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14 Sunny Facts About The O.C.

Josh Schwartz—who had never run a TV show before—was only 26 years old when he brought the idea of a nighttime teen soap to Fox, making him the youngest showrunner in the history of network television. Fox picked up the pilot and ordered an unprecedented 27 episodes for the first season (the final season had only 16).

The O.C. premiered on August 5, 2003, early enough in the season that a lot of competing shows were still in reruns. It followed the lives of a group of affluent teens (and their parents) living in Newport Beach, California. But unlike predecessors like Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210, The O.C. focused more on character than plot, and featured characters who were outsiders, such as Ryan Atwood, played by Ben McKenzie. The show was also self-aware in its humor.

The O.C. ran for four seasons until Fox canceled it after a low-rated third season, which ended in 2006 with the producers killing off one of its main characters. On February 22, 2007—just over 10 years ago—the series took its final bow.

Years later, The O.C. is remembered for leading to a slate of California-based reality shows (like Laguna Beach and The Real Housewives of Orange County) and other meta nighttime soaps (like Desperate Housewives), the creation of Chrismmukah, and for the show’s killer soundtrack, which helped launch indie rock music into the mainstream. Here are 14 sunny facts about the series.

1. THE PRODUCERS USED A TROJAN HORSE TECHNIQUE TO CONVINCE FOX TO DO THE SHOW.

Josh Schwartz told The New York Times that he was a fan of canceled-too-soon shows like Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, and My So-Called Life. “You can’t tell a network that’s what you want to make because they’ll just say, ‘Those shows lasted 15 episodes and they’re off the air and we don’t want them.’ But if instead you go to Fox and say, ‘This is your new 90210—that’s something they can get excited about.”

Schwartz and fellow executive producer Stephanie Savage pitched Fox the concept of a juvenile delinquent from Chino (Ryan Atwood) infiltrating the glamour of Orange County’s gated communities. “And really what we hoped we had were these characters that were a little bit funnier and more soulful and different and specific than the kinds you usually see in that genre,” Schwartz explained. “They would be the soldiers inside our Trojan horse.”

2. INITIALLY, FOX WAS CONCERNED ABOUT SETH COHEN’S PERSONALITY.

Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) wasn’t as hunky as Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie), which concerned the network because “this was a character that might hue too closely to the Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared world of shorter-lived teen soaps, or teen shows,” Schwartz told TIME. “Then Fox had their eye on it, and I was always told, ‘If Ryan is the Luke Perry, then who is the Jason Priestley?’ I was like, 'Welp, we’re not doing 90210.'" But Seth’s sardonic nerdiness ended up becoming a cultural touchstone for the show. “So that went away when we cast Adam Brody, who came in and was really funny and charming, but the network also felt like would be someone who girls would find appealing,” Schwartz said. “But that was a big risk at the time.”

3. THE SHOW’S TITLE CAME FROM SCHWARTZ’S COLLEGE DAYS.

Schwartz grew up in Rhode Island but attended college at the University of Southern California. “When I was in college, all these kids from Orange County, they’d be like, ‘I’m from the O.C.,’ as if they are from the L.B.C. [Long Beach County] and it was the ‘hood. And I always found that very funny even if it was unintentional on their part,” he told HitFix.

As Luke Ward (Chris Carmack) beat up Ryan, Karate Kid-style, at a bonfire on the beach during the pilot, he uttered the now-famous catchphrase, “Welcome to The O.C., bitch.” Schwartz had no idea the line would endure. “I started hearing stories from friends who were working as day traders on the floor in New York and when they would close a sale they’d be like, ‘Welcome to the O.C., bitch!’ And throw the money at each other.”

4. THE PRODUCERS WORRIED “CALIFORNIA” WAS TOO POPULAR TO USE AS A THEME SONG.

Schwartz told HitFix he thought everybody already knew the Phantom Planet song “California,” which became the show’s theme song. “It had already been on the radio. And so we thought, 'We can’t use that song, it’s already out there,'” he said. They decided to edit the song into a “sizzle reel,” something they had to show the network before they finished the pilot. “And what we found was nobody really knew the song,” Schwartz said. “Everybody’s like, ‘What’s that song? That song is incredible.’ And we realized that just because me and [producer] Steph [Savage] and some of the writers had known that song, that song didn’t really get played that much outside of L.A. and KROQ or whatever at the time. So we’re like, ‘Okay, people don’t really know that song.’”

