FOX averaged 15.9 million viewers with a 9.2 rating/14 share in households. CBS was next at 11.6 million, 7.1/11, followed by ABC at 6.8 million, 4.3/7, NBC at 4.1 million, 2.8/4 and the CW at 1.1 million, 0.8/1.
In the adults 18-49 demo, FOX won easily with a 5.1 rating, followed by CBS (2.9), ABC (2.4), NBC (1.2) and the CW (0.5)
FOX: "American Idol" (15.4 million viewers, 9.0/14 households)
CBS: "Survivor: One World" premiere (10.3 million, 6.0/10)
ABC: "The Middle" (7.5 million, 4.6/7)/"Suburgatory" (6.8 million, 4.3/7)
NBC: "Whitney" (4.1 million, 2.7/4)/"Are You There Chelsea?" (3.4 million, 2.3/4)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.4 million, 1.0/2)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (4.9)
FOX: "American Idol" (16.4 million, 9.4/14)
CBS: "Criminal Minds" (12.6 million, 7.9/12)
ABC: "Modern Family" (11.5 million, 6.8/10)/"Happy Endings" (5.7 million, 3.6/5)
NBC: "Rock Center with Brian Williams" (2.7 million, 1.9/3)
The CW: "Remodeled" (759,000, 0.5/1)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (5.3)
CBS: "CSI" (11.8 million, 7.4/12)
ABC: "20/20" (4.8 million, 3.4/6)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" (5.9 million, 4.1/7)
18-49 leader: "CSI" (2.8)
Original Tree Hill-ion Chad Michael Murray makes his long-awaited, final season return to the soap that made him a three-named household name, and from the looks of this exclusive behind-the-scenes snap, he's done some changing. Unfortunately, we'll only get a quick reunion for our boy Lucas and his bestie Haley (the perpetually fabulous Bethany Joy Galeotti), since CMM, who left back in '09, is only back for the Feb. 22nd episode.
"Yeah, he came back for one," says executive producer Mark Schwahn, quickly adding that fans should not read into the brevity of Murray's stay. In fact, it was Schwahn's idea to put his star player back in the game for a single shot instead of a longer arc. "I think he would have done more, but I just felt that the story he's back for was best served by one episode."
That story involves the ongoing search for his half-brother Nathan, and while we won't spoil for you what happens with the hunt, we can point out two things that OTH diehards will find fun. One is that, yes, that is Austin Nichols (Julian) sitting on the floor — he directed the episode. And the second is that Lucas is clearly still wearing his wedding ring. So even though we don't get Hilarie Burton back, there's hope that Peyton will at least get a shout-out to satisfy the fans.
How psyched are you for Chad's return to OTH?
FOX won the night on the back of a two-hour "Idol," with 18.7 million viewers and a 10.7 rating/17 share in households. CBS was second at 11.2 million, 6.9/11, followed by ABC at 7.86 million and a 5.0/8. NBC was fourth with 4.3 million, 2.9/5 and the CW trailed with 930 K, 0.6/1.
In the adults 18-49 demo, FOX also dominated with a 6.0, followed by CBS (2.9), ABC (2.8), NBC (1.3) and the CW (0.5)
FOX: "American Idol" (18.9 million viewers, 10.8/17 households)
CBS: "Survivor: One World" premiere (10.7 million, 6.3/10)
ABC: "The Middle" (8.0 million, 5.0/8)/"Suburgatory" (6.9 million, 4.3/7)
NBC: "Whitney" (4.5 million, 2.9/5)/"Are You There Chelsea?" (3.5 million, 2.4/4)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.4 million, 0.9/1)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (5.5)
FOX: "American Idol" (19.4 million, 11.1/17)
CBS: "Criminal Minds" (11.9 million, 7.4/11)
ABC: "Modern Family" (11.2 million, 6.8/10)/"Happy Endings" (5.8 million, 3.6/5)
NBC: "Rock Center with Brian Williams" (3.0 million, 2.1/3)
The CW: "Remodeled" (497,000, 0.4/1)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (6.4)
CBS: "CSI" (11.1 million, 6.9/11)
ABC: "Revenge" (7.6 million, 5.1/8)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" (5.8 million, 3.9/6)
18-49 leader: "CSI" (2.7)
FOX won the night with 13.9 million viewers and a 7.9 rating/12 share in households. CBS was second at 10.3 million, 6.6/10, followed by ABC at 8.4 million, 5.2/8. NBC was fourth at 5.3 million, 3.6/6 and the CW was last with 1 million viewers, 0.7/1.
In the adults 18-49 demographic, FOX also won with a solid 4.5 rating, followed by ABC (3.1), CBS (2.4), NBC (1.6) and the CW (0.5).
FOX: "American Idol" (18.9 million viewers, 10.8/17 households)
CBS: "Person to Person" premiere (6.0 million, 4.1/6)
ABC: "The Middle" (8.3 million, 5.0/8)/"Suburgatory" (7.3 million, 4.4/7)
NBC: "Whitney" (4.1 million, 2.7/4)/"Are You There Chelsea?" (3.7 million, 2.5/4)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.3 million, 0.9/1)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (6.0)
CBS: "Criminal Minds" (13.6 million, 8.6/13)
FOX: "Mobbed" (8.8 million, 5.0/8)
ABC: "Modern Family" (12.9 million, 7.6/11)/"Happy Endings" (6.9 million, 4.2/6)
NBC: "Rock Center with Brian Williams" (5.3 million, 3.6/5)
The CW: "Remodeled" (713,000, 0.5/1)
18-49 leader: "Modern Family" (5.5)
CBS: "CSI" (11.4 million, 7.312)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" (6.7 million, 4.6/8)
ABC: "Revenge" (7.6 million, 5.0/8)
18-49 leader: "CSI" (2.7)
Nichols hasn't yet watched the scenes that blew so many of us out of the water (and put Twitter into a tailspin). "I haven't seen it yet!" he tells Zap2it. "I'm unemployed and looking for work, so I've been reading so many scripts. I've just been fully immersed in that. I'll look at the scenes someday."
It's hard to imagine that Nichols wouldn't be clamoring to watch the scenes, which are undoubtedly his best work on "One Tree Hill," if not in the entire span of his career. Perhaps he's avoiding watching the most recent episode because he struggled considerably while shooting it. Nichols tells us that the heartwrenching scene in which Julian tries to recreate the scenario alone in his car was one of the most difficult he's ever done, and he wasn't satisfied with it when the episode wrapped.
"When I left the set that night, I left really frustrated," he confesses. "I thought that I didn't really get the scene right. Since the episode aired I've gotten so many messages from fans saying that it ripped them up, and I'm just so thrilled that it worked, because I was terrified that I didn't nail it."
What helped him pull off Julian's devastation was some very real exasperation on Nichols' part. "It was a hot night, and I really did turn the heater all the way up in the car, but I couldn't get the car very hot. I couldn't get it as hot as I wanted because we shot at night, so I was frustrated about that, and I didn't want to put Sophia through doing hours and hours of shooting in a ninety-degree car. I was really, genuinely pissed off, with the heat, and with feeling like a bad actor, and so tapping into those things helped a lot."
In the end, though, Nichols pulled it off by thinking about some very important people who helped him relate to Julian's experience as a new dad throughout the final season. "One thing that's been very useful to me is that while I don't have kids of my own, my sister has three kids, and they've changed my life tremendously," he tells us. "Being an uncle has been incredibly eye-opening. They're very, very special to me, and I think about them a lot."
The baby-in-the-car story was a key factor in Nichols' and Bush's decisions to renew their "One Tree Hill" contracts for a final season. Executive producer Mark Schwahn pitched them the story before they signed on and they were both excited to explore such a powerful, real situation for characters who tend to exist in a heightened reality. "Julian's always been a rock for Brooke, and that's wonderful, but selfishly, I wanted to explore what's wrong with Julian," Nichols says. "Everyone's got imperfections. I wanted to get into his problems as opposed to just his ability to be a support system."
There was also a degree of responsibility to the story, given that it's a tragedy that many parents face year after year, particularly since laws have been instated requiring children's car seats to be in the back seat as opposed to the rear-facing front-seat carriers that were common for previous generations.
"Every summer you read in the paper or see on TV that it's happened. It happens fairly often, sadly," says Nichols. "I read a few articles before we shot, about cases where this has happened. We all felt really strongly about getting it on the show and talking about it, the idea being that it's not because you're a bad parent or because you don't care about your kid, which is what we tried to show with Julian. That's so far from the truth. It can be as small as 'Well, I got thrown off of my normal routine and my schedule, I got thrown six curveballs, and I'm like 'Okay, okay, no problem, I can do it.'' With Julian, he went to the ATM, he went to the liquor store to get someone a gift, and then he walked out and just went, 'Oh, my God.' It doesn't take very long for you to make a mistake like that. On a hot day, five minutes is a really, really long time."
Julian and Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) haven't had many scenes together over the years Nichols has been on the show, but this incident gave the characters a rare opportunity to bond over a shared experience. The scene in which Haley shared her own dark moments as a parent resonated with many fans (yes, we saw your tweets).
"Julian and Haley have never really had too much cause to spend a lot of time together," Nichols says. "It was nice to work with Joy, she's great, and she cares so much about her performance."
Fans may be interested to know that Galeotti, a new parent herself, actually went off-script in the scene in an effort to make the moment feel more genuine. "We did it a whole bunch of times the way it was written," Nichols says. "Then on one take, she kind of just riffed her own story. She went off-script and said, 'I'm just going to speak from my heart. I've been playing this character for nine years, so I'm going to tell this story as I remember it,' and that's ultimately the take that they chose to use."
Of course, Brooke did have some brief doubts about Julian's parenting ability, but once she moved past the initial shock, she's on his side once again. That doesn't mean, though, that Julian is able to move on himself. "This is the kind of thing that never truly leaves you. It's one of those things that sticks, as a parent; you watch yourself so much more closely. He'll continue to beat himself up a bit, though time does heal wounds, and Brooke is incredibly supportive. She struggled with it for a short period, but she definitely doesn't keep it hanging over his head for very long. She understands why it happened and she realizes that she could just as easily make the same mistake. It's a horrible thing to say, but it could happen to anybody."
Don't assume that Brooke and Julian are out of the weeds yet, though. As we saw in the first two minutes of the season premiere, they've got even more dark times ahead, beginning with the potential release of Brooke's assailant from Season 6, Xavier Daniels (Devin McGee). In addition to traumatizing Brooke with a brutal beating, Xavier is also responsible for the death of Tree Hill basketball star Quentin Fields. His release from prison feels incredibly premature -- but then again, Dan got out four years after shooting his brother, so we shouldn't be too surprised.
