TDW Look Back, Pt. 2

31 12 2009

Part One

ORIGINAL POSTS: The Essential Teen Drama Love Triangles (1/31/09) and All-Time Favorite Couples (2/16/09)

WHY I LOVE THEM: It’s no secret that my favorite aspect of teen dramas are the romances, which are often accompanied by love triangles. My favorite characters, moments, quotes, etc. are tied up in these heartbreaking, angst-filled, passionate love affairs that I can’t help but relive over and over again (thanks, SoapNet and YouTube!). Like with most of TDW, these posts do both you and me a favor: I get an excuse to obsess some more over my favorite triangles and couples (it’s “research”) and give everyone else a handy-dandy guide to the messy thing known to hardcore viewers as “ships.”

WHERE I’LL GO FROM HERE: Aside from these two series, or TDW Originals as I like to call them, I have about 20 others already done and a document with ideas for at least 20 more. I used to do them a lot more frequently in the first 6 or so months and I’d like to kick up the pace again. If you have any ideas for a series topic, feel free to let me know.





Happy Anniversary, TDW!

29 12 2009

I published my very first post on Dec. 29, 2008, even though no one knew I existed.

At the time, I didn’t know what shape TeenDramaWhore.com would take. I had no idea that soon enough I’d be reviewing the current shows each week, holding trivia nights on Twitter, giving away contest prizes or interviewing beloved teen drama actors.

Nearly 950 posts and one year later, my underlying mission has been accomplished. I wanted to find people that shared my passion for teen dramas and had as much an urge to discuss it as I did. I’m pleased to now know there’s quite a few TeenDramaWhores out there.

I want to thank each and every one of you who ever checked out a post on the site, left a comment, retweeted a link or just showed your support in some way.

There’s a few people in particular I need to recognize:

Madeline for designing my awesome header.

Amy at OneTreeHillBlog.com for being the first site to ever link to TDW.

Christy-Anne at OTHTwitterBugs.com for being my Twitter-busting partner-in-crime and for providing endless moral support.

Angela at Talking Gossip After Dark for promoting TDW in each podcast and seeking my contributions.

Jethro Nededog of The Los Angeles Times for being a legitimate journalist who actually takes my work seriously and spreads it around.

The CW for sharing TDW posts on Twitter.

The One Tree Hill family for also sharing TDW posts on Twitter.

Any publicist or manager who has ever granted me an interview or confirmed a Twitter account or even just responded to my e-mails.

Any actor or teen drama role player who has agreed to be interviewed.

And you for, if nothing else, reading this post right now.

Despite many milestones this past year, TDW still has a lot of growing to do. I’ll spend the next few days reflecting on where we’ve been and sharing my hopes for the future.

I hope you’ll come along with me on this look-back journey and stick around for Year Two.





Exclusive: Helen Ward Reveals the Secrets Behind Peyton’s Artwork on One Tree Hill

13 12 2009

As I watch and rewatch certain episodes of One Tree Hill, I never tire of seeing Peyton’s artwork. Even when you take out the connections it has to the storyline, the artistic talent there still just blows me away. I always wondered just who was responsible for it and so I did what all the Millenials do: I googled it.

Lo and behold, I came across the name Helen Ward and tracked her down via her Web site. Helen was kind enough to take some out of her busy schedule to give TDW the behind-the-scenes dish on creating art for One Tree Hill.

TeenDramaWhore: What was the process of joining One Tree Hill as an artist?  Surely it’s not the same as casting an actress, right?

Helen Ward: Before joining OTH, I had already worked as a set designer, storyboard artist and illustrator for a number of films.  But I still had to try out for the job.  I think they asked a bunch of people to give their shot at a particular drawing.  They were pretty specific about what they were looking for. I guess my work was closest. I got the job.

TDW: Did you try to get to know Hilarie Burton (Peyton) before drawing for her character?  Or was it more important just to understand the character?

Ward: I did not try and get to know Hilarie.  She is a talented actress and has done a great job with the character.  But it was the character I was drawing for and I learned what I needed to from the show and the scripts.

TDW: What is the process of drawing for a particular episode?  Does Burton, creator Mark Schwahn or anyone else give any input?

Ward: Mostly Robbie Beck, the props master for OTH, would contact me about drawings for the show.  Mark Schwahn always knew exactly what he wanted and it would be described in the script. So Robbie would send me the info and I would initially do some quick sketches.  Almost all of our communication was via e-mail.  I wish I could say something more exciting, like Hilarie and I would chat about what Peyton would be drawing, but the only time I ever spoke with her was when they were filming at my house in Wilmington (which oddly enough was Peyton’s house on the show.)   But I didn’t mention to her that I was her “ghost artist.”

TDW: In scenes that show Peyton drawing or painting, is she actually just going over your work?

Ward: When Peyton is shown drawing on camera, there would likely be very light lines for her to follow. Often I would give a finished version and an unfinished for this purpose.  If I remember correctly, it was usually the words that I left undone.

TDW: How has Peyton’s art evolved over the years?

Ward: I look back at the first season and think the drawings are awful!  I certainly became more comfortable working in her style, but I think her style also evolved to fit mine. Does that make sense? Initially I was trying to do something that just didn’t flow well from me.  The drawings were too clean. A little forced and not at all the way I liked to work.  But as the show progressed, I began to put more of my own style in them.   I became more comfortable and the work got better.

TDW: Do you have a favorite drawing or episode?

Ward: So my least favorite are just about anything from the first season, and my favorites are the very last drawings I did for the show [Episode 6.19, Letting Go].  Peyton does the panels of certain scenes from her past with Lucas [Chad Michael Murray].  I really had fun with those.  Each page had multiple panels and told a longer story than the single frame images that made up most of the previous work. Plus it was nice to come full circle.  I think my first drawing for the show was “You don’t know me.” One of those last ones was a version of that as well.   That was a fun five years.  I’m a little sad that Peyton has moved on.

