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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Exclusive: Zuzanna Szadkowski, Kerr Smith and Matt Barr Video Interviews

23 05 2010

At the end of The CW upfront on Thursday, I was lucky enough to catch the attention of Zuzanna Szadkowski (Dorota, Gossip Girl), Life Unexpected’s Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek) and Hellcats’ Matt Barr (Ian “Psycho Derek” Banks, One Tree Hill).

Unfortunately, my camera skills leave a lot to be desired.

I foolishly turned the camera vertically as I recorded and I can’t figure out how (or if it’s even possible) to rotate the clips to the normal positioning.

So… laugh at me and then turn your head to the right and enjoy.


TDW Interview Index





The CW Upfront Videos

22 05 2010

Below are some videos I took outside and inside The CW upfront.

Truth be told, I don’t know if I was allowed to do this. I guess it was technically a private event, even though all the information given out was free to be printed by the media. There also wasn’t any announcement that no recording devices could be used and plenty of people had their digital cameras and cell phones out at varying points. Still, I won’t be surprised if YouTube pulls these down for copyright violations. And If The CW asks me to take them down, I will oblige.

Bottom line: watch while you can.

Come back Sunday for (extremely) brief, exclusive videos with Zuzanna Szadkowski (Dorota, Gossip Girl), Life Unexpected’s Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek) and Hellcats’ Matt Barr (Ian “Psycho Derek” Banks, One Tree Hill).

Special thanks to Gina for helping me through some technical difficulties!





Recap: The CW 2010 Upfront

20 05 2010

If you haven’t already done so, you may want to check out the press release sent out by The CW and my “live tweets” from the event.

I arrived at Madison Square Garden shortly after 10am. I briefly saw Chace Crawford (Nate, Gossip Girl), Tristan Wilds (Dixon, 90210) and Paul Wesley (Donnie, The O.C.) signing autographs before heading to the red carpet, which was likely actually green, The CW’s signature color.

I didn’t have red carpet access unfortunately (but, really, I am just grateful I was allowed to go to the event at all; please remember I am just a one-woman, non-profit operation with no plans of doing anything like this when TeenDramaWhore.com started) and instead headed toward the entrance for the event. Outside were CW staffers, probably actually models, dressed in green, black and white “guarding” the entrance. The area soon filled up with people and I spotted the One Tree Hill Examiner, Meriam. (Yay for identifying people through Facebook pictures and Twitter avatars!).

Shortly after we connected, it was time to go in. We had tickets that had to be scanned, insuring that only invited, confirmed people entered the building. Once inside, there was a table of CW-branded bottles of water for everyone. I snagged one and will likely never open it.

There were 30 minutes to kill between when the doors opened and the presentation started and it felt like it lasted forever, since I was really anticipating the presentation. Also, when we first entered the theater, I thought there was no way it would fill up but it seemed to. The program actually started a few minutes late but still managed to finish around noon, even though it felt long–in a good way.

Katy Perry kicked things off, performing her hit “Hot N Cold.” In the middle of the song, she yelled out “Is it too early for you to stand on your feet and have some fucking fun?” Many people laughed…but no one moved. After a few moments, a few people stood up and then soon nearly everyone did. Perry also performed her latest single, “California Gurl,” before announcing it would be The CW’s “anthem” for their summer programming. She also had a penchant for lifting her dress a little too high as she sauntered across the stage.

Anyway.

Perry introduced Rob Tuck, the network’s executive vice president of sales, which means he is pretty much in charge of getting companies to buy advertising. He spoke very briefly, noting that “The CW had a lot of success this year” and that young people today see no difference between watching something on a TV screen and a computer screen. The latter point was stressed in several different ways a lot throughout the presentation.

Tuck introduced Dawn Ostroff, the network’s president of entertainment, who had control of things from there on out. One of the biggest “take-aways” from Dawn, right from the start, was that the network is targeting “Generation D,” with the D standing for digital. It refers to the generation of people who consume media across a variety of platforms–mobile devices, televisions, computers, etc. She segued from that into highlighting some of the network’s biggest successes. She pointed out first that The Vampire Diaries was not only the break-out hit of the past season but it is also currently the network’s most successful show in terms of total audience numbers and the key 18-34 demo. She said “Gossip Girl continues to be our most buzzed about show” and touted that the first few episodes of season 4 will take place in Paris. She also said “90210 hit its creative stride” this past season and pretty much attributed it to the move from the classroom to the beach. She especially emphasized that 90210 is the most DVR-ed show on television. For those that wonder why Gossip Girl and 90210 are so revered by the network and got early renewals despite low next-day total audience ratings, well, there are your answers: Gossip Girl’s buzz and 90210’s hidden ratings success. And together, they have the best demo rating in the 18-34 women bracket, which the network also highly covets.

