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: Jonathan Jackson and Enation on Their One Tree Hill Connection

18 04 2010

About 200 artists are heard on One Tree Hill each season, according to the show’s music supervisor, Lindsay Wolfington. Of that 200, only a tiny portion are seen on-screen. A few easily come to mind…Fall Out Boy…Kate Voegele…Mike Grubbs. But what made the use of Enation particularly unique is that its first song on the show, “Feel This,” wasn’t sung by the band but by Bethany Joy Galeotti (Haley).

After Galeotti’s character performed the song during the season 5 finale (Episode 5.18, What Comes After The Blues), the band performed onstage with Galeotti as she sang it again in season 6 during the USO concert (Episode 6.10, Even Fairytale Characters Would Be Jealous), which also featured Voegele (Mia) and the band Angels & Airwaves. Enation, which features Jonathan Jackson (yes, that Jonathan Jackson), Richard Lee Jackson, Michael Galeotti, Luke Galeotti and Daniel Sweatt, also had their song “World In Flight” played in that episode.

I recently spoke with Jonathan Jackson on the phone and caught up with Richard Lee Jackson and Luke Galeotti via e-mail. In our interviews, the band discussed the effect One Tree Hill has had on them, their plans for the future and using social media to connect with their fans.

TeenDramaWhore: First of all, I want to congratulate you. I heard you have another baby on the way.

Jonathan Jackson: Yes, I do. Thank you. We’re excited.

TDW: I also have to commend you for the unbelievable job you did not too long ago on General Hospital in the scenes where Lucky confronts Elizabeth and Nikolas.

Jackson: Oh, cool. Thank you.

TDW: We all know that you have an obscene amount of talent but those were just breathtaking.

Jackson: Thank you so much. That’s awesome.

TDW: I don’t know if you can say but were those in your Emmy reel?

Jackson: Well, those are for 2010. If I’m nominated next year, then I’ll be sending those scenes in.

TDW: The cut-off dates always throw me for a loop.

Jackson: The ones [for the upcoming Emmys are from] ‘09 and that particular episode aired in January of 2010. So that won’t come around til next year.

TDW: Oh, wow. So even though you filmed it before January, it matters when it airs.

Jackson: Yes.

TDW: Gotcha. Switching over to Enation, some bands would say being featured on a teen soap like One Tree Hill or even a daytime soap like General Hospital is cheesy or selling out. But Enation has obviously embraced it. Why is this the route you thought was good for you guys?

Jackson: Well, there’s a few reasons. One is we’re friends with Bethany Joy Galeotti and Michael, who’s our keyboard player in the band, is married to her. So it was a friendship and a relational connection that specifically got us excited about doing something for One Tree Hill. And just in terms of the basic idea of placing songs on TV shows, we’ve always been for that. Especially as an independent band, when you don’t have a giant label pushing your music on radio, that’s sort of a different way to reach a wide audience. One Tree Hill has a really strong following and we thought it would be a great way to get our music out there and exposed to more people.

TDW: The fans who were uninitiated to Enation before One Tree Hill, did their enthusiasm surprise you at all?

Jackson: It really did. We had no idea that the music would catch on like it did. It’s been pretty cool. And the song that we did with Bethany Joy was really cool. People really connected with that song. It was a real personal song for me about redemption. It was neat to see people really connect with it.

TDW: For your appearance on the show, what differences did you notice between filming One Tree Hill, a primetime show, and General Hospital, a daytime soap? I know the processes are a bit different, right?

Jackson: Primetime shows that shoot on film are pretty different than daytime. Daytime is sort of a hybrid between theater and film in the sense that on General Hospital you have four cameras that are shooting at once. One Tree Hill usually does one camera at a time, which is more of the traditional film style. You do multiple takes from a bunch of the different angles over the course of the day. On General Hospital you basically do the scene once and they catch it with four different cameras and you move on to the next scene. As an actor, it’s pretty different. But I grew up doing films and other TV shows as well so I’m pretty used to the different styles that people do.

TDW: Was it an added challenge to be filming something with the musical component? Because you weren’t filming something as an actor, like you usually are.

Jackson: It was cool, actually. It was fun. I had never really experienced it from a different angle like that. It was cool to be part of the filming but not be one of the actors, per se, and just be one of the musicians. It was cool to see it from a different perspective and it was fun to partner with Bethany and see what happened. The USO thing was really cool, too, because the people were amazing. Just to be able to support something like that meant a lot to us.

TDW: I know Enation and [Galeotti’s band with Amber Sweeney] Everly recently booked a gig for August at the Corn Palace. Will other joint dates be announced?

Jackson: As soon as we get ‘em, we’ll announce ‘em. That’s definitely a possibility. It works out perfectly for us just because we’re all really good friends. Our music is different but it sort of complements each other well and there’s crossing of audiences with One Tree Hill and General Hospital. So I think it’s possible we’ll do more dates.

TDW: When you guys perform together, do you collaborate on-stage, too? Like, do you perform Feel This together?

Jackson: We’re sort of talking about that right now, how we’re going to arrange all that stuff. We’ve done small acoustic shows where we’ve done that but this is probably the first full-on, full-length show that we’re doing together so we’re talking now about how we’re going to execute everything.

TDW: In Enation, you & Richard are brothers and Michael & Luke are brothers. What is the benefit of working with your siblings?

Jackson: Well, for Richard and I, it’s awesome. Most of the creative things we do in our lives, we do together, whether it’s writing scripts or playing music. All that kind of stuff. It’s great. He’s an incredible drummer and producer. We work really well together. And I think it’s fun for Luke and Michael as well. It’s just nice when you’re traveling and touring to have your brother there and feel like somebody’s got your back. But we feel like that with Dano as well. We’re sort of a band of brothers.

TDW: I like that phrase. How do you find time for everything? You have the music, you’re doing other projects with your brother, you have two kids, and you have an immensely popular but very time-intensive daytime series. How do you fit it all in?

Jackson: It’s pretty tough. It’s pretty crazy. I don’t know. You just do your best to prioritize. For instance, I’m not working on GH this week so I’m up in Washington and we’re working on music. When I have downtime at night, I spend a lot of that time writing screenplays and books and stuff like that. Whenever I’m not doing one of those creative things, I’m doing another. Also prioritizing time with my wife and kids is something I work really hard at, trying to put that time before all the creative stuff.

TDW: You guys have increasingly been using Facebook and Twitter to interact with fans. It’s one more thing to do but it’s opened up opportunities to have relationships with fans that you didn’t necessarily have before.

Jackson: I know. It’s been a transition, probably, over the last five years to incorporate more of that stuff. It’s really important, especially, like I said, as a band when you’re doing some stuff independently. There’s a fun creative process of just dreaming about how you can stay connected with people and let them get to know what you’re about and what the music is about. We’ve been doing an online magazine, Enation Magazine. I think we’ve done five or six issues, and that’s been really cool because it gives people a really in-depth picture of some of the music and some of our experiences. But Twitter and Facebook have been great.

TDW: Last question, and I know it might be an impossible one to answer. If you had to choose one for the rest of your career–doing TV, making movies or playing music–which would you go with?

Jackson: Yeah, that probably is impossible. I think between the three, I’d probably try to hold on to a combination of making films and still playing music with the band. Maybe we could make films and then score the soundtracks. That would be cool.

Q & A with Enation’s Richard Lee Jackson and Luke Galeotti

TeenDramaWhore: How has the association with One Tree Hill changed your “knownness” factor?

Richard Lee Jackson: Being on One Tree Hill has increased our exposure in a big way. Not only were we able to play in front of the live USO crowd of over 3,000 people the night our show was filmed, but we were also seen by the millions of fans who watch the show once it aired. We’ve had over 100,000 people download the version of “Feel This” we did with Bethany Joy, which is now our biggest-selling song. There were also over 100,000 people all over the world who watched a YouTube video focusing on the lyrics to “Feel This”––which as a co-writer of the song makes me feel pretty great! We want that message of hope, beauty, and redemption to get heard, and One Tree Hill was a big part of that happening.

Luke Galleotti: Well for me, playing on One Tree Hill was the first time I’ve really been around “Fame” and I got an interesting new perspective on why I am playing music. Fame is very overrated but at the same time it can be used to influence a lot of people. So, I guess what that whole experience showed me was that what I really want for me and my music is to be content being me and bless a lot of people along the way.

TDW: What was the most surprising thing about filming your appearance on One Tree Hill?

RLJ: For me, the most surprising part was how involved the USO really was. The men and women on the base there in [North Carolina] were the ones who actually built the stage where the concert was performed on. They were so inviting, so happy for us to be there. We were the ones who were honored to serve them any way we could, but their hearts were so filled with gratitude. They put their lives on the line for us, and here they are thanking us for showing up and playing a concert. We told them, from the stage, anywhere we could, how thankful we were for their sacrifice and service.

LG: I was surprised that the cast and crew were everyday normal people. For me, I had a totally different view on how things worked and how people acted in the industry but when it was all said and done, we are all just people. I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone. There are a lot of great people on that set.

TDW: What’s the one TV show you would love to have an Enation song on?

RLJ: Lost. No question for me. That’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. They’ve had some really great music sequences, too.

LG: I don’t watch a lot of TV but it would be fun to hear our songs on the shows I do watch–Lost, Chuck and/or The Legend of the Seeker.

TDW: Who would play each of you in the movie version of Enation’s career?

RLJ: : Oh, man, great question! Okay, let’s see.
Jonathan: Leonardo DiCaprio or Johnny Depp
Myself: Matt Damon
Daniel: Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell or Jeff Bridges (younger)
Michael: Matthew Fox
Luke: Colin Farrell

LG: Hmm, that’s a tough one. I think I would nominate Enation to play Enation. I don’t know anyone who is better at being us than, well, us.

TDW: What’s next for the band?

RLJ: We are continuing to promote our recent albums, “World In Flight” and our first ever live album, “The Future Is A Memory.” We are also working on our next album, which at this point is at the “throwing paint on the canvas” stage. We don’t know what it will look like yet. We have some shows lined up for the summer and we’re still looking to book more. Those dates should be released pretty soon for our fans. We are always interacting with our fans, making our Enation Magazine for the Enation Army members, and we love keeping in touch through Twitter and Facebook. Our biggest desire is to continue to be who we are, making  great music that we hope connects with people. We want to look back and be really proud of the catalogue of music we have.

LG: Well, I hope to work on building a strong fan base in the northwest and seeing what opens up from there. For me, it’s not about where we go or how far we go. It’s about us being together.

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





Exclusive: Amber Wallace Talks 90210, Looks Back on One Tree Hill

4 04 2010

Regular TDW readers know what a small world the world of teen dramas is. We see it each week with Six Degrees of Teen Dramas, finding how one actor leads to another. But the best connection is when you need just one actor.

That’s why I was thrilled last December when I spotted Amber Wallace on 90210. Previously seen as Glenda on One Tree Hill, Wallace was introduced on 90210 as Lila, a star reporter for the Blaze. When the show came back from hiatus in early March, we saw Wallace’s role grow.

In our exclusive interview, Wallace and I chatted about her characters on both shows as well as her musical inclinations.

TeenDramaWhore: 90210 viewers first met you in an episode that aired in December [Episode 2.12, Winter Wonderland]. When did you know you would be coming back again?

Amber Wallace: I already knew about the episode with Navid [Michael Steger] and the date [Episode 2.15, What’s Past Is Prologue]. I knew I was going to be in it for, I thought, maybe a couple of episodes. I didn’t realize I was going to be in it for the length that I actually am.

