EmptyAirdate: 8-10 p.m., Friday, June 20 (Disney Channel).
It's a felony to print money, but Disney, for all practical purposes, has found a way around that law. By adhering closely to its "High School Musical" formula and stretching the results over even more of its divisions, Disney has devised a way to generate coin more efficiently than any machine in Denver or San Francisco.
Whether "Camp Rock" actually outperforms "High School Musical" remains to be seen. But if it doesn't, it won't be for lack of corporate strategizing.
With "Camp Rock," Disney plucks another fresh face off its deep bench of young talent. Demi Lovato, a cast member on the Disney interstitial program "As the Bell Rings," plays Mitchie Torres, an aspiring singer and timid songwriter.
All that stands between Mitchie and a fabulously successful career is attendance at fabulously expensive Camp Rock, which her parents can't afford. Then Mitchie's mom, a caterer, gets hired to do the cooking, which allows Mitchie to attend at a discount (cue the family hug).
At the camp, we find a mean, rich, snooty blonde (Meaghan Jette Martin steps in for Ashley Tisdale), a smattering of minimorality lessons and a song-filled happy ending. Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers is at camp, too, serving as an instructor and a "really like" interest for Mitchie. The whole enterprise is so precisely formulated, you expect to see a final credit for quality control inspector.
Director Matthew Diamond gets a solid enough performance and lots of toothy smiles from Lovato, who should remain a bankable Disney property for as long as she stays clothed on the Internet. Maybe even after that.
It takes nothing away from this genuinely talented group of kids to express even greater admiration for the promotion and marketing. Following Friday's premiere (with an audio simulcast on Radio Disney and a video simulcast on mobile devices), "Camp Rock" will be broadcast on ABC on Saturday, on ABC Family on Sunday and on Disney.com on Monday. From there, the ripple effect will carry merchandise and more replays to shores near and far.
Production: Summer Camp Prods. Cast: Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas, Kevin Jonas, Nick Jonas, Maria Canals Barrera, Alyson Stoner, Meaghan Jette Martin, Jasmine Richards, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Julie Brown, Daniel Fathers. Executive Producer: Alan Sacks. Producer: Kevin Lafferty; Director: Matthew Diamond. Writers: Regina Hicks, Karin Gist, Julie Brown, Paul Brown. Cinematographer: Dean Cundey. Choreography: Kishaya Dudley. Set Decorator: Jeff Fruitman. Casting: Jason LaPadura, Natalie Hart.