From here Dawn went back to talking about the audience and the network itself. The median age of a CW viewer is 33. The CW is “the youngest-skewing network” and also has the highest concentration of viewers in the key demographics, she claimed. “In just four seasons,” Dawn said, “we’ve created a unique brand.” This segued back into the principle that is guiding the network: their audience is consuming media through different platforms at their own convenience. (AKA, TV shows aren’t necessarily appointment viewing anymore. Not only can you watch when you want and how you want, you can also engage in related media outside the scheduled weekly one-hour broadcast.)

Dawn took a break, letting a video do the talking. Along with clips from the shows, it highlighted the various ways The CW reaches people: TV, CWTV.com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, mobile apps, etc. They tossed out figures meant to demonstrate the success of their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube use but the only figure that they actually claimed beat the other networks was Twitter, noting their official account has more followers than any other network’s. It all boiled down to this motto: “The CW: everywhere is possible.”

After the video, Dawn highlighted the two new series: Nikita and Hellcats. A description for each was given and a fairly long trailer of each was shown. The CW website has clips but I’m not positive they are the same trailers we saw today, as I haven’t checked yet.

Many in the media keep calling Nikita a remake of La Femme Nikita but, like 90210 and Beverly Hills 90210, I more see it as a “requel”–remake + sequel. It has elements that are completely being redone, as in a remake, and somewhat of a continuity with what came before, as in a sequel. In Nikita, Nikita (the title character) has “gone rogue” and left the mysterious “Division,” a group of powerful assassins. Nikita has been in hiding for several years but has now decided to come out to take down the “Division” as it trains a new group of assassins. Melinda Clarke (Julie, The O.C.) has what seems to be a supporting role (I didn’t catch her in the trailer at all) but she is very enthusiastic about it, as you can tell from my interview with her. It is executive produced by McG, who was the executive producer of The O.C. and is currently an executive producer on Supernatural. Action isn’t quite new to The CW with The Vampire Diaries, Smallville and Supernatural but unlike those, this doesn’t have a science-fiction element to it. The network hasn’t really had a strong, kick-ass, bad-ass female protagonist before, in my opinion, so I’m interested in seeing how people react. It’s even more interesting to me that the lead actress, Maggie Q, is of Asian descent.

Hellcats takes place in a college setting, one that they emphasized was “Southern.” The main character, Marti, has somewhat of a Peyton-esque vibe to her. She is studying to be a lawyer but doesn’t seem to really want to do it but it doesn’t matter when her scholarship is revoked and she’s on the verge of being kicked out of school. She learns that scholarships exist for cheerleaders and, despite her disdain for the “cheerleader-type,” she goes out for the team and–whattyaknow–makes it. (The rationale behind it seems to be that she was a gymnast when she was younger so she is incredibly talented at doing backflips and whatnot.) Matt Barr (Ian “Psycho Derek” Banks, One Tree Hill) seems to be her best friend, though I think he may want to be more. Also interested in her seems to be a male cheerleader played by Robbie Jones (Quentin, One Tree Hill) and I can only assume there will be some sort of love triangle with the three of them. Interesting to me considering how we know Matt and Robbie from OTH (plus Matt from Gossip Girl and The O.C.) and because it could allow for another interracial couple on the network (the other being 90210’s Dixon and Ivy and, previously, Dixon and Silver). Just having Robbie, though, adds some much-needed diversity to the network. Unfortunately, the trailer left me less-than-intrigued as it all seemed fairly predictable. It seemed to like a version of Bring It On in a college setting and a show you might see on ABCFamily. (Which, I suppose isn’t really a dis considering several of their shows get higher ratings than several of The CW’s shows.)

From there Dawn introduced two new reality shows: Plain Jane, which will air this summer, and Shedding For The Wedding, which will air mid-season. We only saw a trailer for Plain Jane, which essentially took us through the plot of one episode: an “average-looking” girl is given a makeover and coached on dating skills in hopes of getting her dream guy. It was pretty cheesy but also sweet and elicited a fair share of “aw”s at the end. But it also got quite a few shocked laughs during one of the segments, where the girl is zapped–as in, like electrocuted–every time she makes a “wrong move” while trying to flirt. (Think about a dog going past the invisible fence in the yard.) The promo still for Shedding also elicited shocked laughs as it showed two overweight bodies (no faces), one holding a much smaller wedding gown and the other a much smaller tuxedo. Couples will compete to see who can lose the most weight in time for their wedding, with prizes essentially being freebies for the wedding itself. It seems a bit crazy, I know, but it’s from the producers of The Biggest Losers and that show is pretty darn successful so perhaps this will work, too. I don’t know.