TDW: Wow. So all those episodes back, all those months back, this was technically coming up and we, as viewers, had no idea that the seeds were being planted for this current storyline.

Wallace: Exactly. I think this season they had the writers come in and do this whole outline for the whole thing so they knew what was going to be happening. And, like I said, I thought I was only going to be in a couple of episodes and every time I would go to the script reading, it was like, “Is my character going to be written out this week?”

TDW: But you ended up doing a batch of six.

Wallace: Yes.

TDW: What’s coming up next?

Wallace: The band plays live and everything that goes along with that. That episode is really fun and really cute. Nothing too heartbreaking in that. And then the episode after that, jealousy comes into play.

TDW: It seems that Navid and Lila have the common journalism interest going for them and they remembered they shared a past when they were young. But Navid and Adrianna [Jessica Lowndes] are so different. Do you think opposites attract? Or does Lila have the upper-hand?

Wallace: I don’t know. It really depends. I think when opposites attract, it can be better because things won’t get boring. It kind of adds life to the relationship. You learn things from the other person. Navid and Adrianna, they have such a strong past with the things that they went through, so I think that’s where their bond comes from. But I think it helps to have things to talk about, things in common because that helps with little every day stuff, what you want to do and sharing it with someone else. But it really depends. It can be different.

TDW: Is Lila familiar with everything Adrianna and Navid went through the year before?

Wallace: You know, it never said anything in the script but I made a choice to be aware of most of it. Lila doesn’t run in the same crowd so I don’t think she knows everything that happened but everyone in the school knew that Adrianna was pregnant. I made a choice to have Lila be aware that they went through pretty significant events, regardless of whether I knew exactly what each one of them were. So whether or not Lila knew–weren’t they engaged at one point or something?

TDW: They kind of were.

Wallace: I think that’s something that Lila did not know.

TDW: Coming into this, where you’re playing opposite two characters who have this intricate backstory, did you have to read up on last season or did you watch the episodes or anything?

Wallace: I definitely did. When I found out I was going to be on the show, I went and I got the [first] season and I made sure that I watched all of the episodes. When I was on set, I tried to ask the actors, for the episodes that hadn’t aired yet, “What’s happening? I need to know” and they told me. I think it’s really important to know the [characters] and what’s going on. It can be a little intimidating to go on a set and be a new character and not know anyone, especially when you’re coming between two characters that are so huge in the show so I better have my info straight!

TDW: What’s the deal with you coming back next season? Is it possible?

Wallace: Maybe, yeah. I think it’s one of things where it really depends on how everyone takes Lila, if they like her a lot. It’s one of those things where people need to write in and say, “I really like this character. I’d really like to see her again” and if there’s an overwhelming majority vote on that, then I think it’s a definite possibility that she can come back.

TDW: I can’t interview you and not ask about One Tree Hill, where you played Glenda. Your first episode there was the school shooting [Episode 3.16, With Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept].

Wallace: Right.

TDW: Do you remember what kind of reaction you had when you first read the script for that episode?

Wallace: Well, actually, I was not given the full script for that episode. That episode was very hush-hush because it was so dramatic and so much happened. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I knew that there was a school shooting but I didn’t know who was doing it. Really, I knew what my character knew. I’m stuck in a gym with this girl [Brooke, Sophia Bush] and there’s a shooting going on and we all have to go home. I literally knew what Glenda knew and that kinda helped in the acting. So I had no idea and when I saw the episode, it was so stunning. I felt so honored to be part of something like that. The episode was so beautiful and heartfelt. I cried.

TDW: Were you surprised when the next season came around and they asked you to come back?

Wallace: I was completely surprised and thrilled. I had one scene [Episode 4.04, Can’t Stop This Thing We’ve Started] and I became a goth all of a sudden, which was really funny to me. When we were filming that scene with me and Sophia, they were like, “Oh, we’re going to bring you into wardrobe and get you fitted the next episode.” And I was like, “Next episode? I’m doing another episode?” It was taken episode-by-episode and I wasn’t really sure when I’d be gone. I actually had to turn down an episode. I was asked to be in the finale of that season but I was filming a movie at the time and I couldn’t do it.

TDW: Oh, wow. Did you know what you were going to be doing in the finale?

Wallace: No idea. With that show, I didn’t go to any of the script readings. Sometimes I would get a script and sometimes I wouldn’t. It was a little bit different. The set was kind of different. So I have no idea what I would’ve been doing.

TDW: One of the other episodes you did, though, where you’re paired up with Lucas [Chad Michael Murray], is one of my favorites [Episode 4.13, Pictures of You]. That was a fun episode but there’s such meaning there in the conversations you had, in teaching each other about stereotypes and judging people before you actually know them. Really, you were on for a short amount of time overall, but you took part in two really meaningful, memorable episodes in the series, in  my opinion.

Wallace: Yeah, I guess you’re right. I think it helps that I have a different look from a lot of actresses today. That’s something that I really enjoy because I do tend to play characters that impart that message. It is an important message, not to judge people if they’re different and that people need to be happy with themselves if they are different.

TDW: Going along with that–and I want to word this as respectfully as possible–I’ve seen some comments from people who have said they are thrilled to see Navid with Lila because she’s full-figured. She’s not model-skinny.

Wallace: Curvy, I like to say.

TDW: That’s a great way to put it. The show has gotten criticism in the past for having these lead female characters who are stick-figure thin and now people are refreshed to see this new body type on the show.

Wallace: I’m glad.

TDW: Going back to One Tree Hill for a second, are you still in touch with the cast?

Wallace: No. That’s the funny thing about filming as a recurring character or in a movie or something. You work with people closely for a short amount of time and you do make friends but then you go about your way. I didn’t live in North Carolina. It’s hard to stay in contact with people when you’ve only worked with them for a short amount of time and then you go some place else and your lives go separate ways. I think I’m friends with people on Facebook, maybe, but you never really know who’s actually running their Facebook or who’s running anything.

TDW: Speaking of Facebook, and Twitter, too, I see you’re using them increasingly so to interact with fans. What’s that experience been like?

Wallace: It’s not overwhelming if I’m not really working at the time and people find me with “I really liked your character on this…” Sometimes when an episode, like on Tuesday, airs, you get inundated with messages and it can be a little overwhelming. But it’s really cool. It’s very surreal to have people know who you are from your work. This business is so hard to break into. It’s so hard to get roles and be seen and have people comment on what you do. People are really thrilled when you talk to them. “I can’t believe somebody famous is talking to me!” And I’m like, “What?! Me?!

TDW: You forget that you’re the famous one.

Wallace: Exactly. I’m like, “Uh, I’m thrilled that you’re talking to me!

TDW: Your Twitter handle is AmberBrookeBand. Do you have your own band?

Wallace: I do. I have a band that’s based in Atlanta. When I go back, I try to perform shows and rehearse with them. I’m trying to get them to come out here for month or two so we can book some gigs out in L.A. I’m also writing with another friend, actually this girl Jen, who taught everyone their instruments on 90210. She and I have been writing together. I’m just trying to keep myself creative. I love music.

TDW: In the band on the show, you play the bass, right?

Wallace: Yes.

TDW: Do you play that in real life, too?

Wallace: I don’t. I play guitar in real life, which, obviously, is not the same thing but it helps a lot. Our instructor, Jen, she’s brilliant. She helped me so much. It was a little bit difficult but I think I picked it up pretty quickly.

TDW: What’s next for you?

Wallace: I have some projects possibly on the way. I’m talking to people about that. And then just trying to audition. I just moved to L.A. from Atlanta, when I started filming 90210. I was like, “I’m going to go out and film that, I might as well stay and make the big move and really go for it.” There’s nothing at the moment to talk about, though, but hopefully good things, hopefully more projects. We’ll see.

TDW: Keep us posted!

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





Exclusive: Meet The MunnRoyds!

1 03 2010

In my Real-Life Relationships series, I wrote how One Tree Hill held the honor of being the only teen drama to ever have married cast members. But they also held the dishonor of being the only show with divorced cast members when that same couple split. I’m happy to say honor has been restored this season with the introduction of Scott Holroyd as David. Holroyd’s recurring role meant he was starring on the very same show his wife, Allison Munn, has been on as Lauren for more than a year now.

Munn and Holroyd haven’t yet had the privilege of sharing scenes together but the excitement of just working on the same set has pleased them both. They were also more than enthusiastic about doing a joint interview and officially introducing everyone to the MunnRoyds.

TeenDramaWhore: Is this your first joint interview?

Munn: This is our first joint interview–except for the man who married us. We had an interview with the man who married us and that was equally as fun.

TDW: I am very honored, then, to be your first professional joint interview.

Munn: It’s very exciting. We’re having some wine and sitting down. This is fun.

Holroyd: You got the exclusive.

TDW: I’m very excited. Allison, we covered a lot of ground in our first interview, but something I forgot to ask you was how you got involved with One Tree Hill in the first place. Was it the typical casting call-audition route?

Munn: It was. The part came down the pipes and I went in. It was cool because I was sitting in the room waiting for everyone and I didn’t know who was actually going to be in the audition but [creator] Mark Schwahn walks in and I had known Mark back when I was on What I Like About You. Mark used to come by our set a lot so I was excited to see him again because he was always so nice. And then my friend Joe Davola walked. He’s one of the producers on One Tree Hill but he was also one of the producers on What I Like About You. So it was just a little mini-reunion and it took a minute to have the actual audition because we had to catch each other up on our lives. So that was fun. Then I auditioned and I think I found out that night that I got the part. It was kind of perfect because the day I flew in, I got into Wilmington at night and it was the show’s Christmas party. I went in and I went straight to the Christmas party and got to meet everyone there, which was a lot of fun.

TDW: That’s a great way to ease the stress of having to meet everyone when you first get on set.

Munn: Oh, yeah. It’s stressful when you guest-star on a show because they’re a tight-knit group and you’re a stranger coming into their world. But these people could not have been more accommodating or nice. It’s truly been a blessing to meet these people.

TDW: Your first episode was when Jamie [Jackson Brundage] asks you out on his little date [Episode 6.16, Screenwriter‘s Blues]. Did you sign on to do just that one episode or did you know there would be more?

Munn: I was only booked for that episode and when I read the scenes, the way they originally read, there was supposed to be a flirtation with Dan [Paul Johansson]. But they were very careful to not make it that way. I don’t know if they had it in their minds that I would go on. I finished that episode and I came home over the holidays and Mark Schwahn called me and pitched me the [storyline] that I would start dating Skills [Antwon Tanner]. That was really exciting. That was a great call to get.

TDW: I’m sure. So, Scott, last year did you visit Allison on set at all?

Holroyd: Yes, actually. I knew Joe from the What I Like About Days. I met Schwahn during Allison’s work on One Tree Hill and Mark was familiar some of the work I had done. I went and visited the Jerry Rice episode [7.01, 4:30 a.m. (Apparently They Were Traveling Abroad)]. I was in North Carolina during that time and Allison texted me and said, “Hey, do you know who Jerry Rice is?”

Munn: No, I think I texted you like, “Hey, have you ever heard of some guy named Jerry Rice?” Clearly I had no idea who he was.

Holroyd: And I was like, “Uh, yes! He’s only the best wide receiver in the history of the NFL.” And she was like “Well, I’m playing football with him right now.” I turned the car around and went to set. That was the first time I was on set and hung out with everybody there.

Munn: The greatest thing also about these people is that we also got to know a lot of them back here [in Los Angeles]. When they’re not in production in North Carolina, we tend to hang out and go to dinner here in Los Angeles. So he had met them socially as well here.

TDW: So then when the part of David came up, did you have a formal audition?