Nichols says that when he read that Xavier was set for release, he had a strong reaction -- so we can expect Julian to be pretty upset about the whole thing. "It's so funny, the way things blend in real life and on the show," he laughs. "I remember reading that he was coming back, and I was like 'What? God damn it! What the f***?' You get kind of lost in it. 'Why is this guy coming back? Who let him out of jail? He's here to f*** with us again?!'"
After the devastating blow dealt to them with the car situation, Brooke and Julian are already on unstable ground, mentally (though they're doing just fine as a couple). "It's like adding insult to injury. We just had this really intense thing happen to us with our child, and now we get hit right afterward with this ex-con that's going to possibly get out. Sometimes I call the writers and I'm like 'What are you guys doing to us!?' There's always a psycho in town. Tree Hill's always interesting. We can depend on that."
Tune in to "One Tree Hill's" final season Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. EST on The CW, and keep an eye on Zap2it for more from Nichols leading up to Episode 7, which he directed. (Video)
FOX scored 13 million viewers and a 7.5 rating/12 share in households Wednesday night, beating out CBS (8 million, 5.2/8), NBC (5 million, 3.3/5), ABC (4.8 million, 3.1/5) and The CW (1.1 million, 0.8/1).
FOX, of course, also easily won the 18-49 demographic with a 4.4 rating. CBS followed with 1.9, NBC and ABC tied at 1.5 and The CW finished with a 0.5.
FOX: "American Idol" (18.1 million viewers, 10.5/17 households)
CBS: "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials" (8.7 million, 5.4/8)
ABC: "The Middle" re-run (5 million, 3.2/5)/"Suburgatory" re-run (4.2 million, 2.8/4)
NBC: "Whitney" (4.4 million, 2.9/5)/"Are You There Chelsea?" (4 million, 2.6/4)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.5 million, 1.0/2)
CBS: "Criminal Minds" re-run (8.3 million, 5.3/8)
FOX: "Mobbed" (7.9 million, 4.6/7)
ABC: "Modern Family" re-run (7.7 million, 4.7/7)/"Happy Endings" re-run (5.2 million, 3.4/5)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" re-run (4.8 million, 3.2/5)
The CW: "Remodeled" (1.5 million, 1.0/2)
CBS: "CSI" re-run (7.4 million, 4.8/8)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" re-run (5.8 million, 3.9/6)
ABC: "Revenge" re-run (3.3 million, 2.3/4)
So you can imagine how excited we were when we found out original castmember Chad Michael Murray was returning for the final season, and even better, we got to sit down with him to learn all the details about Lucas Scott's Tree Hill homecoming. Plus, we've got exclusive scoop from Bethany Joy Galeotti about this season's Naley drama and how she really feels about Chad returning to the show…
"We get a little bit of an opportunity to see what we really loved in the relationship between Haley and Luke," Murray tells us with a smile. "And it's just kind of a little throwback and a little visit for our fans and for our wonderful following." He's baa-ack!
Former onscreen BFF Galeotti gushed: "It was wonderful having Chad back! Chad and I hit it off right away from my first screen test and we've been friends ever since. We've been through a lot of ups and downs, but you know, he's dear to my heart. It was wonderful to have him around."
If there is a round of minigolf or a water balloon fight atop Karen's Café, then our hearts will pretty much explode with happiness and sunshine. Unfortunately, Murray was quick to reveal that his return to OTH is not just for old times' sake. "Lucas needs to come back to combat some drama that is going on in Haley's life," he says.
Galeotti teased on that drama: "She's being challenged in ways that you hope to God no one will ever have to be challenged, and finding out if she is going to come out on the other side as a warrior with scars or if the circumstance is going to swallow her whole. It's intense." Knowing Tree Hill, we're gonna say that calling this problem "intense" is surely going to be a major understatement.
After last week's depressing Naley goodbye, we've got some strong speculations that this "drama" has to do with Nathan (James Lafferty) constantly being MIA on business this season. In fact, when we talked with our favorite 11-year-old Jackson Brundage, he explained, "Nathan's away, so Uncle Lucas comes out and takes Jamie and Lydia away to Uncle Lucas and Aunt Peyton's for a couple episodes." Aunt Peyton?! Too bad Hilarie Burton never got to bring back her character for season nine, but at least there will be mention of Mrs. Scott.
Murray described being back on set as a "breath of fresh air" and explains that his sole reason for returning was to give the fans a proper goodbye. "To be able to come back and give Lucas a little bit of life in the last moments of this world, I think it's a really cool blessing and I think it's a really cool surprise for our following."
The one and only Lucas Scott makes his reappearance in episode seven airing Feb. 22, and be sure to watch tonight's all-new episode of One Tree Hill on the CW at 8 p.m.
How thrilled are you for Lucas and Haley to be reunited?! What do you think is going to happen with Nathan?
Elsewhere, Marg Helgenberger's "CSI" farewell gave the show its best ratings of the season, but "Are You There, Chelsea?" took a hit for NBC.
FOX delivered 15.7 million viewers and a 9.0 rating/14 share in households for the night, winning by a comfortable margin over CBS (11.9 million, 7.6/12). ABC (4.4 million, 2.9/5) finished a distant third with a night of repeats. NBC took fourth with 4 million viewers and a 2.7/4, and The CW (1.1 million, 0.7/1) trailed.
FOX also easily led the adults 18-49 demographic with a 5.2 rating. CBS came in second with a 2.9. ABC's 1.5 was good enough for third, topping NBC (1.3) and The CW (0.5).
Wednesday hour by hour:
FOX: "American Idol" (19.5 million viewers, 11.1/17 households)
CBS: "Criminal Minds" rerun (7.9 million, 5.3/8)
ABC: "The Middle" rerun (5.25 million, 3.4/5)/"Suburgatory" rerun (4.2 million, 2.7/4)
NBC: "Whitney" (4.5 million, 3.0/5)/"Are You There, Chelsea?" (3.9 million, 2.6/4)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.5 million, 1.0/2)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (6.4)
CBS: "Criminal Minds" (13.7 million, 8.6/13)
FOX: "Touch" series premiere (11.9 million, 7.0/11)
ABC: "Modern Family" rerun (6.5 million, 4.1/6)/"Happy Endings" rerun (4 million, 2.6/4)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" rerun (3.75 million, 2.6/4)
The CW: "Remodeled" rerun (659,000, 0.4/1)
18-49 leader: "Touch" (3.9)
CBS: "CSI" (14 million, 8.9/15)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" rerun (4 million, 2.7/4)
ABC: "Revenge" rerun (3.1 million, 2.3/4)
18-49 leader: "CSI" (3.3)
FOX won the night easily, with 21.6 million viewers and a 12.2 rating/19 share in households. CBS was second with 11.2 million, and a 7.1/11, followed by ABC at 8.1 million, 5.0/8 and NBC with 5.7 million, 3.8/6. The CW trailed with 1.1 million and 0.7/1.
In the adults 18-49 demo, FOX also dominated with a 7.2, though that was down 26% over last year's 9.7. It was followed by ABC (3.0), CBS (2.5), NBC (1.5) and the CW (0.5).
Wednesday hour by hour:
FOX: "American Idol" (21.3 million, 12/19)
CBS: "NCIS" rerun (9.1 million, 5.9/9)
ABC: "The Middle" (8.2 million, 5.0/8)/ "Suburgatory" (7.0 million, 4.3/7)
NBC: "Whitney (4.3 million, 2.8/4)/"Are You There, Chelsea?" (4.3 million, 2.7/4)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.5 million, 1.0/2)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (6.9)
FOX: "American Idol" (21.95 million, 12.3/18)
CBS: "Criminal Minds" (12.8 million, 8.0/12)
ABC: "Modern Family" (11.8 million, 7.0/11)/"Happy Endings" (6.2 million, 3.8/6)
NBC: "Harry's Law" (6.4 million, 4.2/6)
The CW: "Remodeled" rerun (605 K, 0.4/1)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (7.5)
CBS: "CSI" (11.8 million, 7.4/12)
ABC: "Revenge" (7.6 million, 5.1/8)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" (6.4 million, 4.3/7)
18-49 leader: "Revenge" (2.3)
Elsewhere, NBC's new comedy block of "Whitney" and "Are You There, Chelsea?" had an OK start, and the final season premiere of "One Tree Hill" was down from its 2010-11 debut but in line with last season's average.
CBS drew 8.9 million viewers and a 6.0 rating/9 share in households for the night, narrowly beating ABC (8.8 million, 5.7/9) for the top spot. NBC (7.75 million, 5.2/8) was not far behind in third. FOX came in a fairly distant fourth with a little more than 3 million viewers and a 1.9/3, and The CW (1.3 million, 0.9/1) trailed.
ABC led the 18-49 demographic throughout the night and finished with a 3.1 rating. CBS took second with a 2.3, half a point better than NBC's 1.8. FOX averaged 1.1 and The CW 0.6.
Wednesday hour by hour:
ABC: "The Middle" (9.6 million, 5.8/9)/"Suburgatory" (9 million, 5.4/8)
CBS: "Criminal Minds" rerun (8.9 million, 5.8/9)
NBC: "Whitney (6.1 million, 4.0/6)/"Are You There, Chelsea?" series premiere (6.4 million, 4.2/6)
FOX: "Mobbed" rerun (2.7 million, 1.8/3)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" season premiere (1.75 million, 1.1/2)
18-49 leader: "The Middle" (3.0)
CBS: 2012 People's Choice Awards (9.85 million, 6.7/10)
ABC: "Modern Family" (12.3 million, 7.4/11)/"Happy Endings" (7.1 million, 4.4/7)
NBC: "Harry's Law" (8.65 million, 5.7/9)
FOX: "Mobbed" (3.3 million, 2.0/3)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" encore (824,000, 0.6/1)
18-49 leader: "Modern Family" (5.1)
NBC: "Law & Order: SVU" (8.4 million, 5.7/9)
CBS: 2012 People's Choice Awards (7.9 million, 5.4/9)
ABC: "Revenge" (7.5 million, 5.2/8)
18-49 leader: "Revenge" (2.3)
Now that we've finished biting our nails, we're eager to hear your speculations and predictions for the next 12 episodes. Plus, we've got the scoop on how this season's drama is going to play out…
"It was the B and B episode, as I like to call it: the beds and babies. So it was a good way to kick off the year." Well put, Stephen Colletti, and once again bravo for your bedroom scenes tonight. Truly a great start to a jam-packed, full throttle, can't believe my eyes, final season of One Tree Hill.
First off, we need to reflect upon those first two minutes that sent us into a whirlwind of extreme panic and curiosity. The season's teaser showed each character in their lowest lows, and we have no idea how they got there or why Tree Hill is in such a panic (again!).
When we talked with Colletti, he explained that the flash-forward drama will be seen in separate episodes. "They're all spread out and not all of them are related. It's not just one thing that triggers everything to blow up; there are different things happening in people's lives."
