Recently, the Associated Press did a feature interview on Josh Shwartz. I am not sure what warranted a feature interview for a show that has been dipping in the ratings since it was created, but I guess whenever you can beat out the WB and UPN for a solid fourth place in your time slot, all of the buzz is worth it. The article is written by AP scribe Sandy Cohen, which must have had Josh either giggling or feeling pissed off that Julie Cooper wasn’t available. Sometimes it is hard to read through the puff pieces dramatic prose of the AP, so we here at TVgasm thought it would be a good idea to translate.
LOS ANGELES -- Things are about to get explosive in "The O.C.," says show creator Josh Schwartz. And it's only fair, considering the effect the popular teen drama has had on the writer's career.
Somebody at Fox wanted me to do them a favor and pimp The OC, which I don’t watch and couldn’t care about. I am doing this only so I am in the loop next time they stage some photographs of Ryan Seacrest hitting on women
Schwartz was only 26 -- a recent graduate from the University of Southern California[ed note recent graduate? Was he on the eight year plan?] -- when "The O.C." premiered on Fox in 2003. The show was an instant must-see, spawning imitators and making stars out of actors Mischa Barton, Rachel Bilson, Benjamin McKenzie and Adam Brody.
The show premiered during the summer and people really liked it. A few months later, this little show called Laguna Beach appeared on MTV with modest ratings.
Schwartz himself is now a bona fide Hollywood hit, hobnobbing with heavyweights such as George Lucas, who guest-starred on an "O.C." episode last year.
Until the actors of the show find better gigs, they will pretend to like Josh and invite him to their birthday parties
Schwartz's folks have weekly viewing parties in their Providence, R.I. home. His dad, Steve, calls him during commercials with his running critique.
The neighbors down to street invite friends over to laugh at the show that dumb Schwartz kid is working on. His father stands in the bushes outside and relays to his son what people think of the show
"He's very honest," Schwartz said.
I didn’t know my dad could say “That sucks” so many times in one hour
With his chocolate Lab, Maya, competing for his attention, Schwartz, 29, talked with The Associated Press about the season finale of "The O.C." and what's next for his characters and his career.
Dogs are a man’s best friend when your show isn’t funny anymore.
AP: What's hot in "The O.C." right now?
I don’t watch your show, but let’s pretend I care what happens.
Schwartz: We're in the home stretch, like the last 10 episodes of the season when the show always kicks it up a notch. I think it's going to resemble those first six episodes of the (first) summer. It's got that kind of vibe to it, kinda crazy, anything goes. We have a lot of returning faces. The kids are getting into colleges, the Cohen family life is about to explode, it's going to be pretty cool. It's all going to get very emotional, very explosive and really fun.
This is about the time when Fox decides what is going to be picked up for the fall, so we look at the first 2/3 of the season and try to make sense of it all by the season finale. Am I being vague because I don’t want to give out spoilers or because I don’t have anything to say? YOU DECIDE.
AP: You started a genre, and a frenzy, with "The O.C." What is it about the show that really captures the young audience?
You’ve been called a low-rent 90210, how do you respond.
Schwartz: It's a certain alchemy of great cast and a really fun world. I think the show has a really fun kind of tone. We try to tell emotional stories but we don't ever try to take ourselves too seriously. Hopefully some really good music. Hopefully an entertaining package and people want to watch.
God, I really hope people start watching again. I also hope we don’t get cancelled.
AP: Does the show resemble your life?
Schwartz: Not at all. I grew up in Providence, R.I. My family life probably resembled the season one Cohens, before it got dark in the Cohen house. When I grew up, it was a much sunnier home. It's sort of a little bit based on my experiences at USC, as kind of a neurotic Jewish kid from the East Coast who arrives in the land of water-polo players and their girlfriends. I guess that was the original impetus behind the show, and it's sort of evolved from there.
Luckily my life is full of hilarious moments when people made fun of me, that makes the show authentic
AP: What do you think of the imitators of "The O.C.?"
Schwartz: Who would those be, "Laguna Beach?" Now there's this desperate housewives of Orange County show on Bravo. It's crazy. It's weird. And then "Laguna Beach" became a big deal in its own right. The tent's big enough for everybody to come hang out, I guess. The show is certainly influenced by a lot of different things and borne out of that, so it's cool if we can do the same things for other shows.
