Hart of Dixie marks the return of Rachel Bilson to television. You know her as Summer on the FOX hit, The O.C. This time, she’s heading over the the CW, but not without bringing some of her O.C. family along, like Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz who created/produced The O.C. and the CW’s current hit, Gossip Girl.
Here’s what I learned at today’s Television Critics Association (TCA) panel, which included Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights), Rachel Bilson (The O.C.), Jaime King (Gary Unmarried), and Leila Gerstein and Len Goldstein, the executive producers of the series.
1. The basic premise of the show: Rachel Bilson (Zoe Hart) comes from New York City and is a fish out of water in Bluebell, Alabama where she starts a small medical practice. Scott Porter (George) is originally from Bluebell and engaged to Lemon (Jaime King), who happens to be the perfect southern belle. George used to practice law in New York and is intrigued by Zoe Hart, the new girl in town.
2. Showrunner Pam Veasey discussed how she formed Bluebell, Alabama: “I created a town I wanted to move to since I knew I’d be writing about it all the time. It was created out an escapist need I have.” Don’t worry, Southerners, the panel all discussed the South with reverence, and two of the four writers of the series are from the South. Don’t expect any “very special” episodes addressing racism in the deep South. This show wants to keep it light.
3. Rachel Bilson’s favorite costar? An alligator named “Burt Reynolds.”
4. The series would like to use country music much like Gossip Girl and The O.C. did, as a major character.
5. Bilson knew she always wanted to work with Schwartz and Savage again.
6. The show only has five series regulars, so expect some new characters coming in. The series creator, Leila Gerstein explained, “We want to see who pops.”
7. You may not have guessed this, but Scott Porter comes from a more comedy and musical theater background. He discussed how audiences need the kind of lightness that Hart of Dixie offers.
8. When asked about southern manners, Jaime King said “The most important manner is general kindness.”
Hart of Dixie premieres Monday, September 26 at 9pm on the CW.