The Suite Life of Zack & Cody aired from March 2005 until ? on The Disney Channel.
Dylan and Cole Sprouse ( who like the Olsen twins got their start playing infants on television ; for them it was on Grace Under Fire ) starred as two hyperactive blond teen twins who caused chaos at a stuffy Boston hotel in this slapstick series. Carey ( Kim Rhodes), their divorced mom, was the headline singer at the Hotel Tipton's swank lounge, and as part of her contract they got to live in a twenty-third -floor suite ( hence the title) and make use of the hotel's amenities, including the pool, game room and room service. Zack ( Dylan Sprouse) was usually the instigator of their schemes, and Cody ( Cole Sprouse) the smarter one who bailed them out. Frequent foils included London ( Brenda Song), the rich, stuck-up daughter of the hotel owner; Moseby ( Phill Lewis), the fussy manager who vainly tried to keep order; Arwin ( Brian Stepanek), the hotel handyman with a crush on Carey; and Esteban ( Adrian R'Mante), the bumbling Hispanic bellhop who called Zack and Cody "little blond people." Maddie ( Ashley Tisdale) was the smart, outspoken teenage clerk at the candy counter who sometimes babysat Zack and Cody and on whom Zack had a crush. Other settings included Zack and Cody's school, Bauckner Middle School, where they interacted with students and faculty, and Maddie and London's Catholic school, Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow.
An Article from The New York Times
FOR YOUNG VIEWERS; Up Elevator, Down Elevator
By MARK GLASSMAN
Published: March 13, 2005
IT is never easy to be the new student in school, but Zack and Cody Martin have a surefire way to make friends with their classmates: offer them finger sandwiches and a poolside massage.
In ''The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,'' a new series that has its premiere Friday at 7 p.m. on the Disney Channel, the 12-year-old twins move into Boston's upscale Tipton Hotel, where guests pay about $2,000 a night to get the sort of rest that young boys like to disturb. Think of it as Doublemint Eloise.
The twins' single mother, Carey (Kim Rhodes), was hired by the hotel as a singer, and a suite on one of the upper floors came with the contract. The series follows the family's adjustment to a new living situation and occasionally deals with sensitive issues for children, like moving and divorce.
Danny Kallis, an executive producer of ''The Suite Life,'' described it as ''a show about fractured families with very traditional values.'' One of the writers, he said, called it ''Disney's first workplace comedy.''
''It gives you back-of-the-house/front- of-the-house,'' Mr. Kallis said. ''It gives you blue-collar/white-collar. It gives you living the high life, when you really can't afford it.''
Of course, mischief is the show's central conceit. Zack generally starts the trouble, persuading the more reluctant Cody to help him break the rules.
For Dylan and Cole Sprouse, who play Zack and Cody, respectively, ''The Suite Life'' represents a new opportunity to work together while playing separate characters. Like the Olsen twins, the Sprouses began their careers playing a single role. From 1993 to 1998, they played Brett Butler's youngest son on the ABC series ''Grace Under Fire.'' By 1999, the twins were taking turns on the set of ''Big Daddy,'' where they played Adam Sandler's would-be son.
''Every time Cole would go to work, I would go to school,'' Dylan, who is 15 minutes older than his brother, said in a telephone interview. ''So we finally get to work together.''
The Sprouse twins are no strangers to hotel living. During the filming of ''Big Daddy'' they spent four months in an upscale New York hotel where they couldn't resist pressing lots of elevator buttons to annoy the maid.
The Tipton, which looks more like the Beverly Wilshire than the Lenox, is run by Mr. Moseby (Phill Lewis), the uppity hotel manager who tries to keep Zack and Cody from cluttering the lobby, breaking a vase or crashing a beauty pageant.
London Tipton (Brenda Song), the glitzy daughter of the hotel's owner, lives in a suite and flutters around the hotel in designer clothes and a bratty attitude. Her ballast is Maddie Fitzpatrick (Ashley Tisdale), a mild candy-counter clerk who earns extra money by tutoring London and baby-sitting the twins. This should hardly be a stretch for Ms. Tisdale, who played young Cosette in ''Les Misérables'' on Broadway in the early 1990's.
Mr. Kallis said that he had always been fascinated by hotels and the notion of living in one and that Boston seemed like a good fit. ''It really speaks to the sort of swank, traditional upper crust of America, if there is one,'' he said. ''And New York's been used a lot.''
