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A bid to be queen of tweens

The Week Ahead

October 23, 2006|Geoff Boucher

First there was Annette, then came Britney and Christina, followed by Hilary and now ... meet Miley. On Tuesday, the newest bid by Disney to mint a young pop princess hits stores in the form of the debut album by Miley Cyrus, better known to tweens everywhere by the name of her Disney Channel persona, Hannah Montana.

On the half-hour show "Hannah Montana," Cyrus plays a not-very-cool teen named Miley Stewart who has a very cool secret life -- she ducks into a cleverly hidden closet (imagine the Batcave redesigned by Barbie) and emerges as the world-famous pop star Hannah Montana. The relentlessly advertised debut episode of the series arrived on the Disney Channel in late March as the lead-in to an encore airing of "High School Musical," the stunningly successful made-for-Disney movie with a bestselling soundtrack. That bundling helped the "Hannah Montana" premiere score a record audience for a series on the channel, and since then, the Friday night sitcom is routinely the most-viewed basic cable show for the 6-to-14-year-old audience.

Expectations at Disney are that the "Hannah Montana" CD will debut very high on the charts, and if the reception Miley got at her recent concert debut in Los Angeles is any indication, her audience is indeed ready and waiting ... and waiting and waiting. Her set opened with the lights down and a slow build to her stage arrival with footage of her in her dressing room and then striding purposefully toward stage. The crowd ate it up and stared at the sheer, back-lighted curtain at the top of the stage. And then ... the lights came back on. There was a glitch, a stage manager told the audience. A few minutes later, the whole thing started over again. None of the kids seemed to mind that the video screens were showing the identical backstage footage they'd just seen.

The tour is the first for 13-year-old Miley, who was born Destiny Hope Cyrus but goes by a shortened form of her nickname Smiley Miley. She's the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, he of "Achy Breaky Heart" fame, who also plays her father on the show. The big hope at the House of Mouse is that Hannah will do for Miley what Lizzie McGuire did for Hilary Duff -- make her the tween queen of pop. Miley hopes for that in the short term and a chance to grow later, which for her would qualify as a realization of the "Hannah Montana" theme song: "Best of Both Worlds."

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-- Geoff Boucher

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