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Disney to Develop Original Comedy Projects Through Storytellers Initiative

The new Disney Channel Storytellers program will develop live-action comedy pilot scripts from a pool of submitted writing samples.

Disney wants to find new talent for future programming on its cable networks.

Through the newly created Disney Channel Storytellers, the Disney family of networks (including Disney Channel and Disney XD) aims to "foster creative ideas and develop the next generation of series creators and screenwriters" for programs targeting kids, tweens and families. The 20-week program is open to professional writers, who will be salaried during its duration.

Writers participating in the program will be assisted by It's a Laugh Productions, a regular supplier of original programming for Disney networks, and will also be given WGA membership eligibility credits.

According to the announcement, the first program will give three chosen applicants work experience and the chance to develop skills necessary to write and develop programming for Disney Channel and Disney XD platforms. As one of the chosen, each will have their live-action script developed for pilot consideration.

If the idea sounds similar, it's because other networks have begun to aggressively consider other avenues in discovering behind-the-camera talent. NBC announced the NBC Comedy Playground in early April, which asks the public to submit their own original ideas with the potential to make it to air in 2015, while Fox in January inked a multiplatform development deal with The Lonely Island for digital and/or TV programming.

"The unique Storytellers program will create new opportunities for collaboration and inspiration for the series creators of tomorrow. There is nothing more inspirational than watching people with natural, creative gifts grow, and we expect to continue the success of this program on an annual basis" said Jennilee Cummings, vp original series at Disney Channels Worldwide.

Guidelines are located at www.DisneyChannelStorytellers.com. After the initial submission period, which asks applicants to turn in at least two 30-minute live-action comedy writing samples, 10 semifinalists will be interviewed before three finalists will be chosen. WGA writing teams and individuals are both eligible.

The program runs from August through January 2015 in Burbank, where Disney is headquartered.