Nikita

8 06 2010

In addition to Hellcats, the folks at The CW were kind enough to send me a screener of their other new series, Nikita.

The show resolves around Nikita, a former assassin who used to be part of Division, one of the government’s top secret, um, divisions.  When she falls in love with a civilian, she flees the organization and her lover is killed. She spends 3 years in hiding before resurfacing with the goal of destroying Division.

Like Hellcats, Nikita opens with the title character, played by Maggie Q, narrating. The exposition continues in another scene, where Nikita reveals to her foster dad what she’s been up to since she last saw him. I’m big on flashbacks and I love that it allowed us to see Nikita in a vulnerable state, since she’s pretty much kicking ass and taking names the rest of the time. Which is something I don’t quite understand. She wants to stop Division, stop them from killing people, but to do so…she has to kill people.

The biggest bright spot for me was the cast. Maggie Q is not only stunning but talented, both of which were made clear during her brief appearance at The CW Upfront. I had never seen Lyndsy Fonesca in anything before and she blew me away. Shane West is as handsome as ever. I could watch him in anything. And Melinda Clarke (Julie, The O.C.) seems to be channeling Mrs. Cooper-Nichol a little bit, which is a win in my book. (Check out my interview with Clarke for her thoughts on the show.)

Throughout the pilot, though, I felt like I was watching a FOX show. Perhaps a female-driven version of 24.

Nikita is part action drama, part psychological thriller. Neither appeal to me.

I’m not big on violence. I’m not big on mind games.

And then the twist came.

At the end.

And while I won’t reveal it, I will say it left me intrigued. Intrigued enough to check out episode two when the time comes?

I don’t know yet. I’m still processing.

A premiere date for Nikita hasn’t been announced yet but it will air Thursdays in the fall after The Vampire Diaries.

I have to note, though, that Nikita won’t be covered extensively on this site since it is not a teen drama. I will continue to include it as I have thus far: when there’s something relevant to Clarke or executive producer McG (executive producer, The O.C.) or when there’s some other teen drama connection.

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News Roundup: One Tree Hill, 90210, Gossip Girl and The O.C.

1 06 2010
  • Despite some outlets looking favorably on the network, The TV Addict gave The CW a C- for the season.
  • The CW sent me screeners for Hellcats, featuring Matt Barr (Ian “Psycho Derek” Banks, One Tree Hill) and Robbie Jones (Quentin, One Tree Hill), as well as Nikita, featuring Melinda Clarke (Julie, The O.C.). After I watch them, I will post some thoughts, like I did for Life Unexpected.
  • Encore has an interview with Mike Grubbs (Grubbs, One Tree Hill). Have you read my interview with him?
  • Starpulse has an interview with Tyler Hilton (Chris, One Tree Hill).
  • TV Fanatic gave 90210 a C for the season, making quite a few great points about the show’s flaws and what it needs to work on.
  • You know all those questions we had after the 90210 season finale? On why promised or hinted to things never actually happened? E! Online has some answers and I, for one, am pissed off. (Of course, that’s nothing new for me in regards to this show but still…)
  • Jason Priestley (Brandon, Beverly Hills 9021o) will have a recurring role on ABC’s Scoundrels, which premieres June 20. Thanks to Jethro and Gina for alerting me to the news. Not sure what this means for Call Me Fitz, if anything.
  • The Stir has an interview with Jennie Garth (Kelly, Beverly Hills 90210).
  • Zap2it has an interesting article debating whether the Gossip Girl season 2 finale or season 3 finale was better.
  • McG (executive producer, The O.C.) will produce the film The DUFF, based on a novel of the same name.




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.





Exclusive: Melinda Clarke Reflects on The O.C., Dishes on The Vampire Diaries and Nikita

9 05 2010

Last June I did a TDW series called “Teen Drama’s Villainous Characters,” looking at the villains of each series. Included in part three was The O.C.’s Julie Cooper. (Though, oddly enough, I forgot to include her in my Biggest Vixens series!) But a recent interview with Julie’s alter-ego, Melinda Clarke, reminded me that there was also something endearing about Julie. As Clarke told the Los Angeles Times last month, “Julie Cooper, though flawed and motivated by the wrong things, strived to be the best parent that she could be.” I thought today, Mother’s Day, would be an interesting day to reflect on that.