Holroyd: Yeah, I went in and read for Mark. It was a typical audition and then I got the call when I was in North Carolina to visit Allison and visit family. I got the offer when I was there so I ended up not leaving North Carolina and staying for the rest of the summer to shoot [my] first four episodes. It was actually perfect timing and a perfect situation because it’s always nice to work with friends. Mark had become a pal through all of this when Allison was in season 6. We’d hang out, like she said, go out to dinner with he and his wife. It was just a fun situation for us both and it was also fun to be home because Allison and I are both from that area. My mom and dad live in Myrtle Beach, which is 45 minutes away from Wilmington so that whole summer Allison and I were there with both of our dogs and it was the best summer on record for us.

Munn: It really was. We always say there’s very few times in your life when you’re having a wonderful time and you’re aware of how lucky you are and aware of the fact you’re going to look back on this moment in your life and reflect on it and say, “Wow, remember when we got to do that?” We were very aware of how good we had it this past summer. It was wonderful.

Holroyd: Was this the first time you were working on the same project?

Munn: Well, technically no. We were both on That 70’s Show. We were never on set at the same time. Scott did an episode and I think I did the episode after him. So technically we had but not like this.

TDW: On One Tree Hill, Lauren is a much a happier character than David has been. Scott, as someone who is happily married in real life, is it difficult to get into David’s frame of mind or do you embrace the challenge of playing someone so different from you?

Holroyd: You always embrace it. It’s fun. You can kind of empathize and understand. We’ve all had disappointments and adversity in our lives and you grasp onto that to figure out where the character’s coming from. So the challenge was fun.

Munn: Believe it or not, this is one of the nicer characters he’s played. He usually plays like rapists…

Holroyd: Murderers, wife-beaters.

Munn: Wife-beaters. So, yeah, this has been a departure from his normal roles.

Holroyd: Yeah, so when I got the offer from Mark, he was like, “Yeah, this is not like the things you normally play” because he had seen some of my work before. He was like, “Gosh! There is no vigilance in [David]. He’s a nice guy.”

Munn: I think Joe Davola was surprised, too, because Joe knew mostly his work when he on Dirty Sexy Money. I don’t know if you saw his arc on that but he ran the gamut. He hit women–

Holroyd: Pistol-whipped a woman.

Munn: Pistol-whipped a woman, he shot a person, he killed a person. It was a lot for them to wrap their head around, to have Scott be the nice guy for a change. I loved seeing that. I mean, yeah, he was in pain but it was really neat for me to see Scott play that role.

TDW: At what point did you know you’d be coming back for the Taylor [Lindsey McKeon] storyline?

Holroyd: Mark called and he was happy with how things had turned out and the arc of the story. He said there’d be some more stuff coming down the pipe. That’s all I knew. I didn’t know in what way I was going to be used or what way David was going to come back but he said there’d be more stuff for me to do. So when I got the call for the next little bit with Taylor and when I read the script, I was like, “Ohhhkay. Okay.” That’s when you see a little bit of David’s…kind of vindictive side. Maybe vindictive isn’t the right word.

Munn: No, he was kind of vindictive.

TDW: I was going to say vindictive, too.

Holroyd: Yeah, but it wasn’t really honest vindictiveness. It was more…

TDW: It came from a place of hurt.

Holroyd: Yes. It came from hurt. And when he realized it was all a lie, that’s when he kind of bailed on the whole thing because he was really just relying on Taylor. I think Taylor was honest in her approach to her sisters and I think David was just kind of going along with that, like “Okay.” I think David was looking at it as “Quinn hurt me. How can I hurt her back?” Taylor was the way to do that. I think that’s how that all came about. I think David kind of relished the moments, like at the dinner scene. I think David was just relishing watching Quinn [Shantel Van Santen], even though Quinn stayed above it all. But I think he relished it until he found out she didn’t really sleep with Clay [Robert Buckley]. That’s when his world really came crashing down again. David just got–

Munn: He got kicked. He got hammered.

Holroyd: He got kicked on all sides. Even when he tried to be forceful and be a little vindictive, he got hit again. I felt bad for David and I fought for David and I thought he was right in how he approached things. I agreed with him.

Munn: I really loved seeing those flashback scenes with him and Shantel [Episode 7.07, I And Love And You] because it was nice to see David happy and in a good place. That added, for me, a lot of depth to both their characters.

TDW: It did. It gave us the point of view of where David was coming from–what was the marriage he had with Quinn like? You would think anyone would be upset they’re getting divorced but we didn’t know what Quinn was leaving behind.

Munn: Right. And it’s hard because they had such a great thing. I think a lot of people were like, “Why is Quinn leaving this great marriage?” but, being in a relationship that actually works, you do really change a lot as people. If you don’t grow together, the growing apart feels so lonely and I think that’s what Quinn was really haunted by, her loneliness. David wasn’t the man she originally married.

Holroyd: Of course, I’m gonna side with David. I don’t think he necessarily changed.

Munn: I think he grew up.

Holroyd: I think he was thinking ahead and he was growing up and evolving and thinking, “Hey, I have a passion”–which was Quinn’s thing, “Stick to your passion”–“but if the passion doesn’t pay the bills, let’s be honest. You don’t want to be motivated by money but money is to an extent a necessity, so let me get a job that affords us a life that we can live on and grow and have a family.” So I saw where David was coming from. I don’t think he necessarily changed who he was; he just wanted to better his family. That’s my opinion on David but, of course, I’m going to stick up for my man.

TDW: I think the fans saw it from both sides. I think there were people were questioning, “What is Quinn doing?” and they wanted to see more of David. And there were people who accepted she wasn’t happy and wanted a change and to move on. I would also venture to guess a lot of the fans are younger and not married, so it might’ve been hard to understand. Maybe because they’re not married, they think that moving on is an easier thing to do.

Munn: Yeah, that’s intuitive.

Holroyd: A lot of people were asking, “Why?” A lot people were getting frustrated with the Quinn storyline and asking “Why would she want to move on? She has no reason.” And my explanation for the storyline was when you grow, you either grow together or you grow apart and sometimes you grow apart. It’s as simple as that. I think that frustrated people. It’s so simple that it frustrated people. It would’ve been a lot of easier had there been infidelity or something else. But it was just a matter of just growing apart. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

TDW: I’ve been wondering where Quinn and David lived. I think the implication was that you guys were out of town. But I think people liked David and I know I would’ve liked to see him stick around and I came up with a way to have him stick but I didn’t know if he actually lived in Tree Hill or not.

Munn: I don’t think he does live in Tree Hill.

Holroyd: I don’t think he does either.

Munn: But what’s your way to make him stick? I want to hear it! I like it!

TDW: Well, David was in his own way a filmmaker. I guess documentary was more his style but he liked filmmaking. And you have another filmmaker in Tree Hill–you have Julian [Austin Nichols] making his movie. And I can easily see David trying to get a job on the set to be near Quinn, even though she’s moving on with Clay. You can just extend the length of that triangle, where Quinn has to deal with having her ex-husband living in town with them and working with her sister’s friend’s boyfriend, ‘cause everybody in Tree Hill is connected.

Munn: And Julian needs a good guy friend to hang out with.

TDW: He does.

Munn: And David needs a nice girlfriend who, perhaps, is a schoolteacher.

Holroyd: Named Lauren.

Munn: Named Lauren.

Holroyd: That’s a petition! Petition it! David and Lauren!

TDW: That would be great! Could you imagine if we got that going?

Holroyd: That would be insane.

TDW: I think working on Julian’s film is a totally plausible way to have David stick around and evolve into more than just Quinn’s ex.

Munn: I think you’re right.

Holroyd: Put it out there, Shari! Put it out there!

Munn: It’s up to you! I think you’re right. I think the Julian connection makes a lot of sense.

TDW: With Lauren, in 7.12 [Some Roads Leave Nowhere], that was the last episode before a hiatus for us and we saw Skills go to L.A. and people thought that was it for Skills and that therefore that would be it for Lauren. Did you think that, too, or did you know about the plans to tie her in with Mouth [Lee Norris] later on?

Munn: I didn’t know it was going to be with Mouth. I knew something was going to happen. They had the idea to have Skills come back and I would be dating someone else. I didn’t know it was going to be Mouth. So during those first scenes when I hang out with Mouth [Episode 7.14, Family Affair], I come and clean up the apartment and all that–

Holroyd: CSI-style.

Munn: Yeah, the CSI kind of stuff. We didn’t know we were going to be paired off. What I was told is that the writers watched those scenes and they could see a lot chemistry between the two of us and wrote to that.

TDW: Wow! I never would’ve guessed that it happened in that order!

Munn: I know! Me either. I remember actually talking to Paul Johansson, who directed that episode. I was like, “Look. I’ve been hanging out with this guy all day”–and typically on shows like One Tree Hill when that happens, usually romance springs from it–and I remember saying to him, “Do we need to be really careful to avoid any sort of romantic tension?” And he said, “Don’t play to it and don’t play against it. Just play the scene as it is. You don’t need to think that far ahead.” And I was like, “Okay, fine.” But I still didn’t expect us to end up having any sort of liaison, that’s for sure.

TDW: That’s such a treat to know because people watched those scenes and said, “Oh, I know what’s coming! Mouth and Lauren are getting together!”

Munn: Right! They saw it before us. That’s what some of the writers told me. It’s kind of neat that they do pay attention to that stuff and they write to it. I love that.

TDW: So then you did find out and what was your reaction?

Munn: I felt bad! As Allison, I felt bad because of Millie [Lisa Goldstein]. I didn’t feel bad because of Lauren’s relationship with Skills because of what had come out in some of the scenes. Skills moved. He didn’t ask me to move with him. When I pressured him, he was like “Fine, go with me” but that felt like it was half-hearted so I said no. And then we kept up a phone relationship for a while but then it just petered out, like he stopped calling me. I think it had been from the time Skills left and Lauren started having feelings for Mouth, I think it had been a while. It wasn’t just like a month. I think it was 3-6 months in the way the linear storyline goes. So I think that’s enough time for a relationship to peter out. Lauren kind of knew the relationship was done. We’ll see what happens with Skills. Maybe it wasn’t done on his end.

TDW: I do have a question about that but I want to go to back to something you just said. You as Allison felt bad for Millie?

Munn: Yeah, because I think their relationship has been so sweet. I love Mouth and Millie together. Of course, over the course of this season, she has treated Mouth very, very poorly and I do think Mouth deserves better. I’m pulled in both directions. When I was watching it–it’s funny, because I don’t watch it as the actress; I watch it as a fan. I love the show. So when I was watching the episode when he asked Lauren out, I was rooting for him. I wanted him to ask Lauren out because I cared for Mouth and I feel like right now Lauren is much more stable choice than Millie–however, that being said, I really do like him and Millie together.

TDW: I’m already seeing two fandoms brewing. People who not only think Mouth and Millie are the endgame for Mouth’s character but just have been attached to this couple since season 5. And then there’s other people that are just tired of the drama, tired of the back and forth and also really like Lauren and see potential in the coupling with Mouth.

Munn: Mouth is such a stand-up guy. He’s so good. And so far what we’ve seen from Lauren is that she’s grounded and good as well. I can see why the fans who are really protective of Mouth would be glad that he gravitates towards Lauren now because she seems safe. Millie’s not safe right now.

TDW: In the last episode [Episode 7.18, The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance], we first saw Lauren say, “I’ll be your partner-in-crime but I’m not going to be your rebound.” And at the end of the episode, she kind of says, “Okay, I was kind of lying. I was worried that you were going to be my rebound.” Where do you think she was coming from there?

