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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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10 Biting Facts About Snapping Turtles
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Here in the Americas, lake monster legends are a dime a dozen. More than a few of them were probably inspired by these ancient-looking creatures. In honor of World Turtle Day, here are 10 things you might not have known about snapping turtles.

1. THE COMMON SNAPPING TURTLE IS NEW YORK'S OFFICIAL STATE REPTILE.

Elementary school students voted to appoint Chelydra serpentina in a 2006 statewide election. Weighing as much as 75 pounds in the wild (and 86 in captivity), this hefty omnivore’s natural range stretches from Saskatchewan to Florida.

2. ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLES CAN BE LARGE. (VERY LARGE.)

An alligator snapping turtle
NorbertNagel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Utterly dwarfing their more abundant cousin, alligator snappers (genus: Macrochelys) are the western hemisphere’s biggest freshwater turtles. The largest one on record, a longtime occupant of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, weighed 249 pounds.  

A monstrous 403-pounder was reported in Kansas during the Great Depression, though this claim was never confirmed.  

3. COMMON SNAPPERS HAVE LONGER NECKS AND SPIKIER TAILS.

Alligator snappers also display proportionately bigger heads and noses plus a trio of tall ridges atop their shells. Geographically, alligator snapping turtles are somewhat restricted compared to their common relatives, and are limited mainly to the southeast and Great Plains.

4. BOTH VARIETIES AVOID CONTACT WITH PEOPLE.

If given the choice between fight and flight, snapping turtles almost always distance themselves from humans. The animals spend the bulk of their lives underwater, steering clear of nearby Homo sapiens. However, problems can arise on dry land, where the reptiles are especially vulnerable. Females haul themselves ashore during nesting season (late spring to early summer). In these delicate months, people tend to prod and handle them, making bites inevitable.

5. YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO GET BITTEN BY ONE. 

Snapping turtle jaw strength—while nothing to sneeze at—is somewhat overrated. Common snapping turtles can clamp down with up to 656.81 newtons (N) of force, though typical bites register an average of 209 N. Their alligator-like cousins usually exert 158 N. You, on the other hand, can apply 1300 N between your second molars.

Still, power isn’t everything, and neither type of snapper could latch onto something with the crushing force of a crocodile’s mighty jaws. Yet their sharp beaks are well-designed for major-league shearing. An alligator snapping turtle’s beak is capable of slicing fingers clean off and (as the above video proves) obliterating pineapples.

Not impressed yet? Consider the following. It’s often said that an adult Macrochelys can bite a wooden broom handle in half. Intrigued by this claim, biologist Peter Pritchard decided to play MythBuster. In 1989, he prodded a 165-pound individual with a brand new broomstick. Chomp number one went deep, but didn’t quite break through the wood. The second bite, though, finished the job.

6. SCIENTISTS RECENTLY DISCOVERED THAT THERE ARE THREE SPECIES OF ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLES.

A 2014 study trisected the Macrochelys genus. For over a century, naturalists thought that there was just a single species, Macrochelys temminckii. Closer analysis proved otherwise, as strong physical and genetic differences exist between various populations. The newly-christened M. suwanniensis and M. apalachicolae are named after their respective homes—namely, the Suwannee and Apalachicola rivers. Further west, good old M. temminckii swims through the Mobile and the Mississippi.

7. THANKS TO A 19TH CENTURY POLITICAL CARTOON, COMMON SNAPPING TURTLES ARE ALSO KNOWN AS "OGRABMES." 

Snapping turtle cartoon
Urban~commonswiki via Wiki Commons // CC BY PD-US

Drawn by Alexander Anderson, this piece skewers Thomas Jefferson’s signing of the unpopular Embargo Act. At the president’s command, we see a snapping turtle bite some poor merchant’s hind end. Agitated, the victim calls his attacker “ograbme”—“embargo” spelled backwards.

8. ALLIGATOR SNAPPERS ATTRACT FISH WITH AN ORAL LURE …

You can’t beat live bait. Anchored to the Macrochelys tongue is a pinkish, worm-like appendage that fish find irresistible. Preferring to let food come to them, alligator snappers open their mouths and lie in wait at the bottoms of rivers and lakes. Cue the lure. When this protrusion wriggles, hungry fish swim right into the gaping maw and themselves become meals.

9.  … AND THEY FREQUENTLY EAT OTHER TURTLES. 


Complex01, WikimediaCommons

Alligator snappers are anything but picky. Between fishy meals, aquatic plants also factor into their diet, as do frogs, snakes, snails, crayfish, and even relatively large mammals like raccoons and armadillos. Other shelled reptiles are fair game, too: In one Louisiana study, 79.82% of surveyed alligator snappers had turtle remains in their stomachs.

10. YOU SHOULD NEVER PICK A SNAPPER UP BY THE TAIL.

Ideally, you should leave the handling of these guys to trained professionals. But what if you see a big one crossing a busy road and feel like helping it out? Before doing anything else, take a few moments to identify the turtle. If it’s an alligator snapper, you’ll want to grasp the lip of the upper shell (or “carapace”) in two places: right behind the head and right above the tail.

Common snappers demand a bit more finesse (we wouldn’t want one to reach back and nip you with that long, serpentine neck). Slide both hands under the hind end of the shell, letting your turtle’s tail dangle between them. Afterwards, clamp down on the carapace with both thumbs.

Please note that lifting any turtle by the tail can permanently dislocate its vertebrae. Additionally, remember to move the reptile in the same direction that it’s already facing. Otherwise, your rescue will probably turn right back around and try to cross the road again later. 