Now it was time to highlight the new fall schedule night by night. This will be the first season the network has original programming for all 10 slots: two new shows a night, no repeats. (Of course, if a new series is canceled and there is nothing new to replace it, as was the case this season…)

Monday showcases “addicting dramas” with 90210 at 8pm and Gossip Girl at 9pm. This keeps Gossip Girl in its current slot and moves 90210 to a day earlier.  They played up a Left Coast-Right Coast rivalry, which is somewhat interesting to me and something I hadn’t given much thought to before. Dawn brought out Chace Crawford (Nate, Gossip Girl) and they awkwardly chatted before AnnaLynne McCord (Naomi, 90210) came out. She and Chace debated whether New York or California was better.

Tuesdays contain two shows, One Tree Hill at 8pm and Life Unexpected at 9pm, with “passionate fans” who “demanded” the shows be brought back. Dawn also said One Tree Hill has “the most active bloggers” of any of their series. I have no idea what that is based on and I would guess possibly a letter sent to her as part of the fan campaign that indicated all the different sites and forums for the show, along with (I think) traffic figures and the quantity of content. I’m sure it’s impressive…especially when no other show sent in their info. I doubt the network’s staff really sat down and tried to figure out which show truly had the most bloggers out there–and who knows how they define “bloggers.” Anyway, they had Robert Buckley (Clay, One Tree Hill) and Kristoffer Polaha (Baze on LUX) come out and pretend not to have any idea who the other person was and then swear to be besties.

The main idea for Monday and Tuesday is that Monday night features “established series with dedicated fans” that will lead into Tuesday. Sure.

Wednesday will still have America’s Next Top Model at 8. No one from the show was brought out on stage for it but they emphasized that they’ve upped the grand prize. Instead of a cover of Seventeen, the winner will be featured on the cover of Italian Vogue, the biggest/most respected fashion magazine in the world. ::shrug:: At 9 will be Hellcats, which seemed to have all its main cast there, including Matt and Robbie. They basically said how excited they are and gave a shout-out to Smallville’s Tom Welling, whose production company is behind the show and he is an executive producer for the show.

Thursdays at 8 will remain as they are now, with The Vampire Diaries airing. Paul Wesley (Donnie, The O.C.), who plays Stefan on TVD, Ian Somerhalder (Damon) and Nina Dobrev (Elena) came out and the guys “feuded” on whose character is dating “Elena” as Nina faked looking uncomfortable and finished things off with a crack that it’s just like men to think they have the final say. (The real joke being that it’s the writers who have the say.) Nikita will air at 9, which, with TVD’s success, was probably the most prime spot on the schedule and shows just how strongly the network feels about Nikita. Maggie Q came out and was incredibly entertaining, mainly because she veered from the teleprompter and joked about how hot it was backstage (with all the good-looking CW stars) and how she needed to lift up her A-cup breasts, because, yes, people with A-cup breasts do exist. It was pretty funny and she was very charming. She also noted, as per the script they gave her, what an honor it is to have TVD as their lead-in.

Friday re-pairs Smallville (at 8 ) with Supernatural (at 9). Dawn stressed how good the shows did together in the past and inferred that it will happened again. Tom Welling came out and awkwardly announced that it would be Smallville’s final season, something that probably would’ve been less awkward and more significant had he not accidentally spilled it to the media yesterday. No one from Supernatural was brought out on stage.

Dawn then summed up the schedule–established programing anchoring each night with two new series destined to be hits and summed up the whole presentation, noting that the audience is unique and the network has a unique connection with it. Wherever the audience is, the network is first, she claimed. The network is offering itself through a variety of platforms and the audience is engaging with it on those varied platforms.

She called Katy Perry back out, along with–surprise, surprise–a whole slew of other stars that were backstage the whole time but not brought out during the actual presentation. (They did the red carpet, I’m sure, but again, I wasn’t over there as most people weren’t so the vast majority of us were quite surprised to see so many other stars.)

With that, everyone filed out of the theater and Meriam and I decided to go towards the red carpet area, because there was a slew of fans hanging out there, indicating that was likely where the stars would be exiting. We joined the crowd and made like fangirls (more me than Meriam, I have to say; she was calm, cool and collected!). As soon as the last star was ushered into a waiting vehicle, we were all told to disperse so I headed to the Upper East Side for work at Gossip Cop.