Colletti revealed, "You'll see some of those scenes obviously pop back up later in the season to tie everything together, but none of it is going to be in the finale." Thank you, TV Gods! We're hoping to end this season with happiness and joy, not craziness and guns.
Oh, and was anyone else completely freaking out every time B. Davis was driving late at night with her precious cargo in the backseat?! When Julian said, "be careful," we were pretty much hyperventilating with fear until the episode ended and all was safe… for now.
What did you think of tonight's monumental episode? What do you think is going to happen for each of our friends? And who the heck is under the sheet?!
Nathan and Haley: When the show picks up, Haley is back to being a working mom now that she and Brooke have reopened Karen's Café. But as Bethany Joy Galeotti tells us, things quickly unravel from her "very glam, small-town entrepreneurial mom life."
"Nathan is away, so that's taking a huge toll on their relationship," Galeotti says. Galeotti explains that she wonders who she is without her husband and how to keep him in her life while he's gone.
As the preview shows, Nathan's absence proves to be serious, but the actress assures us she's content with how Haley's journey ends. "I'm happy with Haley, what she's been through and where she's come. After seeing her whole journey, to have been there through everything and know that home is still home, I think it's a good ending."
Brooke and Julian: Brooke has certainly had it rough — romantically and physically (barely escaping death when she was attacked three seasons ago). But she finally met and married her true love, Julian. Although the couple is solid as ever, Sophia Bush says they're rattled to the core by an accident involving one of their twin newborns. "Sometimes it's just one little cog that gets off in the wheel and your life falls apart," she says. Austin Nichols, who plays Julian, adds: "[The] accident could happen with any parent. Julian puts a lot of blame on himself for this."
Even though it's hard to imagine putting Brooke through another tragedy, Bush says if her character was coasting, it would be boring and somewhat unrealistic. "No matter how together you are, no matter how professional you are, and no matter how many good things happen, we've all been through things that are almost unspeakable," she says. "It's important for me to have played someone who is flawed and who has been hurt and who has been betrayed, even though she's a great person."
Clay and Quinn: As Rob Buckley, who plays Clay, told us: "Have we ever seen Clay not have issues?" So the couple is about to hit their roughest patch yet. "You're going to get a good chance to see if we got what it takes to go the distance," Buckley says. Shantel vanSanten, who plays Quinn, adds: "This season really tests Clay and [Quinn's] relationship and not in a way that we're in comas or it's life-threatening, but it really tests the strength of our love for another and the foundation that we started our relationship from."
If Clay and Quinn do outlast their impending turmoil, vanSanten says she doesn't necessarily believe a wedding is in the offing. "I don't know if I want us to get married. I want us to be quirky and unconventional ... and I think that if we make it through, there is a place where forever exists for them."
Chase, Alex ... and Chris Keller: With Chase back from Air Force basic training, he and Alex are rekindling their long-distance romance, until one of them gets cold feet. "They're both about to take some big steps in their lives ... and then maybe someone being a little reluctant," Stephen Colletti says. "Alex will go away for a little while ... so you'll see Chase having to deal with the absence of Alex." But, luckily, there's one singleton in town for him to hang with — Chris Keller, who returns to One Tree Hill after a long absence. "We totally bromance out," Tyler Hilton jokes about the friendship between Chris and Chase. "He never has guy friends and he just thinks Chase is the coolest, which is hilarious ... but he's still ornery as all hell."
Mouth and Millicent: Perhaps the cutest, most endearing couple in Tree Hill, they'll be hit with some major hardships this season. "Mouth has undergone a physical transformation," Lee Norris tells us. "[He's] clearly going through something and it's going to affect [Millicent] so I'd say you'll see a bit of both ups and downs." But Norris did make sure to tell us that although he can't say which pair has this season's wedding, "Mouth and Millicent will both find happiness."
And what about the couple's new morning show? Still going strong in the final episode. "I was filming [Mouth's last] scene, a broadcast with their TV show, and after I got a little choked-up," Norris says. "I thought this ties the ribbon for me on the whole experience."
If you want some dish on the premiere, we've posted every spoiler we're allowed to share right here -- but we do have lots more scoop from Thursday night's "One Tree Hill" panel in Los Angeles. Cast members Paul Johansson, Tyler Hilton, Bethany Joy Galeotti, Sophia Bush, Shantel VanSanten, Robert Buckley, Jackson Brundage, Stephen Colletti, and Lee Norris joined exec producer Mark Schwahn (and moderator Meg Masters) for a fantastic Q&A that revealed plenty about the next season.
First of all, if Season 8 was about major milestones for many of the couples and about everyone finding a relatively happy ending in Tree Hill, Season 9 puts the happy couple thing aside.
Don't get us wrong -- the couples are still together and going strong. Early on, though, their happiness is tested, big time, by a series of scary events.
"This is my favorite season," says Schwahn. "The last couple seasons we wanted to be sort of organic, and do things with our couples. More relationship driven stuff, and stuff that was, as I always say, reality plus ten percent. We did some psychos, but really, we did a lot of couples stuff. We haven't had really good antagonists on the show in a while. It was nice, the energy of having Chris Keller and the energy of having Dan Scott... they're fun to work with as people, but to have antagonists was really fun. The new energy was fun, it was kind of old school."
Bush teases that the show has made some significant changes. "We're very excited to see what you guys think, because it's our show, but it's very different," she says. "It's very intense."
Don't get too scared, though -- you won't feel betrayed by the show you've loved. "It's very much a 'One Tree Hill' season," Schwahn says. "It's still 'One Tree Hill.' There's a little heartache, there's some hopefulness, there's some bittersweetness. There are allies you don't expect. There's all that, but at the same time... knowing that it was our final season in the writers' room, it was like, these are our last stories to tell, so let's raise the high wire a little well. We felt beholden to the fans that have been with the show since day one, but we also felt beholden to the fans who have been there since day one, but we also felt a new creative energy."
Back to those antagonists.
Dan returns in a blaze of... well, a blaze of something, as his diner burns to the ground and he turns to Haley for a little reprieve. Back in the lives of his son and his grandchildren, he's sure to cause his share of tension. The question remains as to whether he's genuinely a changed man, or whether he's just going to take the first opportunity to incite devastation yet again.
By way of a tease, Johansson explains that there's no direct flight from LA to the set in Wilmington, so over the years on the series, Johansson had plenty of layovers at airports. "After the first season, I would stop in the layover, and people would just hate me," he says. "People would grab their kids and pull them away. Third and fourth season, people were kind of scared - they'd pull their kids, like 'Don't look at him!' Fifth and sixth seasons, people were coming to me for advice. Now, I just want you to know, I'm so glad that Mark brought me back for this season, because you have no idea what people will do now."
Johansson, an Emmy winning director, also gets behind the camera this season, with the cast unanimously agreeing that he's one of their all-time favorite directors.
Meanwhile, Chris Keller manages to get himself hired to help Haley out with Red Bedroom through a little bit of Keller-esque trickery. Keller is so true to who he was when we last saw him on the show, it feels like we never missed a beat.
"He just let me read the first few pages and I was like, 'What? I'm in the car with who and we're saying what and there's guns and what the hell?' I felt the same way as you guys. 'Mark, what kind of rabbit hole are you taking us down, friend?' It worked out wonderfully... I think this is my favorite season."
"Not only has the show jumped forward, but I haven't been on for a while, so it's 30 years later in Chris Keller time," Hilton jokes. "I think I'm in my 70s, like a Gandalf kind of a**hole." He doesn't reveal where Keller has been over the last ten or so years, but he does promise: "I don't think people that hate him will be disappointed... I'm in every episode, so there are layers. I don't just come in to piss Haley off."
Schwahn and the cast raved about the "egoless" Hilton. Bush even noted that cast members came in on their day off to watch him do his first scenes. "You knew that you were getting something that was reinvigorating our show with this energy because of the relationships and the history that Chris Keller has with everyone on this show. It's hilarious."
"It was like going back to high school after five years," Hilton says.
We didn't reveal anything about Mouth's storyline in the premiere because... Mouth isn't in the premiere. When his story kicks off in Episode 2, we find him to be a whole new man. A whole lot of man. "He has a very big storyline," Colletti teases.
"This is Mouth like you've never seen him before," Norris says. "Mouth gained about sixty pounds this year." The weight gain - and particularly the reason for the weight gain ("Mouth ate Skills!" they cracked) - is the basis of his storyline for a large portion of the season. "It's handled really well. You want to handle that with respect. It's something that I never thought I'd get to do on 'One Tree Hill.'"
Norris asserts that the storyline was born after he and Schwahn played a game. "I think what happened is after I beat you, you decided to make me sit in the makeup chair for four hours every day," he joked.
There are certainly some major unexpected changes and some creative leaps this season, and after checking out the first episode, we feel confident that fans will feel satisfied with the general direction of the show. What we're really waiting for, though, is that ending.
After nine years on the show, Bush's and Galeotti's characters have had a particularly harrowing journey, complete with many soaring romances and devastating losses. When ask whether she's happy with how Haley turns out, Galeotti says simply, "Absolutely."
Bush had a bit more to say about the final couple of episodes. "For all of the intensity that comes with the season, you get to the end, and I remember - I was given 12, which was our second to last episode, as a director, and that made me cry. Everything makes me cry. I was like, 'Really? You want me to do it? Okay.' So I got the script, and again, I'm crying, going 'This is so great. Everyone's going to be so happy.' I cried every day on set, like 'This is perfect, cut! Sorry!' I was a wreck. And I thought, you know what, if I'm sobbing this much... I think that everybody's going to be able to feel it in their hearts, the way that we all did."
For the record, yes: Bush had tissues on hand and had to use them (and share them with fans) on more than one occasion. We cried, too. It's an OTH thing.
And that is pretty much One Tree Hill's final season in a nutshell: shock and tears. Based on the first episode and what creator Mark Schwahn had to say about the end of OTH, fans will be in for quite a rollercoaster ride...
Since this show is mostly about the couples and the drama that comes to their lives, we thought we'd break down what to expect when OTH returns to our TV lives (next Wednesday!) for one last time:
Haley, Nathan and the Kids: There are some truly adorable Naley moments in the season-nine premiere, even though the married couple isn't necessarily in the same room. And based on the episode's ominous voice over, Nathan (James Lafferty) is going to have some demons to battle this season.
Brooke and Julian: These two are still blissfully in love and enjoying being parents to their new twins. And by "enjoying," we mean barely getting any sleep and slowly going insane. But Brooke (Sophia Bush) manages to find quiet time with her boys by driving around Tree Hill in the middle of the night, reminiscing about growing up. Longtime fans will love to see how far B. Davis has come.