Munn: Well, actually, in that–Joe Davola was directing that episode and he had a really great note at the beginning of that scene. And what you guys didn’t see because I think it was cut out of the episode was that a lot of us were at the funeral. You didn’t see us all at the funeral for Haley’s [Bethany Joy Galleoti] mom.

TDW: Wow! Thank you for telling me that! Keep going, please!

Munn: There was a moment in the script that was cut out of what you guys saw. Mouth looks over at Millie and Millie smiles at him and I look at that. No, wait, I don’t think Millie’s smiles  at him. It was just a moment where they pan across and they see Millie, they see Mouth and then Mouth sees me. And pretty soon, like I don’t think it’s the next scene but it’s pretty close to that, I come and knock on the door and I say my piece to Mouth. So Joe had a really good note for me. He was like, “Look. You’ve just been to a funeral. You’ve seen that life is short. You’re feeling lonely. Carpe diem.”

TDW: Nothing against the way they do the show or anything but that’s so helpful to know. That would’ve enhanced things, because you two only had two scenes in that episode that aired.

Munn: That’s true.

TDW: You had the first scene where you’re walking in town and the scene when you come to his apartment. It was very little of you two and some people said it felt weird having that second scene mixed in with the trauma of Lydia’s [Bess Armstrong] death and the funeral and what Haley was going through afterward. But there’s such another layer to it when you tell me now that you guys were at the funeral and that kind of motivated Lauren.

Munn: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I see what you’re saying. I guess it did help them [in how it aired] because they wanted the audience to be surprised by her actions but you’re right, character-wise, it did seem to come a little bit more out of nowhere.

TDW: Let me just ask you another question about the funeral. Was there any planned dialogue for that or was it always just supposed to be montage-style with a song playing?

Munn: Actually, now that you say that, I remember when we were shooting it the only dialogue was this woman who did the service. It was the typical “ashes to ashes, death to death” speech. It was sort of chilling. I was surprised to see how short that sequence was. But I think the sisters did such a great, great job–Joy and Shantel and Lindsey. They did such a great job. They made me want to cry when I saw that. But I did notice that the “ashes to ashes, death to the death,” that whole speech was taken out. So there was definitely that dialogue and there were other moments. I know you got to see Brooke [Sophia Bush] and Julian. I forget who else they showed at the funeral but they did film me and Millie and Mouth also.

TDW: That’s good to know.

Munn: It made a lot of sense for me when I read it. I hadn’t even thought about that [since] because sometimes when you’re watching the episodes, you forget what you originally said or the original flow. I didn’t even think that that might be a little jarring. That makes a lot of sense now.

TDW: In the promo for the next batch episodes, there’s a really quick scene of Skills punching Mouth. Can you tease a little bit about what gets them to that point?

Munn: Well, I think you can probably guess what might lead to that, as per what we just talked about.

TDW: Well, you mentioned before how to you it seemed the relationship with Skills petered out because he stopped calling. But when he walks in the door in that last episode, he’s back to calling you “baby” and I got the sense that maybe things weren’t so over.

Munn: Yeah, you might be right with that. It’s funny how things can be miscommunicated but from what I knew and what Lauren knew, he had stopped calling. Lauren had called him more and he had quit returning her phone calls. And she had relayed that information to Mouth, not to lead him on but because they were friends. She was confiding in him, like, “We don’t really talk anymore. He doesn’t call me back. I don’t even know how he’s doing.” She was actually finding out more of how he was doing through Mouth than through actually talking to Skills. So when he walks back in the door and he’s like “Hey, baby!” completely casual, I think Lauren was really taken aback by that.

TDW: I think we were, too.  So now I guess you’re going to have these two friends pitted against each other.

Munn: Yeah, and it’s a shame because they have a really solid friendship. I hate that for them.

TDW: And their friendship goes back to the very first episode of the show.

Munn: Yep, the pilot. That’s a shame. Never let a lady come between you, boys!

TDW: Well, if the show lived by that, we would’ve missed out on countless storylines!

Munn: Scott just whispered “bros before hos.” That’s a twist on the “Clothes Over Bros.”

TDW: Well, that’s something Brooke and Peyton [Hilarie Burton] used to say to each other. They used to say, “Hos over bros” and once it became “Hos over psychos” [Episode 4.16, You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love]. Anyway, I know Antwon tweeted that he’s in like three of the last four episodes.

Munn: Yes, I think so. I’m forgetting how many we shot. I know he’s around, definitely. I don’t know that he’s in all of the last ones. I don’t know how much I can say without giving away too much. He’s in–sorry, I’m counting–yep, you’re right. It’s three of the last four, correct.

TDW: Can you say how many more you are in?

Munn: I just wrapped for the season and they have another one to shoot. I don’t think they’ll get mad at me for saying this but I’m not in the last two.

TDW: Oh, you’re not in the last two?

Munn: No, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the story. They’re just wrapping their season and I’m not one of the main characters, you know?

TDW: Okay, so you’re not in 7.21 or 22.

Munn: Right. But that’s not a big spoiler anything. It’s not like I get shot or I drown or anything.

TDW: What are you hearing about a season eight?

Munn: You know, nobody really knows what quite to think yet. I look at the ratings versus the ratings of other shows on the network and I think we stand a pretty good chance.

Holroyd: If you’re asking me as a fan, I think it’s definitely going to get picked up for an eighth season.

Munn: I like that. I like where his head is at! I really hope so.

Holroyd: But that’s me as a fan.

Munn: That’s Scott as fan. Honestly, I talked to the major players this week and nobody really knows for sure. But everyone is very optimistic, if that helps.

TDW: Do you know if you have a future on the show if there’s an eighth season?

Munn: You know, I never know. I would hope so but I never know.

Holroyd: David and Lauren!

Munn: David and Lauren all the way!

TDW: I would totally buy it. You guys already have the chemistry.

Munn: I know. Lauren and David and David and Skills. Oops, sorry, not David and Skills–that would be a whole different show! Who else can David date? Hmm…

Holroyd: David and Haley, what?!

Munn: Aw, no! That would be a disaster!

Holroyd: All the Scott sisters, yes!

Munn: No way!

TDW: Scott, We’ll see you next on Chuck, right?

Holroyd: Yes.

Munn: It’s very exciting. He has a really good arc on Chuck.

Holroyd: Here’s the only problem: it airs Monday nights at 8!

TDW: I know!

Holroyd: So people have to be able to record two shows at once or have two televisions. They have to watch One Tree Hill.

Munn: They have to watch One Tree Hill! If you have to choose, choose One Tree Hill but if you have another option, choose One Tree Hill and Chuck.

Holroyd: Right, there you go. I think my stuff starts in a couple of months, probably mid-April, late April. I don’t know when the season ends for One Tree Hill.

Munn: I don’t know. Shari, you probably have a better idea than I do.

TDW: The show comes back from hiatus April 26 and if it airs the last four episodes in a row, that takes through May 17.

Holroyd: Uht-oh, there’s gonna be an overlap. You need to be able to record two shows at once.

TDW: So right now the next step for you both, besides Chuck, is pilot season.

Munn: Oh, good lord, it’s a nightmare!

Holroyd: Yes.

TDW: Can you tell me a little bit about that nightmare?

Munn: It’s a nightmare in the best way. The networks are buying a lot of pilots this season. So we have been completely inundated with auditions. Sometimes it’s up to three a day and it’s exhausting. It’s one of those where you have a change of clothes in your car and you go to one and you either change in the bathroom of that one or in the car on the way to the next one. It’s been pretty crazy.

TDW: Are any of these for leading roles?

Munn: Oh, yeah. They’re all for leading roles.

TDW: That’s awesome!

Munn: Yeah, it’s great. We’re reading some really good scripts. There’s good stuff out there right now. It’s an exciting time for actors in L.A.

TDW: By chance, any of the same projects?

Munn: No! I wish!

Holroyd: That’s why One Tree Hill was such a blessing. That doesn’t often, if ever.

Munn: The planets really have to be aligned for you to even get a job. So for you to get a job co-starring your husband, it’s pretty close to impossible.

TDW: I sincerely hope it happens. It’s great having you both on One Tree Hill but it would be even better to see you in a scene together.

Munn: It would be really fun to act with Scott. I’m a huge fan of his. It would be a lot of fun. And it would be really fun to continue to get to do interviews this way because we are having a blast!

TDW: I am, too! Are you guys still drinking your wine?

Munn: Yes, we actually just poured more!

Holroyd: Cheers! (glasses clink)

TDW: I heard that! That’s great. I really appreciate your time.

Munn: Absolutely, Shari. I have to say I really respect what you do. I’ve been to your site and I think you have really great interviews. You ask such great questions. You get some really cool interviews and I just have to say I’m super-impressed with you.

TDW: Wow, thank you very much! That means a lot to me. Can I print that?!

Munn: Print it and reproduce it anywhere you want! I’m very much impressed with your journalistic skills.

Holroyd: And we’re excited that this is our first dual interview. You got the exclusive.

Munn: Yeah, you’ve got the MunnRoyds.

TDW: The MunnRoyds! Do people actually call you that?

Munn: Yes!

Holroyd: We do!

Munn: We call ourselves that and we forced our friends to call us that. It could be the title of a sitcom, “Hangin’ With The MunnRoyds.”

Holroyd: There’s Brangelina; we’re the MunnRoyds!

TDW: That works!

Munn: It sounds like a terrible infection you’d get on your foot.

Holroyd: “Oh man, I’ve got a terrible case of the MunnRoyds!”

Munn: But it works for us.

TDW: Allison, have you thought about changing your name professionally?

Munn: I haven’t.

Holroyd: No.

Munn: Holroyd is a pretty difficult name. I’m taking it personally and it’ll be on my driver’s license and all that eventually but professionally, as Scott can tell you–he’s begged me, “Honey, I promise you, you don’t have to take this name!”–it’s a burden sometimes.

Holroyd: She’s worked very hard to make a name for herself as Allison Munn. She’s made a great name for herself. It’s hard enough to have a career in this business but it’s even harder with a name like Holroyd. I’m proud of my name–

Munn: I love your name!

Holroyd: But it doesn’t make things easier.

Munn: You have to spell it about five times with each person.

Holroyd: My name is not Scott Holroyd, it’s “Scott Holroyd, H-O-L-R-O-Y-D.”

Munn: “No, it’s H-O-L-R-O-Y-D. No, not I-D, Y-D. H-O-L-No, yes, H-O-L-R-O-Y-D, yes, that’s the name!”

Holroyd: That’s my goal. I just want people to know my name.

H & M: (singing) “Say my name, say my name”

TDW: Can I make a little request, Scott? Actually to both of you. You both need to tweet a bit more.

Munn: I know! It’s hard. I get nervous. And I know Scott gets even more nervous than I do.

TDW: Why are you nervous?

Munn: Because it goes out there to a lot of people! I get shy, Shari, I get shy!

TDW: I think fans just love it because it’s really unprecedented access. Before this, we were lucky if people had official sites and actually updated them. So this is a great connection. If we don’t interact with you, we’re still hearing from you and the fans just feel closer to you.

Munn: You’re right. It’s true. And I like having that kind of access, where I can write fans back. I usually direct message fans. You feel like you have access but you don’t feel completely accessible, which is nice. I think Twitter’s really great for that.

TDW: There’s actually a fan account on there for you, linked to a fansite, I think.

Munn: Really? I’ll google myself later and find it. Awesome! I’ll do that tonight.

TDW: You guys should start a joint Web site, how about that?

Munn: Babe, we should start a joint Web site and then we could do Flip videos of us hanging out.

