'One Tree Hill' crew lights up intersection

If you noticed downtown Wilmington strung with huge, paper lantern-like lights last week, it was because the cast and crew of the WB drama One Tree Hill were filming on the streets for an upcoming episode.

The shoot at Third and Princess streets was for a car accident scene involving two of the characters. (Producers won't say who).

They picked the time (5 p.m.-5 a.m. Thursday) and the location to be less of an inconvenience to local residents, a show spokesperson said.

There isn't a definite airdate for the stunt, but you can probably catch it in mid-February.

The Cape Fear Museum is the site of an upcoming fund-raising gala that throws the spotlight on Wilmington's film connections.

Rendezvous, which coincides with the museum's 106th anniversary, will showcase plans for the 20th-century exhibit expansion and feature dinner and dancing in rooms decorated in themes inspired by classic films, such as Grand Hotel, Arabian Nights and Easy Rider.

Local film professionals Francine DeCoursey, a producer with On Location Production Services, and Marthe Pineau, the set decorator for films such as Songcatcher, Anna Karenina, Lolita, The Crow, and Muppets in Space, are combining their experience to perform some movie magic for the event.

It takes place Jan 24. "A Summer Place" cocktails and silent auction begin at 6:30 p.m., dinner is at 8 p.m. and "Beach Party" dancing starts at 9:30 p.m. Circa 1922 will provide food and The Fabulous Kays will perform.

Tickets are $125. For details, call 341-4350.

Frank Capra Jr., president of Screen Gems Studios, and Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, have planned a marketing trip to Los Angeles later this month.

They hope to talk with studio representatives about bringing television pilots to the area to film. And they'd also like to discuss how incentives offered by other states and countries are affecting their location choices.

A script written by a local screenwriter was the fifth finalist, out of 632 entries, in the 2003 American Gem Short Script Competition.

Benedict R. Fancy's Donor is based on the urban legend of a person waking up in a bathtub full of ice to discover that there's an organ missing. The main character has to track down clues to figure out what happened the night before.

"It's done with very little dialogue," Mr. Fancy said. "It wasn't a 'talkie' film, and I think that's what made people sit up and take notice."

Heaven's Gate Films of Northern Ireland optioned the script.

Mr. Fancy, who was born in England, has been living in the United States for a couple of years. He moved to Wilmington last summer to pursue his screenwriting career.

He's worked on a few local film sets, and in theater production, since he's been here.

When it did, though, he couldn't pass up One Tree Hill.

"It's a great story," he said. "It's about basketball, which I've played my whole life. I just couldn't pass up this opportunity."

Now, he's the youngest member of a cast that also includes Moira Kelly, Craig Sheffer, Barry Corbin and Paul Johansson.

"Some of my favorite times are working with the older actors. They've been in the business so long. They're just really good."

In recent episodes of the show, Mr. Lafferty got to show more of his acting skills.

His character, the privileged teen Nathan Scott, started the show as a bad guy, someone with no redeemable qualities, he said.

"It's hard to play those characters. But it gets easier the more I learn about the character.

"This show keeps getting better and better and better. And more involved," he said."

"I think they've bee writing some great stuff."

Ms. Lenz said she wasn't surprised the show was picked up for a full season.

"I had a feeling they would," she said. "I just had a good feeling about it."

Ms. Lenz and Mr. Lafferty were filming in Carolina Beach, the location of the Scott's beach house, on Nov. 20. In the scenes, Nathan and Haley skipped school to hang out at the beach and get drunk.

"Haley partying is stepping outside her box," Ms. Lenz said. "Sometimes it's in a good way and sometimes, it's in a bad way."

"Nobody knows anything about her," she said of her character, "what she likes or doesn't like."

"That's what's kind of fun for me. There's always something to unwrap for the seasons to come."

It's not long after they're on the beach, though, when the two are discovered by Nathan's dad, played by Mr. Johansson. His character is another one that didn't have many good qualities when One Tree Hill began.

Mr. Johansson doesn't see his character developing any warm, fuzzy feelings any time soon. And that's the way he likes it.

"You can't have Dallas without JR," he said. "And the character believes he is right. He believes that if you don't raise your kids to be strong, tough and independent, he's failed as a parent. That's Dan's point of view. I couldn't imagine any other character I'd want to play."

He's tough on his son in the series, but that's not the case when the cameras aren't rolling.

"We didn't know each other when we first started," he said. "But it's grown into a mutual respect."

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