5. THE MUSIC BECAME ITS OWN CHARACTER.

“I always viewed it as wanting the music to feel like an extension of the emotional lives of the characters, which I guess sounds kind of pretentious,” Schwartz told TIME. “When I was sitting down to write the pilot, there was this Joseph Arthur song that plays at the end of the pilot, and when I heard that song, it was like, ‘Oh, okay, this is how I want the end of the show to feel.’ That it was less about the place and more about how our characters were feeling.” He said the music they licensed just happened to be the kind of bands and artists the cast and crew were listening to at the time, which was indie rock. “It was cheaper to license, so that was a happy accident.”

Music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas had a process for getting music on the show. “I would send out weekly [compilation CDs] with any music that I felt was in the world, which then we discussed at length,” Patsavas told MTV. “If someone responded to a certain band, I’d send Josh or Stephanie or one of the editors more music. Then, I’d pitch for scenes and moments. How are we telling the story? How do these bands and songs and lyrics support the drama?” Eventually, the show started promoting music from bigger bands like U2 and Coldplay.

6. THE CREATOR OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT WANTED THE CAST TO MAKE A CAMEO ON HIS SHOW.

The O.C. premiered a few months before Arrested Development, which is also set in Orange County and also aired on Fox. One of the comedy series' running jokes is that a character will say “The O.C.” and Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) will correct them and say, “Don’t call it that.”

Schwartz told HitFix that Mitch Hurwitz, creator of Arrested Development, "asked if our actors could come on his show to play themselves as the stars of The O.C. I was worried that was one layer of meta too many, so I said no.”

7. THE SEASON 2 FINALE LED TO AN ICONIC SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE PARODY.

Spoiler alert: Season two ends with a rough and tumble fight between Ryan and his brother, Trey (played by Logan Marshall-Green). It looks as if Trey will kill his brother, so Marissa intervenes. She grabs Trey’s gun and shoots and kills Trey to protect Ryan. As the events unfurl, Imogen Heap’s melancholic “Hide and Seek” plays over the scene. Almost two years after the episode aired, SNL’s Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis, and guest host Shia LaBeouf took turns shooting each other in the digital short. The parody currently has more YouTube views than the finale clip.

8. SANDY COHEN WAS THE ANCHOR OF THE SHOW.

Besides highlighting the lives of teens, Schwartz also wanted to use the moral and wise Sandy Cohen (played by Peter Gallagher) to project what a good father looked like. “One of the things very early on that we realized was that the biggest wish fulfillment aspect of the show wasn’t the big houses and it wasn’t the cool cars or clothes," Schwartz told HitFix. "It was this idea of the Cohen family and having Sandy as a father. There were so many kids out there that would love to have been adopted by a family like the Cohens, and would love to have a father figure in their life like Sandy.”

9. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MARISSA AND ALEX MADE EXECUTIVES UNCOMFORTABLE.

During the second season, Marissa dates bisexual Alex (Olivia Wilde), who runs the local music venue The Bait Shop. The “Nipplegate” Janet Jackson Super Bowl had recently occurred, which led to network conservatism. “We had a whole episode where every kiss between them was cut out, just so I could get one kiss in 'The Rainy Day Women' episode,” Schwartz told ESPN. “I was literally on the phone with Broadcast Standards and Practices bartering for kisses. It was a battle, and the powers that be are part of a big corporation, and were going in front of congress at the time. Every network was. So, I understand they are all good people who were under a lot of pressure. But they wanted that story wrapped up as fast as humanly possible and Alex moving on out of The O.C.” The network got their wish—Wilde left the show mid-season. “But Olivia is a superstar,” Schwartz said. “She was great in the part. I would have her back on the show in a heartbeat.”

