New York City Paramedic.

Wilmer Valderrama CBS Studios is the studio.

Riding the Lightning will follow a veteran team of EMS workers in New York City grappling with life-or-death emergencies while welcoming an eager group of new recruits to their tight-knit unit.

Lu will serve as the writer and executive producer; Valderrama and Kaitlin Saltzman will executive produce through his WV Entertainment. Almojera will serve as a consultant on the project.

Lu will feel right at home working on a medical drama due to his four years working as a writer and producer on Fox’s The Resident. He joined the show in Season 2 and departed after the sixth season.

Valderrama is an actor and producer who’ll next reprise the role of Fez in Netflix’s That ’70s Show spinoff That ’90s Show. The series’ freshman season premieres on January 19. Projects under development include the straight-to-series drama Keep This to Yourself for Peacock/Telemundo and a reimagined Zorro series for Disney Branded Television.

Lisette Olivera Signs with United Talent Agency (UTA)

Lisette Olivera has new representation…

The up-and-coming Latina actress  has signed with United Talent Agency (UTA) for representation in all areas.

Lisette OliveraOlivera will next be seen starring in the Disney Branded Television series National Treasure: Edge of History, an expansion of the popular National Treasure film franchise, told from the point of view of her character, Jess.

The action-adventure show’s young heroine is a brilliant and resourceful DREAMer who embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to uncover the truth about her family’s mysterious past and save a lost Pan-American treasure.

National Treasure: Edge of History debuts on Disney+ on December 14.

Olivera is joined in the show by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Justin Bartha, Harvey Keitel, Lyndon Smith, Zuri Reed, Jake Austin Walker, Antonio Cipriano and Jordan Rodrigues.

Its exec producers include Jerry Bruckheimer, Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed, Rick Muirragui (who also serves as a writer), Jon Turteltaub and Mira Nair (who also directs).

Olivera was previously seen starring opposite Sierra McCormick in Sean King O’Grady’s psychological horror We Need to Do Something, which made its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and was released in theaters by IFC Films.

Disney+ to Release New Original Special “Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl,” Featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, in December

Lin-Manuel Miranda is preparing for an Enchanting night in Southern California…

Disney+ has announced its new original special Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl, with an introduction by the 42-year-old Tony Award-winning Broadway star, will launch on Wednesday, December 28, on the streamer.

Lin-Manuel MirandaThe two-night concert event will take place at the Hollywood Bowl on November 11 and 12. The special comes from Disney Branded Television and will be produced by Fulwell 73 Productions.

The original voice cast of “Encanto” will reunite at the Bowl, including Stephanie Beatriz (as Mirabel), Adassa (as Dolores), Carolina Gaitán (as Pepa), Jessica Darrow (as Luisa), Diane Guerrero (as Isabela), Mauro Castillo (as Félix), Angie Cepeda (as Julieta) and Olga Merediz (as Abuela Alma).

The event will also feature special guests, including Colombian stars Carlos Vives and Andrés Cepeda. The live-to-film concert experience, including an 80-person orchestra, 50 dancers and special effects, will center on the characters and songs of Disney Animation’s Encanto.

Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl will be directed by Chris Howe and Jamal Sims with production design by Misty Buckley. Sally Wood is Fulwell 73 Productions’ creative showrunner, with Gabe Turner, Emma Conway and Lou Fox serving as executive producers.

The Hollywood Bowl’s visual transformation into the Casita is handled by NorthHouse.

The concert event is produced by Fulwell 73 Productions, Live NationHewitt Silva and Disney Concerts, along with AMP Worldwide.

Conductor Anthony Parnther will lead the full orchestra performing the film’s score and songs live-to-picture, along with the cast and special guest artists performing the film’s songs live. A Colombian band, featuring musicians from the original soundtrack, will accompany the orchestra.

Valentina Herrera to Star in the Disney Original Movie “The Slumber Party”

Valentina Herrera is ready to slumber

The Latina actress will star in Disney Branded Television’s The Slumber Party, a Disney Original Movie based on Jen Malone’s popular teen novel The Sleepover.

Valentina HerreraThe project hails from Imagine Kids+Family, a division of Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment.

Production is officially underway in Atlanta.

In addition to Herrera, the cast also includes Darby Camp, Emmy Liu-Wang, Dallas Liu and newcomers Alex Cooper Cohen and Ramon Rodriguez.

The coming-of-age comedy, written by Eydie Faye, will be directed by Veronica Rodriguez.

