Putting the sunshine back in ''The O.C.'' -- Creator Josh Schwartz plans on avoiding the mistakes of ''90210''

By Tim Stack
May 12, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Pop-culture phenom The O.C. has taken a drubbing in the last two years — both creatively and in the ratings (viewership dropped from 7.2 to 5.1 million in the last year). ”It became too much of a melodrama,” admits creator Josh Schwartz, who spoke to EW two weeks before the May 18 season finale. ”We’re going to get back to the funnier, quirkier qualities we had,” he says. To ensure that happens, Schwartz will return to the show full-time at the start of season 4, taking back control he had ceded to his O.C. writers. As he begins to formulate plotlines, we asked him for his plan to revive the series.

Learn From 90210 With most of the kids gearing up for higher education, it’s tempting to envision joint keggers. But, says Schwartz: ”We’re tackling college in a realistic way. It’s not OCU, where all the kids attend the same college.” Also, don’t expect Sandy (Peter Gallagher) and Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) to vanish as 90210‘s Jim and Cindy Walsh did.

Give Minor Characters a Major Marissa’s little sister, Kaitlin (Willa Holland), and snooty high schooler Taylor Townsend (Autumn Reeser) will join next season as regulars. ”I read that the show was going to be O.C.: The Next Generation and that’s not true,” says Schwartz. ”The idea is to not do a Muppet Babies version.”

Cut Some Dead Weight On the finale, a major cast member will bite the dust in an ending that ”will change the show forever,” reveals Schwartz. As for rumors that it’ll be Mischa Barton’s Marissa? ”No comment,” he says. Okay, we’ll comment: Please!

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