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Acclaimed Documentary Filmmaker Barbara Kopple Follows Texas Students Who Learn To Express Themselves Through The Arts In Disney’s “High School Musical: The Music In You”

United States
Short Form Segments Premiere Saturday, Oct. 27

Story Culminates in Half-Hour Documusical Premiering Sunday, Jan. 20

BURBANK, Oct. 24, 2007 — Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County, USA,” “American Dream”) follows the story of a student theatre company in Fort Worth, Texas, as they learn to express themselves and experience the positive effect music and the arts can have in their lives.

The story, “High School Musical: The Music In You,” a special presentation in association with the NAMM Foundation, begins in a series of 12 interstitials premiering every Saturday beginning Saturday, Oct. 27 (7:55 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel. It culminates in a half-hour documusical featuring opening night of the H2O production of Disney’s “High School Musical,” premiering Sunday, Jan. 20 (8 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel. The short-form series will also be presented in Disney DXD on www.DisneyChannel.com and available on Sprint TV beginning in November.

Rich Ross, president, Disney Channel Worldwide, said, “I’m excited by everything ‘High School Musical’ has become and am honored to welcome Barbara Kopple back to Disney Channel to do what she does best. She lets her film’s subjects, the members of the theater company, tell the story of how music theatre becomes a wonderful experience and an opportunity for self-expression for them. We’re eager to share her work and their experience with kids and families everywhere and, together with the NAMM Foundation, encourage creativity and innovation in our schools and in our culture.”

The unscripted narrative introduces Disney Channel viewers to the H2O theatre company, comprised of students and teachers from Western Hills and Arlington Heights High Schools in Fort Worth. Kopple’s style and knack for being unobtrusive lets the students and teachers tell the story about auditions, rehearsals, breaking down cliques and building friendships before they ultimately bring an adapted stage version of “High School Musical” to the school stage.

Disney Channel teamed with the nonprofit NAMM Foundation to launch Disney’s High School Musical School Grant Program, an initiative that allows for middle and high schools across the U.S. to apply for a grant to cover all licensing costs associated with producing their own in-school stage show, and to receive a cash grant that will help support additional teaching and production needs to enhance educational opportunities.

More information on the grant program, a link to the application and a downloadable activity guide is available at www.DisneyChannel.com/MusicInYou.

As the short-form series rolls out, Kopple introduces the students and presents a wide view of who they are and why they are trying out for a role in the summer theatre workshop, H2O’s production of Disney’s “High School Musical.”

On audition day, hopes are high as an array of students give it their all on stage, leaving directors Anne Hunter and Julia Worthington with difficult casting decisions. Among the students who audition are Curtis, a football player who hopes that dancing will help his footwork on the grid iron; Brad, who loves music and plays in an alternative band but doesn’t like limiting himself to one music genre; Kristina and Sarah, who both audition for the role of Sharpay; and new girl Stacia, cast as an ensemble character, who feels left out of the clique of “leads.”

Later, viewers see the teachers leading the theatre troupe in building sets, making costumes and shaping the summer production, a task they encourage the student to work hard at to make the show a success. As production goes on, the rival students begin to mix into one big group, gearing up--despite last minute snafus--to perform before a sold-out crowd. On opening night, “High School Musical” stars Monique Coleman and Oleysa Rulin drop in on the cast for a surprise visit.

The H2O production of “High School Musical: On Stage” was presented in association with Musical Theatre International (MTI) and Disney Theatrical Productions. “High School Musical: The Music in You” is produced and directed by Barbara Kopple. It is a production of Cabin Creek Films.

For over two decades Kopple has created an impressive body of work, telling thought-provoking stories from the coal mines of Kentucky to the war-ravaged Bosnian countryside. With a combination of her signature “fly-on-the-wall style, direct cinema techniques, interviews and great storytelling, Kopple remains on the forefront as a non-fiction and fiction filmmaker. Her films “Harlan County, U.S.A.,” and “American Dream” each won Academy Awards. For Disney Channel, Kopple directed and produced “Confident for Life: Kids and Body Image” and the critically acclaimed “Friends for Life: Living with AIDS” and “Learning for Life: Kids and Learning Differences.”
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