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Disney's 'Sonny With a Chance' is betwixt and be-tween

April 25, 2009 |  1:06 pm

Sonny_chance300 The Demi Lovato vehicle is the latest show from a channel reluctant to let its adolescents grow up.

How is there not an "Oh No You Di'nt!" awards show in real life? It exists on "Sonny With a Chance," the new Demi Lovato vehicle on the Disney Channel (Sundays at 8 p.m.), and like many things on this sitcom, which sends up Young Hollywood in ways only Old Hollywood might appreciate, it's modern and funny and knowing and, ultimately, true.

For Lovato, a rising Disney talent, "Sonny" is an uncomplicated retreat from what's become an increasingly complicated public life, the latest in a long line of Disney Channel cleanses. Lovato's BFF Selena Gomez stars in "Wizards of Waverly Place," occasional Lovato/Gomez antagonist Miley Cyrus is the star of "Hannah Montana," and the Jonas Brothers, for whom Lovato has opened on tour, debut this week with their own Disney Channel series, "Jonas."

All of these young actor-singers have already transcended the tween base with which they made their names, but here they remain. It's not so much a nod to the increasing sophistication of children as it's a concession to the managers and handlers who would like to keep these stars infantilized, trapped in a barely pubescent amber, for as long as possible.

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