“Andi Mack” Gets Second Season!

The Disney Channel’s new series, “Andi Mack” will be returning to Utah this summer, with production once again coming out of Salt Lake City.

See the official press release below:


— Production Resumes in Salt Lake City in July — 

On the strength of strong and consistently growing ratings over its first seven original telecasts, Disney Channel has quickly ordered a second season of “Andi Mack,” the contemporary comedic series about a 13 year-old girl’s typical — and not so typical — life with her family and friends.  Production will resume in Salt Lake City in July.

The series ranks as the #1 TV series of 2017 to-date among Girls 6-11, Girls 9-14 and Girls 6-14.

“Andi Mack” was created and is executive-produced by Terri Minsky (“Lizzie McGuire”). Michelle Manning (“The Breakfast Club,” Disney Channel Original Movies “Adventures in Babysitting” and “Teen Beach 2”) is also an executive producer.  Phil Baker (Disney Channel’s “Good Luck Charlie”) is co-executive producer.

Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide, said, “There is not another series out right now — on any platform —  that speaks to our core demographic with the authenticity and insight that Terri and her creative team have captured with ‘Andi Mack.’  This series, and these characters, are well on their way to becoming this generation’s ‘Lizzie McGuire.”

As ‘Andi Mack’ increasingly engages viewers and prepares for an imminent debut on Disney Channels around the world, several programming events are scheduled including “Back to Back ‘Andi Mack” on FRIDAY, MAY 26 (5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., ET/PT).  Then, four weeks of new episodes each Friday will culminate with Andi convinced that her parents Bex and Bowie are destined to be together.  Meanwhile, Jonah Beck and Amber reach a pivotal moment in their relationship.

Nearing 40 million views on seven digital platforms, linear TV and social media, the series stands apart from the pack as one of TV’s continuous ratings growth leaders, recently hitting a ratings high (May 19) in Total Viewers, marking its fifth consecutive week of growth and a 34% ratings increase from its premiere telecast.  It also exceeded its high mark among Kids 6-11, Girls 6-11, and Girls 6-14 (May 12).

“Andi Mack” stars: Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Andi Mack, Lilan Bowden as Bex Mack, Lauren Tom as Celia Mack, Joshua Rush as Cyrus Goodman, Sofia Wylie as Buffy Driscoll and Asher Angel as Jonah Beck. Recurring cast members are Stoney Westmoreland as Henry “HAM” Mack, Emily Skinner as Amber, and Trent Garrett as Bowie Quinn.

The series is from Horizon Productions and is filmed in Salt Lake City, Utah. It carries a TV-G parental guideline.

Wildcats, Unite! We’re (Still) All In This Together

By Elizabeth Latenser
Photo courtesy of Billboard Magazine: The stars of Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” – (L – R) Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Vanessa Hudgens, Lucas Grabeel and Ashley Tisdale.

The first High School Musical film premiered on the Disney Channel more than 10 years ago but for many, Troy, Gabriella and the gang are still rocking out at East High. No one could have predicted years ago that the story would be a mainstay in our culture for high schoolers and beyond.  In fact, High School Musical is still so popular that the Utah Office of Tourism created an itinerary guiding fans who want to visit  areas in which each of the movies was shot, as well as the favorite haunts of the cast and crew.

Filmed all over Utah but mostly concentrated at East High School, the film follows  star athlete Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) as he falls for nerdy Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens). Troy and Gabriella audition for the upcoming school musical. Meanwhile, the jealous Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) conspires to squelch their chances. The two must struggle to make it to auditions while also meeting their existing obligations to the basketball team and the academic decathlon. It is full of funny, heartwarming moments and valuable friendship lessons.

The original film was nominated for more than 18 awards and won 10 including an Emmy for Best Choreography and a Teen Choice Award for Best Comedy/Musical Show.  Salt Lake actor KayCee Stroh who plays the quirky, hip hop loving brainiac Martha Cox said after reading the initial script, “I felt like this could be the next generation’s version of Grease, but with a family friendly tone. Looks like I nailed it! I knew it had the potential to be great but never would have predicted its worldwide success.”

Supporting actor and Utah native Ryan Templeman, said he remembers being at a table reading at Little America and thinking, “it was easy to envision the appeal of the final product.” Utah was the perfect place to cast and film many of the supporting roles in High School Musical because, “Utah is teeming with young talented dancers and singers.”

Templeman’s most memorable (and challenging) days on set were trying to learn skills that were maybe a little outside his regular repertoire. He said, “As a non-singing, non-dancing actor, I was totally a fish out of water. I struggled mightily, but many of the other dancers were so patient and supportive; many willing to work with me through breaks and lunches to help me to get it right. To my mind, the true collaborative nature of filmmaking was on display. When that happens, it’s always special.”

Stroh remembers in the casting process feeling a little self conscious that maybe she didn’t fit the Hollywood mold.  Thankfully she auditioned anyway because director Kenny Ortega saw her work and said, “I love you, you’re different!”