Clay and Quinn: Clay (Robert Buckley) starts season nine with a pretty big problem to deal with, but at least his gal Quinn (Shantel VanSanten) is right by his side. And she goes above and beyond normal girlfriend duties to help him deal with his issue. But there's a moment in the end of the episode that hints at a future situation for Clay…and it's no cakewalk.
Chase and Alex: Let's put it this way: these two are doing so well that we get to see Stephen Colletti with very few clothes on. More than once. And trust us, we're not complaining. Homeboy has been doing some pushups. But Alex brings a problem into the bedroom that causes their sex life to stall, and that problem is Chris Keller.
Other OTH final season tidbits:
Schwahn says season nine is his favorite ever, and there is a lot of "old-school One Tree Hill" throughout the 13 episodes. But don't worry, there's still plenty of crazy new drama to experience. "It's different and intense," Bush said. "We got to do exciting things and go outside the box." And how. In the first few moments of the season premiere there's a fire, a gun, a couple at the point of breaking up, someone in the back of a cop car and someone taking lots of anger out on inanimate objects.
Mouth puts on lots of weight, but the interesting story is the reasoning behind the poundage. But poor Lee Norris had to spend an extra four hours in the makeup chair each day to look the part.
Sophia Bush directed the second-to-last episode, and she told the audience that she cried reading the script and shooting the episode. Basically, start stocking up on tissues now.
Tyler Hilton is back full force in the first episode, and we didn't realize how much we missed Chris Keller until the season premiere. Yes, he still speaks in third person.
Yes, someone will be dying this season, but of course Schwahn and the cast kept their lips zipped on who would be biting the big one. The only clue we get about the death is in the opening moments of the episode.
One Tree Hill's final season starts Wednesday on the CW.
Have you started mourning the end of OTH? Or are you still in denial, like us? Don't be ashamed, it's nice and warm in denial.
We'll give you a full rundown of the Q&A in a later article, but we couldn't go to sleep without filling you in on some key details from the powerful episode. Here are five things you can expect from the season premiere:
1. A major death. The first minute of the episode made our hearts skip a beat, and not in a happy, romantic way. We saw images of nearly every one of our favorite characters hitting their absolute lowest points. Amongst the brutal snapshots, we see Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) identifying a body in a morgue. Obviously, we can't tell you who dies, but we will tell you that it is a character who is very significant to the series and who we've known for years. (And, as Paul Johansson noted, it's "not Chad.")
2. Chris. Keller. Is. Glorious. Tyler Hilton is back with a flirty vengeance, and it's like he never left. We don't get a whole lot of information about how he's spent the last decade, but we do get 100% genuine Chris Keller douchiness. He speaks in third person. He makes a play for Haley. (B-minus for effort, though, and she's obviously not having it.) He drops some not-so-constructive criticism on Alex's music. And. Yes. He sings. Sophia Bush dished that on Tyler's first day back on set, many cast members stopped by even though they weren't working that day, and they could feel that his presence was "reinvigorating" the show.
3. Daddy issues galore. As previously revealed, Brooke's father Ted (Richard Burgi) comes back into town after being named the twins' godfather. (We're not quite sure why, especially because they choose to name Haley the godmother over Victoria, but... this is Tree Hill.) She's beyond overjoyed to see him, despite the countless times he's let her down, and it was a strong reminder of the teenage girl she once was, desperately wanting her parents to notice her. And, speaking of awesome fathers, Dan is back in the picture. When his diner burns down (in, um, an "accident") he shows up asking Haley for a little kindness.
4. Clay is a man on the move. Clay's big storyline this episode? He's sleepwalking, which is causing a lot of worry for Quinn. While the scenes do seem lighthearted, based on the teaser, we're thinking this is going to develop into some heavy stuff for the couple. "We really saw in Season 7 and 8 that I shine as an actor in sleeping scenes," Rob Buckley said, very seriously. "So Mark is really good at throwing storylines in our strike zone, so you'll notice I did a lot of power napping and sleeping in that episode, and there's a lot more really heavy sleeping to come."
5. Nathan and Haley remain adorable. Nathan has his buzz cut back, but we're not only talking about his super-hotness. We'll admit it -- this might be a trying episode for the hardcore Naley shippers, because the Scotts are never actually in the same room together. Still, they prove that they're more than capable of withstanding a little strain. It just goes to show how much they've grown and how much they've built since Haley went on tour while they were in high school. When we visited the set in September, Bethany Joy Galeotti told us, "Nathan and Haley are the homefront of the show. Mark wrote a lot toward those personalities." They prove her right in this episode.
"It's a little darker this season," Mark Schwahn told us at the Q&A.
Sophia chimed in with, "Darker, and more naked."
We'd say that accurately describes the episode. While it definitely feels like "One Tree Hill," it's a stronger, more confident version of the show. It's very apparent that eliminating the "we could get canceled at any moment!" factor has driven everyone involved with the production to turn it up to eleven.
Aside from the crushing teaser, Season 9 begins at a comfortable pace, with joyful, hopeful moments aplenty. (Trust us, we were waiting for a car to go off a bridge at any moment.) Somehow, Tree Hill feels more real to us than ever, and the characters feel even more defined. Mark tells us that this is his favorite season yet, and we have a feeling it'll be ours, too.
It all goes down January 11 at 8 p.m. EST on The CW. But you knew that already.
We visited while cast member Austin Nichols was directing the 7th episode of the season, and our first day on set afforded us the chance to watch Bethany Joy Galeotti (ex-Michelle, Guiding Light) film emotional scenes with her returning pal Chad Michael Murray. Yes, Lucas and Haley's BFFdom has endured despite his absence (and the fact that he never returned any of her letters -- a fact that plagued Murray a bit when he read the script).
In the scenes we watched, Haley wasn't in the most stable frame of mind, but Joy assures us that it's not all doom and gloom for Haley this season. When we catch up with her in the premiere, she's enjoying her growing family and the new/old business she shares with Brooke (Sophia Bush). "This season Haley has decided to, as we saw at the end of Season 8, reopen Karen's Café. She renovated Clothes Over Bros after Brooke had her financial catastrophe, and so she and Brooke went into business together. Haley is diving into that.She's got a daughter, she's got a son, her husband is traveling, it's sort of a very glam, small-town entrepreneurial mom life for Haley."
However, unlike Season 8, this final season of "OTH" isn't all about the laughs. "Things very quickly start to unravel," Joy admits. At first, it's manageable -- another local café owner, played by "Dancing With The Stars" alum Chelsea Kane, gives Brooke and Haley some not-so-friendly competition, and hijinks ensue.
Then, real trouble comes a-knocking, as it always does in Tree Hill. And by "trouble" we mean Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), who returns to the series full-time this season after a few years with guest star billing. "Haley's trying to deal with having Dan around and deciding whether she's going to let this person back in her life and into her family's life. And Nathan is away, and that's taking a huge toll on their relationship. It's a lot about Haley finding out what her limits are," says Joy.
Let's get to what you all really want to hear about: Naley, Naley, Naley! As part of his agreement for Season 9, James Lafferty requested that his episode commitment be reduced to make room for some other projects, so Nathan spends a portion of the season away from Tree Hill as he struggles to (almost single-handedly) manage his and Clay's agency. In the season premiere, we learn that he's been traveling a lot, and producer Steve Goldfried tells us he returns "around the second episode."
If you're getting vicarious separation anxiety, never fear, Naley fans. Joy assures us that this season is not about giving Haley an opportunity to make a life for herself without Nathan. In fact, most of Haley's story revolves around Nathan when things take a terrifying and unexpected turn. (Cue ominous music. Or just listen to his super-chilling voice-over in this promo.)
"I don't think this is about Haley's journey as an independent woman," Joy says. "That's who she's become, is her family. When you're in a marriage or in a relationship where that person is bound to you, that's life-changing. You're never the same. I don't feel that this is a time for her to be finding out who she is without him. I think it's more, 'Who am I in the absence of someone who belongs next to me, all the time? How do I continue to keep him a part of my life, even though we're not seeing each other face-to-face all the time?'"
We've been promised (and specifically asked to reassure the fans!) that Nathan and Haley do share a lot of scenes together -- they were shot out of order from other parts of episodes to ensure that they squeeze as much Naley time in as possible during James' limited time on set.
After nine years on the show, Joy tells us that she's gotten used to the come-and-go of various cast members, so James' absence wasn't as hard on her as Nathan's was on Haley. "It is kind of weird [that he's away]! I mean, James and I never really talked much. I love him to death, but we weren't two people that clicked and were like best friends," she says. "We have a mutual respect for each other and I would love to work with him again, but I don't feel the absence of a friend like I did with Chad when Chad left, or with Hilarie [Burton]. That's very different."
Of course, that's not to say he wasn't missed. "The presence of what James brings to the set and his professionalism... his own flavor that he brings, what he brings to the scenes and all that. I miss seeing his face around. He's a good guy," she says. "Of course he's missed."
As most fans are aware, the actors weren't contracted to return to "One Tree Hill" for Season 9, so each actor made their decisions on an individual basis. For Joy, the decision to return was really about getting to say an official, epic goodbye to the series that spanned so much of her life. "It was a really tough decision, but I have a few friendships here that I wasn't ready to walk away from yet. Season 8 ended with like a booze-on-stage-8 kind of party. I was kind of like 'This can't be how we say goodbye. At least let's come back for 13 more episodes.'"
Making the decision even tougher was Joy's pride and joy, her daughter Maria, who was born last February. Joy tells us that juggling motherhood and acting has been a precarious balancing act.
"I wouldn't let anybody tell you differently. It is not an easy task being a working mom. I am extremely blessed that my schedule is not nine to five every day. I have three days or three weeks off at a time, but then I do come in and work 14 hour days sometimes. It's definitely hard, but I'm grateful that I have the time off that I do. I'm grateful that I can still nurse and be there when she wakes up and most of the time when she goes to sleep."
Fun fact: Joy loves to change up her hair each season, and Haley's Season 9 'do was specifically designed to be as close as possible to Joy's natural look so that she could spend less time in the hair & makeup chair and more time with baby Maria.
On camera, there are three new babies on the show -- meaning that there are often six babies on set -- which hasn't exactly made things easier on Joy. "Somebody shoot me now," she jokes. "They're all adorable, but I'm like, 'I've got my own, thanks.' It makes me start lactating. The baby starts crying and I'm like, 'Where's my baby?!'"
We've got more from our chat with Joy to share with you soon, including her hopes for Haley's ending and her own post-OTH plans. In the meantime, we'll leave you with Joy's description of Season 9:
"Near death experiences. Jealousy. Psychotic breakdowns. Post-traumatic stress. Comedy. Action. Drama, drama, drama. And romance. You've got to throw romance in there somewhere."
You know, in case you weren't already on the edge of your seat. January 11, 8 p.m. EST on The CW. Be there.
