Anyone who’s a teenager — or one of the many adults whose pop culture tastes lean in that direction — might want to blow off that summer job. Given how much teen entertainment will soon be gushing into the nation’s TiVo queues and iPod playlists, this might be the best time ever to be a fan of teen-tertainment. Whereas five years ago you’d have been stuck with only The O.C., now you’ll spend summer catching up on Gossip Girl while downloading new albums from Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and Jesse McCartney. You’ll take in the MTV phenomenon The Hills or its dorky younger cousin, The Paper. You’ll watch still-beloved former WB shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls, as well as new programming (including a new drama from O.C./Gossip Girl mastermind Josh Schwartz) on the soon-to-launch TheWB.com. In a few months, you’ll hit theaters for the riveting high school documentary American Teen, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants sequel, and the Drake Bell campus romp College. Come fall, you’ll check out the Michael Cera comedy Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and, of course, High School Musical 3. You’ll certainly want to tune in to The CW’s new take on Beverly Hills, 90210. And you’ll spend countless hours glued to ABC Family and The N, two cable networks devoted to teen programming.
You could, in essence, live your entire pop culture life without ever having to see or hear any of those annoying — what are they called again? — adults. While past generations grew up clinging to occasional shows and movies made just for them (John Hughes films, 90210, Dawson’s Creek), today fans of the genre can live in a totally teen world, making for a kid-driven renaissance not seen since the teen-pop explosion a decade ago. Except this time, it seems like the boom just might be permanent — and it’s starting to affect what goes on in the grown-up entertainment universe like never before. ”Things have shifted,” says Gossip Girl executive producer Leslie Morgenstein, who helped develop the show from the popular book series. ”Children are better informed, more sophisticated. There used to be a trickle-down effect: Properties would start for adults and then trickle down to teens. I think now it’s reversed.”
NEXT PAGE: ”The numbers that Gossip Girl gets are significantly smaller than what we got on The O.C. But the expectations are a lot more manageable because people are starting to see that there are these other sources of revenue.”