Holroyd: That wouldn’t be boring.

Munn: That wouldn’t be boring at all. I think it’s the need to feel creative that’s a little bit stressful.

Holroyd: The need to be witty.

Munn: Yeah, I have to think of something smart and funny to say. That’s where I get stymied a little bit.

TDW: Two suggestions.

Munn: Okay, perfect.

TDW: Mike Grubbs [Grubbs], he has a blog. And he does little blog posts but he also does short little videos from the set or other places in his life. They’re maybe, like, a minute long but they’re funny. And Jana Kramer [Alex] and her fiancé, I guess it’s his Web site but there’s like episodes of their life on there and we actually got to see footage of his marriage proposal.

Munn: I saw some of that and that was incredible! That was so cool to be able to see. I love Jana Kramer. But I haven’t seen all of their videos. I have to check those out.

TDW: I have to admit I haven’t seen all of them either and it’s kind of weird that I don’t actually know them but I saw them get engaged.

Munn: I know, right?

TDW: But, anyway, I think people love to think the characters on their show are together in real life and that can be a blessing and curse but here we have two people who are together and I think people would be interested in seeing more of it if you guys were willing to put it out there.

Munn: That’s a cool idea. Maybe we will. Babe, what do you think?

Holroyd: Shari, you may have a point.

Munn: I forced him to get the Twitter account. He’s been very hesitant to do any of the social media stuff.

TDW: I know it’s hard for some people who worry about it being a big invasion of privacy and the stalking that happens in real life is transferred to online.

Munn: Yes. And I think for people who are in a position to be stalked, like pretty famous people, I can understand why they’d be scared of that stuff. It would stink I think to be a celebrity and say I’m at a certain place for lunch and have people show up. I think that’s where some people should draw the line.

TDW: The whole service is what you make of it. People say, “I don’t want to know when so-and-so is going to the bathroom.” Well, then don’t follow the person who tells you when they’re going to the bathroom.

Munn: Exactly. You’re right. It’s like when people are upset about something that’s on television. Well, then change the channel. You have a choice.

TDW: Right. People forget what is actually in their control.

Munn: Scott is so excited he can follow Conan [O’Brien] now. That was a big day.

Holroyd: He just joined. He tweets once a day. He doesn’t follow anyone. He’s got like 500,000 followers. His first tweet was…

TDW: With his squirrel!

Holroyd: “Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.”

Munn: I love the fact that in his picture he’s got a full beard.

Holroyd: He’s embracing his unemployment.

TDW: If Conan can tweet once a day, Scott, so can you!

H & M: Oh!!!!

Munn: Way to bring it back, Shari. Shari for the win!

Holroyd: Alright, I got you. I accept your challenge.

TDW: I’m going to hold you to that! I’ll give you tomorrow off because I’m going to publish this Monday night. Monday can start your Twitter Challenge!

Munn: Can it be a week? The Twitter Challenge Week? I’ll force him to do it.

Holroyd: Okay.

TDW: Okay, starting Monday, I’ll see if you do it.

Munn: It’s on, Shari. He just said he accepted.

Holroyd: Yeah, I accept. You throw it down and I will accept it!

Munn: I’ll make sure he follows through.

TDW: Well, thank you guys so much. If nothing else, I’m just honored to be in your history book as your first joint interview.

Holroyd: There you go!

Munn: We’re the ones who are honored. We had a good time. We really did. This was fun.

TDW: Well, thank you so much. Keep drinking your wine, relax, have a good night.

Munn: Thank you so much, Shari. You, too!

TDW: Goodnight guys!

Come back Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





Exclusive: One Tree Hill’s Cullen Moss on the Evolution of Junk, Making of Dear John and Blood Done Sign My Name

21 02 2010

Think One Tree Hill is the only place to catch Cullen Moss? Not true, my friends, not true. In the month of February alone, Moss had two movies come out in theaters, the based-on-a-novel Dear John and the based-on-a-true-story Blood Done Sign My Name.

But there’s no denying Moss is most familiar to us TDWs for his role as Junk Moretti, a character we first met way back in 2003 in the One Tree Hill pilot. In our exclusive interview, Moss talks about his longevity on the show, improvising in Dear John and the connection he has to Bethany Joy Galeotti’s The Notebook musical.

TeenDramaWhore: Do you remember what your audition for One Tree Hill was like?

Cullen Moss: Yes, I do. It was a surprise. It started with a call from my agent that the [casting agency] Fincannons wanted to see me. I just this past year found the piece a paper where I wrote the details down. I wrote “Jump McCready, 17-year-old baller.” This was when I was 27! My agent, she even told me, “Now, I asked them if they knew how old are you” and she asked if they were sure they wanted to see me and they did. I went in and I found out it was not Jump McCready. But for some reason, that name, Jump McCready, made me go in and do this character-y New York dialect. I guess they liked it. The line was about somebody stinkin’ and needed deodorant. It sounded like something from The Bowery Boys in a 1940s movie. Or somebody out of The Sandlot. It was weird. But when I went back for the call-back, I said, “You know, I can lose that accent. I don’t have to do that” because I realized that it was supposed to be set in North Carolina, and they were like “No, no, no. Are you from New York?” and I said I wasn’t. I forget who was there. [Creator] Mark Schwahn and…

TDW: [Executive producers] Mike Tollin? Brian Robbins?

Moss: Yeah, I think they were both there. I’m pretty sure Brian Robbins was. Anyway, they were like, “No. Keep it. We like it.” So I did. At the time, I was supposed to go over to Japan to visit my brother who was living there but my agent kept saying, “You’re still in the running. You’re still in the running.” It was this long process. So I had to postpone the trip to Japan and then the final audition was a shoot-out. They set up a basketball hoop outside the casting office. I was by no means 17 and by lesser means a baller. I would play little pick-up games with my friends but I was terrible. I had poor form. I would describe my court-style as frantic. I practiced the night before the shoot-out and I tried to pass to one of my friends and my back went out! I was just feeling decrepit and old and useless. But the morning of, I stretched it out and kind of played through the pain. It was down between me and a black guy for the role. He had played high school basketball and stuff but, for some reason, he wasn’t hitting his shots. I was talking trash, needlessly because I was horrible, but all my garbage I was shooting was going in! I remember Mark Schwahn saying, “Your form is horrible! How are you making these shots?” but I couldn’t miss that day. Then I got the part.

TDW: Did you ever expect all these years later that your character would still be around?

Moss: No, I didn’t. Vaughn Wilson, who is such an awesome and cool dude, plays Fergie. Usually when we would shoot, it was like smoke and fire. One of us wasn’t working unless the other was. They would call us in together, Junk and Fergie, Junk and Fergie. I was working at the studios, actually, during the second or third seasons, in the lighting and grip department. I was in the shop, inventorying equipment and fixing equipment. I would deliver stuff to the set of One Tree Hill and try to get the scoop–was I in the next script? I remember somebody at the beginning of the third season saying, “Oh, yeah. You’re coming up soon” and then they looked at the script later and were like, “No, I think it was just Fergie in the script.” It happened another time, too, where he was working and I wasn’t so I thought maybe they were just done with me and I wanted to find out. So I e-mailed Mark Schwahn and said, “Hey, if you’re done with me, I understand. I don’t want to be on edge here. Just let me know if that’s it. If that’s it, that’s fine and thank you for keeping me around as long as you did.” He answered back–and he’s such a sweet dude–he said “You know, honestly, we really don’t know. We don’t have a point of view for your character. We don’t know where we’re going to go so I don’t have an answer for you but that might be it for you. Oh, and you’re not looking so high school.” And I understood that.

So I wrote him back and pitched an angle. I don’t know if it had anything to with his ultimate decision but I pitched it that maybe Junk was this older loser guy. They had never shot me at the high school. I said maybe he’s the older loser guy who hangs out with the kids on the River Court. He never really grew out of his high school years. He doesn’t have anyone his own age so he’s clinging to this group and maybe he’s the guy who buys the beer. I didn’t know. But I pitched it to him and he brought me back in and I thought it was in that capacity, as the older loser guy who found his niche with these guys. I thought it was that until they had me going to prom [Episode 4.15, Prom Night At Hater High] and graduation [Episode 4.20, The Birth And Death Of The Day]. I was like, “Okay. So I actually graduated. I actually went to prom.” They actually had Fergie and I go together. We didn’t have dates. So we walked in together.

Mark Schwahn, he’s a loyal guy. Our characters certainly have not been so integral that they couldn’t have just been dropped at this point. There wouldn’t have been some huge outcry from the general public that watches One Tree Hill, I don’t think, if Junk and Fergie disappeared. But they did keep us around. I was surprised when I found out that there were people who actually knew who Junk was, that people did watch the show that intently. “They’re the old crew. They’re the River Court kids.” I think Schwahn saw that, too, and felt the need to bring back those roots, every now and then, to the River Court and to where the pilot began, the story began. Throughout whatever changes have gone on, he’s brought us back to represent those roots and certainly occasionally for comic relief. It is kind of a surprise that seven years later I’m still playing Junk and that, in the small capacity I’m in, people know who Junk and Fergie are and appreciate us. It makes me feel like maybe if I was gone, I would be missed. I don’t know.

TDW: I think it’s remarkable because the show has had tons and tons of supporting characters over the years and you two have outlasted nearly all of them.

Moss: Yeah. I think part of it might be due to the fact that we’re local actors. They don’t have to fly us in. So part of it may be a budgetary issue. But Mark’s been loyal and kept us in mind when there’s gatherings and weddings and stuff. He’s like, “Even if you don’t have lines in the episodes, you guys need to be there. You’re part of the crew.” He hasn’t forgotten the roots of the show and that’s cool. While we’ve never come in and had very specific storylines or characters arcs, he’s felt us somewhat integral and necessary, I guess.

TDW: Your most recent episode was the John Hughes tribute [Episode 7.15, Don’t You Forget About Me]. Were you a fan of Weird Science and Home Alone before then?

Moss: I was with Weird Science. I hadn’t watched Home Alone in its entirety until this last year. I showed it to my six-year-old son and we got to enjoy that together. But I was a big fan of Weird Science.

TDW: What was it like filming those scenes with Jackson [Brundage, Jamie]?

Moss: It was a lot of fun. He’s always fun to work with. He was such a cool addition to the show when he came in. It’s cool whenever the cameras stop rolling and we get to horse around with him. Actually in the paintball scene [in 7.15], there was a point in the shooting where they used stunt guys. Vaughn and I took the first few hits with special effects guys firing the paintball guns because they were not entirely trusting of Jackson’s aim, not to hit us in the face or the cracks of our padding. But once they got the stunt guys in our places, they let him have a turn with the gun and he did not miss. He was nailing them repeatedly. He was a good shot.

TDW: On some level, that doesn’t surprise me. He’s proven he’s good at like every single thing the show has handed him.

Moss: He is. He’s such a little fella. I’m sure his percentage on the basketball court is better than mine. He puts up these wild shots and they go in. He’s good. He’s a sporty little fella. He’s just a lot of fun. I’ve been doing this show longer than my son’s been around. He was born [in season 1] so it’s an interesting timeline, just to think I’ve been doing this show as long as its taken to this little human being to become who he is. The point of that being is that I’ve got a six-year-old kid and he’s a little younger than Jackson, but I love kids and interacting with them. So Jackson is also a joy to be around.

TDW: Have you heard anything about the chances of there being an eighth season?

Moss: Probably as much as you have. I’ve got two theories. One, we will get an eighth season and my second theory is that we won’t.

TDW: Very scientific.