The Slumber Party depicts the hilarious aftermath of a sleepover birthday party hypnotism gone wrong as best friends Megan (Camp) and Paige (Liu-Wang), along with soon-to-be step-sister Veronica (Cooper Cohen), wake up with absolutely no memory of the night before. Now they must retrace their steps to find missing birthday girl Anna Maria (Herrera)  … and explain why there’s a flock of baby ducks in the bathtub, what happened to Megan’s left eyebrow, and why she’s wearing unattainable hottie Jake Ramirez’s (Rodriguez) signature black hoodie.

The Slumber Party is a hilarious ride that looks at female friendship and self-discovery through a sophisticated, cinematic lens,” said Lauren Kisilevsky, senior vice president of Original Movies, Disney Branded Television. “We aim to deliver humor, surprise and delight to our viewers with a movie that will be relatable to audiences of all ages.”

Stephanie Sperber, President of Imagine Kids+Family, said “We are so excited to partner with Lauren Kisilevsky, Jen Dubin and the team at Disney Branded Television on The Slumber Party. Eydie Faye captured the voice and coming-of-age comedy so beautifully in her script, and Veronica Rodriquez is bringing a fresh vision and creative style to the screen. With this film marking IKF’s first feature production, we couldn’t have found a better home than with Disney Branded Television and their proven ability to reach YA and family audiences with timeless and entertaining content.”

Herrera previously starred in Black Widow and Odd Squad.

Gabriela Lopez to Star in Disney+’s Original Series “The Crossover”

 Gabriela Lopez is reading for a crossover

The 30-year-old half-Peruvian American actress will star in the Disney+ original series The Crossover.

Gabriela LopezLopez is among a roster of new cast additions that includes Darone Okolie, Joel Steingold, Himie Freeman and Johnny Cantley in recurring roles.

Okolie and Freeman will play future versions of the Bell brothers, Lopez will play a future version of ‘Maya’ and Cantley will play a future version of ‘Vondie.’

Steingold will play ‘Basil St. Jean,’ the poised and stylish Vice Principal at Hughes Middle School. He’s friendly and hard-working and offers his support to Crystal (Sabrina Revelle) in any way he can, even though she secured the job he was up for. But is he a friend or a foe?

Based on the best-selling novel by Kwame AlexanderThe Crossover introduces teen brothers Josh and Jordan Bell, widely considered basketball phenoms. Through his lyrical poetry, an adult version of Josh, aka Filthy McNasty, narrates the story of he and his brother’s coming of age, on and off the court, as their former professional basketball player father adjusts to life after basketball, and their mother finally pursues lifelong dreams of her own.

Daveed Diggs will narrate the series. Stars also include Jalyn Hall as ‘Josh Bell,’ Amir O’Neil as ‘JB Bell,’ Derek Luke as ‘Chuck Bell,’ Skyla I’Lece as ‘Alexis,’ Deja Monique Cruz as ‘Maya’ and Trevor Raine Bush as ‘Vondie.’

The pilot episode was directed by George Tillman, Jr. and was written by Kwame Alexander and Damani Johnson.

The Disney Branded Television series is produced by 20th Television.

Lopez’s previous credits include Rosewood, Casual and The 5th Wave.

Jacob Vargas to Appear on Disney+’s TV Series “National Treasure”

Jacob Vargas is treasuring his latest gig…

The 50-year-old Mexican-American actor and performer has landed a heavily recurring role in National Treasure, Disney Branded Television’s television series for Disney+ produced by ABC Signature.

Jacob VargasExecutive produced by the films’ producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Jon Turteltaub and writers Marianne and Cormac Wibberley, the project is an expansion of the National Treasure film franchise told from the point of view of young heroine Jess (Lisette Olivera), a DREAMer in search of answers about her family who embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to uncover the truth about the past and save a lost Pan-American treasure.

The series, whose pilot episode is written by the Wibberleys and will be directed by Mira Nair, centers on Jess, a Latina whose brilliant and resourceful mind loves a good mystery, and she has a natural talent for solving puzzles. Over the course of the show, Jess will uncover her own buried history, as well as the truth about her parents and her connection to a long-lost treasure.

Vargas plays Rafael a rugged, treasure-obsessed, adventurous soul with a good sense of humor.

Vargas recently portrayed Tony Ochoa on Mr. Iglesias for Netflix. He also recurred on Mayans M.C. and appeared on Luke Cage and Sons of Anarchy.

On the film side, he most recently was seen in Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi. His other film credits include Princess of the Row, The 33 and Diego Luna’s biopic Cesar Chavez.