Selena Gomez is returning to her magical roots. The multi-hyphenate star has signed on to reprise her career-launching role as Alex Russo in a new pilot sequel to the hit Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place. After years of fan speculation and hopes for a reboot, the Russo family is officially making a comeback.
Gomez to Executively Produce Pilot With Former Co-Star
Variety reports that Gomez will executive produce the new pilot alongside David Henrie, who played her wizard brother Justin. This marks Gomez’s first major return to television since Wizards wrapped its four-season run in 2012. The pilot has been greenlit by Disney Branded Television, though an official series pickup likely hinges on audience reception of the pilot episode.
In a statement on the news, Gomez expressed her excitement to step back into Alex’s shoes: “I’m thrilled to be back in the Russo family universe. Alex Russo was a huge part of the start of my career, and I can’t wait for fans to see what life is like for her and her family 12 years later!”
Henrie also commented on Twitter, “The Russo family is back!! So excited to start production on the #WizardsOfWaverlyPlace sequel series pilot next month with my girl @SelenaGomez!”
|Wizards of Waverly Place
|October 12, 2007 – January 6, 2012
|2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children’s Program
What We Know About the Sequel Storyline
Plot details are still mostly under wraps, but the new series is expected to pick up over a decade after Alex’s family was crowned the full-fledged wizards of Waverly Place. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Alex will return to Manhattan’s Waverly Place neighborhood with her own family in tow.
Deadline also reports Alex will take on the role of mentor, guiding the next generation of Russo wizards to follow in her very rebellious footsteps. Meanwhile, Justin pursues politics in the wizard world. Their younger brother Max reportedly owns and manages the family’s Waverly Sub Station sandwich shop, which serves as a meeting place for old and new characters.
The pilot will introduce a slate of new young actors alongside Gomez and Henrie while also featuring special guest appearances from original cast members. Further details remain tightly guarded, but fans can expect the same wacky Russo hijinks with fresh twists.
Early Reactions: Nostalgia vs. Concerns Over Recapturing Magic
Shortly after the announcement, “Wizards of Waverly Place” quickly shot to Twitter’s top trending topics as nostalgic millennials and Gen Z fans alike rushed to share their reactions. Some celebrated the news as a dream come true:
However, other fans voiced skepticism about rebooting such an iconic series:
Indeed, recapturing the magic of the original may prove challenging. Wizards of Waverly Place catapulted Gomez to fame as a household name and teen idol. During its run, the show drew large audiences and won two Emmy awards.
The new sequel enters production on the heels of two very different career phases for Gomez. She has gained immense pop culture currency as a chart-topping singer and producer while also becoming an increasingly renowned actor through acclaimed projects like Only Murders in the Building. Returning to Disney Channel under such a bright spotlight presents obstacles.
Still, as Variety notes, Disney has found success with recent follow-ups to beloved titles like High School Musical and That’s So Raven. Nostalgia remains a powerful draw, especially when original stars are attached. If the writing stands up, the Russo’s may well cast their spell all over again.
What Comes Next?
With the pilot slated to film next month, Disney Channel aims to make a quick decision on a full series order. Early reception from test audiences could play a major role.
If audiences approve the pilot, Gomez will have to balance the sequel series with her hectic schedule. Along with season 3 of Only Murders in the Building, she has embarked on a new album and global concert tour.
Meanwhile, Henrie continues work on his spiritual feature film A Cold Coming which explores themes of faith and fatherhood. The actor became a father himself last year when he and his wife Maria Cahill Henrie welcomed their first child.
As for the potential of more returning original stars, TVLine reports that negotiations are underway with Disney alums Jennifer Stone and Maria Canals-Barrera. But fans will have to stay tuned on that front.
One thing’s for sure – the magic of Wizards continues to endure. Over a decade later, the Russos still have more hilarious adventures up their sleeves. Whenever and however Alex Russo graces our screens again, fans young and old are sure to welcome her back with open arms.
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