I’ve seen some “FAQ” being sent to me on my Twitter account that I thought would be easiest to answer for everyone here.

1. Who from our teen dramas were there?

In addition to Crawford, McCord, Buckley, Barr, Jones and Wesley, Connor Paolo (Eric, Gossip Girl), Zuzanna Szadkowski (Dorota, Gossip Girl), Tristan Wilds (Dixon, 90210), Ryan Eggold (Ryan, 90210), as well as Life Unexpected’s Ryan and Cate, aka Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek) and Shiri Appleby (Rene, Beverly Hills 90210), were also in attendance.

2. How many episodes of One Tree Hill were ordered?

This was not mentioned during the formal presentation. There was a press conference later on but I wasn’t there for that. Based on reports from mainstream sites, it appears as though nothing is 100 percent final but it is likely OTH will start with about 13 episodes with the potential for a full season of 22.

3. Will this be One Tree Hill’s last season?

This also wasn’t addressed during the formal presentation and I haven’t seen anything about it coming up during the press conference. The CW stands to gain a lot of publicity and ratings if they announce fairly on, like they’ve done with Smallville, that it is the last season. But I’m guessing they honestly don’t know yet if it will be.

4. Was Melrose Place’s cancellation discussed?

Not at the formal presentation. The presentation is designed to sell the network and its programming. They highlight strengths and successes, not weaknesses and failures. (I’m not trying to be mean about MP. The show was canceled after it’s first season. It is considered in the industry to be a failure.) It’s possible MP came up during the press conference but I don’t know for sure either way.

Some observations: The network says their viewers’ median age is 33 but I can’t help but feel that they’re actually targeting, for the most part, 15-year-olds. I mean, obviously the numbers don’t lie and “older” people are watching but that’s just the feel the shows and all the promo material gives me.

I can only assume so few cast members were there for Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill (and 90210, really) because most had prior commitments. For One Tree Hill, the short notice probably had something to do with it as well. (In contrast, when I went to the upfront in ’08, the entire casts of GG and 90210 were there–it was also 90210’s first year and Gossip Girl’s second and GG was finishing its hugely popular first season–with more than half of OTH’s cast there as well.)

It seemed to me Ostroff spent the least amount of time talking about Life Unexpected and One Tree Hill and the only real strength she pointed out for those shows were their fanbases. I seriously wonder, though, if their renewal had less to do with the shows’ merits and fan campaigns and more to do with the network’s development slate really not panning out as planned. They only picked up two of six pilots–though at least two are reportedly in contention for midseason, one being Nomads, which features Michaela McManus (Lindsay, One Tree Hill). Had there been stronger pilot results, I think it’s very likely OTH and/or LUX would’ve been canceled. In fact, it’s very possible The CW is attributing their survival so much to the fans because that’s better for them to say publicly than to admit it’s really because of the failures of their development slate. Fans of OTH and/or LUX should count their blessings.

Speaking of One Tree Hill, Jana Kramer (Alex) was not mentioned in the press release. She was upgraded to regular status in the midst of this past season, and I’ve been told she will be back next season. And yet, her name was MIA from the regular cast listing in the release and as was her plotline from the description given for One Tree Hill’s next season.

I figured Gossip Girl and 90210 would be paired together, but I expected Gossip Girl to move to Tuesdays at 9, with LUX and OTH staying on Mondays. Instead, 90210 is now on Mondays and LUX and OTH moved to Tuesdays. I also would’ve expected, however, OTH to get the 9pm slot (it feels like the more “adult” hour to me and OTH feels more “adult” to me than LUX), but I guess they rather have a strong lead-in for LUX–assuming, of course, OTH’s ratings don’t continue to drop.

The scripted speeches or banter by the stars mostly fell flat. These people are supposed to be actors. Why the short pieces weren’t memorized or why they weren’t able to read the teleprompter a bit better–or, better yet, improv–I don’t know.

That’s a wrap for this recap…but wait, there’s more!

Stay tuned for pictures and video for the event. They will be posted tonight and/or tomorrow. I also snagged three (very, very, very) brief video interviews with Szadkowski, Barr and Smith, which will be posted on Sunday.





Breaking News: One Tree Hill Renewed For 8th Season

18 05 2010

The CW has renewed One Tree Hill for an 8th season, according to Entertainment Weekly’s Michel Ausiello.

Ausiello reports The CW also renewed Life Unexpected, starring Shiri Appleby (Rene, Beverly Hills 90210) and Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek).

Ausiello says the renewals for OTH and LUX are for “at least 12 eps apiece.”

