But the Port City’s prominence will fade from future episodes as both productions decided the West Coast was where they wanted to be permanently.
“Revenge” premieres on ABC at 10 p.m. Wednesday, while “Hart of Dixie” makes its debut on The CW at 9 p.m. Monday. Both shot most of these first episodes in Wilmington and the surrounding areas earlier this year before announcing they would continue production in Los Angeles.
Bill Vassar, executive vice president of EUE/Screen Gems Studios, said the lead female characters in both shows wanted to stay on the West Coast to be near their families.
While disappointing to the local film industry, it’s a situation that wasn’t entirely unexpected. it all boils down to what fits into the lifestyle of the actors and producers, many who have spouses and children back home to consider.
“You think you stand a pretty good chance for it, but you always know in the back of your head that if they sign a certain cast member or a certain producer you can end up losing the whole thing,” said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. “It’s not uncommon for these folks to put it in their contracts that it has to be shot in L.a.
“If you’re doing a show like a ‘Dawson’s Creek’ or ‘One Tree Hill’ with a younger cast it’s easier for a production company to say, ‘We’re doing it in North Carolina.’”
Wilmington is an attractive option for pilots because its natural beauty makes an episode look good at a lower cost than many other locations, he added.
Actress Jaime King from “Hart of Dixie,” which is set in Alabama, said the area was a perfect way to get into a Southern frame of mind.
“North Carolina is fantastic,” she said. “Being right by the beach and being right by the water, it really helped you get the feel of what it was like to be down there so we could get that in our bodies and in our souls before we came back to L.a. to shoot the show.”
Although “Hart of Dixie” won’t film future episodes in Wilmington, a piece of the Port City will linger beyond the premiere.
Local indie folk duo Beta Radio wrote two songs specifically for the show. One debuts with the series, and another is featured a week later on the Oct. 3 episode.
Judy Royal: (910) 343-2019
On Twitter: @judyroyal