Mr. Kallis said he and Jim Geoghan, a writer and co-creator on the show, came up with the idea for ''The Suite Life,'' while working on ''Silver Spoons,'' another series about the intersection of youth and privilege. That was about 20 years ago, he said.
And before at least half the regular cast of ''The Suite Life'' was born.
An Article from The New York Times
Boys Just Want to Be ... Olsens
By ANNA BAHNEY
Published: April 30, 2006
DYLAN SPROUSE slid his Sidekick out of his pocket to eye an incoming e-mail message, typed a few keys under the table and then returned his focus to a meeting with his twin brother, Cole, their manager, their publicist and two executives from their licensing company.
"I want Code magazine not to be placed anywhere near Popstar, Tigerbeat or M," Dylan said of the magazine for teenage boys the twins are starting up in July. "We want it near Nintendo Power or Mad."
Cole nodded as he looked over a mock-up cover featuring a skateboarder. "More toward sport and surfing magazines, not fan magazines," he said.
Diane Reichenberger, the chief executive of the Dualstar Entertainment Group, which has a licensing agreement with the boys, assured Dylan and Cole, who will be Code's editors, that it will be shelved near gaming, tech and gear magazines.
"Also," Cole began, "I was thinking, 'trends'? It kind of seems like it's for girls."
Grace Jung, Dualstar's brand manager for this project, nodded as she took notes. "That's a good point," she said, adding that she had just sent an e-mail message to Leisure Publishing, a partner on the magazine, banning the use of the word trends altogether.
"You're right," Ms. Reichenberger said. "You're right on, Cole."
Then it was time to talk video podcasts. Dylan had an idea: "How about this? I like this idea. We get a major league pitcher, O.K.? And we say: 'The perfect way to throw an egg.' "
Ms. Reichenberger let out a laugh. "I love that."
Ms. Jung muttered aloud as she jotted down notes: "The perfect way ... to throw an egg."
Unless you live in the vicinity of 6- to 14-year-olds, you might not be familiar with Dylan and Cole Sprouse, the 13-year-old twin stars of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" on the Disney Channel. Although only in its second season, the show became the network's top-rated hit in January when it went from a weekend to a daily series, and the Sprouse brothers went from playing forgettable kids in adult movies to 'tween heartthrobs, the subject of exclamation point-laden posts on fan Web sites and a mainstay of magazines for girls like Bop and Tigerbeat.
Now with the help of Dualstar, the entertainment company that grew up around Mary-Kate Olsen and her twin sister Ashley Olsen ( who are now co-presidents), Dylan and Cole hope to mold themselves in the image of the elder twins and grow from mere heartthrobs into something more lasting: a brand.
The coming months will bring an avalanche of things Sprouse. In addition to the computer wallpaper, buddy icons and iron-on transfers of their logo, which have been available since February from the SprouseBros.com Web site, posters will be released tomorrow, followed by calendars, ring tones and video podcasts. This will all lead up to the start-up of their quarterly lifestyle magazine, officially called Sprouse Bros. Code, on July 6 at Planet Hollywood in New York. It will cost $3.99.
DVD's and books are in the works as well, not to mention a Sprouse Bros. hair gel, hair wax, deodorant sticks and sprays, a cologne and a three-in-one body wash, shampoo and conditioner, bound for shelves before the end of the year. Finally, a full line of sportswear will come out in stores — to be determined — next spring.
"I've been looking at Mary-Kate and Ashley and what they've created as the model," said Josh Werkman, who has been managing the boys since they were 8 and who pitched them to Dualstar. The goal, he said, is to not stop with television and movies but "to take this to another level."
But it is going to take more than ring tones and a logo to catch the Olsens' wave. First and foremost, as the deodorant suggests, the Sprouses are hoping to sell to boys. While postings on fan Web sites ("luv cole all the way 2 pluto and bac" and "Soooooo married 2 Dylan Sprouse") suggest that the brothers could sell dental equipment to 10-year-old girls, it's unclear whether boys can be convinced to spend, say, $20, for a bottle of Sprouse Bros. cologne.
As Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at the NPD Group, a market research firm, and the author of "Why Customers Do What They Do," explained, developing a line of apparel and grooming products aimed at boys under 14, "doesn't come without great risk and challenges. "What's going to happen with these guys three years from now?" Mr. Cohen asked, adding that not only will the twins be growing up, but boys in general are a harder sell than girls for such products. According to NPD Group research, boys 8 to 17 spend about $12.5 million on clothes while girls in the same age bracket spend almost $21 million.
