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Miley Cyrus makes parents happy

Friday, November 16th, 2017

“Miley makes me smiley.” A handmade sign held high by a fan during Wednesday’s appearance by Hannah Montana, a.k.a. Miley Cyrus, at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles summed up all the screams and squeals during the night for the teen TV and pop star.

The sold-out audience of young teen, tween and toddler girls, along with some boys, was all smiles, dancing and singing along. Parents smiled too, watching their happy kids. And even some ushers were smiling. When’s the last time you saw that?

Cyrus’ hit Disney Channel show “Hannah Montana,” which co-stars her father, one-time country pinup Billy Ray Cyrus, is about a teen pop star coming to terms with her onstage and offstage personas, and this show did the same.

For the first half of the 80-minute concert, she was Hannah, wearing her blond wig and various outfits that included spangled tops over leggings. Just 14, she’s already a playful pro, singing mostly uptempo tunes including “Life’s What You Make It,” the spunky “Old Blue Jeans” and the rah-rah “Pumpin’ Up the Party.”

Anchored by chunky guitar or keyboard waves, the candy-coated pop-rock was hook-filled and probably reminded some moms and dads of the early ’80s new wave sound and groups like the Go-Go’s.

The lighting, video screen images and costumes for the dancers matched the music — colorful with lots of green, red and pink, lots of pink — while the choreography was unpretentious and loose, never getting in the way of the songs.

Midway, for “We Got the Party,” Cyrus was joined by her opening act, Disney’s Jonas Brothers, who drew their own starry-eyed high-pitched screams. The trio played a couple of its generic Radio Disney hits while she transformed backstage into her “real” self, Miley.

Wearing a fashion-mall-punky outfit, her wavy brunette hair a touch wild, she beamed for bubblegum garage-rock of “Start All Over” and was silly sneer for “See You Again.” She mugged, stuck out her tongue and grinned throughout more costume changes and cutesy production numbers such as the salsa-dipped “Let’s Dance” and school spirit of “East Northumberland High.”

Sure, cynics might see the whole thing as calculated Disney marketing, but the music was much more lively than the dance dolly and boy band mania of the late ’90s. Plus, it’s wholesome, positive without pandering and free of expletives and sexual innuendo.

So maybe the fluffy songs won’t be more than nostalgic memories in 10-15 years, except, perhaps, the anthem kiss-off to mean boys “G.N.O. (Girls Night Out).” She finished the main set with her TV show’s theme song “The Best of Both Worlds,” a duet with her blond Hannah persona up on the video screens.

Although some parents already were heading out with the kids during the encore, Cyrus followed through, sitting on a stool at the end of the ramp on the arena floor, strumming guitar, gently backed by her band for the lower-key, sentimental “I Miss You,” dedicated to her late grandfather.

Going from Hannah to Miley in the show is a smart move, setting up that future career as a recording artist once the TV program is gone. And this teen talent definitely has that future ahead of her. With lots more smileys to come.

New Logo Premiered for Disney Hollywood Studios in WDW

Sunday, October 28th, 2017

Disney-MGM Studios will be transitioning to a new name — Disney’s Hollywood Studios — effective Jan. 7, 2008. “Mickey still plays a prominent role for us,” said Studios vice-president Michael O’Grattan, “and Hollywood now truly is our middle name.”

As a sneak peak, The Walt Disney World Resort has unveiled the new official logo for the renamed theme park. That probably means we’ll start to see it appearing in the park replacing the old name soon.

I’ve always liked the new name, but I’m not so sure about the new logo. Sure it’s nice having the Big Cheese in there; but something about the way he fits in the ‘O’ and how small he is in proportion to the logo seems wrong to me. Will there be a version of the logo without Mickey that they can use on merchandise that features Mickey, or non-Disney characters, in other ways?

The other thing that bothers me about this logo is the positioning/size of “Hollywood”. It’s off-center, but not aligned all the way to the right either. I guess they wanted to get that tricky drop down with the ‘H’ in there while keeping the tight kerning of the letters..

The little interlocking ‘O’s’ in HollywOOd are cute, but is it really necessary? I also get a slight nautical feeling from the logo, as if the same person who designed this also did the logo work for the Disney Cruise lines. That just may be because the ‘O’s are so perfectly circular they remind me of ship portals.

On the whole, I think the logo will grow on me. It conveys the spirit of Hollywood glamor. It clearly emphasizes the ‘Studio’ aspect of the park, but brings in enough theming leeway for them to start experimenting more with properties not so directly tied to movie production. Plus, I like the art-deco feel.

Scott Power’s piece in the Orlando Sentinel makes a few more interesting points about the park’s new direction. She also makes the point that while MGM may be dropped from the name, that doesn’t mean all the MGM related items and attractions will escorted out of the park (although I’ve heard that some will be).

High School Musical 3 Still In the Works for Corbin Bleu

Tuesday, September 18th, 2017

He’s still in talks to star in the third installation, just don’t expect High School Musical star Corbin Bleu at the premiere.

“I’ve never been to a High School Musical premiere – ever,” Bleu confessed. “The first one I was working on Jump In (A Disney Channel movie). I couldn’t go to the DVD premiere. I was on tour for the [HSM2] Disneyland premiere, I couldn’t go to London for the International premiere. I’m cursed.”

Cursed, but successful, the 18-year-old confirmed to PEOPLE at the Parapluie, Inc., Emmy Gift Lounge that he and his costars are indeed still in negotiations for High School Musical 3.

“Truthfully as long as it’s a good script and as long as everybody is being paid fairly, I would be more than happy to go and have one last hurrah,” Bleu said.

Money isn’t an issue in his off time. Bleu told PEOPLE his family won’t allow success to go to his mop-haired head and his next gig is “babysitting for my sisters (Phoenix, 6, and Jag, 4).”

“When I’m home, I’m just Corbin,” says Bleu, who recently wrapped a 44-city live summer concert tour promoting his solo CD, Another Side. On Monday, Bleu begins filming on Hannah Montana, where he’ll guest star for one episode.