Josh Schwartz talks WB web show Rockville, CA

In Feb. 2008, the newly launched WB.com approached TV mastermind Josh Schwartz (Gossip Girl, The O.C., Chuck) about doing some original programming for their site. He accepted, and brought on board his oft-collaborator Alex Patsavas to do the music supervision. Together they created Rockville, CA, a new web based series of four-minute episodes set to launch on March 17 (no time or scheduling system has been announced).

The show focuses on a group of twentysomething music industry professionals who spend all of their free time hanging out a local club watching tons of shows pass through town. "When I was in my twenties, pre O.C., I spent a lot of time at clubs like the Troubador and Spaceland and would go there multiple times a week," Schwartz recently told Paste of using his own experiences for the feel of the show.  "And so to try and recreate that feeling of being that age and having those venues be your home away from home felt like a fun setting and a great way to incorporate a lot of live music. I love music and I felt like music had succeeded on the Internet. The web has been a good tool for people to discover music and so I thought if I could combine both then that would be ideal."

Although short, the episodes fill enough time to give you a glimpse into its characters lives. Schwartz explains: "So they all work in different areas [of the music industry]. One girl is a new talent scout for a record label, one guy does online-music marketing (and he doesn’t even know exactly what that means) because its one of those peripheral jobs that has music in the title but isn't really working in the music business. Some of them are in bands, some of them work at the club itself and over the course of the season they all become connected. And then there are outside characters that will circulate through the world as well."

Additionally, every week features a new band (most of the indie-rock persuasion) who play a live song in the background. The impressive thing here is the fact that the songs were done live, as most television shows (and pop starlets) use lip syncing. After streaming the episodes, fans will be able to watch band interviews plus their full set in its entirety (without the show going on in the forefront, that is).

With Patsavas on board, Schwartz knew he had a good partner to find the right music for the show. All the bands were booked while on tour and near Echo Park (the show was shot at the Echoplex, home to the Chuck pilot as well) and by the end they'd scored 20 acts, including The Duke Spirit, Eagles of Death Metal, Earlimart, Frightened Rabbit, The Kooks, The Little Ones, Lykke Li, Nico Stai, Passion Pit, Phantom Planet and White Lies.

Music? Check. Young people? Check. Club scene? Check. What are we missing here? Ah! A cutesy, central romance! This is Josh Schwartz, creator of Summer and Seth, after all. "The core of it is this love story between Hunter (online marketing guy) and Deb (the talent scout). They both have a lot of opinions about music and life and love and so the season is kind of charting their romance."  

The entire season has already wrapped and hopes for another will likely not be decided until the WB sees how the first episodes go. Schwartz is also unsure of whether he could even make it logistically possible to get the cast back. Not to mention the writers, many of which have other gigs. "One of the writers was a a writer on Chuck and he used to write for Spin and Rolling Stone, another writer was my former assistant," Schwartz says. "But what I wanted to do was reach out to people that were like rock critics/journalists and help get that verisimilitude and so we reached out to people like Andy Greenwald or Toph Eggers because they really understood the world we were talking about."

Related links:
News: O.C. and Gossip Girl creator to pen X-Menreboot
News: Thurston Moore, Jemina Pearl do Ramones for Gossip Girl
Film Clips: The O.C. - Paste plays Music Supervisor

Got a news tip for Paste? E-mail news@pastemagazine.com.