Galeotti has been working on the show with her writing partner Ron Aniello for years, and the pair even staged a reading in Wilmington, North Carolina in 2009. But they got a vote of confidence from Nicholas Sparks himself, who said on "The Early Show" Dec. 14 that a musical version of his book would hit the Great White Way at some point in the future.
The bad news: We don't think Ryan Gosling is involved in any way. He's too busy being nominated for Golden Globes and being the unofficial Sexiest Man of the Year.
The good news: It's "The Notebook." You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to fall hopelessly in love. Gosling or no, if you're a lady, you're genetically predisposed to love the crap outta this.
The cast has scattered as the Wednesday, Jan. 11, premiere of the CW drama series' ninth and final season nears. It promises new dilemmas for Haley James Scott (Galeotti) and her husband Nathan (James Lafferty), thanks in no small part to his ever-scheming father Dan (Paul Johansson).
"I was less emotional than I thought I'd be on the last day," Galeotti tells Zap2it, "but I think it came out in other ways. I'd be at home doing my laundry and not be able to find something, and I'd burst into tears. It's hard to see photos from the set and think, 'I'm never going to be in a room with all the same people again.'
"I'm sure I'll go back to Wilmington," adds Galeotti, who also made her debut as a director during the show's run. "I'm sure I'll work with some of those guys again, but that particular combination doesn't exist anymore, and it's hard to think about that. After you spend nine years of your life seeing the same faces every day, it's such a change."
While she's settling into being more of a full-time wife and mother back home in Battle Ground, Wash. -- where she and husband Michael also own and operate a restaurant -- Galeotti intends to keep fulfilling the musical yen "One Tree Hill" helped satisfy by sending Haley on a concert tour.
With longtime friend Amber Sweeney, she still performs in the duo Everly, and she's looking forward to a July concert in Los Angeles where she expects to reunite with "One Tree Hill" co-stars Shawntel Van Santen and Daphne Zuniga. Galeotti adds that Jana Kramer, who also got to merge her acting and her music on the show, also may sing at the event.
"We've got another performance coming up for Nicholas Sparks' celebrity golf weekend in April in New Bern [N.C.]," Galeotti reports. "I think we're going to be more of a boutique type of band, not pursuing things full-steam-ahead, not going on tour and being rock stars. We both have our own things we want to keep on the front burner, but this is something we can do to still be able to enjoy doing music."
Had her life not taken the course it did, Galeotti may well have tried out for FOX's "American Idol," NBC's "The Voice" or another televised music competition. "I think they're fun,'" she reflects, "Usually if I watch 'American Idol,' I'll pick it up after the audition process. I feel like so much of it is the gimmick of watching a train wreck, and I think it breeds negativity and gossip. I don't like that.
"I think 'The Voice' is a great show," Galeotti notes. "I really enjoy that, and I also like 'The Sing-Off,' though I haven't seen too much of it. I would definitely encourage any young artist toward those, since everything's different now. You kind of have to take the opportunities that come to you, so I would say, why not?"
(Hey, CW... you can just send us the whole season right now. We won't tell anyone anything. We swear.*)
The very first footage of Season 9 has now hit the web, and it's only available for Facebook fans. The video begins with a voice over courtesy of one Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush). "I grew up in Tree Hill," she says, as we see poignant images of the iconic rivercourt and the house where she was raised. "I spent most of my life here. It's what I wished for."
We later hear her say, "I like Tree Hill like this. Warm. Safe. Loved.... It doesn't mean there haven't been hardships, but I'm here, and here is good."
But as we know, there is nothing safe about Tree Hill in its final season -- at least not for the gang we've grown to love over the better part of a decade. Tragedy strikes the Scott family early, with Nathan (James Lafferty) missing in action for a significant portion of the season.
A shot of Nathan tied up (and shut up) may be the biggest clue, as he muses, "People say hell is endless. They say it's our worst nightmare. The face of our darkness. Whatever it is, I say hell is empty, and all the devils are here."
The juxtaposition of Brooke's affection for Tree Hill with Nathan's nightmarish reality is chilling.
Nathan's situation, of course, tests Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) as a mother, a wife, and a friend. Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) returns to help her out, for a highly anticipated appearance featuring some rather unfortunate hair. (Zap2it was lucky enough to watch him film his scenes, so be on the lookout for some CMM-centric scoop later this month!)
Adding to the serious lack of warm-safe-love in Tree Hill, we can expect a return appearance from Brooke's assailant, Xavier (Devin McGee), who went to prison after killing Quentin in Season 6. Details of the storyline are being kept under wraps, but on-set sources tell us that Bush and Austin Nichols' performances this season are their best ever.
We can additionally expect to see Clay (Robert Buckley) and Quinn (Shantel VanSanten) put through the ringer as pressure begins to weigh on him and a downward spiral begins. We've been teased with the news of a Tree Hill wedding this season, and while Clay and Quinn may seem the most obvious couple headed down the aisle, once the season begins, you may be betting on Mouth (Lee Norris) and Millie (Lisa Goldstein).
We're hearing that Alex (Jana Kramer) only appears in two episodes this season, so the romantic scenes we see between her and Chase (Stephen Colletti) may not be particularly telling of their relationship's direction. While there may not be a ton of romance in his life, we can expect plenty of bromance for Chase when Chris Keller (Tyler Hilton) makes his triumphant return. Their bond is strong, y'all. And possibly completely one-sided.
And finally, of course, there is Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), the Scott patriarch who tends to signal tragedy, trauma, and terrible memories for everyone in town -- except, of course, for Jamie (Jackson Brundage). Dan has survived far longer than we expected him to on this series. Will Season 9 lead him to true redemption?
As if you didn't have it marked in your calendar, we'll remind you one more time: January 11. Stock up on wine and Kleenex. It's going to be a heck of a ride.
Thanks to social media, we're privy to the behind-the-scenes moments from our favorite shows more than ever before. While a few years ago, fans might have had to jump through hoops to even find out about the final wrap date, now we get to watch via Twitter as Sophia Bush, James Lafferty, Bethany Joy Galeotti and the other cast members leave Tree Hill behind.
Sure, we still have thirteen episodes to laugh and cry with -- and we're hearing that this season is more high-drama than ever before -- but even armed with the knowledge that there's more to come, we can't help but get a little emotional at the idea of the Rivercourt location being bulldozed.
If, like us, you're feeling a bit verklempt on this occasion, check out the gallery of tweets from the "One Tree Hill" stars as, one by one, they say goodbye to Tree Hill -- and to each other. Some cast members have been chronicling their exits with pics, some with quotes, some simply by saying goodnight.
Tune in for the Season 9 premiere on January 11, 2012 at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.
Thanks for nine great years, "One Tree Hill!" And for that thing with the dog and the heart.
Last we saw Skills, he had come back from Los Angeles to learn best friend Mouth was dating his ex-girlfriend, Lauren. While details about the episode's plot are being kept under wraps (and it's too early to spill secrets from our recent set visit), Skills (Antwon Tanner) joins the growing list of One Tree Hill alums making appearances this season, including Chad Michael Murray, Bevin Prince and Barbara Alyn Woods.
Original cast member James Lafferty, who will recur in the upcoming Season 9, tweeted that the gang was together for their final scene to be filmed on the River Court. Sophia Bush also shared a fun group picture from inside Tric where singer Gavin DeGraw performs in the show's final episode. DeGraw, who sang the original main title song "I Don't Wanna Be," last made a cameo in Season 5.
One Tree Hill returns for its ninth and final season on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 8/7c on The CW.
On Tuesday (Nov. 8), they shot their last scenes at Tric, the club location that Karen and Peyton in Season 2 and has been a focal point ever since. Sophia Bush shared an exciting piece of news via her Twitter: Gavin DeGraw is returning as a musical guest for the final episode.
DeGraw, of course, is the man responsible for "I Don't Want to Be," the show's theme song, which was covered by a wide variety of artists for the Season 8 opening credits.
Sources tell us that this year, there won't be an opening credit sequence -- as it's the final season, they don't want to waste precious moments that could go toward stories -- so we're hoping that DeGraw performs the now-iconic song one last time for this episode.
Of course, it's not the first time he's appeared on the show in the flesh. He stopped by for a performance at "Karen's Cafe" in the Season 1 episode "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and shared a touching moment at the piano with Jackson Brundage in the Season 5 episode "What Comes After the Blues."
Another familiar face is returning for the series finale as well: Bevin Prince! This weekend, the cast shot scenes at a high school basketball game -- talk about a callback -- and Zap2it has confirmed that Bevin joined her former castmates in the stands. Her character, Bevin Mirsky, was everyone's favorite ditzy cheerleader in the first four seasons, but we haven't seen her since a run-in in Season 5 revealed that she married Dim Tim Smith and that they named their son after Nathan.
"One Tree Hill" returns to The CW on Wednesday, January 11 at 8:00 p.m.
The final 13 episodes will be joined on Wednesday nights by the new reality series Remodeled, which bows Jan. 18 at 9/8c.
The Vampire Diaries (8/7c) and The Secret Circle (9/8c) will come back from the holiday break on Thursday, Jan. 5, followed by the return of Nikita (8/7c) and Supernatural (9/8c) on Friday, Jan. 6.
The network's Tuesday night lineup — 90210 at 8/7c and Ringer at 9/8c — will return Jan. 10, while Gossip Girl returns Monday, Jan. 16 at 8/7c, and Hart of Dixie comes back with new episodes Monday, Jan. 23 at 9/8c.
By now we know that the Tree Hill gang are no strangers to time-jumps. There's a reason you rarely see a calendar or even a date on a gravestone in this town -- nobody knows what year it is!
Now, sources tell Zap2it that in the final episode of the series, we'll see yet another time jump. Expect to see Brooke, Haley, and the rest of the crew about five years into the future. Casting calls have gone out for the twins, Jude and Davis, at around age six, and Lydia at around age seven. Look forward to seeing a teenage Jamie, too! (We're guessing he's going to grow up to look an awful lot like his Uncle Lucas.)
Longtime WB fans will remember that the "Dawson's Creek" series finale also featured a five-year time jump.
Richard Burgi (Desperate Housewives) has been cast in the recurring role, TVGuide.com has learned. He'll be coming to town as a grandpa now that his estranged daughter Brooke (Sophia Bush) is a new mom to twins, Davis and Jude.
Only Brooke's mom Victoria (Daphne Zuniga) has been seen on-screen, although Papa Davis has been mentioned throughout the run of the show. In Season 2, he lost his job, forcing the family to move out of their palatial home. Shortly after, both parents moved away leaving Brooke alone in Tree Hill. In Season 8, Brooke was once again disappointed when her dad was a no-show to her wedding.
