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'Haunting Hour,' Stine pedigree attract kid stars

The Associated Press, Friday, March 4, 2011, 3:47pm (PST)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "The Haunting Hour" on the new Hub channel has quickly gained celebrity fans — the young actors eager to appear in the spooky series.

Teenage and preteen guest stars on the anthology series include Madeline Carroll ("Swing Vote" with Kevin Costner); Jake Cherry (Ben Stiller's "Night at the Museum") and Greg Sulkin ("Wizards of Waverly Place").

The show — its full name is "R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series" — is inspired by the author whose works reliably scare and delight young readers.

Saturday's episode (8:30 p.m. ET) features Nolan Gould, the tousle-haired kid from ABC's "Modern Family." As a Stine fan, Gould said, he jumped at the opportunity. Speaking like a seasoned pro, the 12-year-old actor said he also loved the script and change of change of pace it represented from his "Modern Family" character, Luke.

Gould plays Jack on "The Haunting Hour," a boy who tries to prove he's responsible enough to care for a pet without killing it. He's encounters an interesting contender: a zombie with the advantage of already being a goner.

Young actors see the series as an opportunity to stretch beyond familiar roles, said executive producer Billy Brown. He cited Debby Ryan, of the Disney Channel's "The Suite Life on Deck," as an example.

"She's usually cast as the all-American cheerleader type, and she gets to play a really bad and mean girl in one of the best satiric episodes," Brown said.

Young viewers find something different as well in "Haunting Hour," Brown said.

"We just never talk down to our audience. We have a belief that the audience is far smarter than they're often given credit for, he said.

Strict Hub guidelines banning profanity, sex and gore are observed, but creative storytelling ensures a fun, scary time for viewers, said fellow executive producer Dan Angel.

"It's like a good rollercoaster ride ... but we play within the rules," Angel said.

The show is targeted at 8- to 13-year-olds with the hope, the producers said, that parents join in.

"Families will see something they're not going to find anywhere else on the dial," Brown said.

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http://www.hubworld.com

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