TDW: Most people don’t know you’re behind all the artwork, right?

Ward: And who am I going to tell that I am behind the artwork?  I don’t think most people think about all the work that happens behind the scenes.  And it should be that way. The viewers should be caught up in the show.  Anyway, it doesn’t come up much.  I do have a niece who thinks it’s pretty cool.  And I impressed a bunch of third-graders at career day at my daughter’s school.  But they were much more excited by the work I did for the Hannah Montana movie.  Go figure.

TDW: Now that Burton has left the show, does it mean we won’t be seeing any more of your work?

Ward: I have been very busy with a variety of projects. I’ve done a number of portraits for movies, which is probably my favorite type of work. I just finished up work for “The Lottery Ticket,” [which is] currently being filmed in Atlanta.  Some of that work was like what I have done for OTH.  One of the characters is supposed to have created a whole bunch of sketches.  I think they are hanging in his bedroom.  I also did a huge religious painting that hangs in a church scene. (That was fun.)  I will eventually post more of this current work to my Web site.

TDW: What other projects do you work on or will you be working on?

Ward: I feel supremely lucky to do what I do.  I love drawing and couldn’t be happier than when I am working on a project, drawing away and listening to music.  And drawing for OTH was exceptional. It wasn’t just a one-time gig for a movie that is out in theaters for a couple weeks. It was ongoing and evolving. Although I had nothing to do with the concepts behind Peyton’s art, and her drawings are a tiny part of the show,  I have to admit I have loved hearing that people out there have connected with the artwork.  I have received e-mails from OTH fans who say they love to draw and the artwork on the show is really important to them.  How cool is that?!

Come back next week for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





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

9 12 2009
  • Quite a few teen drama stars, past and present, made BuddyTV’s list of the Sexiest Men and Sexiest Women of 2009. Seriously, an actor or actress from every one of our teen dramas was included!
  • Last night’s 90210 (1.9 million viewers) a small drop in the ratings compared to last week but a tie for the season low.
  • EW.com has a great recap of last night’s 90210, complete with a reference to The O.C.
  • The Los Angeles Times also has wonderful recap–and they linked to TDW! Here’s the bad part: according this article, 90210 won’t be back til March! The CW seemingly confirmed it in an e-mail they sent out earlier tonight saying to watch 90210 “this spring.”
  • Gossip Girl is being turned into a comic book/graphic novel.
  • Monsters and Critics has an article on Mischa Barton (Marissa, The O.C.)
  • Olivia Wilde (Alex, The O.C.) is in a new PSA on global warming.




Exclusive: Executive Producer Paul Stupin Revisits Dawson’s Creek

15 11 2009

With the Paley Center’s “Dawson’s Creek: A Look Back” panel and the release of “Dawson’s Creek: The Complete Series,” I’ve been on a DC high the past week and a half.  Imagine my delight in finding someone who was not only just as enthusiastic but also chock full of insider stories only true fans like TDW readers could appreciate. And when you combine that with the fact that this guy is also partly responsible for introducing Beverly Hills 90210 to the world, well, that pretty much makes him a teen drama god.

After reading all the DC and 90210 goodness executive producer Paul Stupin shared with me, you’ll never want TDW’s stroll down memory creek to end!

TeenDramaWhore: How was the Paley Center panel?  How did it come about?

Paul Stupin: It came about for two sets of reasons. The first was that there are a  lot of die-hard Dawson’s supporters and fans out there that could support such a event. And the second key element is Sony is planning to issue this monumental all-seasons of Dawson’s DVD collection.

TDW: Yeah! It came out yesterday and I went to three different stores and finally found it!

Stupin: I just think it’s the coolest thing ever. So it was a good opportunity to call some attention to the DVD collection while at the same time having an event for the fans. It was really fun for me because when I did Dawson’s, I look back on it as a very special and rewarding time in my life and to be able to talk about it and see some cast members and see Kevin [Williamson, creator] again was just a blast.

TDW: I’m sure. I wish I could’ve been there!

Stupin: Yeah, you would’ve liked it!

TDW: Oh, I’m sure. Well let’s go back even further, to 1997-1998, and Kevin Williamson comes to you with this idea to make this semi-autobiographical show. What made you come on board?

Stupin: Well, that’s not exactly how it happened but I can tell you. I had read an early draft of this film that he wrote. At the time, it was called Scary Movie but that was going to turn into Scream and they used the original title for something else. I had read a draft of that and I had really responded to the writing. One of the things I loved about it is not only did it have some smart thrills and chills but it also had this great sort of teenage/20-something dialogue. I just loved his voice and I loved the different perspectives that he had brought to the horror genre so I pushed really hard to his agent for Kevin and I to sit down. Originally, I wanted to run two areas by him. The first area was sort of a younger X-Files-esque kind of show and the second one was just a really smart, young ensemble sort of show that could tap into younger characters’ voices. I had ran programming at Fox, so the idea of doing a family show was kind of not on the board because Fox had Party of Five. So we started to talk about potentially doing a show about a number of younger characters who live on the same street. Then Kevin sort of went away and came back and sort of pitched to me a bunch of characters living on the same creek, which, of course, was semi-autobiographical. What made that so interesting is that it specified the idea and made it something unique and took us to a place I had never seen before. And the other thing that made that original pitch so exciting was the characters. He pitched to me the characters of Dawson [James Van Der Beek] and Joey [Katie Holmes] and Jen [Michelle Williams] and how that triangle would work. And then as we were talking about that, we came up with the idea of incorporating another character into the mix who could be a confidante for Dawson and that’s how the character of Pacey [Joshua Jackson] originated.

TDW: I think you really hit it when you said the show was unique. There are a couple of specific things that people are still talking about today and they really want the inside details of how it happened. I know you guys went over a bit of this at the panel but I’d love to hear it from you yourself.  So if we can just go over a couple of different storylines, I’d love to hear what you guys were thinking and the genesis of those. So the first one is in season 2 when we have Jack [Kerr Smith] announce that he’s gay [Episodes 2.14 & 2.15, To Be Or Not To Be… & …That Is The Question].