In my own exclusive interview with Clarke, we discussed Julie’s series-long transformation, where she thinks the character might be today and how Julie might be connected to Clarke’s character on The Vampire Diaries. Clarke also dished on her CW pilot Nikita.

TeenDramaWhore: Do you remember what your audition for The O.C. was like?

Melinda Clarke: Oh, yes. Actually, my first audition was for the role of Kirsten Cohen [who ended up being played by Kelly Rowan].

TDW: Wow, I don’t think I knew that!

Clarke: I was younger than the character. I was younger than both the characters, actually. But it was a regular role. In the pilot, Julie was only a guest star. I read for [Kirsten] but I was asked to come back for the other character. When I came in for the Julie role, I made sure that [executive producer] Josh Schwartz and the casting director knew that I grew up in Orange County. I was literally going to the audition and then driving to my mom’s house down in Orange County. And, of course, it was a completely different world. I did not grow up in the “O.C.” world. I grew up in kind of a liberal artsy family and on the beach, which is beautiful. But it definitely wasn’t the Julie Cooper world. And I just remember having so much fun with the Julie role. She was clearly just such a money-digging whore. To me, it’s so funny now to see The Real Housewives of Orange County because you realize it exists and that’s what Julie was. Julie was obviously the original housewife. Except they have a lot more plastic on their bodies than Julie did! Thank goodness. And I remember when I got the role, it went down to the last minute. The casting director, Patrick Rush–I had actually been in an episode of Everwood.

TDW: I know! That was one of my favorite shows.

Clarke: He was able to show a scene or two from that to the network, so they could offer me the role. I was up for the role but I got a role in Battlestar Galactica, the one that Tricia Helfer ended up doing. And of course she’s a perfect, beautiful, stunning swimsuit model who can act her butt off. She ended up doing that role but they wouldn’t let me out of the contract. When you audition for a show, you sign a contract. And they can decide between however many people they want. They weren’t letting me out of the contract to do The O.C. It was literally down to the last hour before they finally let me go so I could go do The O.C. And the rest is history. It turned into a great role.

TDW: It did. When did you realize that the show was a hit?

Clarke: There were a lot of different reasons why people gravitated to it. It was a good script. It was a great script.  We had Josh Schwartz writing great scripts. Great cast. We also had the advantage of being after American Idol on Wednesday nights. I think the first time we realized it was a really big hit was at a fan appearance down on one of the piers, I think down in Redondo Beach. We were each put into limos and driven up over the hill and down to the pier and there were thousands and thousands of kids and fans–and the show had only been on like a month or two. I think that’s when we all realized, “Woah! This is something that people are responding to. Very much so.” It was very soon.

TDW: When you look back on the show today, do you have a favorite storyline?

Clarke: The first thing that comes to mind is Julie living in the trailer park [in season 3]. Because it was just, would she do it or not? There’s one particular scene where Julie’s in cowboy boots, a cut-off jean skirt, a tank top, and a thong, chewing [tobacco] and watching Nascar …and Kirsten shows up [Episode 3.10, The Chrismukkah Bar Mitz-vahkkah]. That was one of my favorite scenes of the whole show. And the first season, I remember reading a script where she has this little affair with Luke [Chris Carmack] and she picks up the phone and calls him very stealth-like [Episode 1.20, The Telenovela]. It’s that scene in particular where she says like, “Meet me at the hotel. Knock twice. I’ll be there. And Luke, this is a booty call.” When I read that, I was like “I officially love this show!” The lines [in the show] were just fantastic. It’s so about creating culture instead of reflecting it. We were creating pop culture.

TDW: You were. You guys definitely left a mark.

Clarke: And there was a scene, I think in the same episode, when Caleb [Alan Dale] shows up late at night with the flowers and I say, “Is this a booty call?” And he goes, “What’s a boo-tee…call?” “When you show up unannounced with the crappy carnations from Ralph’s with the idea that I might just want (blank).”

TDW: Yes! So funny.

Clarke: And the last season, Marissa [Mischa Barton] gave me a lot to do emotionally. It was definitely an incredible arc for me as an actress to start with this woman who was so superficial but, of course, she’s not just one-dimensional, she’s multi-dimensional. Starting in her pink Juicy sweat suit outfit and then by the end she’s graduated from college and moving on with her life. She’s a survivor. And I miss her.

TDW: Julie was obviously very affected by Marissa’s death. Did you have any reservations about how that would go over with the fans?

