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The Next Disney Channel Star In The Works



If you have not heard the name Kelly Blatz yet, you soon will be hearing it often.

Quickly creating buzz, the California native comes out of the hit-making machine that catapulted Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and the High School Musical cast to fame and stardom.

If all goes as planned, the Walt Disney Company will package 21 year old Kelly Blatz into a marketing machine that extends across the company's many platforms, from film and television to merchandise and music.

Disney Channel's vice president of casting and talent, Judy Taylor, remembers the day Blatz came in to audition. "He had been in the room for about 10 minutes when we said, 'Maybe we should find Disney Channel Entertainment President Gary Marsh and introduce him'" she recalls of a Shia LaBeouf-like star quality. "We felt that strongly from the moment we saw him."

Always focused on the next big thing, Disney's latest new network, Disney XD, has pinned its hopes and marketing dollars on the young actor.

Today he can be seen playing the title role on the new network's flagship series Aaron Stone. A former Starbucks barista, Blatz also has a leading part in a much larger role: to attract male tweens to a network tailored to their tastes.

Until February's XD launch, there was a relative shortage of programming designed specifically for the 18 million male tween viewers in the USA. It's a powerful piece of the younger population to not fully attract: Internationally, the age group, usually defined as kids 6 to 14, injects an estimated $50 billion into the economy.

Later this year, Disney XD will serve up still more tween boy talent. The 16-year-old newcomers Hutch Dano and Adam Hicks star in a documentary-style comedy, Zeke & Luther. The pair will play best friends who have set their sights on becoming the world's best skateboarders.

"I'm always looking for talent that you can relate to and that can handle a show," says Taylor.