Stupin: I think there were two reasons for that. The first reason is it was a great way to integrate in a gay character on our series and to do it from the perspective of the kids we’d come to know and love on the show from the get-go. So the thought of involving Joey in a relationship with Jack and seeing that relationship take a completely unexpected turn and then understanding the emotional impact it would have on Joey’s character, and what it would do to Dawson and Pacey–all that seemed really interesting. And at the time, the thought of integrating a gay character and following that journey seemed really powerful and a way to tap into a whole set of emotions that would make our show even more memorable. One of the things that I love about Dawson’s is that it sort of wore its heart on its sleeve. Not only did it capture the voices and that sense of teenage yearning and teenage love and first-time love, and the power and the strength of all that, with love comes heartache as well in many stories. I think it enabled us to tell a really emotional and powerful story for a character that we’d really come to enjoy in the form of Jack. So that was one element to it and I think for Kevin it was a very personal story as well, and it was a way to again put a whole different perspective on the teen ensemble drama in a way that it hadn’t been done before. The second element to it was the fact that when Joey started that relationship with Jack, it was not going to go on forever. The key relationship in our series was what was going on between Joey and Dawson and Pacey, so the Jack character, that romance, was ultimately going to come to an end. And I think there was the thought of what a powerful way to see the relationship head south when the character starts to realize an insight into his own sexuality.

TDW: Going back to the Dawson-Joey-Pacey relationship, I read in Jeff Stepakoff’s book “Billion-Dollar Kiss” that Greg Berlanti–whom I adore–was the one to suggest putting Joey and Pacey together. I was wondering how accurate that story was in the book.

Stupin: Well, at the top of every season, we’ll sit and we’ll talk about [our plans]. We take a couple of weeks and we talk about each character and where we were going and what the sort of macro-issues were that we want to cover over the course of that particular group of 22 episodes. And Greg was definitely a part of that and the thought  of telling sort of a whole Joey-Pacey romance did in fact come out of that, absolutely. But I think you can go back, you can look at the pilot and you can look at the chemistry–and I did, in looking at the pilot last week–you can look at the chemistry between Joey and Pacey and you just know they’re sort of two peas in a pod and sooner or later that element of the triangle is going to get explored. So it’s definitely true what Jeff had in the book but I think that Greg was building from the seeds that were established in the original conception of the show, to tell you the truth.

TDW: Right.  Going to a more somber note: this probably came early on for you guys given how you plan the season but a lot of people were really surprised and devastated when in the 5th season Mitch [John Wesley Shipp] died [Episodes 5.03 & 5.04, Capeside Revisited & The Long Goodbye].

Stupin: Yes.

TDW: I’m wondering what the idea for that was. We never knew if it was casting reasons or storyline-dictated.

Stupin: It wasn’t really casting issues. The thing with Mitch was every year we would figure out a way to have 1 or 2 sort of emotional stories between Dawson and his mom and dad. In the first season we had all that great stuff with her affair with a newscaster. That was just sort of natural. The second season we have the story with mom and dad trying the open marriage, and it’s arguable as to how memorable that actually was. It seemed like such a fresh idea. I’m not sure that it translated quite as well as the idea initially seemed. And then after that, when the inter-relationships between the teenagers grew ever-more prominent and people became much more invested, it felt like the parents–though still important–were not quite as much a part of the storylines. So that’s when we would always try to include them, to have them in different things, to have great sort of Dawson-mom, Dawson-dad scenes but I think we were straining a little bit. And I think that when we got to the point of deciding the fate with Mitch, it seemed like we weren’t using him altogether that much in the series, in the seasons. We were using him but we weren’t using him in a huge way. There weren’t any financial or casting considerations. It really did come from the creative angle, in terms of how would it affect Dawson’s character if in fact this happened to his dad, and exploring that, and exploring the unexpected tragedy of it seemed like another way to really heighten the exploration as to who Dawson was, so that’s basically where that came from. And I remember talking to John Wesley and mentioning that the one thing that this would provide is that it was going to take the Dawson-father storyline to a really heartbreaking sense of conclusion and, at that point, we weren’t using him as much as we had in the past.

TDW: How does that contrast, then, to the decision in the series finale [Episodes 6.23 & 624, All Good Things… & …Must Come To An End] to have another death and this time it be Jen?

Stupin: It was so interesting last week; it came up that in a way it was a great book-end for the series. It frankly never occurred when we were talking about the beginning or the end of the show but one could argue that the series began with a catalyst and that was the arrival of Jen. And the series ended with a catalyst as well, and that was the departure of Jen. And the one thing that I think that it did is it really brought a sense of emotional resonance and power to that final episode, because one of the things with a final episode you want to be able to do, you want to be able to end a series in a satisfying and emotional and interesting way. And if we essentially had the last episode in history for Dawson’s Creek, we could talk about and we could explore issues of mortality involving some of our characters. Then when we talked about it, if we were going to be dealing with the characters’ mortality, she seemed like the most natural character in which to explore that.

TDW: Going back to the catalyst idea, it could be extended that that was really what it took for Joey to finally make up her mind between the two boys.

Stupin: Yeah, I think a little bit. I think the interesting thing was the series sort of ends twice. It ends in the episode before then [Episode 6.22, Joey Potter And The Capeside Redemption] where we get the sense that finally Dawson and Pacey are going to be friends and Joey did actually get to Europe. And I think that had a sense of closure. Then we took it another step and went to a sort of even more sort of larger-than-life ending of exploring who she was going to end up with. I think that was the big question: who was she going to end up with? And I think that that was handled pretty well, too. Like I personally love the thought that what this show was really about was not the romance of Dawson and Joey but about the strength and depth of that friendship and how that friendship was going to exist forever.