Clarke: Oh my goodness, everyone was shocked. From what I understand, the official story is that they just felt like they couldn’t do any more to this character or any more with the character. She had been through hell and back. She’d been through so much. What more could they write? Or at least that’s what I heard. I don’t really know if it ended up being the best idea. It definitely gave me a lot to do, which was fantastic. I think the last season was really interesting. I don’t know. I think the show could’ve gone longer than it did. It didn’t even finish a full fourth season. But I don’t know. You’d have to ask those involved. There’s a lot of different reasons why people think it ended. We were also moved from Wednesdays at 9 after American Idol to Thursday at 8 against Friends. And then we were moved to Thursday at 9 against CSI. It’s a little bit tough to keep up with those.

TDW: As you said, the show ended with Julie getting her degree [Episode 4.16, The End’s Not Near, It’s Here].

Clarke: Which I actually have as a prop!

TDW: Oh, wow, you got to take that home?

Clarke: Yes. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone what it actually says, what she got her degree in.

TDW: I would love to know!

Clarke: It wasn’t ever part of the script but the prop guys had fun with it. It says she got a degree in psychology but she also double majored in paranormal studies.

TDW: That’s really funny. So, if you had to guess, where do you think Julie is today?

Clarke: Well, let’s see. They did the “years in the future” thing, so I think, chronologically, she’d still be getting her degree.

TDW: True.

Clarke: But if you wanted to start from there, she’s probably…she’s probably still unmarried and dating when she wants but being a good mom to her son, who would have to be somewhere around 10 now or something like that. I think she probably opened her own business and has been very successful with it. I don’t know if she was able to do anything with her degree or not. Oh my goodness, maybe she’s a psychic now, like John Edwards!

TDW: You know, that would make her a great fit for The Vampire Diaries. You could just go right over.

Clarke: Kelly Donovan’s basically Julie Cooper now! But [unlike Julie], she’s drinking away.

TDW: On The Vampire Diaries, you worked with Paul Wesley [Donnie] and he appeared on one episode of The O.C. [Episode 1.05, The Outsider].

Clarke: Yes, it was very memorable.

TDW: Did you meet him back then?

Clarke: No, we actually met in Atlanta back in January. He’s good friends with Ben McKenzie [Ryan]. We said hello and I definitely remembered him, even though we never actually met. So we got to meet in Atlanta in 20 degree weather at night.

TDW: Ooh, that sounds fun.

Clarke: Yes. It is absolutely fun. It was an extreme winter in Atlanta this year.

TDW: Now you’re back in California, I hope.

Clarke: Yes. I was in Atlanta for two weeks, came home for a while, went back for another week, came back for a while, and then went back for two more weeks and them came back for a while and then went to Toronto for three weeks. So this California girl has definitely learned I can survive in cold weather but it’s not my favorite!

TDW: Were you already familiar with Kevin Williamson’s work on Dawson’s Creek and the Scream movies?

Clarke: Yes. I was fan of Dawson’s Creek. I was always very impressed with the characters on that show, their development and how smart he made the characters. Their conversations, their situations. They definitely had a very talented cast and a lot of them have moved on to do really amazing work.

TDW: I always saw The O.C. as the next step in the genre after Dawson’s Creek.

Clarke: There were things that Dawson’s Creek did that were a little more cerebral and The O.C. was a little bit more humorous. Very intelligent humor.

TDW: Right. I think the Dawson’s Creek had a philosophical intelligence whereas The O.C. had wit.

Clarke: Wit. Exactly.

TDW: With The Vampire Diaries, I have to ask: are you Team Damon or Team Stefan? Or, you can be Team Kelly, too!

Clarke: It was fun to work with Ian [Somerhalder] because there’s a looseness to him, to his character. He definitely brings a lot to the character. It’s not just lines on the page. And I think Kelly is similar to that. We don’t really know why Kelly is such a bad mother, why she does what she does, like drinking, and where she’s been. They definitely didn’t explain that so that leaves a lot to be explored in the future if she comes back.

TDW: That’s what the hope is. That we’ll see you again next season and delve into that.

Clarke: I’m not dead yet! I don’t think they have any intention of killing her. But it was definitely a little bit of a taste or a tease to have this character around to make her son’s life miserable but then ultimately leave town as a sacrifice, realizing she doesn’t make her son’s life any better.

TDW: You were cast in the pilot Nikita, which is also on The CW. So if Nikita is picked up, would you be able to do both shows?

