Before “Wizards of Waverly Place” showrunner Todd J. Greenwald created the Selena Gomez-starring series or started writing for “Hannah Montana,” he had another show in the works with Disney Channel and it was going to feature sisters Aly and AJ Michalka.
“I wrote a pilot for the Michalka sisters at the time,” Greenwald told International Business Times in October of his start with Disney Channel. “That didn’t go forward for a billion reasons why pilots don’t go forward, but they wanted to keep me around.”
Though the series didn’t end up going into production and the network later “loved [‘Wizards’] and decided to go forward with” it, Greenwald still remembers everything about that first show he pitched to Disney.
“I called it ‘The Odd Cousins,’ and it was about two cousins, one was a sunny, bright, cheery Southern California cheerleader, and then her emo Portland, northwestern grungy cousin got into trouble and was sent to live in sunny SoCal with her cousin,” he revealed. “They both found a way to live together and it would’ve been one of those fish-out-of-water family shows.”
As Aly and AJ are singing sisters, it makes sense that this show “was built around those two girls,” especially since Greenwald planned to have “some music in it” with one of the cousins wanting to start a band.
Sadly, “it just didn’t work out,” he said, because one was shooting a movie, among many other reasons. But, “Selena was around and they wanted to put Selena in a show” and eventually “Wizards of Waverly Place” was created.
Before that, though, Disney Channel tried one more time to get “The Odd Cousins” going, this time with a different, now very famous star.
“When the Michalka sisters couldn’t be in it, Disney still wanted to do it, so they go, ‘Hey, we have this musical movie, called ‘High School Musical,’ and Vanessa [Hudgens] read for it and the other girl read for it, but then ‘High School Musical’ blew up and then that’s when everything went crazy for Disney Channel, for good.”
While the show didn’t end up working out for the Michalka sisters or Greenwald, Aly and AJ still ended up getting to act together on the network in the Disney Channel Original Movie “Cow Belles” in 2006 and Greenwald got his hit series in “Wizards of Waverly Place.”