He hits high notes with trio of TV deals


Mark Schwahn is mixing television and music with three new deals.

The "One Tree Hill" creator has inked a two-year exclusive overall deal with CBS Paramount Network TV and a pact with CBS Records to launch his own imprint.

Additionally, Schwahn has inked a one-year agreement with Warner Bros. TV, which co-produces "Hill" with Tollin/Robbins Prods., to continue as executive producer and showrunner on the CW series, a major step towards a potential seventh-season pickup for the ensemble drama.

Under the pact with CBS Par TV, which begins in June, Schwahn will develop new series projects. That is a long way from his early days as a filmmaker who never considered a career in television until he hit a brick wall trying to get a feature script made for a basketball-themed drama set in high school. Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin and Joe Davola of Tollin/Robbins — which produced two movies penned by Schwahn, "The Perfect Score" and "Coach Carter" — suggested he should try reworking the project as a TV series.

"The first thing out of my mouth was: 'I don't want to do TV,'" Schwahn said. "I was such a knucklehead feature writer."

He later reconsidered, and the ill-fated feature script became "One Tree Hill." Schwahn never regretted it.

"I really have embraced television," he said. "The writer has creative control in television, and it's very fulfilling to make a mini feature every nine days."

"Hill" has been creatively reinvigorated this season with the series' four-year jump into the future. And paired with "Gossip Girl," it has turned Monday into a flagship night in the ratings for the CW, making a renewal for "Hill" a no-brainer. With Schwahn on board — CBS Par has agreed to loan him out to work on "Hill" one last season if it is renewed while developing for CBS Par — the only hurdle is signing the cast, with talks under way to lock them in.

Schwahn said he is happy to stay at WBTV to run the show he loves, but for his future TV endeavors, he felt CBS Par was the best fit.

"Warner Bros. has been a wonderful home, but CBS Paramount embraced the entrepreneurial spirit of what I'd like to do," he said.

That spirit includes venturing into the music business with his deal at CBS Records.

Music has had a very strong presence on "Hill," whose title is a U2 song and whose episodes Schwahn names after songs or album. The show features music and performances by artists like Gavin DeGraw, whose popularity skyrocketed after his track "I Don't Wanna Be" became the show's theme song. What's more, "Hill" has a major music-themed plot line built around Payton (Hilarie Burton), allowing the introduction of aspiring musicians as recurring characters played by artists like Kate Voegele and Tyler Hilton.

Schwahn said he hopes to take his support for young musical talent up another level with his CBS Records deal, working with Larry Jenkins, head of CBS Records, and Amy Osler, head of CBS Par TV's music division.

Schwahn is repped by Endeavor and attorneys Jared E. Levine and Kevin Yorn. (partialdiff)