Moss: That’s as far as it goes. I really have no idea. I know the show was doing well with ratings towards the beginning of this season. I don’t know quite where it is right now. I don’t know who wants it, who wants to continue. I don’t know who doesn’t. So I don’t know what will factor into it but I’d love for there to be another season, of course for myself and for the Wilmington crew, too. From the PAs to the DPs, the grips, the electrics–that’s kind of the only gig in town right now outside of independents. I’m hoping all the talented guys on the crew can stay employed another season. And hopefully by the time the show has seen its last episode, there will be enough other work in town due to the film incentives that were recently passed so they can stay employed and stay in their own town.

TDW: I have to congratulate you on the success of Dear John. You guys took down Avatar in your first week!

Moss: We did. Our special unit dudes tackled those blue aliens. That was a shock. It was pretty cool to be a part of that.

TDW: For that audition, did you go in for a specific one of John’s army pals or a generic one? Because I thought they all had unique personalities but I wasn’t sure if that was determined by the script or if you brought that to the role.

Moss: Well, it was a little bit of both. To answer the first question, I originally auditioned for one of Savannah’s friends. And then they brought me in for Rooster, who was who I got cast as. As far as what I brought to it, that was something again with the name. When I hear names, I put voices to them and with Rooster I decided maybe he was a Southern guy and brought that to the audition. I got called back and the director Lasse Hallstrom was there and I said, “Now I don’t know if you want him to be Southern” but he liked what I had done. He asked where I was from and I said North Carolina and he said, “Oh, but you don’t have an accent?” and I said, “I do but I don’t have the accent I auditioned with.” I made him a little more Southern.

Hallstrom did let us bring a lot to it. Very little of what you heard my character saying was scripted. I’m trying to think of any of it was. There was “requesting to extend my stay as well, sir”–that was scripted. But he would let us improvise a lot. There’s that scene where John drops his letters in the mud before he burns them off. Hallstrom decided at the last minute, “Let’s pop this shot off” and he asked if I would walk by and say something. I asked, “Anything in particular?” and he said, “No, maybe you can just say something smart-ass to him, make a little joke about it. Or ask him what’s wrong. It’s up to you.”  So we went over a few variations of it and did it. And the scene in the humvee just before John gets in a firefight, there was this whole little written monologue about being a little upset about being a soldier sent overseas and there not being any combat where we were. We tried that and he said, “No, it sounds too soldier-y, too military. Can you just tell a story?” And I said, “What kind of story?” “I don’t know. Any kind of story. Something personal.” So I told part of a story from a buddy of mine, a fishing story about a catfish eating a squirrel and the squirrel getting away and swimming to the shore. So I did that in one take and I was just ad-libbing in the surroundings for other stuff. So we all did get to bring a lot of our stuff to it. Hallstrom would just try to breathe life into it by saying, “Forget the script. Here’s the situation. Act as you would naturally.”

TDW: You also have a new movie out now, Blood Done Sign My Name. What can you tell me about that?

Moss: That was a great experience because it was the only time I’ve played an actual real-life person. It’s a true story. It’s based on the memoirs of Tim Tyson. He observed the racial tensions in Oxford, North Carolina in the 1970s, where riots and protests came about when three local white men–a business owner and his two sons–weren’t convicted of brutally beating and shooting to death a young black Vietnam veteran who had just gotten back. I was cast as one of those sons, Larry Teel. It’s an important story. As a North Carolinian and as well as an American, you don’t hear all these stories. You hear about the civil rights movement and it’s kind of confined to this time in the ‘60s but you find out shit was not fixed in the ‘70s and it’s still not. That should be common knowledge but you don’t hear these little stories. It’s not a part of North Carolina history. They teach North Carolina history in their schools and you don’t hear about this. It was cool to be a part of a true story. There were people on set that were there during the riots, during that time, and saw the tension after these three men went on trial and got off scot-free when there were witnesses. It was really interesting. It was a great experience.

TDW: You also worked with fellow One Tree Hill stars on it.

Moss: Yeah, I worked with Lee Norris [Mouth] and Michael May [Chuck]. It was cool to have Lee there. It was comforting.

TDW: Speaking of One Tree Hill stars, you also narrated The True-Love Tale of Boyfriend and Girlfriend, which starred Hilarie Burton [Peyton] and Austin Nichols [Julian].

Moss: Yes, I did. That was really cool. [Writer-director] Nick [Gray] and Hilarie asked me to come in and do that. I think they both had seen me do really broad kind of character-y voices from different things that I have done so they wanted me to come in and provide them with this crusty narrator guy. It was a lot of fun to kind of disappear into that voice.

TDW: If I didn’t know that you were the narrator, I never would’ve guessed.

Moss: Well, thank you. We toyed around with a couple of voices but that was pretty much the first idea and they liked it. It was like a Southern-fried William S. Burroughs.

TDW: I think I read that your girlfriend was on One Tree Hill recently.

Moss: Yes! She’s awesome. Madison Weidberg. She is an incredible actress and quite a talented actor. We actually met doing a play in Wilmington. We met [in 2008] during Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical–real high-brow stuff. But it was a blast. Anyway, she was involved with The Notebook musical, the workshop that Bethany Joy [Galeotti, Haley] did. She played a couple of characters in that and she did a great job. She and Bethany Joy got along really well and so when the opportunity came for back-up singers for the episode where Haley has her big concert [Episode 7.13, Weeks Go By Like Days], she called upon some of the girls that had been in The Notebook.

TDW: That’s very cool. What’s next for you?

Moss: Since Dear John, I got to do a part in The Conspirator, which is a Robert Redford-directed film about the trial of Mary Surratt after the assassination of Lincoln. I play a senior officer in the war department and I get to have a nice scene with Kevin Kline–and under the director of Robert Redford, so that was amazing! To be there and looking at Robert Redford’s face telling me what to do–that was a real thrill. Then I went down not long ago and had a day on The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, which is a Nicholas Cage thriller. It’ll be out in a year or so. And I just got cast in Army Wives; that’s a Lifetime show that shoots in Charleston. There’s a possibility that that’ll be a recurring role.

TDW: That’s exciting.

Moss: Yeah, I just shot that this past week. I guess that’s the next thing that will be seen. Vaughn and I worked on another One Tree episode about Skills [Antwon Tanner] coming back and some drama there with Mouth.

TDW: Is Antwon in that episode?

Moss: Oh, yeah. He is.

TDW: That’s great. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for that and everything else you have going on.

Moss: I’ve got a couple pilots out there that are kind of little independent ventures that I’m hoping will come to fruition. I shot a pilot called Hardwell with some good friends. It’s a comedy we shot and pitched to FX. Nothing’s happened with it yet but we’re crossing our fingers but not holding our breath. And there’s a golf pilot I shot with some guys in town here about a golf pro. Wilmington is really cool. There’s so many creative, talented people in this town that just drum up [projects] when there’s not any big things in town. The independent film scene in town is thriving and alive and will hopefully get realized and make some dough. When there’s nothing big happening, you can usually find something to do, something to act in, some way to work whether it’s for free and the thrill of the project or what.

TDW: I wish you the best of luck of everything.

Moss: Well, thank you so much. Thanks a lot, Shari.

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





Exclusive: Michael Lange On Being A Teen Drama Director

24 01 2010

What makes someone a teen drama director? Well, directing four–yes, four!–of them certainly helps! Michael Lange directed 12 episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, 7 episodes of Dawson’s Creek, 13 episodes of The O.C. and 3 episodes of One Tree Hill. Not too shabby, eh?

Lange is currently a producer on Greek and will soon start working on Drop Dead Diva. If you ever wondered what it was like working on more than one of the teen dramas–or on any show for that matter–let Lange give you some, ahem, direction.

TeenDramaWhore: How do you become a director for one of these shows or even any show?

Michael Lange: Well, I’ve been doing it for 26 years. I’m going onto my 27th year this July. I now have a long track record so I get jobs through my agent and just my reputation. I have pretty big network of people now that I’ve worked with so that’s kind of how I do it. How people get into doing it is a whole different question and is extremely different now than when I was doing it, because of technology. When I got into to directing, everything was on film. This was the early 80s–1983 to be exact. I got a job as a post-production assistant on a show and I made it my business to be in dailies, which is when everyone watched the film from the day before–every single day–and, of course, everyone showed up because it was all on film. So at lunch time, people would assemble in the screening room and everyone would watch the dailies. The same thing with all the editor’s cut, the director’s cut and the producer’s cut. It would all be screened in a screening room and anyone who was interested in having a vote on anything had to be there. That’s exactly how I got my first opportunity. We were watching a cut and it was missing a few pretty crucial pieces of footage and the producer said, “Oh my god. How are we going to fix this?” and I literally raised my hand and said “I know how to fix it,” which, of course, I didn’t know, and he said, “Okay, go.” And everything in those days was much more casual so I was able to book a facility for the next day and book talent and book a little production company to shoot it. None of that could happen today because everything is all purchase orders because of all the insurance stuff. Everything is much more regulated today. Anyway, I did my thing and everyone thought it was great and that was the beginning of my directing career.

Today, it’s more about relationships. For example, I am fairly influential in who gets to direct Greek. However, I have four colleagues–four other exec. producers on the show–all of whom want to see the footage, propose directors, take a look at their resumes, possibly meet them and then the network also gets involved. Whereas when I did it, one guy gave me a shot. No network. No other producers had to okay it. Just that one person. So now we have a big committee and also because the budgets are much tighter now than they were then, we don’t have a lot of room for missteps. So a lot of times we reject people who don’t have that much experience, even if they’re very talented. If they don’t have that much experience, we can’t really afford to take a chance in case they’re going to mess up, ‘cause then it affects everything. If someone goes seriously over-schedule, then it affects almost the rest of the season. You have to try and catch up for those extra costs. Like last year, I had an intern who was a very impressive guy, very smart, very personable and we actually wanted to give him a shot to direct an episode. Unfortunately it didn’t work out because a couple of people kind of balked at his lack of experience. So it’s tough today.

Sometimes a cameraman on a show–like our cameraman, if we go a 4th season, he’s sort of guaranteed to be able to direct an episode. Sometimes the actors on shows will make it part of their deal to direct an episode and then hope to continue directing. But for someone brand-new breaking in, it’s really, really hard now. One of the ways I suggest they can show people their work is if they make a short film. But, again, it has to be really good because they’re competing against people like me who have a lot of film on their resume and a lot of experience. It’s tough. It’s really tough. Tougher than I can ever remember it being to get in. I mean, it’s never been an easy thing to do, obviously, because there’s  a lot of people vying for not that many jobs but today even more so. It’s kind of a killer. We’ve done 64 episodes of Greek and I’ve produced on 54 of them and I think pretty much every one we have had directors that have quite a bit of experience. I don’t think we’ve given a shot to anyone that is brand-new. I think they have a better chance, in a way, on the bigger shows because they have a little bit more of a budget and therefore more room for missteps.

TDW: When you’re hired to be a director for an already established show, what are you responsible for?

