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The Rough Cut 2/19/10: Today's teen stars will be tomorrow's adult superstars

February 19, 2010 - Keith Frederick
As I watch a seemingly endless parade of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel TV shows with my daughter (like many kids, she's 4, going on 14), it's hard not to notice that some of these young actors have some real talent.

Don't forget, a surprising number of today's stars came from the corny teen shows of the '90s and early-2000s — Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Fergie, Ryan Gosling and Shia LaBeouf, just to name a handful. I'm not saying they're all superstars — most of the cast of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" shouldn't be allowed near a toilet paper commercial — but it's worth noting the best of the best, because you'll be seeing them again:

  • Emily Osment, 17, "Hannah Montana" (The Disney Channel) — Best to start with the biggest show, I suppose. Despite the show's insistence on overacting — take a bow, Miley — Osment appears to be the only "Hannah" cast member whose emotions could conceivably come from a human being. No surprise, really, as her big brother is former child star and Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment.

    She's also an aspiring pop-rock singer, so I'd expect to hear her on the radio soon.

  • Keke Palmer, 16, "True Jackson, VP" (Nickelodeon) — Having Palmer on a Nickelodeon show is almost unfair to the rest of the channel. You might recognize her from her acclaimed performance in the 2006 film "Akeelah and the Bee," opposite Laurence Fishburne, or her starring role opposite Ice Cube in the 2008 bomb "The Longshots." She's a natural actress who practically glows in comparison to the other actors around her.

    And in what seems to be a theme among these teen stars, she's also a pop singer who released her first album in 2007.

  • Larramie "Doc" Shaw, 17, "The Suite Life on Deck" (The Disney Channel) and "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" (TBS) — I generally run screaming from anything that contains the words "Tyler Perry," but Shaw seems to be a real diamond in the rough. Simply see his guest appearances on "Suite Life"; the moment Shaw enters, it's clear that he's more natural an actor and more comfortable on screen than the abominable Sprouse twins.

    Let the record show that that is the first time I've ever used the word "abominable." If you've seen them act, you understand.

  • Selena Gomez, 17, "Wizards of Waverly Place" (The Disney Channel) — Gomez has perhaps more upside than any other person on this list. Watch "Wizards" once and you'll see she's so far beyond everyone else on the show it's almost criminal. When David DeLuise is the next best actor on the set, you know you're in trouble.

    Gomez is a gifted comic actress with great timing, and her appearances in Disney TV movies have shown that there's a budding dramatic talent there, as well. And, of course, she's a budding pop singer. Her band, Selena Gomez & The Scene, released their second single, "Naturally," in January. It's a very good pop song and I'd expect to hear it a lot this year.

  • The cast of "iCarly" (Nickelodeon) — It's exceedingly rare when a sitcom for kids casts all its main roles with talented actors. In fact, I'm not sure its ever happened before. But the stars of "iCarly" — Miranda Cosgrove, 16, Jeannette McCurdy, 17, and Nathan Kress, 17 — seem to be legitimately well-rounded actors who have shown talent for comedy and some emotional range. Cosgrove is the star here, though — she has already made a splash on the big screen, as the precocious budding talent agent in 2003's "School of Rock."

    And, just to prove a point, she's currently working on her debut album with big-time producers The Matrix and Dr. Luke.

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