Music key character in Fox's 'O.C.'


If it seemed as if the music spotlighted on Fox's "The O.C." throughout its run played like more than mere background to the soap opera unfolding onscreen, that was hardly an accident. In fact, the soundtrack was designed from the outset to be a character in itself, confirms the show's music supervisor, Alex Patsavas.

"The marching orders from ('O.C.' creator/executive producer Josh Schwartz) was to focus it with a signature sound," Patsavas says. "We had a very healthy music budget. I mean, we featured nine bands in Season 2 alone. Quite a few of those were on-camera performances. For me, it wasn't unlike booking a live concert -- which I'd had some experience doing back in college."

Patsavas adds that she chooses at least six songs per episode, the majority inspired by alternative college radio. The exposure helped to break some previously unknown bands including the All-American Rejects, Block Party, the Roots, Soul Kid #1 and the Walkmen, as well as more-established artists such as Death Cab for Cutie, Franz Ferdinand and Liz Phair. In addition, Phantom Planet, for which actor Jason Schwartzman plays drums, performs the show's theme song, "California."

"Right from the pilot, we wanted to be sure that the music was used to define moments and express the inner lives of the characters," Schwartz emphasizes. "It needed to be a direct reflection of their thoughts and feelings, and the music had to tell us that all of these characters were outsiders. As such, we wanted to reflect the sound of Orange County. And Alex was a godsend for us. She was able to (steer) viewers on to a lot of great music."

For her part, Patsavas notes that several songs were created specifically for "O.C.," and as the series became successful, it grew easier to entice bands to want to appear on camera "as a way to help them with licensing opportunities and their fan base." The show has put out six soundtracks throughout its run.

It was with legendary filmmaker Roger Corman that Patsavas began her Hollywood music career in 1995, working on films with titles such as "Caged Heat" and "A Bucket of Blood." She broke into supervising TV series music in 1999 with the WB Network's "Roswell" and has since worked on ABC's "Boston Public" and "Grey's Anatomy," CBS' "Criminal Minds" and "Without a Trace" and FX's "Rescue Me."

"I had a lot of fun with Josh because he's such a total music fan," she says. "We worked pretty closely together to find a sound, and it helps when your producer is as knowledgeable as he is. And I have to say, thank God there is an Internet to help with the process. It allows someone like me to find bands and tracks internationally without having to make 3,000 phone calls."

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