Still, he added, boys are evolving as consumers, and the timing could work in Dualstar's favor. "Sure there are major differences between boys and girls, but that gap is shrinking big time," he said.
Founded in 1993 when the Olsen girls were only 6 to produce a series of direct-to-video titles, Dualstar became a pioneer in the 'tween market when it expanded to include books, music, video games, dolls, cosmetics, furniture and clothes. Forbes magazine estimated that sales were around $1.4 billion in 2003; Fortune estimated that Ashley and Mary-Kate are worth about $137 million each.
When the twins took full ownership of the company about a year ago, one of their first moves was to hire Ms. Reichenberger, a marketing and merchandizing veteran of companies like L.A. Gear, Joe Boxer and the Gap, with the idea that she could help expand the company beyond Mary-kateandashley. There is no way to know if the Sprouse brothers will wield anything like the commercial might of the Olsens, but Ms. Reichenberger has high hopes. She said that months of meetings with Dylan, Cole and Mr. Werkman took place before a deal was signed.
"There has to be a spark or something special there to go out and sell it and have all of us to believe in it," she said. "You want to see whatever we're doing to be the best thing for them, for all of us really, but specifically for them because it represents who they are and they are so young."
Dualstar won't divulge how much it has invested in the Sprouse brand, but Ms. Reichenberger said Cole and Dylan's products are a natural expansion of the Olsen sisters' lines of clothing, beauty products and housewares for girls without competing with them.
"There are always those people who have a lot of naysaying to do," Ms. Reichenberger said of people who don't think that boys will want to buy clothes or grooming products. "They didn't see how it would make sense to sell clothes to little girls, either."
Still, she said, Dylan and Cole will play an entirely different role in the marketing of their products than the Olsens do. The Sprouses will act more as advisers and tastemakers than the faces of the brand.
"Girls will want to emulate a celebrity," Ms. Reichenberger said. "Little girls look at Mary-Kate and Ashley, they want to dress like them. Whereas boys are not like 'I want to look like Dylan and Cole.' The distinction is that it's more about relating to the boys: what Dylan and Cole love, we're creating for other boys."
Or as Cole put it: "Our priorities right now are about appealing to people who are our age and boys. We don't want anything too girlie."
LIKE Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen, Dylan and Cole have been in front of the camera since they were infants and speak with the maturity of child stars who have spent a lot of time around adults.
After the Dualstar meeting, over a dinner of chicken pizza at the Terrace Cafe in Marina del Ray, Calif., Dylan smiled as he printed "Zack" under the flourish of his real name for a man seeking an autograph for his 9-year-old daughter. "Just in case a father like you brings it home and your daughter or son are like, what's that?" he explained.
Later, fidgeting with his Sidekick, he said: "It is kind of scary, how fast everything is moving. Just a year ago none of this was happening, it was just doing 'Suite Life,' and now I can't wait for what's in store because that's what gets me up in the morning." The boys' parents, Melanie Wright and Matthew Sprouse, while supportive, leave their day-to-day business affairs to their professional team. The couple, now divorced, moved to Los Angeles soon after the boys were born. Before they were a year old, the twins were splitting the role of Brett Butler's baby in "Grace Under Fire."
Their next break came when they were 6 and cast as Julian, the child who is adopted by Adam Sandler in "Big Daddy." It was at that point that Mr. Werkman entered their lives. After seeing "Big Daddy," he pursued them as clients and ultimately left his agency to work with them exclusively. It was he who sought out the deal with Disney.
"We wanted something really cutting edge," Mr. Werkman said, "not the typical Disney show with the bookend parents." He said he rejected a script of that kind before he agreed to "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody."
The show suits them. Dylan, who is laid back in real life, plays the troublemaker who can let the clutter in his room become hazardous. Cole, who characteristically keeps to a schedule, plays the more cautious Cody, who can be almost too organized.
The program, which is half "Eloise at the Plaza," half "The Odd Couple," centers around the twins and their single mother, the cabaret performer at the Tipton Hotel, a stuffy overdecorated establishment in which boys are about as welcome as farm animals. The standard plot has Zack, played by Dylan, embarking on some mission that is bound to get them in trouble and Cody advising caution but nevertheless being dragged along.
"There is the inciter and the reluctant participant, like Lucy and Ethel, the two of them are in on it together," said Rich Ross, the president of the Disney Channel Worldwide. "They have a fearlessness, that ventures toward the comedic."