Clarke: Technically, yes. Legally, yes. They’re both on the same network. It would probably be more of a scheduling situation. It would be up to the powers that be, the producers on Nikita, the producers on The Vampire Diaries. They’re such different characters and they don’t conflict as far as characters go but you would have to be within certain parameters. It’s more of a scheduling thing.

TDW: For those that aren’t familiar with the original La Femme Nikita show or even for those that are, what will this show be about?

Clarke: Well, Nikita was a runaway girl with no life, who was forced into becoming an assassin. There’s been different versions: a French film, American film, Canadian television show. This version is an updated version. Nikita is now not within the Division. She got out. She’s now played by Maggie Q. Brilliant casting. People may remember her from Mission Impossible 3. So she’s now out of the Division and she’s trying to make things very difficult for the Division. And we’ll also be focusing on the new young recruits who are trained to be assassins for the Division. But they’re essentially held against their will. They have to become an assassin or die. There’s a new young nikita and her character is played by Lyndsy Fonseca. People will remember her from Desperate Housewives but she’s now in Hot Tub Time Machine, which is a very cute movie. I think she’s in Kick-Ass, too. So she’s a hot actress right now. She’s our second lead. And my character is Amanda, one of the operatives and mentors within Division. She’s definitely not going down to the bar drinking shots. She’s a very strong and calculating and tough woman.

TDW: So are you doing action stunts?

Clarke: I would expect so. I would expect every single person on this show would have some action. It seems very alien [to the network] but there’s a lot of younger characters who will fulfill the CW demographic. I think the character of Alex, Lyndsy’s character, is supposed to be 19 years old. But there’s a lot of action, so I think young men will like it, too. Not just the young ladies.

TDW: Are you feeling confident about a series pick-up? Have you guys heard anything yet from The CW?

Clarke: Maybe I’m just jinxing everything by even talking about it. But, no, we don’t know. I have the highest of high hopes. Whenever you do a pilot and the network’s studios put money into the pilot, you’re going to hear positive feedback because they wouldn’t want to spend the money unless they’d like to get it on television. So hopefully this isn’t speaking before I should be talking about it but I think The CW is really behind it and I hope it does end up on the network, that they give us the chance.

TDW: I do, too. When you were cast in The Vampire Diaries, there were a lot of comments from people who were happy but who also want you back on their screen more permanently, not just guest roles.

Clarke: I like the ensemble situation [with permanent roles]. It’s nice to be able to have a life with my daughter and still work.

TDW: Right. And it means we’re seeing you regularly. We’re not waiting for the next guest role.

Clarke: I did one episode of Entourage last year but it was probably one of my favorite things I’ve done in a long time. It was a great scene with Jeremy Piven. I played myself. It was a brilliant thing. It was a fictitious version of Melinda Clarke. They had me come out of the Paramount lot and, of course, there’s these huge posters for my own television show. [The character] is a spy by night and a mom by day. I just thought that was very clever. I love that show. I would love to do a show like that more often. The industry is recovering from the single worst time in history. From the writer’s strike to the potential SAG strike. The lack of material. All of these things. The numbers of everything have gone down in every way, shape and form. It’s just a matter of finding the right thing and I’m really happy Warner Bros. and McG are producing Nikita and Danny Cannon from CSI is directing.

TDW: I forgot McG was doing it! He executive produced The O.C. as well. So it’s kind of like a little reunion.

Clarke: And, of course, he produces Chuck and Supernatural, [the latter of] which is on The CW, too. It all sounds like a wonderful recipe and I feel like Warner Bros. is behind it. Very much so. But you never know. You never know. Some great pilots never get on television. It’s a shame. But I think they feel good about this. And if it doesn’t go, you go after the next thing. Maybe I’ll go to Atlanta, Georgia more often.

TDW: Last question: There have been a few Twitter accounts claiming to be you and they’re not you. Can you just state for the record whether you’re on Twitter?

Clarke: I am not on Twitter in any way, shape or form.

TDW: Good, thank you.

Clarke: In fact, Kelly Rowan sent me a text not too long ago saying, “Did you know you and I are having conversations on Twitter?”

TDW: Yes! I saw that! There were two accounts that talked with each other, claiming to be you guys.

Clarke: We had a good laugh over that because neither one of us have the time for Twitter. Maybe we should. But I haven’t ever done anything like that.

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





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