Cliffnotes: Wilm On Film

5 06 2010

**I received a promotional copy of Wilm On Film courtesy of StarNews Media.**

Whenever I’ve heard Wilmington, North Carolina referred to as Hollywood East, I’ve always chuckled to myself in a “yeah, right” kind of way.

After reading Wilm On Film: A Guide To More Than 25 Years of Film & TV Production Around Wilmington, North Carolina, I realized the joke’s on me.

Sure, I knew that two of our teen dramas, Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill, were filmed there, as were a few dozen other productions.

Turns out, “a few dozen” is a gross underestimate.

(STARNEWS MEDIA)

The book, written by Star-News staffers Amy Hotz and Ben Steelman and edited by their colleague Jeff Hidek, recounts the history of the Wilmington film and television industry while also providing a fairly comprehensive guide to the hundreds of productions filmed in the area.

The book rightly calls itself an “easy-to-use-guide” and those were the first words that came to mind when I first flipped through the book. It is mostly sectioned by time period, with a break-down of several productions filmed during each. Each film or TV pilot/series is further broken down into plot synopsis, filming dates, notable cast and crew, key locations and fun facts under the catch-all phrase “did you know?”

As it turns out, Hollywood East is just one of the area’s nicknames. “Locals,” according to the book, “refer to it more endearingly as ‘Wilmywood.'” And it’s no wonder: a listing of some of the stars who have filmed there reads like a “who’s who” of Hollywood. Among the names trotted out in the introduction: “Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Martin Lawrence, Queen Latifah, Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning, Dennis Hopper and the list goes on.”

Not surprisingly, the introduction also points out that “In 2009, The CW television drama ‘One Tree Hill,’ starring Sophia Bush [Brooke] and James Lafferty [Nathan], began filming its seventh season.” That is, undoubtedly, the area’s biggest current claim to fame. Skip down a bit, and the authors note “‘One Tree Hill’ stars often show up at charity events and festivals. Chad Michael Murray [Lucas], who starred on the series’ first six seasons, helped start a new Pop Warner football team for ages kids 11-15. Lafferty helped start a local American Basketball Association team called the Sea Dawgs.” The latter factoid I knew; the former I didn’t.

And that right there sums up the book quite well: there’s much that devout OTH and DC fans as well as film geeks will know but I found there are also plenty of gems as well. An example appears on the very next page. Linda Lavin (Sophie, aka The Nana, The O.C.) is apparently very fond of Wilmington, having filmed a television movie there in 1995 and “settling” there afterward. She is quoted as saying, “I could live in a lot of places, I guess, but this is where I’m home.”

The book is peppered with anecdotes, since “you’re hard pressed to find anyone in Wilmington who hasn’t worked on a set or been touched by the film business in some way.” But if you’re not interested in the production being discussed or a film geek or keen to learn quite a bit about Wilmington, you’ll find yourself skimming through the text.

With my eyes peeled for any and all One Tree Hill or Dawson’s Creek mentions, my skimming stopped on page 34 where I found one of those aforementioned gems. In the midst of an accounting of Blue Velvet’s production, the authors reveal that “while it doesn’t have the fan base of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ or ‘One Tree Hill,’ a steady stream of ‘Blue Velvet’ aficionados still calls [sic] the Cape Fear Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau.” Reading this just a few days after star Dennis Hopper’s passing, I wondered if these calls would increase in the next few weeks.

Each of the time period-based sections starts by giving an in-depth look at a production, such as Blue Velvet (which marked 1986-1988, an “on the rise” time for the Wilmington film scene). The first that I closely read was the following section, “the boom years” or 1989-1992. Why? The child in me was giddy at the details provided about…wait for it…Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And bless that film, for “it also paved the way…[for] ‘Muppets In Space.'”

I read the next section’s opening quite closely as well. “A darker tone,” which accounts for 1993-1997, starts out by talking about The Crow, a cult film I was big on during high school. I can’t recall if I knew it filmed in Wilmington, but I never tire of reading about it, especially about the on-set death of the film’s lead actor, Brandon Lee. The section starts off noting, “Of all the movies made in Wilmington, ‘The Crow’ remains the most macabre” for this very reason. And the quote from Lee on the next page, “I find myself thinking, ‘What if I died and had a chance to come back?’ So many things seem so trivial and mundane. If you came back, they would seem so significant and bittersweet,” is incredibly chilling.

The next entry to pique my interest was also a cult film, but on the opposite spectrum of The Crow in tone: Empire Records, another film that I watched quite a bit during my high school years. I didn’t know this one was filmed in Wilmington, either. A few pages later, To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday caught my eye, as it starred Peter Gallagher (Sandy, The O.C.), making that at least two O.C. cast members to film in Wilmington.

The following section is aptly titled “teen invasion,” covering 1998-2002 and starting with six pages on Dawson’s Creek (though about half of it is comprised of graphics). They sum up the show quite well, pointing out “its hyper-sexual, super-wordy dialogue centered around four high school students in the small town of Capeside, Mass. — wannabe filmmaker Dawson (James Van Der Beek), sweet girl-next-door Joey (Katie Holmes), lovable scoundrel Pacey (Joshua Jackson) and new vixen in town Jen (Michelle Williams)” and astutely noting that “adult thoughts and emotions coming from teenagers…attracted many others to the series. In other shows, teens just weren’t that deep or complex” and “each week brought an hour long dose of teen angst, introspection and complicated consequences.”

To also be filed under the “I had no idea” category, they mention that “more than 30 teenagers gathered outside Wilmington’s EUE/Screen Gems Studios to protest the coming out of Kerr Smith’s character, Jack” in the show’s second season. It made this quote a few paragraphs later, from a 2003 Star-News interview with Jackson, all the more fitting: “I was used to working and I understood the requirements. I didn’t understand the cultural phenomenon it would become.”

The phenomenon idea was echoed by a Cape Fear Convention and Visitors Bureau staffer who notes that they received “hundreds of calls” during the show’s second season from people wanting to know where this-and-that were located. The authors note, “Film tourism had existed in Wilmington before ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ But the show was in a league of its own.”

Among the other interesting tidbits: Van Der Beek taught baseball at a local high school, Williams performed in a staging of The Vagina Monologues and Jackson once helped save two swimmers. Additional neat reveals came via photos, one of most of the cast at “a tribute to the show in downtown Wilmington after they wrapped filming of the final season in 2003” and another of a mural showcasing the core four outside the studios. It is noted in a later section that John Wesley Shipp (Mitch, Dawson’s Creek) starred in Port City, which filmed in Wilmington, and it is also noted that Barbara Alyn Woods (Deb, One Tree Hill) is in the flick as well.

During the Dawson’s Creek era, one of my favorite movies, A Walk To Remember, filmed in Wilmington. Not new information to me or surprising given author Nicholas Sparks’ predilection to set his stories in and film the big screen adaptations in southeastern coastal towns but now all the more interesting to me given that Bethany Joy Galeotti (Haley, One Tree Hill) is working on a musical adaptation of one of Sparks’ other novels, The Notebook.

The final section takes us from 2003 to the present under the title of “modern melodrama” and kicking things off with seven pages on One Tree Hill (again, about half are graphics). One of the main takeaways in this section is actually the legacy of Dawson’s Creek. “Coming so close behind such a successful show that was similar in so many ways,” the authors write about how some people felt during the transition period, “‘One Tree Hill’ might have a problem coming into its own. And when that notion was put to rest after the show went into its second, third and fourth seasons, it’s likely no one had any idea what was in store.” They then quote OTH creator Mark Schwahn after the season 6 renewal as saying “‘Dawson’s Creek’ is a huge, big wonderful show that when you come to Wilmington to make a pilot, you have this specter of this show looming over you, and it seems unattainable to go as long as they would.” One Tree Hill fans know the show has since accomplished more than Dawson’s Creek did in terms of number of seasons and episodes.

Like in the Dawson’s Creek section, they sum up One Tree Hill’s premise quite succinctly: “‘One Tree Hill centered on two-half brothers (Chad Michael Murray as Lucas Scott and James Lafferty as Nathan Scott) who pretty much hated each other. They competed against each other on the Tree Hill High School basketball court, in the dating world and in the family circle.” They note the retooling the show went through with its time-jump, explaining “In seasons five and six, viewers learned how the characters would make their ways in the world, the professions they would choose, the relationships they would commit to and all the mistakes along the way.” My only gripe is the errors in the following sentences: “Nathan became a semi-pro basketball player and slamball player who was finally called up by the Charlotte Bobcats. He would marry Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) and have a son, Jamie (Jackson Brundage).” Nathan married Haley and had Jamie before becoming a semi-pro player, slamball player and getting called up by the Bobcats. In fact, marrying Haley and having Jamie occurred before the time-jump, before seasons five and six.

Among some interesting choices: They explain the exit of Murray and Hilarie Burton (Peyton, One Tree Hill) after season six as them “[deciding] not to renew” when it isn’t 100 percent evident that that was the case. Additionally, there’s a photo of Murray with Bush and another of him with fiance Kenzie Dalton, and the caption notes how Murray and Bush were once married but he’s now engaged to Dalton, who appeared as an extra on the show. At first I thought it was unnecessary/irrelevant but then I recalled that many of the entries for other productions mentioned if so-and-so had a significant other in town with them or met someone there, where they were frequently seen, etc. As far as pictures go, throughout the book they managed to include all of the core 5–except Galeotti (Haley, One Tree Hill). But also included are Robert Buckley (Clay, One Tree Hill) and Amanda Schull (Sara/Katie, One Tree Hill).

As they did in the introduction, they note some of the local-but-outside-OTH activities the cast has done, including Burton’s Southern Gothic Productions, Lafferty’s charity basketball games and documentary For Keeps and Galeotti’s workshop of her musical version of The Notebook.

Burton receives three other mentions in the rest of the section: one in the notable cast and crew listing for The List, one in the notable cast and crew listing for The Secret Life of Bees, where it’s noted that Tristan Wilds (Dixon, 90210) also starred, one in the notable cast and crew listing for Provinces of Night (which has since been retitled Bloodworth) where it’s noted that Barry Corbin (Whitey, One Tree Hill) and Hilary Duff (Olivia, Gossip Girl) also starred. Another production listed, Remember The Daze, starred Leighton Meester (Blair, Gossip Girl). In the book’s final section on independent filmmaking, or “free spirits,” it’s mentioned that Billy Dickson, who has directed more than 50 episodes of One Tree Hill, created a webseries called IQ-145.

Of all the quotes included, I have to say my favorite might be one from Paul Johansson (Dan, One Tree Hill). He said, “[Wilmington] has so many split personalities. Is this a beach town or is it a historic town or is it an industry town? What is it? And that’s what keeps it interesting.”

And it was certainly interesting for me to learn about all that has happened in Hollywood East (yes, I’ve been converted), things that I clearly had no idea about before. As if my urge to visit Wilmington wasn’t strong enough before, this certainly put me over the edge.

Wilm on Film is available for purchase on Lulu.com.

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News Roundup: Gossip Girl, 90210, One Tree Hill and More

4 06 2010
  • Have you voted in the Teen Drama Evaluation yet?
  • In case you missed it earlier, Chace Crawford (Nate, Gossip Girl) was arrested today for possessing marijuana.
  • There is a new trailer for Twelve, starring Crawford.
  • Gossip Cop and I again busted rumors that Ed Westwick (Chuck, Gossip Girl) and Jessica Szohr (Vanessa, Gossip Girl) are back together as a couple. They are just hanging out as friends, people.
  • Westwick will be a presenter at the CFDA Fashion Awards on Monday.
  • Aaron Tveit (Tripp, Gossip Girl) will appear in the Hollywood Bowl production of RENT.
  • Kevin Zegers (Damien, Gossip Girl) is currently filming the movie Vampire.
  • Examiner.com has an interview with Gossip Girl author Cecily von Ziegesar.
  • Drop Dead Diva, which is co-executive produced by Michael Lange (director, BH90210, DC, The O.C. and OTH), has its second season premiere Sunday night on Lifetime.
  • Persons Unknown, featuring Jason Wiles (Colin, Beverly Hills 90210), premieres Monday on NBC.
  • Jana Kramer (Alex, One Tree Hill) has a concert in Nashville later this month, where she will do a meet-and-greet and also have a “special One Tree Hill surprise.”
  • E! Online has an interview with Joe Manganiello (Owen, One Tree Hill) about True Blood.
  • Gossip Cop busted a false Life & Style story about Katie Holmes (Joey, Dawson’s Creek) being pregnant.




News Roundup: Gossip Girl, 90210, The O.C. and More

10 05 2010
  • A number of teen drama stars made Maxim’s Hot 100 list: Blake Lively (Serena, Gossip Girl) is number 4. Leighton Meester (Blair, Gossip Girl) is 17. Olivia Wilde (Alex, The O.C.) is 20. Hilary Duff (Olivia, Gossip Girl) is 27. Rachel Bilson (Summer, The O.C.) is 46. Kristen Bell (Gossip Girl, Gossip Girl) is 52. AnnaLynne McCord (Naomi, 90210) is 67. Monica Keena (Abby, Dawson’s Creek) is 69. Danneel Harris (Rachel, One Tree Hill) is 72. Maria Menounos (Jules, One Tree Hill) is 80. Navi Rawat (Theresa, The O.C.) is 81.
  • Korbi posted the UK promo for the last two Gossip Girl episodes of the season (tonight’s and next week’s). Watch at your own risk!
  • Ausiello has comments from Stephanie Savage (executive producer, Gossip Girl) regarding the above promo and more spoilish details on the season finale.
  • Another spoiler alert: the first two episodes of Gossip Girl’s fourth season will be filmed in Paris. Beware, there’s even more spoilers in the article!
  • The Toronto Sun has an interview with Savage.
  • Us Weekly has an interview with Bobby Strom, who is helping Lively get in shape for Green Lantern.
  • Gossip Cop busted a Now Magazine story about Chace Crawford (Nate, Gossip Girl) using JDate. (Though part of me wishes it were true!)
  • SoapNet will have a “Star Spangled Marathon” of Beverly Hills 90210 on Memorial Day, featuring 10 episodes of  “famous faces before they were stars.” I will post a reminder that morning.
  • Gossip Cop has some more details on Tori Spelling (Donna, Beverly Hills 90210) and Dean McDermott renewing their vows.
  • Crushable has an interview with Emma Caulfield (Susan, Beverly Hills 90210).
  • Michael Steger (Navid, 90210) will make an interesting guest appearance on True Blood. Don’t forget: Joe Manganiello (Owen, One Tree Hill) will also be on the show’s new season.
  • Jessica Walter (Tabitha, 90210) and Kelly Rowan (Kirsten, The O.C.) were each named one of EW.com’s Beloved TV Moms for their roles on Arrested Development and The O.C., respectively.
  • Colin Hanks (Grady, The O.C.) got married on Saturday.
  • Examiner.com has a spoilish interview with Kate Voegele (Mia, One Tree Hill).
  • Gossip Cop busted a Star story about Katie Holmes (Joey, Dawson’s Creek) and hubby Tom Cruise.
  • Jensen Ackles (C.J., Dawson’s Creek) referenced DC and Joshua Jackson (Pacey, Dawson’s Creek) in an interview with The Toronto Sun.




News Roundup: 90210, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl and Dawson’s Creek

6 05 2010
  • Be sure to check out The CW’s site for all the new video content this week.
  • ScreenStar has a spoilish interview with Tristan Wilds (Dixon, 90210).
  • The Sun has an interview with Sara Foster (Jen, 90210).
  • Tori Spelling (Donna, Beverly Hills 90210) and husband Dean McDermott will be renewing their vows.
  • Zap2it has an pretty good interview with Mike Grubbs (Grubbs, One Tree Hill), where he seems to imply two possible endings have been shot for the finale. Have you read my interview with him?
  • Us Weekly is reporting Hilarie Burton (Peyton, One Tree Hill) has had a baby with Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I first heard about this months ago but refrained from posting it as it was not reported by the mainstream media (until now).
  • Burton has a new blog post on the SoGoPro blog (unrelated to the above).
  • There’s a new Talking Gossip After Dark podcast, featuring my recap of this week’s episode.
  • A woman in Florida is urging her local public library system to not have Gossip Girl books be available to teens.
  • Joel Schumacher, the director of Twelve, which stars Chace Crawford (Nate, Gossip Girl), spoke about him and GG in an interview.
  • North By Northwestern, a publication at my alma mater, has a decent tribute to Dawson’s Creek.
  • The Frisky also has a DC tribute of sorts, and it features interesting (and, in my opinion, fairly valid) comparisons to Gossip Girl.




News Roundup: Gossip Girl, 90210, One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek

13 04 2010
  • Last night’s Gossip Girl (1.9 million viewers rounded up) climbed a bit in the ratings compared to last week.
  • Korbi is asking via poll if Blair should have forgiven Chuck.
  • Gossip Cop busted a Perez Hilton/In Touch story about Leighton Meester (Blair, Gossip Girl) hooking up with Twilight’s Robert Pattinson.
  • The Daily News claims they have more details about the breakup between Ed Westwick (Chuck, Gossip Girl) and Jessica Szohr (Vanessa, Gossip Girl).
  • You can enter a sweepstakes to win the dress Silver (Jessica Stroup, 90210) wore to the Winter Wonderland dance.
  • Brian Austin Green (David, Beverly Hills 90210) will make his return to Smallville on Friday’s episode. Ausiello has an exclusive sneak peek of one of his scenes.
  • Sophia Bush (Brooke, One Tree Hill) has been cast in Southern Discomfort, an ABC pilot. This DOES NOT mean One Tree Hill is canceled or that Bush is abandoning ship. 1) OTH has not been canceled–or renewed. 2) If OTH is renewed, Bush is contractually obligated to do OTH. 3) She is simply preparing herself for what may be a reality. It’s a smart move.
  • Also noteworthy in the short article about the casting is Deadline’s take that OTH has a 50-50 chance at renewal. They also “presume” that it’s OTH versus Life Unexpected, which stars Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek). The Hollywood Reporter says the shows “are considered to be” in competition.
  • Joshua Jackson (Pacey, Dawson’s Creek) won a Genie Award for his acting work in the movie One Week. He reportedly mentioned DC in his acceptance speech. He looks adorable in the photo.




News Roundup: One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, 90210 and More

12 04 2010
  • One Tree Hill came in second in Kristin’s Save One Show campaign. Chuck, which is executive produced by Josh Schwartz (executive producer, Gossip Girl; The O.C.) won.
  • Even if you didn’t participate in the postcard campaign for One Tree Hill, you can still print out one of the postcards as a keepsake.
  • The first video featuring the winners of The CW’s One Tree Hill contest has been released. It’s pretty cute. I am ridiculously jealous.
  • The new One Tree Hill Connection podcast has an interview with Joe Davola (executive producer, One Tree Hill).
  • Cari Moskow (Patty, One Tree Hill) joined Twitter today after being re-inspired by our interview.
  • Chace Crawford (Nate, Gossip Girl) will no longer be starring in Footloose.
  • The 33 TV, a news station in Dallas, has a video interview with Crawford and his sister Candice.
  • CNN is taking fan questions for Crawford for their Connector Of The Day feature. Can you spot the error in what they wrote?
  • PEOPLE.com and the New York Post have interviews with Zuzanna Szadkowski (Dorota, Gossip Girl).
  • MTV has a short interview with Eric Daman (costume designer, Gossip Girl).
  • I don’t post these every week but I figured I’d share this time: 90210 had the most DVR growth, percentage wise, in the 18-49 demographic than any other network show during the week of March 22. Gossip Girl ranked fourth. (It’s noteworthy, for One Tree Hill renewal/cancellation purposes, that Melrose Place ranked second.) The CW sent out a press release with all the numbers.
  • Laura Leighton (Sophie, Beverly Hills 90210) will return to Melrose Place tomorrow night for the season finale.
  • Time Out New York Kids has an interview with Jennie Garth (Kelly, Beverly Hills 90210), which includes a (totally legitimate but late, IMO) dig at 90210.
  • The Bannen Way, which features Vanessa Marcil (Gina, Beverly Hills 90210) and Autumn Reeser (Taylor, The O.C.), won several awards at The Streamys.
  • An article on Life Unexpected, which stars Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek), has nice references to both DC and Beverly Hills 90210.
  • BlackBook has an interview with Smith, with a little bit of DC talk and a Gossip Girl mention.
  • Busy Philipps (Audrey, Dawson’s Creek) spoke a little about James Van Der Beek (Dawson, Dawson’s Creek) to E! Online.




News Roundup: 90210, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and More

7 04 2010
  • Be sure to check out The CW’s site for all the new video content this week.
  • Last night’s 90210 (1.3 million viewers) had another drop in the ratings compared to last week, hitting a new season- and series-low. Note, though, that coverage was only in 92 percent of the marketplace, not the usual 95. (I know the Chicagoland area, for instance, had the show preempted for sports.)
  • E! Online has 90210 spoilers.
  • The Stir has an interview with Jessica Lowndes (Adrianna, 90210).
  • I love working for Gossip Cop. I love it even more when it involves taking down Perez Hilton for a Beverly Hills 90210-related post.
  • Gossip Cop also busted another false Life & Style story today (though I wasn’t involved in this one; I did write the above PH one) about the marriage between Tori Spelling (Donna, Beverly Hills 90210) and Dean McDermott.
  • Brian Austin Green (David, Beverly Hills 90210) and girlfriend Megan Fox made a Funny or Die video in support of public education.
  • Tiffani Amber Thiessen (Valerie, Beverly Hills 90210) participated in a Paley Center panel last night in support of her show, White Collar.
  • SoapNet now has a Beverly Hills 90210 I.Q. quiz to go along with the ones for The O.C. and One Tree Hill. I got a 100 percent and was told “AWESOME! Is your last name Walsh? You’re a Beverly Hills, 90210 expert, a fact sure to open doors and earn you friends wherever you go.” It was much easier than the other quizzes, IMO, but unfortunately, there were two inaccurate questions (though you can still figure out the answers) and one answer listed incorrectly on the results page.
  • Shenae Grimes (Annie, 90210) is on the cover of Dirrty Glam magazine. Kristen Bell (Gossip Girl, Gossip Girl) was on the last issue.
  • Bell was on The Late Late Show last night.
  • Korbi has an interview with Zuzanna Szadkowski (Dorota, Gossip Girl). Have you read my interview with her?
  • Your Love Is A Drug by Leighton Meester (Blair, Gossip Girl) will be featured in next week’s episode of Gossip Girl.
  • TeenVogue.com has the video premiere of Light Outside by Wakey!Wakey!, which features Mike Grubbs (Grubbs, One Tree Hill).
  • Sixty percent of voters in Zap2it’s “kill” or “keep” poll want to keep One Tree Hill.
  • The final round of Save One Show has started and One Tree Hill, as well as Life Unexpected starring Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek), are still in the running. Also a contender is Chuck, which is executive produced by Josh Schwartz (executive producer, Gossip Girl; The O.C.). The post includes written messages from both Schwartz and Mark Schwahn (creator, One Tree Hill), as well as the producers of the other shows, encouraging their fans to vote.
  • James Van Der Beek (Dawson, Dawson’s Creek) tweeted a picture of the call sheet he found for the original DC pilot.







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