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Miley Cyrus signs on for more "Hannah"
By Nellie Andreeva
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "Hannah Montana" will shine on. Disney Channel has closed a deal for a fourth season of the blockbuster series starring Miley Cyrus.
The cable channel also has ordered a second season of its breakout new comedy series "Sonny With a Chance," starring Demi Lovato, and has tapped Jeffrey Hornaday, choreographer of such movies as "Flashdance" and "A Chorus Line," to direct and choreograph the fourth "High School Musical" movie.
There had been questions about whether Cyrus would return to the series that made her a global star, with the teen actress-singer recently expressing her intention to continue her small-screen duties as Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana for one more year.
As part of the deal, Cyrus will get a long hiatus to work on the feature "The Last Song," with production on the fourth season of "Hannah Montana" slated to begin next year. (Filming of the show's third season wraps this week.)
The series will change settings next season, during which the Stewarts will grapple with saying goodbye to their beachfront Malibu home.
"That will provide the catalyst for wonderful new characters and further expand the storytelling opportunities," said Disney Channel Worldwide president Gary Marsh.
"Hannah Montana" -- which also stars Cyrus' dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, Emily Osment and Jason Earles -- draws an average of 4.4 million viewers per episode.
A 2007 episode of the show still ranks as the highest-rated basic cable series telecast ever with 10.7 million total viewers.
"Hannah Montana" has generated two double-platinum soundtracks, a No. 1 box-office movie, DVDs, a junior novel series, apparel, accessories, videogames and a Miley Cyrus concert tour, which spawned a 3-D film version that became the No. 1 concert film of all time.
"Hannah Montana" was created by Michael Poryes, Rich Correll and Barry O'Brien.
Since its premiere in February, "Sonny," toplined by rising star Lovato, has become TV's top program for kids 6-11.
Written by Peter Barsocchini, "High School Musical East Meets West," about the cross-town school rivalry between the East High Wildcats and West High Knights, is scheduled to premiere in 2010.
(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)