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Tina Fey
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Tina Fey has transformed modern comedy more than just about anyone else. From the main stage of Second City to the writer’s room of SNL to extremely fetch comedy blockbusters, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey has built a national stage with a dry, eye-popping sarcasm and political satire where no one is safe. She has a slew of Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, PGA, and WGA awards to prove it—plus a recent Tony nomination (her first). But, more importantly, she’s the closest thing we have to a national comic laureate.

Here are 10 facts about a fantastically blorft American icon.

1. SHE DID A BOOK REPORT ON COMEDY WHEN SHE WAS 11.

Fey got a very early start in comedy, watching a lot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, and Norman Lear shows as a kid. Her father and mother sneaked her in to see Young Frankenstein and would let her stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. So it’s no surprise that she chose comedy as the subject of a middle school project. The only book she could get her hands on was Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, but at least she made a friend. "I remember me and one other girl in my 8th grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism, and I chose to do mine on comedy," Fey told The A.V. Club. "We kept bumping into each other at the card catalog."

2. THE SCAR ON HER FACE CAME FROM A BIZARRE ATTACK THAT OCCURRED WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD.

Fey’s facial scar had been recognizable but unexplained for years until a profile in Vanity Fair revealed that the mark on her left cheek came from being slashed by a strange man when she was five years old. “She just thought somebody marked her with a pen,” her husband Jeff Richmond said. Fey wrote in Bossypants that it happened in an alleyway behind her Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, home when she was in kindergarten.

3. HER FIRST TV APPEARANCE WAS IN A BANK COMMERCIAL.

Saturday Night Live hired Fey as a writer in 1997. In 1995 she had the slightly more glamorous job of pitching Mutual Savings Bank with a radical floral applique vest and a handful of puns on the word “Hi.” In a bit of life imitating art, just as Liz Lemon’s 1-900-OKFACE commercial was unearthed and mocked on 30 Rock, the internet discovered Fey’s stint awkwardly cheering on high interest rates a few years ago and had a lot to say about her '90s hair.

4. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE NAMED HEAD WRITER OF SNL.

Four years after that commercial and two after she joined Saturday Night Live’s writing staff, Fey earned a promotion to head writer. Up until that point, the head writers were named Michael, Herb, Bob, Jim, Steve. You get the picture. She acted as head writer for six seasons until moving on to write and executive produce 30 Rock. Since her departure, two more women (Paula Pell and Sara Schneider) have been head writers for the iconic show.

5. SHE’S THE YOUNGEST MARK TWAIN PRIZE WINNER.

Established in 1998, the Kennedy Center’s hilarious honor has mostly been awarded to funny people in the twilight of their careers. Richard Pryor was the first recipient, and comedians who made their marks decades prior like Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, and George Carlin followed. Fey earned the award in 2010 when she was 40 years old, and the age of her successors (Carol Burnett, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman ...) signals that she may hold the title of youngest recipient for some time.

6. SHE WROTE SATIRE FOR HER HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER.

Fey was an outstanding student who was involved in choir, drama, and tennis, and co-edited the school’s newspaper, The Acorn. She also wrote a satirical column addressing “school policy and teachers” under the pun-tastic pseudonym “The Colonel.” Fey also recalled getting in trouble because she tried to make a pun on the phrase “annals of history.” Cheeky.

7. SHE MADE HER RAP DEBUT WITH CHILDISH GAMBINO ON "REAL ESTATE."

Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) first gained notice as a member of Derrick Comedy in college, and Fey hired him at the age of 23 to write for 30 Rock. Before jumping from that show to Community, Glover put out his first mixtape under his stage name. After releasing his debut album, Camp, in 2011, Gambino dropped a sixth mixtape called Royalty that featured Fey rapping on a song called “Real Estate.” “My president is black, and my Prius is blue!"

8. SHE VOICED PRINCESSES IN A BELOVED PINBALL GAME.

Between the bank commercial and Saturday Night Live, Fey has an intriguing credit on her resume: the arcade pinball machine “Medieval Madness.” Most of the game’s Arthurian dialogue was written by Second City members Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock) and Kevin Dorff, who pulled in fellow Second City castmate Fey to voice for an “Opera Singer” princess, Cockney-speaking princesses, and a character with a southern drawl. (You can hear some of the outtakes here.)

9. SHE USED MEAN GIRLS TO PUSH BACK AGAINST STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN IN MATH.

Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan in 'Mean Girls' (2004)
Paramount Home Entertainment

There’s a ton of interesting trivia about Mean Girls, Fey’s first foray into feature film screenwriting. She bid on the rights to Rosalind Wiseman’s book that inspired the movie without realizing it didn’t have a plot. She initially wrote a large part for herself but kept whittling it down to focus on the teenagers, and her first draft was “for sure R-rated.” Fey also chose to play a math teacher to fight prejudice. “It was an attempt on my part to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math. Even though I did not understand a word I was saying.” Fey used a friend’s calculus teacher boyfriend’s lesson plans in the script.

10. SHE SET UP A SCHOLARSHIP IN HER FATHER’S NAME TO HELP VETERANS.

Fey’s father Donald was a Korean War veteran who also studied journalism at Temple University. When he died in 2015, Fey and her brother Peter founded a memorial scholarship in his name that seeks to aid veterans who want to study journalism at Temple.

"He was really inspiring," Fey said. "A lot of kids grow up with dreams of doing those things and their parents are fearful and want them to get a law degree and have things to fall back on, but he and our mom always encouraged us to pursue whatever truly interested us." Fey also supports Autism Speaks, Mercy Corps, Love Our Children USA, and other charities.

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