o begin to understand Zac Efron's particular strain of viral fame, it helps to stop by your nearest department store, drugstore, or grocery store.
A quick glance will reveal his omnipresence. He's on gift wrap and party cups and trading cards and lunch boxes. That's his face inside a pink, heart-shaped locket. On pajamas and night lights, cake decorations and lip balm, backpacks and umbrellas. He's on the official High School Musical digital camera and the official HSM MP3 player. Lately he's been leaping for joy alongside his cast mates on Honeycomb cereal boxes to plug the DVD release of High School Musical 2.
That sequel, which aired last summer on the Disney Channel, was the most-watched show in basic-cable history. The original installment--also a made-for-TV movie--set the stage for HSM mania; since its debut on January 20, 2006, it has been seen by a worldwide audience of approximately 200 million. The market-research company Soleil-Media Metrics recently estimated that the HSM franchise has contributed at least $1 billion in profits to the Disney empire