Stroh has so many warm memories from filming and commented that filming was, “like a real life summer camp for a lot of us. The main cast all had connecting casitas which made for great pranks, making each other dinners and even teaching some how to do their own laundry!”

After filming the cast would hang out and explore Utah together.  According to Stroh a few of their favorite spots were: “the Alpine Slide in Park City, late night Denny’s visits (you can imagine peoples faces when we all walked in), camp fires up Millcreek canyon, Classic Skating in Orem and Red rock hikes in St. George.”

Being from Utah, Stroh was the go-to for the out-of-town cast. She said, “I will never forget the day that some of the cast asked me if Utah was always this clean?! I remember laughing about it but later that night I had an epiphany and felt really lucky to have been raised in a place that takes such pride in the little things.”  Stroh credits High School Musical for putting her career on the map.  After the show’s release her agent’s phone began ringing off the hook.  She is now married, the mother of two girls and splits here time between Los Angeles and Holladay, Utah.

While we would love to see a  High School Musical 4, Utah is  thrilled to welcome, Andi Mack, a new Disney Channel production to the Beehive state, and we hope this one is just as big of a success story as High School Musical!

Contributing writer Elizabeth Latenser is a film fan, mountain momma, dog lover and tree hugger.

Living it Up in Utah with ‘Andi Mack’

By Elizabeth Latenser
Photo courtesy of Just Jared Junior: The four stars of Andi Mack (L-R) Sofia Wylie, Joshua Rush, Peyton Elizabeth Lee, and Asher Angel

There is no doubt the cast members of Andi Mack are enjoying the lead up to the show’s big premiere on the Disney Channel App this Friday March 10.  Need proof? Just check out their bright smiling faces as they took over Just Jared Junior’s instagram story. This premiere date couldn’t come soon enough because according to Bustle online many people are looking for Andi Mack to fill the Girl Meets World shaped hole in our hearts and give us Lizzie McGuire throwback feels.

Andi Mack is Disney’s newest series which follows main title character Andi Mack (played by Peyton Elizabeth Lee) who is trying to find her way in the world with the love, humor and support of her friends and family.  According to ET Online, viewers are in for a ride when Andi’s “life goes from routine to rollercoaster overnight.”

The series includes 13 comical and heartwarming episodes all filmed in locations throughout Utah like Liberty Park, Sugarhouse, the Avenues, Wasatch Junior High and Magna’s Main Street. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “the production team has spruced up Magna, adding awnings and signs and turning an empty storefront into a cool restaurant.” Plus, the production brought in an estimated $9 million to the state.

Three quarters of the crew who worked on the show are local.  But for those who did travel to Utah – perhaps for the first time – they all left impressed. Michelle Manning, Paramount’s former president of production told the Salt Lake Tribune, “I’ve shot around the world. The one place I had never shot in my entire career is here. It’s amazing here. Probably the most film-friendly place I’ve ever been.”

And lead actor Peyton Elizabeth Lee who had only been to Utah once before said, “it is so beautiful. Every day when I wake up everything is so pretty.”

Though the filming schedule was jam packed for these actors filled with five day a week sessions followed by school work, they did manage to break away to explore. From a local’s perspective it never gets old seeing a visitor’s reaction to Utah’s unique weather and landscape. Check out the cast’s fun-filled day complete with a snowball fight at the Olympic Park filmed by KUTV.

Disney star Sabrina Carpenter lent her voice for the Andi Mack opening sequence titled “Tomorrow Starts Today.”  She said, “I’m very proud to contribute even a small part to a show that has such a valuable message and what feels to me to be something really new. The message of ‘taking whatever comes your way with a positive attitude, and sticking by the ones you love’ is something I really connect with.”

On Friday March 10, check your favorite Disney Channel streaming app for the new show that is sure to be nostalgic for some and fun for all. While you’re watching, keep an eye out for special glimpses of the Utah’s Wasatch mountains in the background (especially the scenes when Andi is in school.) The series will make its television broadcast debut April 7 at 8:30 ET on the Disney Channel.

Contributing writer Elizabeth Latenser is a film fan, mountain momma, dog lover and tree hugger.



By Elizabeth Latenser

This is part of an ongoing series featuring iconic projects filmed in Utah.  Projects and artists mentioned in the series filmed here for inspiration, a strong sense of place or to recreate otherworldly experiences.

According to HBO, Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park — which is looked after by robotic “hosts” — allows its visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. No matter how illicit the fantasy may be, there are no consequences for the park’s guests, allowing for any wish to be indulged. “Westworld” — which is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name — features an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton and more.

The show tackles some classic sci-fi themes like consciousness, artificial intelligence, the danger of technology and the nature of free will.  Those deep topics, coupled with rave reviews from critics and immense passion from fans, have led to a spring of podcasts, fansites, an outpouring of fan art and numerous award nominations for the show.  It is being hailed as HBO’s new Game of Thrones though fans will say it now sets its own benchmark for storytelling.  The intriguing opening sequence alone captures audiences by bringing together the contrast of traditional western terrain with the creation of futuristic robotic hosts in the park.