Lange: Well, for example, next week the show I’m starting on is the finale of Make It Or Break It [Ed. note: Make It Or Break It is executive produced by Paul Stupin, who was the executive producer on Dawson’s Creek]. I’m not really familiar with that show. I’ve seen a couple of episodes. So what I’ll do is I’ll probably spend the first day of prep immersing myself in the show–reading as many scripts as I can and watching as many of the previous episodes of the show as they can show me. I obviously read the script I’m about to direct but I usually try to do all the other stuff first so that when I read the script, I’ll have some kind of context of what’s going on. Then once I familiarize myself with the show and the script, I try to meet the [director of photography] and maybe talk with him a bit about the style of the show that they like. I’ll try to interact a little bit with the actors and a little bit with the writer. The director does casting of any guest star roles and then also if there are any locations in the show that are not the normal ones that they shoot, you’re shown the [options] by the location manager and you figure out which ones are going to work best and that kind of stuff. They’ll run the schedule by the director to see if they’re comfortable with the amount of work each day. Then if there are any script suggestions that the director has, things that he or she doesn’t think work, obviously you’re able to weigh in on that also. It’s a little bit political and you have to sort of pick your battles a little bit. If there’s something in the script that really seriously bothers me, then I’ll usually ask around before I go to talk to the producer about it. I’ll sort of check out if that’s normally how the scenes go or maybe there’s something I don’t realize. Then if everything checks out, I’ll go and talk to the producer.

I remember once doing a David E. Kelley show. I did Ally McBeal and he was notorious for not liking anyone to comment on the scripts and there was something that really bothered me in one scene so I told the producer that I needed to go talk to him and they pretty much recommended against it. But my attitude as a director is if you’re doing it as a safe job, that’s not really what the job is. You really need to sort of put it on the line. So I decided to go in and talk to him about it and actually, luckily, he agreed with me so he made the change. But had he not agreed with me, I don’t know. But that’s a risk you take. You have to take those, I think.

TDW: So do you find it’s a balance between your vision and what the show has done thus far?

Lange: Yes, definitely. Television is a medium where each week the audience wants a version of the same show. Not literally the same story but they want the characters to be consistent, they want the show to look consistent. It’s their show. They’ve adopted it into their lives and I don’t think they want it to be different. So part of the responsibility of each director coming in is to sort of observe what the show is and basically do that. You’re sort of shepherding the show through that’s week episode and, at the end of it, it shouldn’t really look significantly different than all the other episodes. What a director can bring to a show is enthusiasm. A little bit of a different point of view is great as long as it fits what they like. Like on Drop Dead Diva, one of the things they liked about my episodes-which is why they offered me this producing position on the show–is that they felt I really got the tone of the show more than some of the other directors they had last season. So that’s something also; you try to pick up the tone of the show and basically do that. I always try to encourage a lightness on the set because I think people do their best work when they’re having a good time. That’s another thing that’s influenced by the director: the tone of the set. We’ve had some directors on Greek who are more serious and the tone of the set becomes more serious. It has some advantages but on Greek we’ve ended up leaning towards directors who are not that more serious. Well, serious about the work but not serious about how you got there.

TDW: I cover 6 shows on my site and you’ve directed 4 of them. I thought, if I was ever to interview a director for the site, it’s gotta be one that worked on as many of them as you did.

Lange: Oh my god. That’s wild.

TDW: I thought we could go chronologically and see what you remember from each of your experiences. Looking at the ones you did for Beverly Hills 90210, you directed some pretty huge episodes there. The season 4 finale [Episode 4.31-32, Mr. Walsh Goes To Washington], the season 5 premiere [Episode 5.01, What I Did On My Summer Vacation And Other Stories], the season 6 premiere [Episode 6.01, Home Is Where The Tart Is], the season 6 finale [Episode 6.31-32, You Say It’s Your Birthday], the season 9 finale [Episode 9.26, That‘s The Guy]. Those are huge benchmarks in the series. What do you remember about those? Is it different being called in for a premiere and a finale?

Lange: I had a great time doing the finales and the premieres. It is a little bit different. The finales usually–well, I think the 9 wasn’t but the other two finales were 2-hour episodes. So for the [one-hour], that show was shot in 7 days and for the two-hour, we ended up getting 14 days. And usually there was one sort of giant set piece sequence. I think in the season 4 finale, it was the carnival, right?

TDW: Yes. Season 4 you have the Greek carnival.

Lange: It was a huge amount of fun. And basically, because it’s 14 days you have more latitude in how everything is scheduled and you have more production value. I got a crane a couple of those days and everything is sort of bigger and better. So they were a huge amount of fun to direct and usually the stories are pretty epic in those finales. The same thing with the premieres, though those were 1-hour. But because it’s a premiere, you have more time to prepare. And there’s a little bit of a badge of courage thing. As a director, it’s a little more prestigious to do premieres and finales. At least in those days, on that show. Usually also there’s more publicity about them so pretty much every day on those episodes, there was someone, you know, doing interviews or behind-the-scenes stuff.

TDW: Does that translate to more pressure for you?

Lange: Well, I’m sure there is more pressure but you have to sort of train yourself as a director to not really notice the pressure too much. I’m sure it comes out somewhere in my body; I’m just not sure where. In a way, on the finale, which were, as I said, were 2-hours, it felt like to me there was less pressure in terms of time because you were able to have a little bit more time for everything. And was the Queen Mary–

TDW: That was the season 6 finale.

Lange: Yes, that was also a huge amount of fun.

TDW: I would imagine that it must be somewhat difficult to shoot on a cruise ship.

Lange: Actually, it wasn’t. It was completely a joyous experience. There were a number of scenes that were in the lobby of the ship and as soon as I got to the lobby, I said to the producer that there’s no way we’re going to shoot in this lobby because the actual lobby of the Queen Mary is extremely small. So I said we needed to build one on the stage. So that whole lobby was a set. So what you try to do is minimize the degree of difficulty that will hurt the actual shooting of the scenes but there’s a point at which, obviously, if it’s too easy, that’s not good either. It’s a bit of a judgment call. The lobby I just said we can’t do that. Then everything else–shooting on the deck, the ballroom scene with the Goo Goo Dolls–that was actually on the boat. That was great. The crew on that show, they had been doing it for a number of years and it was an excellent group of people. They knew the show well. A lot of making those sequences go well is just in the planning. When to shoot what and how to do it. That stuff. So it actually went really well on the Queen Mary.

In fact, I have one little personal anecdote, which is amusing about that one. The Queen Mary is in Long Beach, California, and I live in the Hollywood Hills. It’s like a 45-minute drive from my house to the Queen Mary. So I thought to myself that these were going to be some killer days and I decided to stay on the boat. We shot there for six days and it was actually a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and then a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So Wednesday night I stayed on the boat, Thursday night I stayed on the boat, and then the following week, Monday and Tuesday I stayed on the boat. And I thought that way I’ll eliminate an hour-and-a-half of driving in my day. The first day, I believe, was the day we did the Goo Goo Dolls sequence. They did 3 songs. We had a lot of scenes in the big ballroom and almost the entire cast was in the scenes. I thought, well, that’s going to easily be a 14-hour day. Well, we ended up finishing it in about 11 hours and every day there was actually shorter than I imagined it to be. But I still ended up staying on the boat, which was great. We actually pretended we were on a cruise. There were a number of us that were staying aboard and we would go up to the bar and have some cocktails and appetizers. It was just completely a fantastic experience.

TDW: Wow. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Lange: It was a huge amount of fun, I must say. I always enjoyed doing that show because it was so well-produced that it was–I’m not going to say easy, because easy is the wrong word. But relative to other shows that I directed, it was just all pleasurable. There really wasn’t that much pressure and the cast was fantastic. The producer was a great guy and everything about it was really great.

TDW: In season 9 you had another big one, You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello [9.07]. It wasn’t a finale or a premiere but it was big in the history of the show because it was the last episode with Tiffani Amber Thiessen [Valerie] and it was the return episode for Luke Perry [Dylan]. Were there high expectations with that?

Lange: Everyone was looking at the dailies more closely but that was a show where there was not a lot of presence on the set of the network or the writers. I remember a couple of times, actually more early on in my experience on 90210, where I didn’t do enough shots for them and I’d have to go back and pick up some more shots but pretty much by season 9, it was a pretty smoothly-run machine. The biggest job, honestly, by that time was just to get some enthusiasm out of the cast. Because they had been doing it for so long, they were sort of not always as energetic as they should’ve been. So I would often have to cheerlead them into getting a little more energy into the scenes.

TDW: With that episode, one of the things viewers who are fans of both Valerie and Dylan complain about is that there weren’t scenes with them together. Valerie leaves and a few minutes later, Dylan shows up. Was it just built into the script that way? Did it occur to anyone that there was an opportunity for another reunion here?

Lange: I think it was just built into the script. But there was not much that happened by accident in those scripts. They were pretty well thought through. I’m sure they had good reasons for doing it.

TDW: A little over a year after your last 90210 episode, you direct your first episode of Dawson’s Creek. You directed huge episodes there, too. There’s two I want to talk about but the first one is early in season 5, where Mitch [John Wesley Shipp] dies at the end [Episode 5.03, Capeside Revisited]. There was distinct choice there not to see the car crash. You sense something is about to go wrong and then there’s like a bright white light and you sort of hear it. I was just wondering about that decision.

Lange: Very honestly, a lot of it is budgetary. We discussed it at length. I remember that pretty vividly. It starts with budget. It was shot in Wilmington, North Carolina and the budget of the show was not huge because it was The WB. The budgets were a little bit lower. It would’ve been a big deal to actually crash the car. But we could’ve made an issue of it and figured out other ways to save money on the episode. Like if I had felt it was important enough, I probably could’ve probably convinced the producer to readjust the budget and have the car crash. That’s the kind of the stuff a director can have an influence on, even only as freelancer. But I actually felt that given the emotional punch of that sequence that, in a way, it would be better to leave it to the imagination of the audience rather than vividly show it. And also, the type of show it was, I felt it would better to do it more in a representational way rather than actually show the crash.

TDW: With crash you think physical impact but by not showing it, it also had an impact–an emotional one.

Lange: Right. We talked about it quite a lot and ultimately decided it was a win-win for everybody. A win for the budget and also for the emotional punch of the scene. We all ended up feeling it would be a much more powerful scene without the crash because then the audience would just sort of feel the loss as opposed to getting all caught up in, “Oh my god, wasn’t that an amazing crash?” I think ultimately it almost felt more real by not seeing it. Once you see the crash, you’re gonna think “Oh, it was a stunt guy,” “Oh, wasn’t that amazing?” “Oh, look at all the fire” or whatever we did for the crash. This way it was all about the heart of what was happening.

TDW: The next episode I wanted to discuss was the last one you did, Joey Potter and the Capeside Redemption [6.22]. Though it was the episode before the series finale, it was almost like a series finale itself. Dawson [James Van Der Beek] and Pacey [Joshua Jackson] make up. Jen [Michelle Williams] and Jack [Kerr Smith] move to New York. Joey [Katie Holmes] finally goes to Paris. It’s just a tremendous episode in terms of quality and significance.

Lange: I was literally just talking about this the other day, just from the technical aspects of the bit where Joey goes to Paris. We had at one point talked about recreating it in Wilmington and I kept saying that would be bogus. There’s nothing in Wilmington that looks like Paris. So we actually ended up having a small–you know, sometimes, you just have to sort of say things as a director that are just going to sound insane. And I just said, “Let’s do this. If we can get a shot in that mall, at the of which is the Eiffel Town and the other side is a museum. I’d love to have a shot that starts on the museum, pans around and ends up on the Eiffel Tower in the background and I will figure  a way to get Katie into that shot with a green screen.” They look at you like you’re crazy and then you call the visual effects guys and they say, “Yeah, I guess we can do that” and you just figure it out. So we ended up shooting the Katie part of it with her standing on a picnic table in the harbor in Wilmington and we just dolly-ed around her and stuck it into the green screen. It was pretty cool. And then we ended up doing a day in Montreal, where we took her up to Montreal, which does look a lot like Paris. So we shot for a day up there and that really sort of put her there, which was kind of cool.

