Q&A With the Man Behind 'Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie'

Today's cuppa: English afternoon tea

Wizards_of_Waverly_Place_The_Movie.jpgWriter/producer Peter Murrieta left the world of network sitcoms behind for a Disney Channel sitcom, and it's been coming up mouse ears ever since. After two successful seasons, his "Wizards of Waverly Place" got the go-ahead to do a TV movie, shot on location in Puerto Rico.

The imaginatively titled "Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie" airs Friday, Aug. 28 on Disney Channel.

Murrieta took a break from writing the show to write some answers to questions about the movie and its rising teen acting and music star, Selena Gomez (who's now on Twitter).

Q: Where did the idea of doing a movie originate?

A: With the success of the 'Wizards' series, Disney came to us with the idea of a movie, to take our characters on an adventure we couldn't do on our soundstage.

Q: Why film in San Juan, Puerto Rico?

A: We wanted to take the family on an adventure, and Disney had shot there before, so they knew the crew and production people.

Q: How did you pick the song for Selena Gomez to record, and will her music be integrated into the series?

A: With Selena signed to Hollywood Records, they have been working hand-in-hand with her. We got to listen to early demos of her songs, and everyone liked the ones we used in the movie.

Q: Might this movie lead to a feature-film spin-off?

A: If enough people watch, you never know ... please watch ... I'm not begging, I'm just saying. It's a fun movie, and you'll like it.

Q: Can folks who've never seen the series still enjoy the movie?

A: Absolutely. We set up all you need to know in the first 10 minutes, and then it's off to the races.

Q: Will any plot elements from the movie find their way into the new season?

A: With the end of the movie, all the characters will be taking the Wizard Competition more seriously. Also know that I'm watching a cut of an episode with my editor and answering these questions, trying desperately not to look at my fingers on the keys ... how am I doing so far?

Q: What's the biggest advantage of doing a sitcom for Disney?

A: The biggest advantage is that Disney, once it believes in a concept, gives you the time and episodes ordered to find it and hone it. It's also awesome to have fans that are so invested and interested. They pick up on details that are amazing, like how many times we reference Capt. Jim Bob Sherwood, how often we break the lamp at the top of the stairs, etc.

Q: What hints can you share about the new season?

A: Harper moves in with the Russos for good. Justin becomes a Monster Hunter, and Alex tries her best to take the Wizard Competition seriously, for the first time.

Q: Do you still have the black police cruiser in your garage? (Murrieta is a bit of a car guy, not quite on a Jay Leno level, but he's working on it.)

A: Oh, you know I do. I've added a 1964 Lincoln Continental and a Plymouth Hot Rod to boot. and I've still got my comedy theater, Big Bang Comedy Theater, www.bandstudio.com, too.