TDW: So if you had to answer the question, in your heart of hearts, do you think Dawson belongs with Joey in a platonic, friends soulmates sense and Pacey in the romantic soulmate way?

Stupin: In my heart of hearts, I think we ended it the right away. I think that what she did have in the romance with Pacey was as powerful as the friendship with Dawson. And I think that we were able to come up with a sense of satisfying closure for both of them. ‘Cause I will tell you, weirdly enough, when I was looking at The Sopranos–I’ll weirdly liken it to the conclusion of The Sopranos, at least from my weird perspective, because I was a fan of that. I like to think, in my mind, that Tony Soprano is still out there–maybe it wasn’t going to last forever, but maybe he’s still out there with his family, still dealing with the issues and still dealing with all the balls he was juggling. And in my mind, I like to think that Dawson and Joey are still out there in our alternate TV universe, still communicating with each other and still sharing the inner-most aspects of their hearts and still dealing with their friendship as adults, and that Joey and Pacey still have that romance. Because I feel like what we were able to come up with was, for me, an emotionally-satisfying conclusion for both stories which doesn’t let anyone down. And I know there are people who think Dawson and Joey should’ve been together romantically and I totally understand that point of view but I think we did the right thing.

TDW: Well, as a Joey and Pacey fan, I completely agree with you!

Stupin: Well, I can tell you this: that decision wasn’t made until the last hour was being shot and so if you look at the first hour of that final two-hour, I think at that point we were leaning toward her ending up with Dawson and so there are a few, I think, little cues–for the life of me I don’t remember exactly–that were set up to lead us in that direction and then, frankly, in the last hour, when the last hour was being shot–because it wasn’t shot as a two-hour; it was shot as two separate 1-hours–that when we came up with that conclusion, it caused us to shift things around a little bit. So I’ll tell ya, we were undecided up until the very last minute ourselves.

TDW: Wow. Well, switching gears slightly, you spoke about Dawson and the way he would communicate with Joey. Going off that, both Kevin Williamson and James Van Der Beek are on Twitter these days. I was wondering, had the service existed when the show was on the air, how do you think Dawson would’ve used it, if he would’ve used it? As I said, They’re both on it now, and Dawson was very much a storyteller.

Stupin: Well, I think Dawson might’ve used it to express his emotions. I think he might’ve used it as a shorthand way of communicating with both Joey and Pacey. It’s certainly easier to communicate things to someone by Twitter than it is necessarily in real life. He might’ve, at some point in our storytelling, he might’ve used it to express something that he might not have been so willing to express in person.

TDW: When you look back on the show and the television landscape then and now, what do you think the show’s legacy is?

Stupin: You know, I think for me it’s–well, first of all, I’m so proud of the show. I think the characters were amazing. I think their stories were amazing. I think the quality of the writing, the quality of the direction was–of course I’m biased but I think it was just top-flight. And I really do think it took the young adult teen genre and elevated it from just a niche kind of show to something universal and iconic. I think adults could look at it. When we were doing it we never looked at it as just a teen show.  We looked at it as just a smart, interesting, relationship show that happened to deal with teenagers and though our core audience was teenagers, it was written for everybody, for people in their 20s, their 30s, their 40s. And I really think it managed to transcend all of that and bring an element of quality and exploration to the genre that really took it to the next step.

TDW: Do you have a favorite episode or storyline?

Stupin: You know, I’m so biased. It’s like trying to pick if you have 120 kids which one’s your favorite. But I think for me there are certain sort of moments that I love. There’s certain episodes, like the pilot because it introduced us to that world, and I remember so much of it almost like it was yesterday. The first season-ender when Joey went to visit her dad in prison, I loved that. I loved the detention episode [Episode 1.07, Detention]. A lot of them are some of the original ones. But then I think I love the episode when they graduated high school [Episode 4.22, The Graduate]. I thought that was just sensational. I love the one-hour ender as well as the two-hour series finale ender. I think there’s so many. The episode where they studied and it was an all-nighter [Episode 2.07, The All-Nighter]. The episode where Joey had to enter the beauty pageant [Episode 1.12, Beauty Contest]. I just love all of those.

TDW: Well, conversely, do you have a big regret or something you wish you did differently?

Stupin: Yeah. My biggest regret would probably be, as I think about it–and it was a mistake we made–was the character of Eve. Remember that character?

TDW: Yeah. You guys even have a joke about that in the episode before the series finale.

Stupin: Yeah. I don’t think the first episodes of season 3 really were as memorable as the other episodes. And I think that whole notion of “Is she Jen’s sister? Is she not?”–I don’t think that was that effective. I don’t look back on that run of episodes as my favorites.

TDW: Yeah, I think the fans do agree with that.

Stupin: Yeah, but you know what, we turn it around.  In the middle of that season we turned it around with–

TDW: With Joey and Pacey.

Stupin: Yeah, with Joey and Pacey. And that certainly helped get us back, I think, to our roots.

TDW: Going more to your history, I know you played a bit of a role with the creation of Beverly Hills 90210.

Stupin: Yes, I did.

TDW: What influence, if any, did that show have on Dawson‘s Creek?  If you learned anything from how viewers took to what was really the first teenage show, as Dawson’s Creek is largely considered the next step in the genre.

Stupin: Well, two things. And it’s an interesting question. The first thing: when I hired Darren Star to write 90210, I felt as if his voice was just so unique in terms of his ability to write characters and come up with dialogue and wit that seemed like it would be a particularly good fit if he put into teenager characters’ mouths. So in a way I think that when I read Kevin’s voice, I felt some of it was the same in terms of being clever and sharp and smart and pop culturally-savvy. I felt like I had found another voice who was capable of taking the genre to the next step. So I felt like both Kevin and Darren brought originally a really unique sense of humor and sharpness to their creation of characters and dialogue. So I think there was a similarity there. The one issue that I took away from 90210, that was very effective in 90210, was the mix of issue-oriented episodes and personal inter-relationships. Though, when we jumped into Dawson’s, we veered away from doing the issue-oriented episodes and explored further just all of the great inter-relationships.