Also appearing on the CW show's ninth and final season is former cast member Barbara Alyn Woods, who plays Deb Scott. While the reason for her return is being kept under wraps (although we can't imagine it's to rekindle her romance with Skills!) it's likely to do with her son Nathan, James Lafferty, who will only be appearing for part of the season. Woods joins original cast member Chad Michael Murray, who returns for one episode when the show premieres midseason.
The last time we saw Lucas Scott, he was riding off into the sunset with his family, and the only explanation we got for his absence was the Season 4 premiere title: "4:30 A.M. (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad)" from the Roger Walters song.
After missing Brooke's wedding, the birth of his niece, and Haley's mother's funeral over the last few years, we can't help but wonder what finally does bring Luke back to town. It may not be the most pleasant of family reunions, considering Dan Scott (Paul Johansson) is in Tree Hill full-time once again, and their relationship was still tense when Lucas skipped town.
Though episode number isn't confirmed, we're hearing that Murray's episode may not, in fact, be the series finale, as many have speculated. With any luck, it will be an episode that also features his on-screen brother James Lafferty, whose role this season has been cut back to seven episodes. We're dying to see them reunited.
"One Tree Hill" will return to The CW's schedule in 2012.
"As a precautionary measure and in consideration of our cast and crew, One Tree Hill production has shut down for today and tomorrow due to Hurricane Irene. We will continue to monitor the situation over the next few days," a rep for the show told EW.
OTH star Austin Nichols tweeted multiple times on the storm. On Friday, he said, "Shutting down production tomorrow. Can't wait to dance with this large woman called Irene." And then on Saturday: "Good Morning Everyone. Just gonna grab a quick shower and some coffee before I head out to go looting. #HurricaneIrene," and "Irene couldn't blow out my birthday candles."
Irene hit North Carolina Saturday morning, leaving almost 200,000 homes (many in the Wilmington area) without electricity, according to the Associated Press.
And now, for the ninth and final season of OTH, Chris Keller is back, and back full time! The man behind the character, Tyler Hilton, told us all about his big return to the show after being gone for so long, and we had many questions for him. What will we be getting when he blows back into Tree Hill? And what's the atmosphere like on set for OTH's final season? Fortunately for us, Chris Keller is telling…
How did your return happen? Did the show reach out to you? Or were you just camped outside of the set since season four?
Tyler Hilton: Over the years the One Tree Hill cast and crew has become a small unit. It's really a small family and they have asked for a few years if I wanted to come back. [Last year I said], 'If they have one more season I will definitely do it,' and sure enough they were asked back, against all odds, so I had to comply.
OTH is definitely a show that beats the odds
[At this season's first] table read, the creator of the show (Mark Schwahn) had this great speech about how many shows we have been on longer than, and we are one of the longest-running shows on TV. It was really cool. It was also the first time I got to be a part of the cast from the first episode as a series regular. I always used to come in, hang out and then leave. But this season is the last, they are writing as if it is...They want to end it in a way they want to end it. It's cool I get to be back for the end of it.
Unless it gets renewed again. Stranger things have happened on TV!
I wish it would, too. I haven't been on this show the whole time like everyone else so I am the one silently chanting, "Season 10! Season 10!" But everyone else keeps looking at me like, "Dude, no."
So what has Chris Keller been up to since we saw him last in season four?
Just doing more of the same...for the most part he has just been touring and being Chris Keller all around the world. The funny thing is, because they skipped everyone ahead six years, it's been a long time since we have checked in with Chris Keller. It's been, like, 10 years or something, which is strange but it's also cool to see what he has been up to. I had dinner with Mark Schwahn and he told me what he was thinking in terms of what was going to happen this season...I have to say I think this is going to be the best stuff I have ever done on this show. It's just hilarious.
I really wish Chris Keller gained 200 pounds since season four and you had to film in a fat suit.
No, that would be great though! The stuff they have been coming up with, it just seems like they have been dying to do Chris Keller stuff for so long and they've been saving it all up.
What do you want fans to find out about Chris Keller?
I am a fan of the character just as much as everyone else. When I get the script, I run home because I cannot wait to read it, like it's the newest book in the Twilight series or something. I hope the fans find out the same thing I want to find out. I just want to know more about his backstory and where he has come from...Something happened in the last script that confused me, and now I am not quite sure who Chris Keller is. He is in a territory that I don't even know, so I am just hoping to find out what made him the way that he is. I want to know: Was he born this way?
In the past, Chris has caused friction between Nathan and Haley. Is it the same story this time around?
Everyone is 10 years older than the last time Chris Keller came to town, there may not be the same kinds of situations, but there is still a lot of drama there. This is probably my favorite season of the show, ever. It's so wound up into each other...I definitely do have a lot of dealings with Haley.
You will be performing on the show, right?
Yeah. The album I have been working on, releasing in January, [fits in] right with the first episode, so we are putting a lot of my music on the show. As always, my music is Chris Keller's music. Chris Keller does have good taste in music. So yeah, I will be performing on the show, playing some of my songs, and I get to play with some other people and help out some other artists, too.
What's the atmosphere like on set while you guys shoot the final season?
Last season people were probably just feeling exhausted and unsure as to whether or not it was the last season. Now they know and we only have to be out here for four months...It kind of reminds me of the summer camp feel, when everyone is new and so excited to be here, always getting into trouble and having fun and hanging out with each other all the time. And that's what it feels like now, which is great because it doesn't feel like work at all.
Happy see a different side of Chris Keller this season? Ready to see OTH end?
We guess that's enough Nathan Scott for the final season. Oh, who are we kidding? Give us every episode or give us death! Sorry, the Diet Coke we've been chugging just kicked in.
Chad Michael Murray told us last week that he would "absolutely" come back on OTH if they asked him. Unfortunately, as of right now, that's not happening. "At this point, he's not coming back. We hope he'll come back," Pedowitz says. "We're going to try and reexamine it as the season goes on. But at this point other original cast members may return and more cast changes and what's going on will be talked about by Mark Schwahn at a later point."
Want more than half a season of One Tree Hill? Pedowitz says "at this point, it's just thirteen [episodes]." But he keeps hope alive for more OTH by adding: "never say never."
The Disney Channel star and former Dancing With the Stars contestant will appear in one of the early episodes of the show’s ninth and final season. Kane will play “Tara,” a rival Café owner to Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti and Brooke (Sophia Bush).
As previously reported, Tree Hill vets Paul Johansson and Tyler Hilton are also returning for the final season, which gets underway sometime in midseason.
When The CW finally announced that they were granting the show an abbreviated ninth season, the one cast hold-out remained James Lafferty.
Now, details are emerging about the actor's reduced role. We've confirmed that James Lafferty will be listed as a series regular, just as he always have been. However, TVLine reports that despite the title remaining the same, Lafferty will appear in only about half of the 13 episodes.
Word is that Lafferty's character, Nathan, who is now a full-fledged Fortitude agent, will be traveling abroad for a significant chunk of the season. (Perhaps he'll visit his MIA brother, Luke!) We're hearing that Nate won't be too happy about the return of Dan Scott, or the way Haley seems to have warmed up to him.
Executive producer Mark Schwahn told Zap2it back in May that he was looking forward to exploring the return of Dan Scott in Tree Hill, and now our friends at E! confirm that Paul Johansson will be returning as a full-time cast regular.
The last time we saw Dan, he was flipping burgers at a roadside diner that looked like something out of a horror movie. His son, Nathan (James Lafferty) may have extended a cautious olive branch in the season finale, but we hear that Nathan won't be too comfortable with Dan moving to Tree Hill in a more permanent capacity. Let's just say that Dan's new residence is much, much too close to where Nathan and Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) lay their heads.
Haley, for her part, doesn't quite trust Dan (uh...duh) but she thinks Jamie deserves the chance to get to know his grandfather.
In case you missed the other big casting news, fan favorite Tyler Hilton will be returning as Chris Keller -- and this season, he's been upped from guest star status to cast regular, so we can be sure that the sarcastic singer/songwriter will be around for the long haul.
Actor/musician Tyler Hilton played coy on Twitter when he posted, "I'm doing something soooo exciting today...but I can't tell u. It's killing me! I hate secrets. But I'll tell u soon. :)"
If there's anything we've learned from "One Tree Hill," though, it's that secrets never stay secret for long. Sources confirm to Zap2it that Hilton is returning to the show as singer/songwriter/homewrecker Chris Keller.
No word yet on how long he'll be visiting Tree Hill for, but we're thrilled to have him back. Keller caused some serious problems for everyone's favorite married teenagers in Seasons 2 and 3. We haven't seen him since a brief appearance in Season 4, when his tour bus happened upon our heroes -- who were, incidentally, in need of a ride to Texas to bail a friend out of jail... and crash a strange prom.
You know, just an average Saturday night.
In Tree Hill time, about 10 years have passed. We're looking forward to finding out how that decade treated Keller. Is he as rich and famous as he thought he should be? Rumor has it, he's back in town help Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) out with Red Bedroom Records since Peyton (Hilarie Burton) remains AWOL.
In addition to playing the town's most lovable douchebag, Hilton has contributed a number of songs to "One Tree Hill's" successful soundtrack albums, including a duet with Galeotti on Ryan Adams' "When The Stars Go Blue" and a memorable cover of John Waite's "Missing You." We're sure to be treated to more of his acoustic charms in the ninth and final season.
Hilton can currently be seen on VH1's sitcom "Single Ladies," airing Monday nights at 9 p.m.
CBS led the night overall with 15.3 million viewers and a 9.7 rating/15 share in households. ABC (13.9 million, 9.1/14) was a strong second. NBC came in third with 7.95 million viewers and a 4.8/7, beating out FOX's 6.6 million and 3.9/6. The CW (1.3 million, 0.8/1) trailed.
Thanks to "The Voice," NBC led the 18-49 demographic with a 3.4 rating. CBS finished second in the demo with a 3.2, followed by ABC, 2.7, and FOX, 2.6. The CW scored a 0.6.
Tuesday hour by hour:
CBS: "NCIS" season finale (18.1 million viewers, 11.2/18 households)
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars" special (13.4 million, 8.8/14)
FOX: "Glee" (8.8 million, 5.2/8)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (6.4 million, 4.0/6)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" season finale (1.5 million, 1.0/2)
18-49 leader: "NCIS" (3.8)
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars" results (17.7 million, 11.5/17)
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles" season finale (15.4 million, 9.7/14)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (7.6 million, 4.6/7)
FOX: "Raising Hope" (5.5 million, 3.2/5)/"Breaking In" (3.3 million, 2.0/3)
The CW: "Hellcats" season finale (1.2 million, 0.7/1)
18-49 leader: "Dancing With the Stars" (3.5)
CBS: "The Good Wife" season finale (12.4 million, 8.1/13)
ABC: "Body of Proof" season finale (10.5 million, 7.2/11)
NBC: "The Voice" (9.9 million, 5.7/9)
18-49 leader: "The Voice" (4.5)
Tuesday's Season 8 finale of "One Tree Hill" was not the series finale -- just hours before airtime, The CW officially picked up a 13-episode Season 9. That said, it could have easily served as a satisfying end to the series. Though Mark Schwahn shot several cliffhangers to end the season on in case Season 9 got the green light, he ultimately decided to end with some closure.