One thing on the brothers' mind, however, is how long to exploit such togetherness.
"One of the pieces of advice that Mary-Kate and Ashley have given me and the boys," Mr. Werkman said, "was that they wished they had started a little earlier" doing individual projects.
The twins say the Olsens have become mentors. "Mary-Kate is exactly like Cole and Ashley is exactly like me," Dylan said.
Cole nodded. "It is so weird."
For now, though, after a long day of rehearsals and meetings, the brothers have the future of the Sprouse brand on their minds as they start fiddling with sugar packets after their pizza and chicken fingers.
"We want to reach out to the nerd group and the cool group, and the surfers and the skaters," Dylan added. "There should be something that will appeal to everybody."
The jury of their peers is out on that.
"I actually like the clothes that they wear," said Mathieu Bialosky, 8, who lives in New York and watches "Suite Life." "Especially the jackets. And I like their long hair because I'd like to have hair like that."
Sam Kay, also 8, was more skeptical, saying that although he loves the show he would wear Dylan and Cole clothes "only if I've seen other kids wear it."
Correction: May 7, 2006
An article last Sunday about Dylan and Cole Sprouse, the 13-year-old twin stars of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" on the Disney Channel, and their effort to be as successful commercially as the actors Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, misstated the amount of money that boys and girls spent on clothes over the last year. It was $12.5 billion for boys and $21 billion for girls, not millions.
An Article from The New York Times
OMG! Cute Boys, Kissing Tips and Lots of Pics, as Magazines Find a Niche
By ELIZABETH OLSON
Published: May 28, 2007
Above the neon-orange lettering that promotes the issue’s “love blogs” and other content, Zac, Corbin and Miley smile winningly on the cover for the May/June issue of J-14.
No need for the preteen magazine to spell out that they are Zac Efron, Corbin Bleu and Miley Cyrus because its devoted readership already knows this from watching the Disney Channel. Disney and Nickelodeon have been pumping out youthful stars whose careers, outfits and “faves” are dissected by every issue of J-14 and its brethren, which include Twist, M, Tiger Beat, Bop and Popstar.
With a faithful audience in the millions, these magazines for the early teenage years are in overdrive, bolstered by last year’s enthusiasm for new stars from the Disney Channel’s hit “High School Musical,” which made household names not only of Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu, but also of Ashley Tisdale and Vanessa Anne Hudgens. Miley Cyrus, the daughter of the singer Billy Ray Cyrus, is the star of the Disney series “Hannah Montana.”
Some tween magazines say they have seen circulation rise by as much as 25 percent on the strength of “High School Musical,” and another increase in demand is coming soon. “High School Musical 2” is scheduled to begin in August, and is eagerly being awaited by the flavored lip gloss and fuzzy pencil set.
“It’s the synergy,” said Molly MacDermot, the editor in chief of Twist and M, which along with J-14 are published by privately owned Bauer Publishing. “It’s ‘High School Musical’ and what continues from it that drives the interest. For example, Corbin Bleu stars in the musical, then he comes out with a music album and then a video. So the interest is sustained.
“And it really hits these girls on an emotional level,” she said of her readers, who are nearly all female and younger than 15.
After the boy bands from the 1990s like ’N Sync and the Backstreet Boys grew up, the tween fan magazines saw some drop in readership. But the genre — which commands impressive shelf space on newsstands and in checkout aisles — seems to have made a strong comeback, which contrasts with the retrenchment at more mainstream titles like TeenPeople, YM and ElleGirl. None of those magazines are still in print.
For girls from 8 and 14, J-14 and M are two of the country’s best-read magazines, according to an annual survey by Experian Simmons Research of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Last year’s survey found that J-14 tied with Nickelodeon magazine, with 32 percent of preteens reading or looking at each magazine and 30 percent reading or looking at M magazine. Nickelodeon has elements of a fan magazine, but also runs features and comics related to shows on the network, like SpongeBob SquarePants.
“I love reading about celebrities that are my age,” said Mallory D. Levy, 15, of Boynton Beach, Fla., a Popstar subscriber for four years. She said that she takes four or five such magazines to school every day.
But the Paris Hiltons of celebrityville do not regularly appear in these fan magazines. Nor do Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan now that they have exhibited less-than-exemplary behavior.
“Our content is 100 percent positive,” explained Matthew Rettenmund, the editor in chief of Popstar, published by Leisure Publishing.
“We do not pick apart girls’ appearances and clothing choices,” he said. “We do not make fun of stars who are out of favor. We believe in keeping kids kids.”