TDW: Going further ahead to the rest of the genre and the teen dramas that are on today, do you think Dawson’s Creek influenced them?

Stupin: I’m sure it did, though I can’t say–you know, again, I’m biased. I don’t know. In my mind, I’m undecided as to what the next real step in the genre is after Dawson’s. I’m not sure what it is. I haven’t watched enough of the shows. I hold, of course again I’m so biased, but I hold everything up to the prism of Dawson’s. I don’t know if any of them that have come since have quite represented that cultural milestone that Dawson’s did.

TDW: Do you think Dawson’s Creek would fly on The CW today? Because it’s so different than what The WB was.

Stupin: Yeah. I’m not sure. I’ve often thought would I be able to sell Dawson’s today? Would I be able to pitch that as a series and get it going, and I’m not altogether sure. Because now, when you look at Dawson’s, we sold it off the strength of the characters and off of the strength of Kevin’s voice being so fresh. Now, I think that the networks are looking for slightly higher concepts. So I’m not altogether sure that a Dawson’s would be able to sell today.

TDW: I have to ask, then, why do you think the 90210 spin-off sold?

Stupin: Oh, I see, are you talking about bringing able to bring it back, for instance?

TDW: Well, no, not for it to be a spin-off. But the 90210 concept today is working.

Stupin: Well, I think the 90210 concept–everyone, myself included, has fondness for that original show. The thought of sort of putting two new outsiders into that world and bringing the  show back is a great way to hook people into a whole new group of characters, and I think it was a great idea. The thing with Dawson’s is I don’t know if bringing the world of Dawson’s Creek back with a bunch of new characters would generate quite the excitement. Because I think when you think about the show, you think about Dawson and you think about the very unique 3 characters, the 4 characters we had, and the actors that played them. And I’m not sure if it was brought back again–I certainly wouldn’t want to redo it with a new Dawson or a new Pacey. So the question would be could we go back to Capeside with a whole new group of characters, and I’m not sure we would be able to put together a new group of people as memorably as we did originally.

TDW: Right. You know, they say lightening strikes once.

Stupin: Right. And you know, I’m afraid you always run the risk of–when you make a sequel to a movie that’s not as good, it kind of reflects negatively on the original movie.

TDW: I completely agree.

Stupin: And I like to think of all our episodes as being so special, I’m not sure it’s something you could bring back.

TDW: Well, my biggest disappointment right now is that Dawson’s Creek is no longer on any channel in America.

Stupin: Really? You know, they gotta get on that! Wasn’t it running like forever in the early morning hours?

TDW: It used to be on TBS. When I was in high school, it used to be on at like 10am. And then they pushed it to 4:30am, 5:30am and then it just faded away there and now it’s not on at all.

Stupin: I’m not sure what the design is on that because I always like to know that Dawson’s is out there.

TDW: I know, I know. It saddens me that it’s just not in repeats anywhere anymore in this country.

Stupin: You know what, those things tend to be cyclical. Maybe in the future you’ll be channel surfing one night. Knowing you, you’ll know way before then but maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

TDW: Fingers crossed.

Stupin: Exactly.

TDW: Well, let’s bring it back and finish on today. You’re with Make It Or Break It on ABC Family. Just looking at your career over the years, what is it about Make It or Break It that you’re here now?

Stupin: Well, what I love about Make It Or Break It is I’m a big fan of the genre, having originally developed 90210 and then developed Dawson’s. When I left to become a producer, I never really thought that my first real success would be in the same genre as 90210 because I actually never thought that lightning would strike twice in that genre for me as quickly as it did. But after I ran Dawson’s, you know, for six years, I developed a real love for the genre. And the thing that I love about Make It or Break It is the idea. It’s a fresh idea, it’s a fresh world. And it provides a pretty unique prism in which to explore sort of teenage relationships in a really unusual way. I mean, these girls aren’t normal teenagers. They’re elite gymnasts and there are rules against relationships as they’re pursuing their passion. How do they deal with that? And how do we deal with the same elements of teenage love and relationships and heartbreak but from a whole different perspective? And I love that about it, and I also love the relationships between the main characters and their parents and their parental figures. I think they’re a really organic element to the show and give us an opportunity to deal with really unusual family situations as well. So that’s why I love it. And also the gymnastics is just really cool. It’s a lot of fun just to see the gymnastics.

TDW: Oh, the gymnastics is just phenomenal to watch.

Stupin: So I think that Make It Or Break It is just such a special show. We’ve done 10 episodes and I think it’s just starting to get its sea legs. I think it has a huge successful life in front of it, I hope.

TDW: Well, best of luck to you on that!

Stupin: Thank you!

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





TDW Exclusive: Dawson’s Creek Star Mary Beth Peil on Playing Grams

10 11 2009

In honor of today’s release of Dawson’s Creek: The Complete Series, I’ve rounded up some key cast and crew to reflect on the monumental series.  If you followed my coverage of the Paley Center panel, you probably noticed a certain lady was MIA: Mary Beth Peil, better known as the one and only Grams.

I was lucky enough to track her down.  In our interview below, Peil discusses her favorite parts of playing grandmother to Michelle William’s Jen and shares memories of her time at Northwestern University, where we each attended college.

Enjoy the first part of TDW’s stroll down memory creek…

TeenDramaWhore: You started out as an opera singer and then moved on to theater.  What attracted you to a serialized drama about teenagers?

Mary Beth Peil: My life as an opera singer had NOTHING to do with a teen drama other than the fact that, having left opera in my early 40s, I was working very hard to prove myself as a legitimate actress and musical theatre performer. When the audition came along I went with the attitude of  “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

TDW: Do you think you share any qualities with Grams?

Peil: Age-wise I am closer to Grams NOW than when we started. I always thought of Grams as in her late 60s, early 70s. When we started the show, I was 57. I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter as opposed to Grams with Jen’s mom. BUT I DO LEARN something new everyday it seems…from my kids and young granddaughters. Being able to work with young actors all the time is a wonderful way to keep learning … AND give advice when asked for it.

TDW: Why do you think Grams was the one to teach the greatest lessons and have the wisest sayings?  (My favorite is probably “Love is the hardest of woods.”)

Peil: Oh I love that line! When I was shooting FRINGE with Josh [Jackson, Pacey],  he brought out that line as one of his favorites. Grams was really the only GROWNUP. It seemed that everyone’s PARENTS were going through their own adolescence angst/identity crisis etc. and I think [creator Kevin Williamson] wisely tapped into the “PRIMAL Tribal Elder” syndrome which our society seems to fight or ignore.

TDW: Grams had a pretty progressive love life for her age. Which parts of that did you think were realistic and which not so much?

Peil: Again…I think society dictates that she was progressive for her age. But I think being surrounded by all those raging hormones and libidos had a subliminal affect on her. Made her see herself in the mirror a little differently each day and as time went on begin to realize there was something missing in her life. I think the only thing TRULY UNrealistic about it was the availability of single straight age-appropriate MEN!!!!

TDW: They touched on this a little bit at the Paley Center panel and I’m wondering what your take is.  Fans would’ve been devastated had Grams died during the show, just as they were when Mitch did.  Why do you think it was so important that she even outlived her own granddaughter?

Peil: Another life lesson for everyone…the only thing you can expect  is the UNexpected. Parents are supposed to go first  BUT it doesn’t always turn out that way. AND of course it gave Kevin the opportunity to write some of his best stuff for the last episode.

TDW: Your Grams voice isn’t actually your natural one.  What inspired the voice and what was it like having to do it so often?

Peil: It just CAME at the audition. Her name was GRAMS so I knew that she was older than me. The first time I said  “Jennifer!!!”…it all fell into place. They wanted a hint of Cape Cod  but not too much. It was like part of my costume…that voice…part of putting gray in my hair…that voice…GRAMS.

TDW: As you mentioned, earlier this year, you reunited with Joshua Jackson on the set of Fringe.  What was that like?  Are you in touch with any of the other cast or crew?

Peil: When I arrived for a fitting the day before I was to shoot, Josh came through the office where I was waiting and all the
staff was peeking out of cubbies and from behind desks to see what would happen when he saw me. He did not disappoint.
He is such an OPEN Unaffected person…he literally jumped up and down with joy like I was his favorite Christmas present. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. We had done a reading together a couple of years ago. And it was sheer delight to work with him on set and to see what a splendid actor and MAN he has become.  I shot a film in Wilmington (THE LIST) and reunited with many of the wonderful crew. The DAWSON’S crew was just HEAVEN! Salt of the earth types…happy to be living and working in coastal NC.
I saw Katie [Holmes, Joey] in ALL MY SONS on Broadway and was so proud of her. Have occasional emails, conversations with James [Van Der Beek, Dawson]. But Michelle is  my ANGEL! I have unconditional love and respect for her. For her choices in her personal life and her professional life

TDW: Finish this sentence: When I look back on Dawson’s Creek, I think ….

Peil: I’m a big believer in the Gods and Goddesses of TIMING and the CREEK came into my life at the PERFECT time. I am deeply grateful for all that I learned (about being on camera regularly) AND for my beautiful Upper West Side apartment which we call the “HOUSE THAT DAWSON BUILT.”

TDW: Will we see more of you on The Good Wife?

Peil: I think so…am shooting a wonderful episode right now. Hoping Jackie has more to do as we go along through the season.  It is a wonderful show…cast, crew, producers AND WRITERS !

TDW: Lastly: I’m a Northwestern graduate as well, and I’m wondering if you’ve been back to the campus since you went there and what reflections you have of your time there.

Peil: Yes, I have been back. Shortly after graduation I was appearing at the Opera house in Chicago so I came up to Evanston to visit. They were just starting the lakefront development. In the early 80s I was back again with Chicago Opera Theatre and 4 years later I was there with KING AND I and went up and was knocked out by the changes. And then recently I was doing a play at Steppenwolf and came up and literally did not recognize the place. I was a Music Major and it took some doing to even FIND that big old white elephant of a building. I had a wonderful rich time at NU…  a solid liberal arts education, the BEST preparation for a career in Opera AND one year of acting with the legendary Alvina Krauss. She let me take her class because she was an Opera fan..and I think she knew even back then that I was a singing ACTRESS as opposed to an acting SINGER. Even life in the Sorority house has given me life long friends.  How lovely that you too are an Alum….quite an impressive group of folks, eh???

Come back Sunday for another exclusive Dawson’s Creek interview!

TDW Interview Index





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

9 10 2009
  • Tori Spelling (Donna, Beverly Hills 90210) tweeted that she’s unhappy that the media prints her tweets for their own gain.  I’m assuming, of course, that TDW isn’t part of the problem!
  • Tiffani Amber Thiessen (Valerie, Beverly Hills 90210) is included in PEOPLE.com photo gallery of child stars.
  • A PEOPLE magazine cover featuring Jason Priestley (Brandon, Beverly Hills 90210), Shannen Doherty (Brenda, Beverly Hills 90210 and Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210, as well as a separate one with Laura Leighton (Sophie, Beverly Hills 90210) are included in their Bests of the 90s photo gallery. The first one was also included in their 90s flashback gallery.
  • Donna and David’s wedding (Beverly Hills 90210) and Naley’s second wedding (One Tree Hill) made TVGuide.com’s list of The Most Memorable TV Weddings, BUT this seems to be repeat of a list (with some minor updates) they had in April.  They even used the same exact gallery on their site, so the old one no longer exists.  The links just bring you to the modified version.  I think we call that cheating.
  • Kristin has some more details on the Gossip Girl threesome.  Make sure you read the comments.
  • Kristen Bell (Gossip Girl, Gossip Girl) has joined the cast of Burlesque. Cam Gigandet (Volchok, The O.C.) also stars.
  • Southland, starring Benjamin McKenzie (Ryan, The O.C.) and Michael Cudlitz (Tony, Beverly Hills 90210) has been canceled.  One TV critic is wondering if a third O.C. star will see his show axed: Californication, which features Peter Gallagher (Sandy). (The second was The Beautiful Life starring Mischa Barton [Marissa]).
  • James Van Der Beek (Dawson, Dawson’s Creek) stars in a Hallmark movie airing in December.