Thanks for calling them imitators, because I would have left if you mentioned that more people care about Laguna Beach and that whore Kristen Cavalleri than the OC and Mischa Barton. You also made it easy for me to pretend that Housewives of Orange County is imitating The OC when we all know it’s imitating Desperate Housewives and Laguna Beach. I don’t want to make fun of anybody, because I may be looking for a job soon.
AP: You were surprised by it?
Schwartz: Totally. I continue to be surprised. We didn't think we were going to last past the first six episodes of August (2003). So everything that's come after has been kind of amazing.
Since the show got picked up, I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m still amazed that they bring us back even though the only thing we do is have Ryan and Marissa break up and get back together four times a year.
AP: Do you have plans in the works for other shows? Where do you see things going next?
Schwartz: Every time I've tried to go off and think about or start writing another pilot, I end up finding myself drawn back to "The O.C." It's too much fun to work on, too much work to try to do both.
You are assuming that I have any ideas. People already accused me of stealing this one
AP: Let's talk about your next project, "Looking for Alaska."
Schwartz: "Looking for Alaska" is a book that I'm adapting for Paramount to direct. It's set at a Southern boarding school and it's about that girl in high school that's sort of unknowable, unattainable, an ultimately tragic girl and all the guys in school are in love with her. It's told through the point of view of this one kind of socially awkward kid who's arrived at the school and, in falling in love with her, he has to grow up and come of age. It's kind of like your classic coming-of-age story, first love, first loss. ... It's been fun to work on that and work on something different and work on a movie.
I wanted to call it “The Virgin Suicides With Seth Cohen”, but Sophia Coppola gave me a noogie and I had to come up with something else.
AP: What is your attraction to this age group of characters?
Schwartz: I guess there's a part of me that will always feel like a teenager, that sort of still feels like a teenager. It's such a rich time in your life. Everything is really new, you're experiencing things and everything feels like life-and-death and really huge and momentous and epic. And as you get older, you start to roll with it a little bit more and you start to become a little more cynical, a little less open to the world I guess.
Are you kidding me? Teenage girls love to hear that I know Ben McKenzie. And they put out. Someday, I’ll even hire a teenager to play one of the teenaged roles on the show.
AP: What kind of impact has "The O.C." had on your career and your life?
Schwartz: It's been just the most remarkable roller coaster ride in the last couple of years and it was totally unexpected and really thrilling. I had no idea what I was doing when I started and now I feel like I've learned to become a professional. In your mid to late-20s, it's kind of a crazy time in your life anyway, you're just kind of figuring yourself out and coming to terms with growing up and all that, and to have that simultaneous with something like this happening was doubly overwhelming.
Well, first of all, I don’t have to work at 20/20 video anymore.
We had George Lucas on the show. I've gotten to meet Steven Spielberg at some function and his kids watch "The O.C." Just being able to have all these bands that I love on the show, all this music, so it's been really crazy. And it's really fun. It's been fun to be able to share this with my family. My parents have "O.C." viewing parties every Thursday night with all their friends. I got my sister an internship on the show.
I can finally get backstage passes by telling all of these bands I’ll give them free promotion. Since I created the show, people will give my friends free jobs, even if they aren’t qualified.
AP: What's the best part?
Schwartz: Getting to come to work every day. I mean, getting to wake up in the morning and be like, OK, this is what I always wanted to do and I get to do it.
Sometimes, when Rachel Bilson leans over, I can look down her shirt.
AP: Will we be following "The O.C." characters into college and beyond?
Schwartz: I think we've got at least one more good year in us, so we're going to do some pretty radical stuff at the end of this year. The season finale is going to be the craziest thing we've ever done and it will launch the show in a whole new direction next year. So I'm excited about next season. And then beyond, I don't know. We'll see.
Fox will pick us up for a fourth year because, well, it’s fox. After that, I’ll say that we should end the show. By that time, it will be in syndication and I will earn enough money off residuals that I will never have to bother the world with more projects that are thinly veiled biopics on my sad, sad life.