TDW: It’s just such an amazing capstone to the series. If that was the series finale, that would’ve been perfectly okay. Anyway, later that year you moved onto The O.C. and with The O.C. you managed to direct an episode in every season.

Lange: I did!

TDW: But the first one you did [Episode 1.08, The Rescue] was kind of a big one because it was kind of like a season premiere. The first seven episodes of the series had aired all in a row, beginning in August, and then the show was on hiatus for a month and you had the responsibility of presenting the next episode where the network knew a whole bunch of new people would be tuning in. Was that like doing a season premiere?

Lange: Yes. It definitely was. There were a lot of eyes on that one. A lot of people on the set. It was a big episode for them, as you said, because it was effectively a premiere. And also there was pretty big cliff-hanger with Marissa [Mischa Barton] in Mexico. So in my episode, she was in the hospital for pretty much the entire episode. The big pressure in that one is that in a premiere, everyone wants it to be pretty splashy and yet I was sort of saddled with having Mischa Barton in the hospital in one room for most of the episode. It was a collaborative effort but you have to sort of figure out ways to keep it interesting visually so it doesn’t feel like she’s in the room the whole time. That was sort of the big pressure and challenge of that episode.

TDW: With The O.C., now you have your second teen drama that’s set in California but with different looks. Both are depictions of rich lifestyles in California but have different feels.

Lange: A lot of it is 90210 was started in…

TDW: 1990.

Lange: So The O.C. was like 10 years later, right?

TDW: Thirteen. 1990 to 2003.

Lange: So a lot of it is just because the times have changed and technology. A lot of the look of television has to do with what we think people are expecting to see, based on movies and stuff. The audience for television now is pretty sophisticated visually. So if you look at old television shows, although the content may be great, visually a lot of them are pretty crappy because I think in those days the audiences weren’t as sophisticated visually as they are now and not as demanding. So we’re always trying to keep up with that to some degree. And then 90210, because it was Spelling and they were very, very conscious of the budget there and it was a pretty inexpensive show to make, the look of that show they didn’t care so much. But The O.C., you know, [executive producer] McG was sort of one of the influences of the show and [creator, executive producer] Josh Schwartz was a brand-new young guy. They were wanting to appeal to a much more visually hip audience. It was the first show where the whole kind of concept of wish fulfillment was talked about. I remember in my first meeting with Josh, he said “Basically, what we want to do on this show is we want to create a show where the audience wants to go there and be in the show or be in that fictional community. Every scene needs be ‘I want to do that, I want to be there.’” So that’s all wrapped up in how it looks. The set design, everything about it, was much more thought through than on 90210.

TDW: Speaking of sophisticated direction, in one of those episodes, you directed George Lucas [Episode 2.23, The O.Sea].

Lange: I did! That was cool. That was actually the second time I had ever met him. The first time, coincidentally, was on 90210. We shot a scene at the airport in L.A. and it turns out it was George Lucas’ daughter’s 16th birthday and all she wanted–she was a huge fan of the show–for her birthday was to visit the set of 90210. So that was the day that worked out for them to visit. I knew in advance that was he coming so whatever the time was, this giant limousine pulls up at LAX with his daughter, who I can’t even remember, and him. So we met there, which was funny, so then the episode where Seth [Adam Brody] ends up having dinner with him, it was really cool that I was able to direct those scenes. It was fun. He’s an interesting guy. Obviously kind of a genius. But he’s completely interested in technology. That’s his big thing. He’s not a great actor.

TDW: No. It was very much him just reading the lines.

Lange: Right, exactly. At one point, I think in the second scene, I can’t remember specifically what the line was–it was something like “What?! You’re doing what?!”–and he just couldn’t do it. So finally I said, “George, it needs to be more Jewish.” And he actually said, “Oh, you should’ve gotten the other guy for that then,” meaning Steven Spielberg. But I said, “I’m not sure what you mean, George, because there’s a lot of Jewish directors in this business.” And he said, “No, I mean Spielberg” and I had to say, “No, I knew you meant that.” He didn’t have a great sense of humor, I must say.

TDW: I just remember being surprised that he even did the show at all.

Lange: I was surprised too, but I think, again, he had a daughter–not the same one that was at 90210 but his younger daughter–who was a huge fan of the show. So she came and it was like a visit from the Queen. All the cast was sort of commanded to be there and the daughter got to meet all of them and have pictures. It was quite the event.

TDW: Two other episodes that stand out to me for the drama in them is in season 3. There’s a sequence where you have Ryan [Benjamin McKenzie] and Marissa on the beach and they’re having sex for the first time but the sequence is inter-cut with Jimmy [Tate Donovan], Marissa’s father, getting the crap beat out of him [Episode 3.03, The End of Innocence]. And the scenes just go back and forth in rapid cuts. That was just intense.

Lange: That was very intense. I actually had a funny thing on that, too. He got the crap beat out of him underneath the pier and I wanted to have a bit where they smashed his head into one of those concrete columns and I said I really couldn’t do it with a stunt guy because it needed to be up close and personal to really sell. So I actually had them make an overlay piece out of foam that looked exactly like concrete so we were able to shoot his face being smashed into it. That was pretty cool.

TDW: Wow. The next one I was going to say is actually a death later that season. You have Johnny [Ryan Donowho] falling from the cliff [Episode 3.14, The Cliffhanger] and, like with Dawson’s Creek, we see it start to happen but we don’t see the point of impact.

Lange: Right. I think it’s the same sort of the thing. The value of showing this boy falling and hitting the ground is not huge, I think, emotionally. Both of the shows are emotional-based. You want to always have the heart and the emotion. If you show too much graphic stuff, it’s going to take away from the real story.

TDW: The last one I wanted to mention was in season 4, a really comedic episode [Episode 4.06, The Summer Bummer]. You had Ryan with all these crazy fantasies about Taylor [Autumn Reeser].

Lange: Oh my god. That was fantastic.

TDW: And you also had this character of Che [Chris Pratt], a hippie-ish guy Summer [Rachel Bilson] met at Brown, and he handcuffs himself to her. When you’re doing the dramatic episodes versus the lighter ones, what’s it like on set? Are things more tense in the dramatic ones?

Lange: I think that depends a lot on the director. I am always pretty much light. So when I direct, even in dramatic scenes, I always like to keep it light.

TDW: Your time on The O.C. overlapped with One Tree Hill and One Tree Hill brought you back to Wilmington. Do you have any comments on filming in Los Angeles versus Wilmington and do you prefer one to the other?

Lange: They both have their advantages. I love Wilmington. It’s a lot easier to get around there. The people there, because not that many things are filmed there, they’re always happy to help out and oblige when we use locations there. They’re always excited about it–“Oh, they’re filming a movie here!”–whereas in L.A., everyone’s much more jaded about the whole experience. In Wilmington you never have anyone turning up the music because they hate that you’re there, whereas in L.A., that happens more frequently than I’d like to say. So that aspect of it is great. For me, I live in L.A. and I have a family so I like being home. Being away from home is not that great. Also, although the crew on both Dawson’s and One Tree Hill were excellent, I think the best crews are in L.A. for sure. There’s no question about that. There’s definitely excellent crews in other places but if you want the best of the best, L.A. is the place and the same thing with casting. A lot of times with the smaller roles–although the talent pool in Wilmington is certainly wonderful; they’re all very nice people–the truth of it is you get a much deeper choice, many more choices, of actors in L.A. Like if you go out of for a small part, you’ll see 20 people in L.A., of which maybe 15 of them will be good for the part and 5 of them will be great. In Wilmington you’ll see maybe 5 people for the part and 4 of them will be okay and 1 of them will be good. So the talent pool, in every aspect–crew and cast–is just better in L.A.

TDW: Of the four shows, One Tree Hill you directed the least with your last episode in 2007 but of the four, it’s the only still on. Because of your commitment to Greek and other things, is it unlikely you’ll go back there at all?

Lange: Yeah, probably not. I don’t think I’ll go back there. They have called me a couple of times but I’m not available. But I like the show and I love Wilmington and the crew and everything is great about it. I always have a good time.

TDW: Looking at all four of these shows, they get lumped together in this teen drama category but do you see any distinct differences between them?

Lange: I think all things being equal–if you produced all of them at the same time–they’d probably be pretty similar. A lot of shows are reflections of the time in which they’re created and produced. Because, after all, these kind of dramas are reflecting the mores of the culture they’re about and that’s all sort of evolving and changing as time goes by. I think if you look back historically at the–it’d be interesting to look back 100 years from now; you can probably get a pretty good idea of what teenage culture was like from those shows. And if you looked at them together, you could probably see the evolution of how things have evolved. Obviously there’s many similarities that have concerned teenagers from pre-historic times, I’m sure.

TDW: Have you checked out the new 90210 at all?

Lange: No, I haven’t seen it. Most of it is because I’m pretty busy but part of it is because, to me, the real one is the one I did. The new one is just a pathetic copy. Well, that’s stupid of me to say because it’s based on nothing. I haven’t seen the show. It’s just an emotional reaction because I feel very close to [the original] 90210. It’s literally based on no knowledge [of the new show] whatsoever.

TDW: Have you see any of Gossip Girl?

Lange: Just one or two of them and I think that one, it’s not really my thing. And also working on Greek, because it’s so authentic–it’s a little bit heightened but it has an authenticity about it–it makes me sort of cringe when I see these shows that just don’t feel real to me and that’s one of them. I’m from New York and it’s not a New York that I recognize.

TDW: My last question is two-fold. What about Greek do you love so much and does working on it differ from a traditional broadcast teen drama, given that it’s on a cable channel?

Lange: What I love about it is I love the way it sort of evokes–even in me, I went to college a long time ago but it just has such an authentic quality to it–memories and feelings that are just kind of wonderful to sort of play around with in my head. I always figure a director is basically a highly paid and hopefully educated audience. So I assume it has a similar affect on people watching the show. The issues it deals with and the way it deals with issues between people, and the heart, which is just a big part of the show as well as the comedy, is just something that I love about it.

Because we’re on ABC Family we have to be a little more careful than we would like to be in terms of the drinking and the partying and language and stuff like that. There’s a little bit of battling occasionally between us and the network over stuff we want to do. We had this one sequence where it was supposed to be at a homecoming parade or whatever and there was an Antony and Cleopatra float. The float was built by the Omega Chis, who are kind of the straight-arrow guys. The KTs re-rigged it so it looked like Cleopatra was going down on Antony and at one point there was an explosion of foam from a beer, which was supposed to simulate, you know, an orgasm and the network wouldn’t let us do that. In fact, we had to carefully make sure it didn’t look like she was doing that. So there’s sort of those issues but those would probably be the same on network television. And then, of course, the cable budgets are significantly lower so there’s the production challenge of trying to make a show which has to look as good and feel as good. It can’t feel like it’s a low-budget show so that it a little more challenging but, truthfully, that is kind of fun to me. Other than that, it’s not dissimilar from how it would be on a regular network.

TDW: What is the outlook on a 4th season?

Lange: You know, it’s impossible to say really. It would be guessing. They’re going to let us know by the middle in February. It’s hard to tell.

TDW: Yeah. People are speculating now for all the other shows as well but with the upfronts still so far away, it’s a little premature.

Lange: Very. We’re back on the air a week from today [now tomorrow] and if the ratings are great, most likely we’ll get picked up and if the ratings are bad, most likely we won’t and if the ratings are medium, then we won’t know.

On that note, I encourage you all to tune in tomorrow night at 10pm eastern on ABC Family for Greek’s mid-season premiere.

Come back next week for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





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