EXCLUSIVE: Kenny Ortega, the prolific director, choreographer and producer known for the Disney Channel’s High School Musical franchise, has signed with A3 Artists Agency.
This marks the second highest-profile long-time Paradigm lit client to sign with A3, which last month brought in four former Paradigm agents to reestablish a literary division, led by Andy Patman and Adam Kanter, Co-Heads of Television Content and Motion Pictures, respectively. He joins Desperate Housewives and Women Who Kill creator Marc Cherry who moved to A3 earlier this month.
Ortega earned a Primetime Emmy for choreography and a DGA Award for his work on High School Musical. High School Musical 2 drew over 17 million viewers when it premiered on Disney Channel, making it the most watched program in cable telecast history. He also is executive producer for the film’s soundtracks. Disney’s High School Musical 3, which made the leap from television to the big screen, opened to $42M at the domestic B.O., marking the biggest theatrical box office opening for a musical in history. The film earned more than $252M globally off an $11M budget.
Ortega directed and choreographed Descendants trilogy, Newsies, and Hocus Pocus, and choreographed such classic films as Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Pretty in Pink, among others. Other recent work includes A Change of Heart, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again for Fox and The Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Special for Freeform.
On September 10, Netflix will release Ortega’s next directorial project Julie and the Phantoms, a family musical comedy based on a Brazilian television series. It is the first title under Ortega’s new multi-year deal with the streamer. He’s also set to direct and produce a feature musical adaptation of Elise Primavera’s book series Auntie Claus, under the pact.
In addition to his Emmy for High School Musical, Ortega earned two others for choregraphy and variety/music/comedy program direction for the XIX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. Last year he received the prestigious Disney Legends Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His other honors include The Fred & Adele Astaire Lifetime Achievement Award, Bob Fosse Award, American Choreography Lifetime Achievement Award, MTV Video Music Award, American Music Award, among many others.
Ortega continues to be repped by MSA Agency and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller.