Exclusive: Ryan Eggold Talks 90210 Day, Season 3 And Creative Castmates

13 09 2010

Take a deep breath. The wait is over. After the second season finale left fans with quite a few cliff-hangers, 90210’s third season begins tonight.  But make no mistake: a new season won’t necessarily bring answers. The one thing we can count on is new storylines.

And, thankfully, I could count on Ryan Eggold (Ryan, 90210) to give me the dish last week as we chatted about the new season, his character’s evolution and just which of his talented castmates he’ll share significant screentime with in the upcoming episodes.

TeenDramaWhore: First off, I wanted to wish you a happy belated birthday.

Ryan Eggold: Oh, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

TDW: Did you celebrate on set?

Eggold: No. I didn’t. I wasn’t working. It’s really funny – I live near Universal Studios and we actually ended up going to Universal Studios. It was just sort of a random, “Why don’t we do this?” and it was a lot of fun. They have a new rollercoaster there that’s awesome.

TDW: Really? I’d love to try it.

Eggold: Yeah, this new Mummy ride. It was fantastic.

TDW: Well, I’ve been meaning to come out to L.A., and I was really bummed that I missed last week’s City of Beverly Hills’ 9-02-10 Day event.

Eggold: Yes! Oh my gosh, it was insane.

TDW: What did it mean to you to be part of the 90210 franchise on that day?

Eggold: It was cool. It was really fun. It was kind of weird because in Beverly Hills, and all over the place actually, they had posters up that said 90210 for 9-02-10 Day, not for the show. But it felt like it was for our show, because I can’t separate 90210 from anything but the show. I’d just see these posters all over town, in L.A. and Hollywood. It was kind of overwhelming, but it was fun. It was fun to be a part of something that means something to the history of a city.

TDW: I was able to watch a live-stream of the red carpet and part of the event online, and what I loved was seeing almost the whole cast there. The whole cast hasn’t been out in public for a while. There were only a few of you at The CW upfront, so this was the first time nearly all of you were together at an event in a long time. It was a really special event.

Eggold: Yeah, that’s true. I didn’t even think about that. It has been a while since everyone’s been out somewhere together. It was fun.

TDW: And you guys got feted with all sorts of amazing food and wine!

Eggold: Oh, there was some incredible food. If you make it out here, you have to eat in Beverly Hills. Everyone was sampling their restaurants, and it was amazing. And I was really hungry, too, so I was walking around eating everything in sight. It was delicious. There’s this place called Bouchon and they had these melons with feta cheese on top of it, and it was the best thing I’ve ever had in my life.

TDW: That’s awesome. So, there were no cast members there from the original series, right?

Eggold: No, there weren’t. I’m not sure why. I don’t know if they invited them or didn’t. I assume they did but I’m not sure. I assumed I’d see at least Jennie Garth (Kelly, Beverly Hills 90210) there or somebody, you know?

TDW: What memories do you have of the original show?

Eggold: I remember Luke Perry (Dylan, Beverly Hills 90210) being just sizzling. And I remember being just too young to be participating in what they were, in the sense that they’d be drinking and going to parties and having sex and all these things, and I’d be like, “What is that? I want to check that out. I don’t really know what it is, but one day I’m going to be a big kid like them and I’m going to do that stuff and it’s going to be awesome.” That’s what I remember.

TDW: That’s really funny, because I was really young when I started watching and it put these ideas in my head of what it was supposed to be like to be a teenager, and I always felt really crappy when my life didn’t measure up to theirs.

Eggold: Yeah, when you didn’t get a Ferrari for your birthday.

TDW: Yeah, exactly. Alright, back to the present day and this show and this show’s cast. A music video by Shenae Grimes (Annie) was recently released, and you starred in it. How did that come about?

Eggold: Shenae wanted to experiment with directing, and she got this song together. We actually ended up recording it here at my place, and had a lot of fun. She was embarrassed to sing, but she did and sounds great. She did a really great job. Everyone that’s seen it has said it looks really great and came out really well, and I agree. I hope she continues directing stuff. It’s fun to mess around with your friends in terms of making a short film or making a little music video or whatever.

TDW: I really loved it, and it was a surprise to see your face in the video and then it was a surprise again to see your name in the credits for providing some of the music as well. It just got me thinking how the whole cast has all these different side projects going on. Quite a few of you are involved in music, from Jessica Lowndes (Adrianna) to Tristan (Wilds, Dixon). All of you have these other avenues of art that you’re experimenting in.

Eggold: Yeah, it’s cool. There’s some really creative people on the show, and it’s really fun. I think everyone’s going to keep doing their little passion projects, whether it’s their music or writing or whatever they’re working on. Shenae’s into photography, too, and everyone’s got different things going on. I know Jessica Lowndes is releasing a single, and Tristan’s trying to put a record together, and I’m sort of trying to put some stuff together. It’ll be cool to start hearing those things, and seeing those things come to fruition.

TDW: I don’t expect you to remember, but I’ve actually interviewed you twice before.

Eggold: Oh, wow.

TDW: It was more than two years ago, on back-to-back days. It was your first CW upfront and the next day you guys came to the PEOPLE magazine offices where I was interning at the time.

Eggold: Yes!

TDW: And you guys just had preliminary ideas of what shape your characters would take, and I don’t think anyone could’ve guessed Ryan would now be struggling with alcohol and his self-confidence and about to be a father. He’s come a long way in just two short seasons.

Eggold: He’s fallen a long ways. It’s so funny to think about that day. When we first were starting the show, we had no idea what to expect.

TDW: I think an original storyline that you guys teased in those first few interviews was possibly a student-teacher romance, and that never happened. I understand showrunners have changed, and storylines are always rewritten. But something I’ve noticed recently is that Ryan isn’t interacting with the West Beverly students as much as he used to.

Eggold: No. He’s definitely more in his own storyline with Jen (Sara Foster). But this season Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord) and I develop sort of a relationship, because I’m having a kid with her sister and sort of being part of the family in that way. Their relationship is affected because of it. Naomi and Jen haven’t been the best of sisters, but through this and her having a nephew, they kind of come back together a bit, which is nice to see. Also because of the Mr. Cannon (Hal Ozsan) stuff, which I caught a glimpse of in the finale of season 2, Naomi’s dealing with some really interesting stuff and some terrible stuff from what happened. I sort of become part of that with her and help her with that. I think Ryan is a good sort of – what’s the word, not role model – he’s a good guy to be a teacher because he’s grounded and he’s got a good heart. He cares for his students. I think he can be there for her. And it’s great to work with AnnaLynne.

TDW: What storylines would you like to see for him, or is there a cast member you haven’t worked with much that you’d like to share some scenes with?

Eggold: I’ve always said that I want to work with Lori (Loughlin, Debbie). That would be a lot of fun. I’d love to do some more stuff with Tristan, just because we have such a great time off set. He’s such a great dude. I often work with my romantic partners, whether it’s Jen or Laurel (Kelly Lynch) or somebody, and I’d like to see [Ryan] branch out of that, and see him develop relationships with the kids, maybe a new character or something.

TDW: I believe you guys are about a quarter of the way through the season in terms of script reads, and I thought it would be fun to play a quick game of Two Truths And A Lie. So if you could give me three plausible spoilers for the upcoming season, two of which are completely true and one of which, while possible, isn’t at all going to happen.

Eggold: Okay, so two things that are true and one’s not. Somebody dies in the first episode. Somebody is born in the first episode. And somebody becomes a woman, who is a man originally, in the first episode.

TDW: Funny. Very nice. Thank you. One last question, and I always ask everyone this because I keep track of it for my readers. I wanted to confirm that you’re not on Twitter. I know you’re not, but people rather hear it from you.

Eggold: I’m not on Twitter. I’m like a caveman. I’m not on Facebook. I don’t even know if MySpace exists anymore. I’m not on Twitter. I feel disconnected. I’m probably a loser because  I’m not on any of these things.

TDW: Well, I don’t think you’re a loser. You’re a hot guy and a star of a popular show. So you’re definitely not in loser territory.

Eggold: I like your interpretation better.

TDW: Thank you. But I would maybe ask your castmates to help set you up with a Twitter account. Nearly all of them have joined in the last year, and I think you have to be next.

Eggold: What do I say? What do you do on Twitter? Do I just say “I’m eating breakfast”?

TDW: Well, AnnaLynne likes to share a lot of her charity endeavors. Trevor (Donovan, Teddy) holds a lot of contests. He gives away swag to his followers. Tristan shares his music, and he’ll go on Ustream and show us him recording his music. People do say what they have for breakfast, and others get to know their fans. It’s what you make of it. It’s like “Choose Your Own Adventure” because you can choose who to follow and who to reply to and all that.

Eggold: It sounds really cool. It sounds like a lot of work.

TDW: Well, there’s no quota for how many times you have to tweet. But if you disappear, I might be upset with you but I’ll get over it eventually.

Eggold: I would like to share a little bit of music. But I would end up writing bizarre comments, just those weird thoughts that you have mid-day that you don’t share with people. I would end up sharing those and everyone would know I’m a total weirdo.

TDW: Well, I think Kanye West has that area covered on Twitter, but there’s room for you, too. And I know fans would love to have you. So if you do it, great.

Eggold: I’m fighting this 21st century but I probably have to join.

TDW Interview Index


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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.





Dawson’s Creek Writer Jeffrey Stepakoff Reflects, Discusses New Novel

28 03 2010

As you may recall, I adored Jeffrey Stepakoff’s book, Billion-Dollar Kiss: The Kiss That Saved Dawson’s Creek and Other Adventures in TV Writing. The title alone sold me but I relished learning not just about the inner-workings of one of my favorite TV shows but also about the industry in general.

Stepakoff and I have been in touch on and off the past few years, and I was thrilled when he contacted me a few months ago to let me know about his upcoming novel, Fireworks Over Toccoa, which will be released Tuesday.

In our recent chat, Stepakoff discussed his book and shared the lessons he learned from his days writing and producing Dawson’s Creek.

TeenDramaWhore: For those that don’t know, what was your title on Dawson’s Creek and how long were you there for?

Jeffrey Stepakoff: I was on Dawson’s for three years, seasons 3, 4 and 5. My last title there was co-executive producer.

TDW: What were you responsible for?

Stepakoff: Like most writer-producers, I was responsible for writing, of course, sometimes supervising writing, story development and I had producorial responsibilities, which meant going to the set and participating in making the production.

TDW: When did it occur to you write a book about your experience in television and have one of the focal points be specifically about your time on Dawson’s Creek?

Stepakoff: Well, the book, of course, is not just about Dawson’s Creek. It’s really about my experience as a television writer during what was arguably the most tumultuous period and one of the most thrilling periods in television history. There was a book that I very much loved that came out in the late-80s by Michael Lewis called Liar’s Poker. Liar’s Poker was Michael Lewis talking about what went on during the bond trading era of the 80s , and while I was working in television during this remarkable period of time, I thought, “You know what? Someone should track what’s going on here. Someone should track the rise of television, the rise of creative content, this explosion of new networks, this explosion for new venues for television programming.” As we got closer to the reality television era, it became clear to me that this was a really remarkable untold story in the history of television and much of it centered around the television writer. So, to answer your question, it was something I had thought about for quite a while, actually, and it wasn’t until that I kind of had one foot out of the story room that I was able to really focus on it. So it’s not really just a story about Dawson’s Creek. It’s a story about television and, moreover, the history of the television writer during this remarkable period of time in television history.

TDW: This is your first novel. Can you give a little synopsis?

Stepakoff: Fireworks Over Toccoa is a love story set in Toccoa, Georgia–which is a small town about two hours north of Atlanta–in 1945. It follows the life of a young girl, Lily, who at 17-years-old marries a young man, who two weeks after ships off to war in 1942. Three-and-a-half years later, in the last week of June 1945, right before the Fourth of July, she’s preparing for her husband to return home and the entire small town of Toccoa has a fireworks display they’re preparing for. For the display, they’ve hired this young pyrotechnician, an Italian boy or a boy of Italian heritage, from Pennsylvania to come down and put on the show. Nobody has seen fireworks in the area in almost a decade because of the war. During the war, anyone who made pyrotechnics, any of the small family-run factories, were actually making munitions during World War II. So this is a big deal for the town in many ways. And while this young Italian man comes to town, Lily meets him, sees his fireworks and discovers that her feelings about what she wants in the world are not what they were three-and-a-half years ago when she committed to her husband. She falls in love with this young Italian man and has to make some very hard, challenging and, ultimately, dramatic decisions about what she wants to do with the rest of her life. So it’s a love story and a story about what’s going on in the world in this period of time.

TDW: Why have a character at 17, versus someone older than that, with a husband in the war?

Stepakoff: During the 1940s people married earlier. Right before World War II, young women were marrying, as were young men, because the boys were shipping off to war. It was an incredible time in American history and world history, where people were making all kinds of life-changing decisions because no on really knew what tomorrow would bring. At 17, people were thinking about today. They weren’t thinking about three-and-a-half years later. I also think 17 is a very dramatic period of time for people. It’s a great time in the life of  a character to tell a story.

TDW: Is there anything you learned from working on Dawson’s Creek or one of the other shows you worked on that you were able to apply to working on this novel?

Stepakoff: It’s funny that you ask because I’m actually sitting here working on my second book. I’m taking my understanding of classic story structure, Aristotelian story structure, which is what we use in television and motion pictures, to craft my novels as well. These are stories that are meant to touch, move and entertain in a very traditional form. So did I learn anything from working on Dawson’s or other shows? Yeah, I learned story structure. I learned how to craft a story first on the fly and then later with a degree of richness that I think comes from sitting in a story room and working on television and also motion pictures. I spent several years, a couple of years, in Disney feature animation doing a very similar thing, which was designing this kind of story structure. My work in Hollywood has very much informed the current work that I’m doing in fiction writing. The difference is that when you write television or a motion picture, you’re really laying out the outline or the blueprint for a story. You’re writing dialogue, you’re writing very direct action. But when you write a novel, you’re the writer, the director, the characters, the set designer, the lighting designer–you lay all of it out. You lay out the arc of the story, the subtext, what the characters are thinking, you describe what everything looks like. Obviously it’s a much longer process but in many ways it’s a greatly satisfying process because you get everything just the way you want it, ideally. But it’s very much like the television and motion picture writing and production experience.

TDW: I’m particularly interested in some of your earlier background because I, too, have an interest in television writing and novel writing but I recently finished journalism school and I know you were a journalism major for undergrad.

Stepakoff: That’s right. You were at Northwestern, right?

TDW: Yes, I was.

Stepakoff: Excellent. It’s a great school.

TDW: I really enjoyed it but I do have questions about transitioning to other things. I’m wondering what from your journalism education you’ve been able to apply to this.

Stepakoff: It’s a very good question, Shari. I like rich and authentic worlds. I like to put myself into a world that’s real. I like to learn about worlds. In journalism, of course, we learn to really delve into a story, to look for facts, to look for the story. The difference, I suppose, is that in journalism, you’re looking for the real facts to tell whereas in fiction or dramatic writing, you want to make a story satisfying and you can fictionalize things. But journalism is great to dig in and find out information that really took place. A lot of what I wrote in Fireworks Over Toccoa is about the war and what people were doing, everything from how women wore their hair to what was going on with the Coca Cola company to race relations to how men and women were dealing with each other–all of that is research is that I did, journalistic research, that helped me render a world. So the journalism background was very helpful.

TDW: Is your second novel a sequel or something independent?

Stepakoff: It’s a new story. The same kind of structure and, I suppose, the same sort of storytelling voice but it’s a new story.

TDW: I can’t let you go without asking the age-old Dawson’s Creek question: Dawson and Joey or Pacey and Joey?

Stepakoff: I like whatever is best for the story. Typically, what’s best for the story is to keep things dynamic. That’s the best way I can answer you.

TDW: What is dynamic to you?

Stepakoff: Fluid. It means that people, just like we do in real life, can change their minds and change their hearts based on how a story unfolds.

TDW: So, to you, there isn’t necessarily an endgame.

Stepakoff: I think that’s a good way to put it, yes.

TDW: I think quite a few people will be happy to hear that!

To learn more about Fireworks of Toccoa, including how you can win a related sweepstakes, visit FireworksOverToccoa.com.

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





News Roundup: One Tree Hill, 90210, The O.C. and Dawson’s Creek

22 03 2010




Exclusive: One Tree Hill Producer on Social Media, Passionate Fans and The Show’s Future

21 03 2010

There’s a lot about teen dramas you can debate: favorite characters, worst couples, best quotes. Few would argue against this: hiatuses suck. They are long, torturous and boring. Luckily for us, the folks behind One Tree Hill have made a seemingly unprecedented move by filling the show’s current 2-month hiatus with daily videos and other content shared via their official Twitter account.

One of the people to thank for all the OTH goodness is associate producer Steve Goldfried. In an exclusive interview, Goldfried discusses the show’s use of social media, thanks the fans for their devotion and comments on where things stand regarding an eighth season.

TeenDramaWhore: How did you first get hooked up with the show?

Steve Goldfried: I was an office production assistant at Tollin/Robinns Productions, which was the production company that One Tree Hill started at. Joe Davola, who is the executive producer, was the president of television there. I actually started by working for Mike Tollin in his office there as the production assistant, which meant I ran scripts around town, made coffee, made copies. Stuff like that. One Tree Hill came about, and I had been there for about 6 months, and Mike Tollin said he wanted to send someone out there to document. Joe Davola had made a deal, I think with MTV, that they would have video cameras shooting behind-the-scenes footage there from the beginning, since Joe’s roots were at MTV and Hilarie [Burton, Peyton], of course, was coming from MTV to be on the show at the time. So they wanted some behind-the-scenes footage and someone there documenting it and they sent me out there to be a set a production assistant but I also carried a video camera around with me while I was doing that. That’s how I got hooked up originally.

TDW: Since then, your role has changed over the years.

Goldfried: It has and it hasn’t. I still carry a video camera around with me all the time on the set, which is cool in a way. Almost all of the behind-the-scenes footage you’ve ever seen of One Tree Hill was shot by me. There’s rare occassions where other crews came in and shot some stuff but most everything is shot by me. Almost all the videos, little behind-the-scenes, the vingettes and the featurettes on the DVDs are produced and edited and shot by me. So it hasn’t changed in that sense but I’ve had an expanded responsibility in other aspects, too, like in actually getting that footage out there. The viral marketing, the social networking side has expanded over the years. When we had more product placement in the show, I worked with the distributor and the network on those deals, and I work on the contests and promotions that we have.

TDW: So your title right now is associate producer but that doesn’t mean the same for everyone that’s an associate producer.

Goldfried: No. I’m probably sort of unique in that, though “producer” can mean a hundred different things in Hollywood. But there are other associate producers and other producers that do I what I do, which is more marketing and promotions.

TDW: The quickest way that you get content to the fans now is through the One Tree Hill Twitter account. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that started during this past summer, right?

Goldfried: Season 7 was when we first got it out there. When we started filming the season, I was taking pictures and tweeting those and sending little updates from the set. Then, just recently, since the Utah trip, we’ve started updating daily with video. At the moment, that’s definitely the quickest way to get stuff out there. The Facebook page has 1.3 million fans so that’s a good way as well.

TDW: What do you think the value is of these social media tools? You didn’t have them when the show started in 2003.

Goldfried: It’s great, although One Tree Hill has always been on the forefront of online viral marketing and social networking. I started a MySpace page for Peyton, when MySpace was kind of hot. Even before that, when I was just a set PA and working on set, [creator] Mark Schwahn was back in L.A. really fostering a relationship with the fans online and doing live chats, listening to the fans and interacting with them. I think that’s one reason why One Tree Hill has such a loyal following. The fans are so passionate about the show because we’ve always tried to connect with them and bring them in. It’s our show–ours and the fans together.

TDW: How is it decided what’s tweeted?

Goldfried: It’s decided based on what we think the fans will enjoy that day and every day that we tweet. If there’s a cool article that we see online or, like right now, putting new video up each day because we’re on this long hiatus, we feel like we’re getting the fans fresh One Tree Hill-related content each day. That’s something we feel like they want and we’ve seen the responses. They do want it and they’re enjoying it. So it’s based on what we think they’ll like and the response that we’re getting on Twitter and Facebook.

TDW: It’s almost seven years since you guys started production. That’s a lot of time to spend on one set. What has been the most surprising thing to you about working on the show?

Goldfried: It’s a tough question to answer because TV is so fast-paced. When you’re working on a TV show, you’re really immersed in it. I don’t know that I’ve really stopped and thought about what the most surprising thing is. It’s all be pretty amazing. It’s been an amazing journey and you have to try to enjoy it as much as possible while you’re doing it and I have. The easy answer is just that it’s lasted this long. As fans of the show know, there’s been a lot of times throughout the seven years, where people thought we were thought getting canceled or it looked like that might happen and then we kept getting picked up. So that’s surprising in a way. The fans are pretty surprising, just how passionate and hardcore they are.

TDW: I think you have one of the strongest fanbases around.

Goldfried: Definitely. We see that. We recognize it and we love it. It’s definitely what has helped keep us on the air so long. We couldn’t have been on for those seven years without the fans.

TDW: You’re obviously very familiar with what the storylines are and what’s being shot on set. Do you have any favorites?

Goldfried: The episode in season 2 where we went to the race track in Charlotte [Episode 2.19, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning]. That was really fun, crashing cars, being on that track and seeing the stunt cars going around. We actually got to drive the cars around. It had rained the day before and to dry the track out, you actually go and drive on the track to soak up some of the wetness. So the crew got to take the cars out and we each got to take our own and go around the racetrack. That was pretty fun. That was one of my favorite episodes [to work on]. Just recently, this season, I really like the Gubbs storyline. Mike Grubbs is a great guy. Wakey!Wakey! is an awesome band and he’s awesome. I had the chance to see him play a few times live in Wilmington and around and on set. We had this little intimate cast and crew wrap party and he played for everyone. That was pretty incredible. I like all those storylines with the musicians especially. The show itself has such heart. It’s hard to pick [favorites]. I don’t have one ship or anything. It’s all just the heart of it.

TDW: Speaking of the music, the sheer volume of bands you’ve introduced viewers to is overwhelming.

Goldfried: Music is its own character on the show. That’s something Mark and Joe have consciously done from the beginning and done an incredible job with it. It plays a huge role. That’s been fun to be around. Being around all these awesome musicians and seeing them perform live, it’s a really cool thing.

TDW: You and the cast and crew just went to Utah.

Goldfried: Yes, Park City.

TDW: You had tons of fans come out. Was it surprising that so many people came when you’re so far from Wilmington or not a surprise given how fervent the fanbase is?

Goldfried: It was not a surprise. It’s not a surprise anymore. It was for a while. After seven years, and all the mall tours, and the One Tree Hill music tour–back then maybe it was a little surprising but now we know they’re that fervent and they’re going to show up wherever we are, which is great. I think our cast is always very receptive to them, going over to take pictures and sign autographs. They get to interact a little bit.

TDW: There’s a massive fan campaign going on right now to show The CW how much they want the show to continue. From what I’ve heard, that’s gotten back to you guys and you know it’s going on. I’m curious to know the reaction you guys have had to it.

Goldfried: We have heard about that and our reaction is gratitude. It’s awesome. It’s amazing to know that the fans took their own initiative to do that. They’ve done that in past years, too, and we continue to be thankful for it.

TDW: Fans are on the edge of their seats, so anxious to find out what’s going to be.

Goldfried: So are we!

TDW: It seems that various places are reporting that it’s going to be a while. I feel like you guys are in this no man’s land. You can’t go back, you can’t go forward.

Goldfried: That’s sort of the nature of TV. It’s always been that way. It won’t be that much longer. We’ll know soon. But we are in no man’s land. We don’t know when. There’s no hard date or anything that we’ve heard of. The upfronts are in mid-May, as you know I’m sure. So we’ll know by then.

TDW: If this turns out to be the last season or even whenever the last season of the show is, how would you like One Tree Hill to be remembered?

Goldfried: Mark has always said they wanted to make somebody’s favorite show. We were never necessarily the biggest show and we’re certainly not the most promoted show. They just wanted to always make sure it was somebody’s favorite show and I think it ended up being a lot of somebody’s favorite show. I’d like it to be remembered that way, too.

TDW: Any last message for the fans?

Goldfried: We’re really happy that everyone is sending in their messages to The CW. That’s awesome. We really appreciate it. Our new episodes return April 26th, the last four of the season, so everyone make sure you tune in for those because they’re going to be great episodes. Thanks for watching and thank you for the interview.

It’s a double-interview week! Come back Tuesday at noon for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





Exclusive: Charles Rosin Talks Beverly Hills 90210, showbizzle and More

14 03 2010

Think the Spellings are the only real-life Beverly Hills 90210 family? Think again. Meet the Rosins: Charles, Karen and their daughter Lindsey.

As you may recall from my previous interview with Charles, he was the executive producer of Beverly Hills 90210 for its first five seasons. Karen wrote nearly 20 episodes between 1991 and 1994 and Lindsey had a memorable cameo in Episode 2.o6, Pass/Not Pass, as a little girl asking Brandon (Jason Priestley) to dance the hukilau at the Beverly Hills Beach Club.

I mentioned in January that my interview with Charles was one of my highlights of TDW Year One. I never dreamed I’d interview him once–let alone twice and this time in person. But that’s exactly what happened in January on a weekday morning in New York City, where Charles, Karen and Lindsey came to promote their new media venture, showbizzle.

Charles and I sat down to talk about showbizzle and, of course, Beverly Hills 90210.

TeenDramaWhore: If you had to give your elevator pitch for showbiz, what would you say?

Charles Rosin: Showbizzle is a digital showcase for emerging talent that combines a webseries called showbizzle with a platform for talent away from the immediate pressures of the marketplace. So it’s two mints in one: it’s a show and it’s a resource for emerging artists. The show is populated by emerging artists and it was really conceived by emerging talents, namely Lindsey Rosin being the first one to be showcased, as the writer and director of the majority of the shows. So that’s the basics of it.

Unlike so many people who do webseries, what they’re hoping is “Oh, everybody loves our webseries and we create so much action and energy, FOX or The CW will find us and want to put us on the air.” We’re not interested in that. If we wanted to do something specifically for broadcast or cable, we would go into the room with those people and say “We think this works for your medium because…” But we like this form, the potential of it, the idea that you can just do what you want to do and not have to go through committees. From a business standpoint, there’s ownership potential that works in the current marketplace.

So the premise of the webseries is that Janey, a young wannabe screenwriter, who is very plugged into the culture of Los Angeles, sits in a coffeehouse in L.A. trying to write her screenplay and looking forward to all her friends who stop by and interrupt her from that. That’s the basic premise of it. What is a lot of fun about it is that for someone like yourself and the audience that you know, that although you meet all these disparate characters doing these short little two-minute snackable, for-the-digital-world kind of stories, you start to realize these characters are related and there is a serialized story. It builds to a serialized place. We’re fans of that. We try to do it with humor and insight and with a lack of snarkiness that is so prevalent in the digital world. We try to do a show that’s engaging.

One of our slogans is, “Just take a little bizzle break.” The one thing about all media, all the shows you cover–and thanks for even thinking about showbizzle in relation to it–is what they really are is diversions. Somehow in the last 20 years, the importance of the television business, the shows that are made, have been thrown so far out of proportion because of the material value of it. But all they are–we have a lot of issues going on the world–is just a little place to get a respite, to get a chuckle or a laugh. One of the things that Lindsey really values is when her friends say, “That happened to me” or “I’ve got a story.” The whole social network aspect came from Lindsey saying, “We should ask our viewers what’s happened to them,” because even though it’s very specific to Hollywood, because that’s where we’re set, at the same time trying to get ahead in life and figuring out what you’re going to do and using every connection you have when you’re kind of an adult but not really an adult, is something [everyone goes through] and we wanted to explore that.

TDW: How did showbizzle start? Who came up with the idea?

Rosin: The origins of showbizzle go back to a day in December in 2005 when Disney announced they were selling Lost on iTunes, which effectively meant the end of the syndication model that financed network television. Producers would make X number of shows and if they had enough, they could sell them to the local stations and other places, and that’s how the revenue would come back to the companies and people would profit from that. Fortunately, I benefited from that twice. Once from [Beverly Hills] 90210 and more recently Dawson’s Creek, which moved into profit because of the syndication of it. But when you sell something prior to syndication, it dilutes the value of the syndication and to do something that as dramatic as to put episodes on iTunes the day they’re running or the day after they run is a fundamental change.

I started thinking about that and how network television was going to be changing. In the spirit of “everything old is new again,” I started thinking about branded entertainment, which goes back to the pre-network era, where with the television of the 50s, companies–Chesterfield Cigarettes, Lucky Strike, Kraft, General Electric–would come in and buy the half-hour or the hour and be totally associated with the show, whether it be variety or comedy or drama. They all had that. That’s how the revenue was derived. I started to think about what company had the resources to do this and is currently not an advertiser on network television. I realized that anyone who was going to put their name above an entertainment project was going to do it and want total ownership and control and then go to a network or then go wherever they want to go.

So I approached Starbucks about a project called Starbucks Presents. We did this in the winter-spring in 2006. We were trying to create a social network for the people who use Starbucks, in store or at home, and program hours of different ways to do things. At the core of it was a daily soap opera about what goes on in a coffee house. Showbizzle is the distillation of that idea. By the way, Starbucks’ response was “Don’t bother us. Come back to us in 5 years. We’re in the music business.” They’re no longer in the music business. They’re still in the coffee business.

TDW: Where does the name come from?

Rosin: Well, we wanted to call it hollybizzle for a while but it was taken. So, showbizzle, not quite show business. And certainly Snoop Dogg is very “fo shizzle” and made my kids laugh. We were sitting around the dinner table–I have two other children besides Lindsey–and we came up with that and said let’s see if that one will work. We like the name quite a bit. It’s friendly and open.

TDW: What is your role on a day-to-day basis? Is this now your full-time gig?

Rosin: I teach at UCLA and I still develop shows. I was very active in the business from the late ‘70s to about 2005. Found my name wasn’t on the lists that I liked anymore and this was a place to do it on my own. The idea to get more sponsorships, provide things for the community–that is where I spend a lot of my time [with showbizzle]. I think like 85, 90 percent of the time I still do other forms of writing and developing other projects as well. I like teaching and I like doing this. If J.J. Abrams called, I’d answer.

TDW: What is Lindsey’s role?

Rosin: I get to refer to her as “the talent.” She’s the writer and director. The other woman who did a lot of writing and directing for the first season is a woman named Arika Mittman and Arika just won a Humanitas Prize for an episode of South of Nowhere that she did. Arika was my assistant on Dawson’s Creek. She’s terrific and very talented and gets along very well with Lindsey. Arika, she’s someone who in a different lifetime would’ve been head of daytime. She plotted the serial a little bit with Lindsey. But Lindsey, I say to her–sometimes to her consternation; it’s a family business and all–anytime she’s involved with the site, it’s better on all levels.

TDW: What has been the response you’re getting from people in the business?

Rosin: I think they admire the effort and realize we’re pioneers. This is not formed. People haven’t done things like this. They always ask, “How are you going to finance this?” and I kind of talk about it but steer away from it a little bit. It’s designed to be branded entertainment and we’re here in New York now to try and find brands. We’re hopeful that we can and we present something that has potential and is different. There’s certain things we did in the first year–we did a lot of monologues; we didn’t emphasize the cinema. We’d like to have a little more production value. Lindsey has a lot of ideas for the second season. We know where to pick up the show and what kind of sponsors we’re looking for. Forms follows function, after all…

TDW: You mentioned finding sponsors. Is that what you did on this trip?

Rosin: One of the most difficult aspects of doing webseries is, whether you’re doing six episodes with friends in your dorm room or if you’re trying to do something to ultimately become a daily habit on the web, is to get the levels of support that you need. When you do branded entertainment, you want to get to brands. Brands have not been oriented to this. So we’re starting to see the change and transition as more and more brands advertise or consider sponsorships and realize that it might be worthwhile to look at certain web series, to brand projects and put their name above the title and all that. It’s a question, though, of “how do you get access to that?” One of the ways is you do something and it goes viral and they come to you and say, “How do you do that?” The other way is to do some work, you put it together, you have more ideas, you go to the brand and say, “With your marketing support, we do A, B, C, D and E” and that’s the method we chose. Creatively, I think showbizzle is somewhere in a middle ground or at least between premium high content and user-generated. We want it have the feel of an independent but be scripted.

There was an event [this week] called Brand In Entertainment, which was an event to meet people who are independent purveyors of content and meet brands and those that are interested in the sector or interested in tipping their toe in. It’s a risk-adverse world, especially after the financial meltdown. It’s all going very slowly. But I had meetings with one or two other people who have access to brands and I wanted to let them know what we’re doing. It was a business-oriented trip.

TDW: You mentioned that you have people who are just starting out in Hollywood playing the characters in the webseries. Is anyone getting “noticed” from it? Any success stories?

Rosin: The thing that’s interesting is remember my original definition: digital showcase, emerging talent away from the immediate career pressures of the marketplace. So really, it’s only about a creative expression. Too much discussion in Hollywood has moved away from any form of creative satisfaction and is only based on business elements. That’s why you always hear about returning an investment and all that. Well, what about creative satisfaction? So the goal of [participating] is not necessarily to further a career but to allow them to perform. We are going to try and accelerate it. We’re going to formally announce soon that we’ll have a rotating group of casting directors as residents and we’ll supply short little monologues and encourage our community to perform them, upload the video and guarantee them that the ones the casting directors like the most, they will comment on them and be on the homepage. You get on the digital showcase. You’re in our community and now you get to be singled out. That might help.

This time last year, a cute little blonde came in and started [working for us], making calls to colleges for outreach. She was really nice. One weekend she told me she had to go to New York. For my class at UCLA, I was putting together a list of what [new] shows [the networks] had ordered so we could [evaluate] them and I saw the girl’s name. It was Brittany Robertson [Lux on Life Unexpected]. She was the girl making our calls. I had Subway sandwiches with her for weeks. I sent her an e-mail and said, “Either you get major kudos or someone has stolen your name!” Now she didn’t perform on showbizzle and I don’t think necessarily that people have seen someone on showbizzle and said, “I need that girl or that guy,” but I think it gives people the confidence to be that girl or that guy.

In the second season we may go after a few names that people know to play little characters. It’ll probably make a difference. Two of the biggest names so far have been Fran Kranz, who was on Dollhouse and was just terrific, and James Eckhouse [Jim], who isn’t in the same demographic. But people can come [to showbizzle] for various reasons. As Lindsey likes to say, they can choose their own adventure. They can focus on getting industry resources or they can focus on the show, they can express themselves, they can take a bizzle break from all the troubles in life.

TDW: What lessons from Beverly Hills 90210 have you been able to apply to showbizzle?

Rosin: The main thing I learned from [executive producer] Aaron Spelling is you make a show for an audience. The audience satisfaction really matters. We continue to adjust to what our audience is looking for, what they say they want. The other thing, which I always like to say, is showbizzle is low-budget production. We were able to do a little content for not very much money but still paid people and all that. 90210 was lower-budget production. We had much less money in the first two or three years than what was there afterward. When we built the college set, that was a big thing for us. We didn’t have big restrictions. The first few years we did. We learned how to do something economically and you learn how someone is paying for all this. Usually that someone is your corporation, whether it’s Disney or Fox or Aaron Spelling. In the case of showbizzle, it’s us. You have to be prudent. Production we were able to handle very well. It’s the digital stuff, the Web site stuff that sometimes spirals out of control.

TDW: I was curious to know if you and Karen were already married when you started working on the 90210 or if the relationship was born out of the show.

Rosin: I met a really cute girl in 1976. We were married a year later in 1977. We’ve been together a long time.

TDW: That is a long time.

Rosin: Yes, we’re very old.

TDW: I know she’s had a career of her own but she wrote close to 20 episodes of Beverly Hills 90210.

Rosin: She wrote the best ones. It was an interesting thing. Mr. Spelling had had a bad taste in his mouth about putting a married team on a show from when he did Dynasty. He never really wanted to let Karen come on the staff and be a permanent part. It allowed her to stay home and raise our kids, which is a great thing but at the same time, she really deserved a lot more recognition as a writer, as a writer-producer, and didn’t really get that from 90210 and I always feel badly about that. But it was circumstances beyond our control. I really love collaborating with her, and I really love collaborating with Lindsey, because you find out with writers, all writers have strengths and all writers have weaknesses. A lot of writers who really excel at dialogue have trouble organizing the story, the scene dynamics. That’s what I do in my sleep. But I’ll struggle over dialogue for hours and hours. So it was a really nice fit with us. One thing I would to say anyone who is starting out and is thinking about collaborating, is that you have to feel whomever you’re collaborating with brings more to the party than you do. You’re not carrying them but you’re benefiting from them. And that’s my relationship with Karen as a writer. Anytime we work together, it gets better.

TDW: I know you did commentary for the earlier seasons of the DVD sets.

Rosin: Karen and I were asked to do it on season 3 and I did an interview for season 4.

TDW: Since season 4, there’s been no extras. We’ve had seasons 5-9 with no extras.

Rosin: Want my opinion? Because there’s nothing to say. The show ended with season 5, in my opinion. Season 5, if you were going to do one, the person you’d need to talk to is Luke [Perry, Dylan] because Luke was so important in those first 12, 13 episodes where he has his money stolen and has his whole depression and anger, leading to the crashing of his car. Luke drove those first 13 and it was a pleasure to do them with him. He had such intensity. If he’s not going to talk about it, then what are you going to say? Tiffani [Amber Thiessen, Valerie] would’ve been the other person to talk to for season 5.

TDW: Some of us have also been upset with the cover art and that many songs have been replaced on the DVDs or scenes were cut because of songs issues.

Rosin: Knowing how much Mr. Spelling cared about the audience, the fact that the music isn’t up to the standards that we had, he’d understand it as a businessman but he’d be rolling over in his grave.

TDW: I heard you were once working on a 90210 spin-off concept with Aaron.

Rosin: When we were thinking about moving forward with the college years, we also proposed they could spin-off a West Beverly High series but they didn’t want to do that at that time. Then in the year 2000, Spelling wanted to do it and I was hired to do something on it but it didn’t turn out to be what they were looking for. It was like 90210, the next generation. I think it had the exact tone of the high school shows but it was just for a different generation of high schoolers. Instead we have this bastardized version that’s on now.

TDW: What was your reaction when you first heard about the one that’s on now?

Rosin: The first reaction was that it just shows how important the brand is and how much branding means. Every generation has the right to do anything. I don’t own it. It was Viacom, Spelling. Darren Star created the show. It was more his world than it was mine. I was there to do something much specific. But now I’m more excited by a show like Life Unexpected than recycling shows from a different era just because of their title. I don’t feel [the new show] has that much in common with the original other than it has a high school premise and it’s in Beverly Hills. But tonally, from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t have that much in common.

TDW: Not sure if you’re aware but they recently killed Jackie Taylor [Ann Gillespie].

Rosin: Why?

TDW: They did this whole cancer storyline.

Rosin: I understand that. When you run out of ideas, you get people sick. No offense to Joey [E. Tata, Nat], but we were struggling and had to do 32 episodes. So Nat’s going to have a heart attack [Episode 4.18, Heartbreaker]. If you see characters getting sick like that at random, it’s usually evidence of a bankruptcy of ideas, in my opinion.

TDW: It came out recently that Rob Estes [Harry, 90210] is leaving the show and people are very surprised. “He’s supposed to be our patriarch. He’s supposed to be our Jim Walsh.”

Rosin: I would imagine that you do things like that when you realize a few things have happened. After the 5th year when I left [the original], so did Gabrielle Carteris [Andrea] but so did Jim Eckhouse and Carol Potter [Cindy]. At a certain point, you get to be a mature show. You realize you have to cut your overhead a little bit. You realize the storylines are going to move into a different direction and things are going to be different. So you do make adjustments. Why did Estes leave? Maybe he was profoundly unhappy with what they’ve done with his character. I wouldn’t know that but that’s usually why actors leave. They weren’t satisfied. The show thought they were paying too much money. He wasn’t being utilized, etc.

TDW: It came out recently that Jennie [Garth, Kelly] is sort of cutting ties with the show as well. The media went crazy with it.

Rosin: I only have admiration for Jennie. I don’t see her that often but I know she’s raising a wonderful family. She has political and social issues she’s very committed to. I really admired her on Dancing With The Stars. She wouldn’t have been able to do that at 21, 22. To have that courage, I admire that a lot. Jennie was very loyal to Mr. Spelling, very loyal to 90210 and I’m sure that led her back to [the new show] in a way. One thing you realize is that people do for their careers what they think is best, both in getting in with things and getting out of things. And I never like to comment on that because at a certain point they thought it was a good idea.

TDW: Are you in touch with anyone else?

Rosin: I am. I’m in touch with the guys. Luke, not as much. Hopefully will get back in touch pretty soon. But Jason Priestley [Brandon] I consider a really good friend. I love Ian Ziering [Steve]. He actually helped on showbizzle, doing an interview. And Jim Eckhouse I actually put in front of the camera. So those are the guys pretty much. And I keep in touch with Gabby through her husband, who is my stock broker.

TDW: I spoke with [writer-producer] Larry Mollin recently and he expressed some interest in doing a panel to talk about the show.

Rosin: If you ever want to do something like that, you let me know.

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





Exclusive: Hal Ozsan Reflects on Dawson’s Creek and Dishes 90210 Spoilers (Kind Of)

28 02 2010

How’s this for a twist: when I contacted Hal Ozsan about an interview, I thought he’d be hazy on Dawson’s Creek memories and more than willing to share about his upcoming role on 90210. Turns out it was the opposite. Ozsan had plenty to say about playing the one and only Todd Carr but, despite my best efforts, remained incredibly vague on 90210. Well, 1 out of 2 ain’t bad!

TeenDramaWhore: Let’s start with Dawson’s Creek. Do you remember what attracted you to the role of Todd?

Hal Ozsan: The good stuff, the “juice” of acting, is getting to do and say things you’d never dream of doing and saying in normal, civilized company. But Todd, bless him, was shameless. Case in point… Todd, to Dawson [James Van Der Beek]: “You’re mom’s quite tasty, Leery. Mind if I have a go at her?” [Episode 6.10, Merry Mayhem] You think it, but you’d never say it. So, needless to say, that was one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. Also, I think Todd was exec producer Tom Kapinos’ secret alter ego, his inner “Tyler Durden,” so he wrote the role with unbridled relish. Every Saturday I couldn’t wait to tear open the envelope with next week’s script in it just to see what asshole-y wonderousness was going to come out of Todd/Tom’s mouth. On the flipside, I think Tom got a kick out of what I was doing, so we’d just sort of feed each other’s shameless-inner-asshole, week after week. We created a monster. It was brilliant.

TDW: I think your accent is one of the reasons people found the character so charming, despite his flaws. Do you know if they were specifically looking for someone who had one?

Ozsan: That’s very nice of you to say. No. Quite the contrary. The day I went to the read for the role there were all sorts of different dudes in there, nearly every possible variation of age, color, ethnicity, sexuality etc. Actually, from what I’ve been told since then, Tom loved me for the role and was pretty much alone in that among the producers. Word has it he had to fight tooth and nail to cast me. I think the accent was more of a hindrance than a help. But it all worked out in the end…Todd was only supposed to be a one-off character in one episode at the top of season 5, but I ended up doing the role for 15 episodes over two seasons.

TDW: The character played on several Hollywood stereotypes. Did you draw your inspiration from anyone?

Ozsan: If I did, would I really admit to it?

TDW: Without getting too personal, did you have any problems with women associating you with Todd’s self-centered, horndog ways?

Ozsan: [Chuckles] Of course not. I think secretly, deep down, every girl loves a scoundrel, right? We’re infinitely more entertaining than some wet blanket that’s “in touch with his feelings.” C’mon, who would you rather shag, Han Solo or Luke Skywalker? Captain Jack Sparrow, or… whoever it is that Orlando Bloom plays in those movies? And besides, Todd was a mush underneath it all. What could be better than a scoundrel with a heart of gold, right?

TDW:Are you still in touch with the cast?

Ozsan: Usually, the life of an actor is not unlike that of a gypsy. You’re never in one place for too long before you have to pack up camp and move to god-knows-where at the drop of hat. So you sort of make your friendships on the fly as your shooting through town. But Dawson’s was one of those VERY rare exceptions to that rule for me. I made extraordinarily dear, life-long friends on that show. James is still one of my best mates to this day and we live right up the street from each other. Michelle [Williams, Jen] is and always will be profoundly dear to me, and I also still see the lovely Busy [Philipps, Audrey] and Kerr [Smith, Jack] from time to time too. Everyone on that set was “good people” as we say in my neck of the woods. No bad eggs.

TDW: What are you doing, if anything, to prepare for your role on 90210?

Ozsan: Hmmm…. I don’t know how to answer that question without giving anything away, so I’ll just be flippant and glib: learning my lines.

TDW: I know you can’t say much, but can you give us a little tease of when we’ll get to see you and what we can expect?

Ozsan: Again, hmmm…. Lot’s of very attractive people in very attractive clothing doing all sorts of scandalously delicious things. General enough for ya?

TDW: What other projects are you working on?

Ozsan: I have three films due out [this] year. Keep your eye out for Peach Plum Pear, a wonderful little independent film where I play one of the biggest douchebags in the history of my career; a thriller called Groupie; and a comedy called Head Over Spurs in Love where– in one particular scene– you’ll get to see me in nothing but a g-string and cowboy boots ( Warning: that’s even scarier than it sounds). 2009 was a really busy year for me so my immediate plans [were] to go back home to London, sleep off my exhaustion, eat a lot of really greasy pub food and hang out with my family. Then… back to L.A. to squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans in time for 90210.

TDW: You were in a pretty successful band for a few years. Any interest in going back to music in the future?

Ozsan: Music was my first love, and I was one of the very few teenagers with a Jim Morrison complex lucky enough to live out my teenage fantasies as a grown up: I got to be the opening band for several of my heroes, got the all-illusive record deal, toured America, heard my songs on the radio and played for two stadiums full of people. So I’m a happy camper. But, sad to say, the music industry is not the place I thought it was. I turned right around and left that party the moment I got through the door…I have no plans on going back in. I love film and TV and I am thrilled with every minute of what I’m doing now. But thanks for asking, that was sweet.

Since there’s no episode of One Tree Hill tomorrow night, come back for a very fun exclusive OTH interview!

TDW Interview Index








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