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

16 09 2009
  • Last night’s 90210 earned about the same rating as the premiere last week, 2.4 million viewers.
  • The first soundtrack for 90210–creatively titled Soundtrack 90210–will be released October 13th, featuring never-before-released songs by top bands that will all play on the show this season.  Stay tuned for exciting news about this and TDW!
  • Check out my latest comment on my Twitter Directory for an interesting development with Brian Austin Green (David, Beverly Hills 90210) or someone claiming to be him.
  • Ray Wise (Daniel Hunter, Beverly Hills 90210) has joined the cast of Dollhouse.
  • The CW sent out a press release touting Gossip Girl’s ratings and market shares for Monday night.
  • Variety is now reporting that Gossip Girl actually did better than One Tree Hill last night, with 2.55 for GG and 2.45 for OTH.
  • Blake Lively (Serena, Gossip Girl) and Leighton Meester (Blair, Gossip Girl) will be presenters at Sunday night’s Primetime Emmys.
  • E!Online has a semi-spoilish interview with Joanna Garcia (Bree, Gossip Girl).  Nothing really new, though.
  • Examiner.com has an article on some of the One Tree Hill cast being at the charity fundraiser and one on the new season.
  • The Mark Schwahn preview for the next episode of One Tree Hill is on YouTube.
  • There is a new SoGoPro podcast featuring Hilarie Burton (Peyton, One Tree Hill).
  • MTV has an interview with Mischa Barton (Marissa, The O.C.).  The O.C. is mentioned a little bit, and a bit more in this interview with the Los Angeles Times.




Exclusive: Lee Norris Looks Back on One Tree Hill’s Six Seasons

9 08 2009

Lee Norris first worked his way into the hearts of young viewers as Stewart Minkus on the ABC hit Boy Meets World.  Exactly 10 years after BMW’s debut, Norris took on the role of Marvin “Mouth” McFadden on One Tree Hill.  Nearly six years later, Norris is still going strong as OTH goes into its seventh season.

In an exclusive interview for TDW, Norris reflected on his favorite storylines,  traveling for the show and who he wants to be Mrs. McFadden…

TeenDramaWhore: I recently rewatched the early season 1 episodes of One Tree Hill and it was amazing to see Mouth’s origins compared to where he is now.  He had such a small role in the beginning.  Did you have any idea how the role and character would evolve?

Lee Norris: I really had no idea.  During the pilot and Season 1, I was still a full-time college student at Wake Forest University.  I would get these scripts Fed-Ex’d to my dorm room and each time I got one delivered, it was a surprise.  I wasn’t under any sort of contract at that point, so I never knew how many episodes I’d be involved in.

I had a few conversations with Mark Schwahn, our creator, and he told me that he really believed in the character and thought it added an interesting element to the show.  I think the big turning point was when Mouth did the cheerleading routine in the first season [ed. note: Episode 1.17, Spirit in the Night].  It was so quirky and different and it got a great response from the fans… and then Mark started building the character from there.  I was so grateful that there were fans out there who identified with Mouth — girls and guys — that were the kids in high school who floated between all the different social cliques.  To be made a series regular was really rewarding for me, but also felt very natural since my character had been there since the Pilot episode.  So no, I had no idea what was in store for me, but I’ve been extremely grateful.

TDW: Do you and Mouth share any similarities?  Do you have any interest in sports or journalism?

Norris: Sure, we have some similarities.  He’s kind of spontaneous in that “Baby Got Back”-at-karaoke-night kind of way, haha, [ed. note: Episode 2.5, I Will Dare] and I like to have fun like that.  Don’t be looking for me at karaoke joints, but I do like to have fun.  I think he is a fiercely loyal friend, and that’s something I try to mirror in my life.  But he’s also done some really dumb things relationship wise, haha, so I’d like to think we’re not similar in that respect.

I love sports… when I auditioned for the role, I wore my Wake Forest basketball t-shirt to the audition, and Mark gave me a little grief because he went to Maryland (an ACC rival).  And in terms of journalism, I was an English major in school and I wrote for the school newspaper in high-school, so that’s sort of a natural fit as well.

TDW: Do you have a favorite episode, storyline or scene?

Norris: My favorite episode is still the school shooting episode [ed. note: Episode 3.16, With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept] .  But I also love any of the scenes where it’s basically the whole cast together.  When you get all of us in the same scene, it’s crazy!  Usually it involves a late night of shooting and everyone gets kind of loopy, and those are the most fun.  I also liked the storyline dealing with Mouth’s grandpa [ed. note: Episode 3.7, Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends].  It was nice to see someone in his family, and I also got to interact with Hilarie [Burton, Peyton] in that storyline and we had never gotten to do much together before.

TDW: I recently interviewed Allison Scagliotti (Abby) about the school shooting storyline, which is a fan favorite.  What do you remember from the filming of those episodes?  How did you initially react when you found out about the storyline?

Norris: As I said, that is my favorite episode.  When I heard about it, I just thought it was really smart.  Mark took this old character in Jimmy Edwards [Colin Fickes], who hadn’t been around in seasons, and used his re-emergence to tell this amazingly powerful story about life in high-school as an outsider.  It was really controversial and he had to fight really hard to get the episode made, but it was definitely worth it.  All of the actors and crew put in the longest hours on that episode and everyone really stepped up their game.