10. THE O.C. MADE DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE FAMOUS.

The Seattle-based indie band gained notoriety when Seth Cohen kept talking about how much he loved the band. A few of the band’s songs popped up on the show, too. In April 2005, the band appeared as themselves and performed at The Bait Shop. “If anything, it was really a point of self-awareness for us,” the band’s bassist, Nick Harmer, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “We were like, ‘You mean, there’s some credibility that the character gets for saying our band name? It’s not a laughing point? They’re not making fun of us?’” A few months later, their major-label debut, Plans, was released and ended up going platinum and being nominated for a Grammy.

11. TATE DONOVAN SAID SOME OF THE YOUNG CAST MEMBERS WERE “DIFFICULT.”

In an interview with Vulture for the show’s 10th anniversary, Tate Donovan—who played Marissa's father, Jimmy, and directed some episodes—said that, "By the time I started to direct, the kids on the show had developed a really bad attitude. They just didn’t want to be doing the show anymore. It was pretty tough; they were very tough to work with. The adults were all fantastic, total pros. But you know how it is with young actors—and I know because I was one of them once. When you achieve a certain amount of success, you want to be doing something else. I mean, one of them turned to me and said, 'This show is ruining my film career,' and he had never done a film before. You just can’t help but sort of think that your life and your career are going to go straight up, up, up. So they were very difficult."

12. TURKEY ADAPTED THE O.C. INTO A SHOW.

In 2013, Turkey created a version of The O.C. for Star TV called Med Cezir (The Tide). Like the American version, it featured attractive teens and their attractive parents ensnared in weekly melodrama. 

13. THE PRODUCERS BANNED THE CHARACTERS FROM SMOKING.

In the pilot, Marissa and Ryan meet-cute in his driveway. Ryan is smoking a cigarette when Marissa saunters over to him and asks for one. “That is the last time any characters, or at least teenage characters, smoke a cigarette on broadcast television,” Schwartz told MTV. “It was such a battle to get that scene to stay in the show. We had to make sure that at the end of the scene, when Sandy comes down the driveway and breaks them up, he says, ‘No smoking in my house!’ And they put out the cigarette. That was it; you could never smoke again.”

14. TATE DONOVAN AGREES: JIMMY COOPER IS A TERRIBLE FATHER.

Donovan played the father of Marissa and Kaitlin Cooper. He divorces their mom, Julie, and becomes both an absentee and negligent father. Entertainment Weekly named Jimmy as one of TV’s worst dads, a sentiment Donovan agreed with. “We were shooting the show, and it starts to air, and my sister, who is the mother of three teenagers, calls me up and goes, ‘You know, you’re the worst dad of all time. You’re such a terrible father I can’t believe it.’ And I go, ‘Really? I am?’” Donovan told Vulture. “And so I go up to Josh [Schwartz] and Stephanie [Savage] and say, ‘I’m a really bad dad,’ and they’re like, ‘No, you’re not, you’re a great dad!’ I was not a great dad. I was letting my kid do whatever she wants. I left her drunk on the steps. What kind of parents don’t notice their daughter is drunk and passed out? I kept telling them I was a bad father and they said, ‘No, no.’ Ten years later I’m on this list [of bad TV dads] and I feel vindicated.”

All images courtesy of The O.C./Facebook.

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16 Geeky Coasters to Keep Your Coffee Table Safe
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Avoid unsightly ring stains on your coffee table with this delightful selection of coasters:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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This ceramic set celebrates all the best ships from Star Trek.

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This set comes with 10 coasters, each with a slice of brain specimen. When you’re not using them, you can stack them together to create a full brain.

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These coasters feature scenes from the classics My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle.

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15 Educational Facts About Old School
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Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.

The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.

1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.

Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.

2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.

While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”

3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.

Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”

4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn told Variety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”

5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.

The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).

6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.

In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).

7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.

Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.

Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell told the BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.

9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.

Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”

10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.

Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."

11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks

Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.

12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.

Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"

13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.

Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”

14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.

Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.

15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.

Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.

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