Things are about to heat up on The O.C. as producer Josh Schwartz tries to boost the teen soap's flagging ratings.
He's looking to a lesbian storyline and popular bands to help draw viewers. The ratings have been suffering since the show moved from Wednesday to Thursday, the most cut-throat night of the week. Schwartz says the decision was made by Fox, which hasn't been a player on Thursday nights in years. "It was out of my hands," says Schwartz. "We knew it was going to be tough." They were right. The O.C. has been getting beaten by Survivor, Joey, and Will & Grace.
So Schwartz has been working overtime to spice things up. The result of his efforts will air early next year, when Survivor is on winter hiatus and Fox can promote the show on American Idol after it starts up in January. One new storyline involves a lesbian relationship between Marissa Cooper and a woman named Alex, who becomes a mentor to the high school student before things get steamy.
Fox held a conference call with reporters Monday to drum up interest in the show. Schwartz also says he's got several bands slated to perform on the show. They include The Thrills and Rachel Yamagata.
For Spring Break, the Cohen's will visit their grandmother, played by Linda Lavin, at her retirement community in Florida. And this week, when the Cohens gather to celebrate the holidays, things won't be all warm and fuzzy. Instead Schwartz promises it'll be a Chrismukkah from Hell. The show first celebrated the hybrid holiday (not to be confused with Seinfeld's Fesitvus) last season.
Warner Brothers, which owns the show, is hoping it'll become a lucrative tradition. TheOCinsidershop.com is selling a Chrismukkah CD, wrapping paper with menorahs and candy canes, and yamulkahs that look an awful lot like red stocking caps.
Shoppers who don't find that appealing can check out the Chrismukkah goods at www.Chrismukkah.com. "We're the real deal," says Schwartz. "We're the authentic Chrismukkah." Still, Schwartz says he doesn't know if anybody has a trademark on the "holiday."