The season ender spanned a year - so much time that Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush) went from having just learned of her pregnancy to giving birth to twin boys, Davis and Jude. With Davis, Brooke and Julian (Austin Nichols) stuck with the Tree Hill trend of naming their kids after their mothers' maiden names, while Jude's name came from "Hey Jude," which John Lennon wrote for his son, Julian.
She was also enjoying the successful reopening of Karen's Cafe, which she and Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) opened in a sweet homage to Haley's childhood sanctuary. The Cafe provided a stage for Haley to perform a cover of Toad the Wet Sprocket's "Walk On the Ocean"... and for Nathan (James Lafferty) to give a hilarious performance of his own. (Let's just say that the DILF factor on this episode was truly outstanding.)
Elsewhere, Mouth (Lee Norris) and Millie (Lisa Goldstein) scored their own Tree Hill morning show, and Chase (Stephen Colletti) returned from a year in the Air Force to reunite with Alex (Jana Kramer). We were treated to music from Kramer, set in the background, and in a sweet moment, we even saw Mia (Kate Voegele) perform one of her new songs before a final moment with Chase. After Clay (Robert Buckley) returned from a successful scouting trip with Nathan, he and Quinn (Shantal VanSanten) resumed their saccharine love story.
In a poignant moment, Jamie Scott (Jackson Brundage) donned an old Keith Scott Body Shop hoodie and dribbled his basketball across the bridge on his way to the River Court, in a recreation of the classic shot of his uncle Lucas from the series' pilot episode.
The episode was heavy on the music montages that have become a staple of "One Tree Hill" over the years, and after last year's life-and-death cliffhanger, we're a little bit relieved to see a season finale that doesn't leave us worrying about our favorite characters all summer long.
Because we loved the music so much, we've listed all the songs below. You know, in case you need a soundtrack to cry to.
Sarah Jaffe - Clementine
Gavin DeGraw - I Don't Want To Be (Yeah, you know this one. Still, it was nice to hear the original.)
Rosie and Me - Darkest Horse
Jana Kramer - Why You Wanna
Mah Nà Mah Nà
Bethany Joy Galeotti/Toad the Wet Sprocket - Walk On the Ocean
Kate Voegele - Heart In Chains
Sea of Bees - Wizbot
Jarrod Gorbel - A Moment of Peace
Matt Nathanson - Kiss Quick
Angus & Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane
Future of Forestry - Slow Your Breath Down
The CW has picked up Season 9 for 13 episodes, and while no official announcement has been made, it's very likely that this will be marketed as the final season of the long-running WB veteran series.
There is no word yet on whether James Lafferty will return for the season. As many fans are aware, he was the final series regular in contract negotiations. Sources tell Zap2it that Lafferty will definitely be returning in some capacity next season, though he may appear as a guest star.
Season 9 will introduce us to Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Julian (Austin Nichols) navigating parenthood, while Brooke and Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) team up to reopen Karen's Cafe in Tree Hill. Also on deck for Season 9? The return of Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), which is sure to have a profound impact on our beloved characters.
In the meantime, tune in for "One Tree Hill's" Season (not series!) finale tonight, May 17, at 8 p.m. on The CW.
CBS led the night overall with 14.5 million viewers and a 9.2 rating/15 share in households. ABC (12.8 million, 8.3/13) was a solid second. NBC came in third with 8 million viewers and a 4.9/8, beating out FOX (6.7 million, 4.1/6). The CW (1.3 million, 0.8/1) trailed.
Thanks to "The Voice," NBC led the adults 18-49 demographic with a 3.3 rating. CBS, 2.8, narrowly beat FOX, 2.7, for second place, while ABC was not far behind with a 2.4. The CW drew a 0.5 in the demo.
Tuesday hour by hour:
CBS: "NCIS" (17.1 million viewers, 10.6/17 households)
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars" special (11.05 million, 7.2/12)
FOX: "Glee" (9.1 million, 5.5/9)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (6.3 million, 4.0/6)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.4 million, 0.9/1)
18-49 leader: "Glee" (3.6)
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars" results (17.1 million, 10.9/16)
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles" (14.75 million, 9.4/14)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (7.3 million, 4.5/7)
FOX: "Raising Hope" (5.45 million, 3.3/5)/"Traffic Light" (3.3 million, 1.9/3)
The CW: "Hellcats" (1.2 million, 0.8/1)
18-49 leader: "Dancing With the Stars" (3.2)
CBS: "The Good Wife" (11.6 million, 7.7/12)
ABC: "Body of Proof" (10.3 million, 6.9/11)
NBC: "The Voice" (10.3 million, 6.1/10)
18-49 leader: "The Voice" (4.6)
"Glee," meanwhile, was up slightly over last week but still at the low end of its performance for the season. The "Dancing With the Stars" results show also fell significantly compared to last week, and CBS' two "NCIS" shows were a little below average as well. "The Good Wife," however, was up a bit over its recent performance.
CBS led the night in total viewers with 14.5 million, along with a 9.2 rating/14 share in households. ABC (11.8 million, 7.8/12) came in second, followed by NBC (10.7 million, 6.4/10). FOX took fourth with 6.3 million viewers and a 3.8/6. The CW was off a little from last week, finishing with 1.1 million viewers and a 0.8/1.
NBC won the adults 18-49 demographic with a 4.6 rating, beating CBS (2.9) by a sizable margin. FOX, 2.6, came in third, while ABC, 2.2, fell half a point compared to last week. The CW drew a 0.5.
Tuesday hour by hour:
CBS: "NCIS" (17.3 million viewers, 10.8/17 households)
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars: The Encore" (9.3 million, 6.1/10)
FOX: "Glee" (8.6 million, 5.2/8)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (7.35 million, 4.7/7)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.2 million, 0.9/1)
18-49 leader: "Glee" (3.6)
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars" results (15.6 million, 10.2/15)
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles" (14.05 million, 8.7/13)
NBC: "The Voice" (12.1 million, 7.1/10)
FOX: "Raising Hope" (4.9 million, 2.9/4)/"Traffic Light" (3 million, 1.9/3)
The CW: "Hellcats" (1 million, 0.6/1)
18-49 leader: "The Voice" (5.4)
NBC: "The Voice" (12.7 million, 7.3/12)
CBS: "The Good Wife" (12.3 million, 8.1/13)
ABC: "Body of Proof" (10.4 million, 7.1/11)
18-49 leader: "The Voice" (5.8)
ABC still had the lead in viewers, averaging 14.3 million people along with a 9.3 rating/14 share in primetime. NBC (10.3 million, 6.1/9) came in second, beating out CBS' 9.8 million viewers and 6.3/10. FOX (7.55 million, 4.5/7) came in fourth, and The CW (1.3 million, 0.9/1) trailed. The CW's numbers may change some because its lineup was pre-empted in Chicago, the nation's third-biggest market.
NBC's 4.3 rating among adults 18-49 led the demo by a pretty good-sized margin. FOX took second with a 3.0, followed by ABC at 2.7. CBS came in fourth with a 1.9, while The CW drew a 0.6.
Tuesday hour by hour:
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars: The Road to the Finals" (12.85 million viewers, 8.3/13 households)
CBS: "NCIS" rerun (11.1 million, 7.2/11)
FOX: "Glee" (8.5 million, 5.1/8)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (7.5 million, 4.6/7)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.5 million, 1.0/2)
18-49 leader: "Glee" (3.4)
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars" results (18 million, 11.6/17)
NBC: "The Voice" series premiere (11.4 million, 6.5/10)
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles" rerun (10.2 million, 6.5/10)
FOX: "Glee" (8.6 million, 5.1/8)/"Raising Hope" (4.6 million, 2.7/4)
The CW: "Hellcats" (1.1 million, 0.7/1)
18-49 leader: "The Voice" (4.9)
NBC: "The Voice" series premiere (12.2 million, 7.1/11)
ABC: "Body of Proof" (12.1 million, 8.1/13)
CBS: "The Mentalist" rerun (8 million, 5.2/8)
18-49 leader: "The Voice" (5.4)
The trio joins cast mates Robert Buckley, Jana Kramer and Lisa Goldstein, who have already signed on for another year. The long-running CW drama has yet to be renewed, but this latest contract news makes a Season 9 look like more of a possibility.
"Well faithful followers," Bush tweeted late Monday. "I am officially in for ONE last year of OTH. The writers have GREAT plans! Now all we need is a CW pick up!"
Bush and Galeotti are two of the series' last three remaining original cast mates. Galeotti's on-screen husband, James Lafferty, is expected to return part-time if the series is picked up, according to TVLine.
"I certainly can't stay there forever," Lafferty told TVGuide.com recently about the show's future. "It's like leaving your parents' house: It's got to happen at some point, you've got to graduate."
One Tree Hill has averaged 1.86 million viewers so far this season. The show was originally supposed to come back for only 13 episodes, but an additional nine were ordered after strong ratings early in the season.
Season 8 has, in some ways, felt like a wrap-up to a very long journey that's taken beloved characters from their junior year of high school well into their mid-twenties thanks to some well-orchestrated time jumps. (Nobody likes a high school show in college anyway, right?)
Oddly enough, it was the most recent episode -- a clip show reflecting on how far the characters have come -- that first suggested that the story might not end this year. After all, fans of the show want to see Brooke's dreams come true, and while watching her heart break as she had to say goodbye to her dreams of motherhood once again, we realized her journey was not quite over.
It appears that series star Sophia Bush feels the same way. After speaking with Bush several times over the last year, we've gotten the impression that she feels quite connected with and protective of her character, and she's decided not to let go quite yet.
In a move that many fans didn't expect, Bush has officially signed on to stick with "One Tree Hill" for Season 9, should The CW choose to renew the show for the 2011-2012 season.
Additionally, her on-screen husband Austin Nichols has completed negotiations to return, and they'll be joined by Rob Buckley (Clay) and Lisa Goldstien (Millie). Jana Kramer (Alex) will also remain with the show even as she pursues her off-screen music career. Her on-screen performances on the show are sure to boost awareness for her country record. There's been no word on whether Stephen Colletti or Shantal VanSanten plan to be back.
And thus, the question remains: will the Scott family stay in Tree Hill? "Keep your fingers crossed," Bush tweeted, in the hopes that James Lafferty and Bethany Joy Galeotti will agree to return. (Jackson Brundage's contract relies on their negotiations being successful, as he plays their son.)
