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“iCarly” is the network’s most popular show among that desirable demographic — two years ago it surpassed the seemingly untouchable “Hannah Montana” in the ratings. Cosgrove, who reportedly earns $180,000 an episode, is the second-highest-paid child actor on TV (bested only by Angus T. Jones, the “half” on CBS’s blighted “Two and a Half Men”).
That makes Cosgrove the latest in a series of “It” girls — among them Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Hilary Duff — who have emerged over the past decade: not just actresses, not just singers, these young women are industries. In addition to TV shows, they have movies, recording careers, clothing and cosmetic lines, and their images appear on everything from coloring books to nail clippers. Their popularity, in part, rises from the new perch they occupy in tween girls’ hearts. Rather than wanting to be with their idols (as they would, say, Justin Bieber), young fans want to be them.
That’s a different relationship entirely.