Style & Arts: TV Special
With 'Rockville, CA,' Josh Schwartz Gets in Tune With TV on the Web
It's not exaggerating to call Josh Schwartz a media machine. The 32-year-old creator of "The O.C." and executive producer of NBC's "Chuck" and the CW's "Gossip Girl" (he's in the midst of launching its spin-off) is also writing the screenplay for the fourth "X-Men" movie. Now add one more credit to Schwartz's CV: "Rockville, CA," a Web-only series about the quip-filled young regulars at an L.A. club who fall in love with each other and the alt-rock bands -- including such indie-cred cardholders as The Kooks and The Little Ones -- on stage. We talked Schwartz about his latest project, which debuts March 17 on TheWB.com.
-- Jen Chaney
Each "Rockville, CA" episode lasts less than 6 minutes. Does that mean writing and shooting them is easier than doing network TV?
We shot all 20 episodes plus the band performances in about three weeks, so it's pretty guerilla. And obviously writing them, you get to page five and you're like -- "End of episode. Hey, that was pretty cool." But I have to say I started off thinking, oh, I'll do this Web series and it'll be whatever it'll be. And I actually became obsessed with it. I found myself spending more time on it than I was spending on my television series. I just fell in love with the characters and the cast and the world and the bands and all of it. So it's still a lot of work.
How will you determine whether these Webisodes have been a success?
I don't quite know the metrics of the success, which is also part of what appeals to me. So much of what takes the fun out of doing a TV show is the ratings. The thing that was incredible about this was the freedom. There were no notes on scripts. I was able to cast whoever I wanted to cast for the show, and that was really freeing. It was really about: You have a point of view, you have a vision for something, go do it.
Inquiring minds want to know: Do you ever find yourself missing Seth Cohen from "The O.C."?
I actually, for the first time, just watched an episode of "The O.C." I never watch anything after I'm done with it. I finish an episode, it airs and I never watch it again; just keep moving forward. I was playing around and checking out TheWB.com Web site, and there was a link for "The O.C." So I clicked on it. It was a season one episode, "The Goodbye Girl," which I wrote. And I was so flooded with good feelings toward that time in my life, and making that episode. I really, really found myself missing the Cohens and the Cohen pool house.
Does that mean you would ever revisit those characters?
I see "90210" back on the air and now "Melrose Place," so who knows? But I'm really proud of the way we ended it. I think the last 10 minutes of that show was a real love letter, both to the show and hopefully to the fans who stuck with it.
Out of curiosity, how far have you gotten with that "X-Men: First Class" screenplay?
I'm actually not allowed to talk about it.
So are you in trouble for just saying the word "X-Men"?
I kind of always feel like I am. I think if Fox had their druthers, [the fact that I'm writing the screenplay] wouldn't even be out there.
In that case, let's switch gears. If you could be the show runner for any other series currently on television, which one would you choose?
Well, "Lost" is a show that my wife and I have never missed an episode of, but I would not want to be the showrunner because I have no idea . . .
. . . what the hell is going on?
No, I know what's going on. I think. No one really knows what's going on except those guys. But certainly I wouldn't even know how to begin to keep all of that mythology in place. So that's a show that I love and admire but would have no business being remotely in charge of. "How I Met Your Mother" is a show I greatly admire and I would have loved to have been a part of. It's on up against "Gossip Girl" and "Chuck" now, so I feel like I shouldn't say anything nice about it. But it's so good, I have to.