Bush, Lafferty, and Galeotti are the sole remaining series regulars from the first season. Though the show has certainly broadened, it began as the story of Nathan (Lafferty) and Lucas (Chad Michael Murray), estranged half-brothers forced together on the basketball court. To continue "One Tree Hill" without any representatives of the Scott family in the regular cast seems like a risky move.
We talked to Lafferty this week, and he remained cryptic on the issue of contract renewals, telling us, "There are a lot of things that would have to fall into place for a Season 9 to happen. If Season 9 doesn't happen, I feel like my character has had a very well-rounded ending. That being said, it's 'One Tree Hill.' There's always a possibility for more story."
For Galeotti, Season 9 is complicated. She and her husband Michael recently welcomed their first child, daughter Maria Rose, who will no doubt factor into her decisions -- especially considering the show shoots in Wilmington but she calls Washington State home. Galeotti has dreams of opening up a boutique bakery and raising a large family.
When we spoke with her in October, she seemed ready for Haley to have some closure. "I've just been enjoying sharing the time with the other actors, seeing Haley's family and her life with Nathan," she said. "It's our last season so we're all just really excited to be doing good work and to see how everything ends up rounding out. We're kind of past the point now of future hopes and goals."
If Season 9 happens, another familiar face may make a reappearance. Just hours before his former castmates announced their contract renewals, Murray addressed "One Tree Hill" fans on his official Twitter. "Return to oth? I don't know. Maybe next season for u guys. I Love that Lucas is missed. Give mark Schwann the credit. He built him," he wrote. Of course, the possibility of Lucas and Peyton returning has been teased all year without fruition, so we wouldn't hold our breath.
Though Season 9 remains a possibility, don't expect "One Tree Hill" to try to best "Smallville's" decade-long run. Both Bush and Nichols stressed that Season 9 will be the home stretch for them. "I am officially in for ONE last year of OTH. The writers have GREAT plans!" Bush wrote.
"I signed for ONE more season of One Tree Hill. Now its time for all of you to tell the CW Network that you want them to pick it up for S9," Nichols added.
This year, the question of whether "One Tree Hill" will return in the fall for another season is more precarious than ever. The show's ratings are definitely low, but they've remained steady even with stiff competition.
"We have such a rabid fan base that we're pretty easy to slot against something like 'Glee,'" Schwahn tells Zap2it. "Somebody's got to go against them, and on a show that cares about a female demo just like they do, someone's got to be the sacrificial lamb. We're a pretty good bet because we've gone against the biggest of the bigs. We've been thrown against 'American Idol,' we go against 'Dancing With the Stars,' 'House,' all the big ones. We have a pretty loyal fan base and we cater to them. While it's not a great number, we're that show that you can put against those behemoths and we'll make a pretty good accounting."
Though he's feeling good about the possibility of Season 9, when Schwahn sat down to write the Season 8 finale, he considered the possibility that it may also serve as a series finale. So the question is: will there be a cliffhanger, or closure for our favorite characters?
"I hate to say this, but it's always this way: We're looking at both," he says. "I've gotten used to not knowing, so usually I will script a finale that's very satisfying in my mind to a series finale, which is what I did. At the same time, we shot some cliffhangers."
Schwahn notes that no decision has been made yet as to whether or not to use the cliffhanger ending or the wrap-up ending, but he's leaning heavily toward giving the fans and the characters some closure this year.
"If you had to ask me right now, I'd say that we're going to see closure, and if it's the series finale, in my mind, it's very satisfying," he says. "If it's not the series finale, we can introduce the cliffhangers that we shot, but in next year's premiere."
The season finale will begin with a voice over quote from a novel, similar to the way that the show often began in its early days. "It's a voiceover from a novel that I love, and the author allowed us to use it," Schwahn says. The cliffhangers that he wrote in case of an early season pickup don't necessarily fit with the theme that the quote establishes.
"I felt like the cliffhangers fought my intention when I wrote the script and what I meant for the episode to me. I like them but we can revisit them next year. At the end of the day, you always sort of bet on the best creative decision, and go that direction, as opposed to trying to leverage our network with cliffhangers or shock our audience. If we shock our audience, it should be with our strongest moment, and right now I feel like the strongest moment of that episode involves some closure."
Poor Haley. Every time she goes into labor someone else follows. Last time, Lucas's mom Karen had a dangerous delivery, totally stealing Haley's I-almost-gave-birth-during-my-valedictorian-speech thunder.
Still, there are two bundles of joy on their way to Tree Hill, which melts our heart, because Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Haley taking care of their newborns together is just about the sweetest thing we've ever heard. And to think, their friendship began when Brooke was too stoned on painkillers to even remember it! Good times.
While Haley is in labor, though, Nathan (James Lafferty) has a difficult decision to make. Just minutes after signing Ian as an important client for his and Clay's new agency, he made a chilling discovery. It looks like Ian may be the drunk driver who nearly killed Brooke, Jamie, and Julian when the hurricane hit Tree Hill. Turning Ian in will mean the end of his career -- and a big hit for the agency, which still hasn't quite gotten off the ground.
He may have bigger problems than that to deal with, though. The preview released by the CW makes it look like the new Scott daughter's arrival might have some complications, judging by the somber looks on Nathan, Haley, and Jamie's faces.
Haven't these people been through enough? We're looking forward to seeing how Haley and Nathan band together to overcome the next obstacle thrown their way -- and to seeing how Nathan deals with having the latest Tree Hill villain under his thumb.
Not to mention, will Brooke and Julian's baby be a boy or a girl? And what will the babies' names be? If she follows Tree Hill tradition, the kid's first name will be Davis, but we're thinking Brooke will probably think outside the box here.
What do you think? ("One Tree Hill" returns in April.)
FOX averaged 18.1 million viewers and a 10.1 rating/16 share in households for the night, beating out the 15.4 million viewers and 9.5/15 for CBS. There was a steep drop from second to third place, which NBC claimed with 6.4 million viewers and a 3.9/6. ABC (6.2 million, 3.8/6) was close behind in fourth, while The CW (1.55 million, 1.0/2) trailed.
FOX dominated the adults 18-49 demographic with a 6.5 rating, more than doubling the 3.1 for No. 2 CBS. NBC took third in the demo with a 2.3, followed by ABC, 2.1, and The CW, 0.7.
Tuesday hour by hour:
FOX: "American Idol" (20.6 million viewers, 11.4/18 households)
CBS: "NCIS" (19.2 million, 11.7/18)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (6.2 million, 3.8/6)
ABC: "No Ordinary Family" (4.3 million, 2.7/4)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.6 million, 1.1/2)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (7.3)
FOX: "American Idol" (22.5 million, 12.3/19)/"Raising Hope" (8.8 million, 5.2/8)
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles" (15.6 million, 9.5/15)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (7.8 million, 4.8/7)
ABC: "V" (5 million, 2.9/5)
The CW: "Hellcats" (1.5 million, 1.0/2)
18-49 leader: "American Idol" (8.0)
CBS: "The Good Wife" (11.3 million, 7.4/13)
ABC: "20/20" special - "Charlie Sheen: In His Own Words" (9.3 million, 5.8/10)
NBC: "Parenthood" (5 million, 3.2/6)
18-49 leader: "20/20" (3.2)
The Eye averaged 11.2 million viewers and a 7.4 rating/11 share in households in primetime, edging out ABC (10.7 million, 7.2/11) for the top spot. FOX (7.1 million, 4.3/6) came in third. NBC took fourth with 6.5 million viewers and a 4.4/7, while the return of The CW's Tuesday lineup brought in 1.3 million people and a 0.9/1.
FOX finished on top among adults 18-49 with a 2.8 rating. NBC grabbed second in the demo with a 2.4, beating CBS' 2.2 and ABC's 2.1. The CW was well off the pace with a 0.6.
Tuesday hour by hour:
CBS: "NCIS" rerun (13.3 million viewers, 8.8/13 households)
FOX: "Glee" (9.7 million, 6.0/9)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (6.4 million, 4.4/7)
ABC: "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" (4.7 million, 3.2/5)
The CW: "One Tree Hill" (1.4 million, 1.0/2)
18-49 leader: "Glee" (3.8)
ABC: "Dancing With the Stars" results (15.8 million, 10.6/15)
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles" rerun (11.2 million, 7.3/11)
NBC: "The Biggest Loser" (6.8 million, 4.5/7)
FOX: "Raising Hope" (5.7 million, 3.2/5)/"Traffic Light" (3.3 million, 1.9/3)
The CW: "Hellcats" (1.15 million, 0.8/1)
18-49 leader: "Dancing With the Stars" (2.9)
ABC: "Body of Proof" (11.5 million, 7.9/12)
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles" rerun (9 million, 6.0/9)
NBC: "Parenthood" season finale (6.3 million, 4.3/7)
18-49 leader: "Parenthood" (2.5)
"I've watched directors since my very first day of acting because I knew I wanted to direct," he tells TVGuide.com. "I painstakingly paid attention to every move and every word. But I was really struck by the fact that once I actually stood in the shoes of a director and I was directing, [those] observations seemed absolutely useless."
Nichols, who says he planted the idea in the producers' minds by just showing up to production meetings, initially wasn't thrilled with the episode he was assigned. Titled "Quiet Little Voices," it focuses on the birth of Haley and Nathan's new baby, but it's filled with flashbacks rather than new material. "At first I was like, 'Oh, that sucks I can't shoot a whole episode,' but then as I started looking at the clips and trying to tie them together with my scenes, I was like, 'Wow this is really cool. Fans are going to love these,'" he says.
His favorite vintage clip involves a pivotal moment in Naley's history. "One of my favorite transitions is from Haley and Nathan's first kiss to them back in the present day," he says. "The way their heads are configured mirrors what it was like."
In addition to the Haley and Nathan flashbacks, Nichols also hints that his character, Julian, will share some pivotal scenes with Sophia Bush's Brooke. "I was really excited to have a hand in directing a very important scene for Brooke and Julian. There's a surprise in my episode. ... It's a bump in the road," he says.
That wouldn't have anything to do with the baby the couple is trying to adopt, would it? "We're making a dramatic TV show [and] things have to happen," Nichols says coyly. "[Starting a family] has been one of the biggest things in Brooke's life, and she's had a rough road. With Julian, she finally found a guy she can do that with."
Whatever the super-secret scene holds, Nichols hints that things will remain intense and emotional for his character in the season finale. "I've always been scared I wasn't [able to do] scenes like that compared to people who get to that place more easily," Nichols says. "But that day when I walked into that room, it all just happened. It didn't seem like I had to work hard to do it, it seemed like I spent three years living with this character and when you breathe that reality in so much every day it lives in you. When I walked out of that that room I left feeling like I was an actor."
One Tree Hill airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CW.