Those of us who were locked in the tutor center would file into this little room day after day and film these emotionally draining scenes, and I remember doing this part where Mouth sort of breaks down.  And I was really drained afterwards and [Bethany Joy Galeotti, Haley] looked at me and gave me some really encouraging words.  Little things like that stick in my memory.  This is random, but I remember listening to “Fix You,” by Coldplay the whole time I filmed that episode.  I’m really proud of the work we did, and I think it really set us apart from some other teen shows in that it had a lot of heart.

TDW: Do you have a favorite memory from the set?

Norris: It’s tough to pick just one after 6 1/2 years.  Two of my favorite memories involve episodes where the entire company traveled.  Early on we went to Myrtle Beach to film, and more recently we went to Honey Grove, Texas.  On the Myrtle Beach trip, we were all staying in the same hotel and it was like summer camp.  We all snuck down to the pool after hours and went swimming, so that was pretty fun.

And then in Texas, we got to watch an episode of the show with the kids who won the contest to bring our show to their town.  We literally sat in one of their living rooms and watched an episode with them, and it was so surreal to see them look at the TV screen and then look at us sitting in the room with them.  During certain parts of the episode, they would cry, laugh, etc., and it was just awesome to see our little show affect people that we had never even met before.

TDW: Mouth has had several relationships on the show but also very strong friendships with Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Rachel (Danneel Harris).  Why do you think that is?

Norris: I honestly don’t know why he’s had so many relationships.  As an actor, it’s not really my place to question the storylines, though.  Our writers have gotten us to 7 seasons, so I trust them even if I don’t always understand something.  Mouth was never a jock or a pretty-boy, so-to-speak, so it’s not surprising that his romantic aspirations with Brooke and Rachel didn’t really pan out.  But I think he had good friendships with them because he truly liked them as people, and not just because of how ‘hot’ they were.

TDW: Mouth and Millicent have hit several bumps in their relationship, whether it be Gigi, Owen or job opportunities.  Do you think they’ll last?  Do you want them to?

Norris: I think they will last, and I’d be happy to see that.  Lisa Goldstein, who plays Millie, is so awesome and we have the best time working together.  We both went to school in North Carolina and we have a lot of similar interests, so it’s very easy chemistry with her.  Gigi and Owen are just two obstacles that they had to overcome.  I think any great relationship that is worthwhile will always be tested.

TDW: What was your reaction when you found out they were bringing Gigi back?

Norris: On a personal level, Kelsey Chow who plays Gigi is the sweetest girl, so I was happy to work with her again.  On the storyline side, again, it’s not really important what I think.  No matter what I’m given to do, I just try and commit to it and make the most out of it.  There are people out there who passionately love my character and those who can’t stand him.  You’re never going to make everyone happy, but for those out there who watch our show with an open mind, and for those who identify with my character, they are the reasons that I work so hard.  I’m so grateful for my job and my fans, and they deserve nothing but the absolute best from me, no matter how I might feel about a particular storyline.

TDW: In season 5, the show jumped ahead four years and now there will be another jump.  Where do you think Mouth will be in another 5 years?

Norris: At the end of last season, Mouth made it pretty clear that he was happy with his job and with his girl, so hopefully he’ll still be involved with both in 5 years, although it might be nice if Millie was Mrs. McFadden at that point!

TDW: What can you tell us about the upcoming season and your storylines?  Will you be a regular and on for the whole season?

Norris: Yes, I’m signed on for this season.  I mentioned in another interview that I had to do some naked scenes, and the interviewer incorrectly assumed that it meant love scenes between me and Millie [ed. note: I think he’s referring to this]. My naked stuff is actually funny stuff, not romantic.  I read a comment from a girl who is apparently horrified about seeing me partially naked; that made me laugh!  I love how passionate our fans are.  Don’t worry girls, if I’m not your cup of tea there will be plenty of nakedness from the other guys on the show.  But on a more serious note, I really like where Mouth is headed this year.  Nothing is drastically different, but he’s going to face some tough dilemmas where he has to choose between his career and personal life.  And Millie has a really interesting arc this season, so we’ll see how Mouth deals with that.

TDW: Which role are you recognized for more: Mouth or Stewart Minkus on Boy Meets World?

Norris: It used to be Minkus all the time, but now that OTH is re-running everyday on SoapNet, it’s kind of a toss up.  Older fans tend to know me as Minkus, or even Chuckie Lee from ‘The Torkelsons,’ but OTH is popular with all age groups… I’ve had grandmas come up to me.  One lady kept calling me “Mouse,” I didn’t have the heart to correct her, haha.

TDW: Are you still in touch with any of the BMW cast?

Norris: Not really, unfortunately.  Most of them live on the West coast and it’s been so many years.  I hope they’re all well, it would be fun to reconnect sometime.

TDW: What is your upcoming movie, Blood Done Sign My Name, about? Does it have a release date yet?

Norris: It’s a true story about a racial murder in North Carolina that happened in the Vietnam War era.  I played one of the accused murderers, so it was completely different for me.  It’s an independent film and it deals with such a controversial subject, so I believe they’re still trying to figure out the best way and time to release it.  It was a great experience and I hope people get to see it.

TDW: Lastly, there are a lot of people on Twitter claiming to be One Tree Hill actors but are actually impostors.  Have you thought about getting your own account?

Norris: There are people that pretend to be me on Twitter, Facebook, etc.  It’s flattering in one respect, but at the same time it’s kind of a drag because they’ll write things I’d never write, or deny friend requests, etc.  I don’t think I’ll be doing any of that.  I occasionally post messages on OTHForums.com and I like that medium for interacting with the fans.  Also, I have some amazingly talented fans that started lee-norris.net and leemichaelnorris.com, so if anyone wants to know what’s going on in my career, they can always check those out.

Click here to see a picture of Norris and me from last year!

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index








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