The network also reportedly ordered Nikita, featuring Melinda Clarke (Julie, The O.C.) and executive produced by McG (executive producer, The O.C.) , and Hellcats with Matt Barr (Ian “Psycho Derek” Banks, One Tree Hill; Keith van der Woodsen, Gossip Girl) and Robbie Jones (Quentin, One Tree Hill) as well as Ashley Tisdale, who once guest-starred on Beverly Hills 90210.

Per Ausiello, Melrose Place, which featured Laura Leighton (Sophie, Beverly Hills 90210) and Daphne Zuniga (Victoria, One Tree Hill), “is officially dead.”

The news is now being confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter as well as E!’s Kristin and other sources.

I have confirmed that the OTH folks do not yet know how many episodes the network will order, and Kristin reports that there is “no official word on what kind of episode orders OTH  and LUX have received, but we’re hearing they’ll split the season down the middle with 13 each.”

This presumably means Sophia Bush is out of the ABC pilot Southern Discomfort, since OTH takes priority. ABC has not yet announced whether they will order the pilot as a series or recast her role.

The CW will present their fall schedule to advertisers and the media Thursday morning in New York City. Honored to share I will be in attendance and tweeting from the event. A recap will be posted on TDW late in the day.





Spoiler: Watch With Kristin

20 04 2010

RELEVANT QUESTIONS–DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW!!!

Mike in Alexandria, Va.: I’m dying for news on One Tree Hill! Please tell us, will it survive? Or will the CW pick up Life Unexpected instead?
Still no decisions yet, but they both could come back—possibly with shortened seasons, so keep the faith! We’ll find out May 20. As for OTH, I’ll be (hopefully) talking to James Lafferty and/or Rob Buckley this week, so please email me any Q’s you have or send them via twitter @kristinalert.

Erica in Turkey: We need some Chuck and Blair scoop that is good please on Gossip Girl!
I’m so sad to have to say this, but I don’t have anything new to report on the Chair front. I’m trying to keep the faith with you, and I know they will reunite at some point, but it might not be superquick, sorry.

Elise from Austin, Texas: I just can’t get on board with Gia and Adrianna on 90210. I miss her and Navid being together. Any hope?
Well, I’d say yes, after sitting down with Michael Steger to talk about the rest of the season. He says Navid and Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes) “develop a strong friendship again.” That’s good news, yes? I can also tell you that their bond gets stronger because of some changes in her music career. And what of Navid’s new girl Lila (Amber Wallace)? “We take it to another level, but it’s a temporary thing,” Michael dishes. So hope is lost for all you Adrianna/Navid fans!

Rebecca in Oregon: Any hope for Naomi and Liam?
I’m told she’ll be single for a while. Sorry.

Credit: E! Online

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Notes:

Life Unexpected stars Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek).

I think there’s a typo in this sentence: “So hope is lost for all you Adrianna/Navid fans!” Based on the sentences before it, it probably should read “So no hope is lost for all you Adrianna/Navid fans!” Or, alternatively, “All hope is not lost for all you Adrianna/Navid fans!”





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

14 04 2010
  • Be sure to check out The CW’s site for all the new video content this week.
  • Last night’s 90210 (1.45 million viewers) rose a small bit in the ratings compared to last week.
  • TVGuide.com has a short and somewhat spoilish video interview with Tristan Wilds (Dixon, 90210).
  • Dustin Milligan (Ethan, 90210) appears in the first webisode of Point Of No Return (or is it just called Ghostfacers? I’m confused), a Supernatural spin-off, which will launch tomorrow on The CW’s site.
  • Interview Magazine has an, um, interview with Kellan Lutz (George, 90210).
  • Gossip Cop busted a story from Star claiming Candy Spelling (wife of Aaron, mother to Tori and Randy) offered Tori Spelling (Donna, Beverly Hills 90210) $10 million to divorce her husband, Dean McDermott. As you might expect, it’s not true.
  • Chace Crawford (Nate, Gossip Girl) is working as a guest editor for Grazia, a British fashion publication, this week.
  • MTV has a short and somewhat spoilish video interview with Michelle Trachtenberg (Georgina, Gossip Girl).
  • Kristin is reporting that One Tree Hill has a “better than 50/50” chance at renewal and that it looks like OTH and Life Unexpected, starring Kerr Smith (Jack, Dawson’s Creek), will get 13-episode orders, though nothing is known for sure.
  • USA Today has a Save Our Shows survey, where you can pick “keep,” “drop,” or “don’t care” for shows that are on the bubble, including OTH and LUX.
  • Olivia Wilde (Alex, The O.C.) has been cast in the movie Butter.







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