The stellar casts draws in fans but according Craig Fehrman, of Outside Magazine, “What holds Westworld together, though, is something more surprising: its landscape. In fact, many of the show’s stunning exterior shots were filmed near Moab, Utah—which means the terrain you may love from your own adventures stands as the unsung hero of this show.”

When writer and director Jonathan Nolan was considering his filming options southern Utah was top of his list.  He traveled frequently in his younger years and told Scott Pierce of the Salt Lake Tribune: “the place that I always was drawn back to was southern Utah. It has these landscapes that don’t look like anywhere else on the face of the planet. That geography is exquisitely, exclusively American.”  By filming in the region he felt he was hearkening back to the famous days of John Ford in Monument Valley though much of Westworld was filmed in Castle Valley, Moab.

Actors take a break while on set of “Westworld” in Southern Utah. Photo courtesy of Westworld Daily.

Virginia Pearce, Utah Film Commissioner worked with the Westworld team before they began shooting.  She believed Utah was the perfect place to film this unique story that brings together historic wild west themes that collide with futuristic concepts.  She said, “Utah has a long history of being the backdrop of the ‘iconic west,’ and there is a reason it still calls to tourists and filmmakers alike. Those sweeping landscapes give a look and feel you can’t get anywhere else.”

The sense of place not only transports viewers to a rugged and wild place, it also gives the actors a chance to ditch the green screen and truly live the experience. Actor James Marsden who stars in Westworld told the Salt Lake Tribune, “Shooting there, it honestly felt a little bit like I was actually getting to be a guest at Westworld. I got to full-on don the suit and the hat and practice with the gun and ride the horses, and it was all very real.”


Anyone who has visited southern Utah knows, in between the brilliant vistas and breathtaking buttes there are lonely expanses of desert that extend past the horizon.  So as you can imagine the crew had to use just about every tool in their arsenal to truly capture the majestic scenery.  Helicopters were used to engross the viewer in expansive valley shots.  And for closer details, cameramen floated the Colorado River and hiked through many of the more desolate or delicate red rock formations.

Paul Cameron, the director of photography said the remote nature of many of their shoots proved to be challenging. “Practically every area was a walk-in area,” Cameron told Outside Magazine.  So the crew did plenty of hiking. With ALL of their gear.

Cameron let fans in on some scoop about the scene where James Marsden is riding in on a train looking out at his dusty kingdom.  The train car was reconstructed and built to sit on a semi flatbed.  Then the crew drove State Route 128 in southern Utah to see the scenery cross his field of vision. So the red rock dust, Russian thistle and rugged terrain in that sequence are real.


Condé Nast Traveler packaged a few beautiful shots of remote but iconic Westworld locations for those travelers looking to visit the enchanting places in person. Bring a camera because the route is one of the most beautiful drives in the world.  Stops include State Route 128 outside Arches National Park in Utah to Castle Valley, Utah which has served as backdrop to many great films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Stagecoach.

For those who are fine to stay at home and wait patiently for a second season (in 2018!) you can always visit the interactive Discover Westworld site.  Visitors will appreciate chatting with travel agents who can prepare you for your stay at the park.  I was both welcomed and warned about the park by a travel agent named AEDEN:

The train will deposit you in the bustling town of Sweetwater upon arrival. Here, you will meet people from all walks of life, engaged in all matters of trade. But keep your eyes peeled…

…this vibrant center has been known to attract the attention of the occasional bandit or ne’er-do-well.

Contributing writer Elizabeth Latenser is a film fan, mountain momma, dog lover and tree hugger.


Utah: A State Full of Film Scouts

By Elizabeth Latenser

Find Inspiration All Around You With #UtahIsRad

2017 has been a skier’s dream! It has been snowing on and off for the better part of the New Year in Utah which is amazing for tourism and recreation but for the seasonally affected, you may be looking for reminders of blue skies and warm temps.  

Look no further than Instagram and type in #UtahIsRad.  Here you will find all the ways real locals celebrate the breathtaking beauty of Utah and all the things that make this state so special.  The hashtag gives you an idea of just how vast and diverse the landscape and entertainment is here.  Plus, you can revisit some of the most gorgeous summer weather scenes to warm your soul.

When scrolling through those photos I can’t help but marvel at the talent Utah residents have for capturing and sharing Utah’s beauty.  At the risk of sounding really old, I can’t believe most of these photos are taken with a cell phone!

So film scouts, take a look! Utah has just about every scene you can imagine and the locals have done the legwork to get you tons of beautiful shots.  Oh and if by chance an actual film scout is reading here is a Film Directory of Utah locations. 

Thank you to all the instagrammers for letting us repost your images:

Spots to relax? Of course!

Contributing writer Elizabeth Latenser is a film fan, mountain momma, dog lover and tree hugger.