Mr. Rettenmund said that Popstar, which began publishing in 1998, experienced a 25 percent rise in audited circulation to 217,183 an issue last year, helped by the “High School Musical” craze. The magazine expects to top 300,000 readers for each of its monthly summer issues.
Ms. MacDermot of Twist said that her magazine also is expecting a big circulation uptick this summer because of “High School Musical 2,” the new Harry Potter book and movie, and the latest sequel to “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Twist, Popstar and their counterparts have been closely tracking the activities of the six “High School Musical” actors as well as Miley Cyrus, who plans to release her first CD in June.
The universe of stars the magazines cover is somewhat larger — it includes singers like Avril Lavigne and the “American Idol” finalists — but largely dominated by people who made their names in television, like Hilary Duff (formerly of “Lizzie McGuire”).
As stars like Ms. Duff graduate to more adult markets, younger performers hit adolescence and turn into heartthrobs. Two of the latest are the twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse, who star on Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and have become usual suspects on the magazine covers. Their show, which has the brothers living in a fancy hotel in Boston, gave Ashley Tisdale of “High School Musical” her start.
Nickelodeon Channel has its hits like “Unfabulous,” “Drake and Josh” and “Zoey 101,” but the Disney juggernaut is a prime driver of the current crush on the young stars. Disney invites the magazines to visit movie sets and gives them access for interviews, photo shoots and brief videos that the magazines post on their Web sites.
The magazines say that they are attracting readers by posting celebrity videos on social networking sites. Some of the publications, like J-14, have sites on MySpace; Twist and others keep their own Web sites fresh with daily quizzes, games and sweepstakes.
Ms. MacDermot said that she receives instant feedback from blogging. Like competing publications, Twist posts videos on MySpace from “interviews with stars, from photo shoots or wherever the stars sit down with us.”
Several magazines, including Popstar, also are on YouTube, with videos, Mr. Rettenmund said, “that are short, but they get our name out there.”
Even with television, computers and iPods competing for their time, tweens are still reading magazines because they “tell them what’s hot, give them fashion looks and tell them stories,” said Jane Buckingham, the president of the Intelligence Group, a market research firm based in New York that tracks the age group.
“And portability is important,” said Michael Wood, a vice president of TRU, a market research group in Northbrook, Ill. “You can throw a magazine in a backpack, take it on the bus, pull it out in study hall and share it anywhere with your friends.”
Still, it is not all unalloyed sweetness on the teenager magazine scene. Longstanding magazines like TeenPeople, YM and ElleGirl pulled the plug on their print editions in the last two years. TeenPeople, which Time Inc. began in 1998, ended its print version last summer, and, like YM and ElleGirl, went solely online. TeenPeople’s electronic effort was merged on April 26 into People.com.
The print version of TeenPeople, part of the 1990s wave of teenage magazine start-ups, had a slip in circulation with the arrival of entertainment weeklies, because readers did not have to wait a month to find out the latest doings of Ms. Spears or ’N Sync. Mark Golin, the editor of People.com, said that the larger site drew more traffic so “why duplicate efforts?”
Magazines for early teenagers rely overwhelmingly on newsstand sales, and their $2.99 or $3.49 price makes them an easy impulse buy. According to Mediamark Research Inc.’s annual readership survey of youths from 12 to 19, called MRI Teenmark 2006, there were 22.7 million readers of J-14 last year along with 17 million readers of M and almost 9 million readers of Twist, all of which are published by Bauer Publishing.
Bauer, which is based in New York, said its 2006 revenues were $13.7 million, compared with $11.9 million in 2005. Privately held Leisure Publishing and Laufer Media of Glendale, Calif., publisher of Tiger Beat and Bop, do not disclose revenues.
With the advent of MySpace and celebrity gossip sites like tmz.com, and the shift of advertising spending from video-game makers and cosmetic companies to the Internet and away from magazines, analysts say teenager magazines face new challenges.
“Gossip is available online immediately,” said Barry Parr, an analyst at of Jupiter Research, which surveys teenage Internet usage. “It makes you wonder about the long-term viability of some of these magazines.”
Tinkering with the tween formula can be a tricky business, as the popular Sprouse twins discovered last summer. A new magazine aimed at boys in the preteen age group — the Sprouse Bros. Code — closed after the first issue.
“Tween boys are a totally separate audience,” said Mr. Rettenmund of Popstar, who oversaw the test magazine.
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