Seniors see stars on Spring Break as Vevay heads for ‘One Tree Hill’

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Switzerland County High School seniors Emily Lanman and Jenna Daugherty were born just five days apart; and since that July in 1990, the duo has developed a unique and special friendship. That friendship took a new twist last week, when the girls decided to make their final spring break as high school students a memorable one.

Instead of heading to the Smoky Mountains or Florida, they decided to head to the town of Tree Hill.

Sort of.

With their moms in tow, the girls headed to Wilmington, North Carolina last Monday to watch the taping of the television show “One Tree Hill” – which is a favorite of Jenna Daugherty’s.

“I’m a big fan of the show, and have been for the past two years,” Jenna Daugherty said. “I had the idea to go, so I looked on the Internet and found some stuff.”

The show centers on a cast of teens in the fictional town of Tree Hill, North Carolina and their experiences in high school and in life. The name of the show is taken from a song by the band ‘U2’; and is also the address of Tree Hill High School in the show.

The show films in and around the city of Wilmington, North Carolina – about an 11 hour drive from Switzerland County – but the girls and their mothers saw it as an adventure.

“We got there on Monday night, just in time to check into the hotel and watch the show,” Emily Lanman said.

Tuesday morning, everyone headed to the Screen Gems studios in Wilmington, which serves as the headquarters for the show. There they encountered a security guard, who wasn’t much help.

“He couldn’t tell us where they were filming, but kind of figured it out ourselves,” Jenna Daugherty said with a smile.

Research prior to leaving on the trip had provided Jenna Daugherty with a map of the set locations around the community; so the girls loaded addresses into their GPS system, and began driving around Wilmington to find the houses that are used for the exterior shots.

“We found them right before lunch,” Jenna Daugherty said proudly. “There were road blocks and police at the surrounding streets when we got to one of the locations. We asked the cops if we could go in, and they said we could walk in, but we had to be quiet.”

Walking about a block down the street, they had the chance to see filming of what the girls believe will be the season-finale of the show. The scene being shot was in front of the home of characters Lucas and Peyton – and everyone got a taste of how unglamorous filming a television show can be.

“I thought it was great, but we saw them do the different takes over and over again,” Jenna Daugherty said. “They shot the same thing four or five times.”

The girls stayed at the set for about three hours on Tuesday, a part of about 15 fans at the filming. During breaks, the girls said that the actors and members of the crew were very accommodating, walking over and visiting with the fans.

“Hilarie Burton, who plays Peyton on the show, came over first,” Emily Lanman said. “She was very nice and she was really funny. She was really good with the crowd and spent a lot of time talking to us.”

The girls also saw the extent of the production crew that it takes to handle filming.

“There were probably 60 other people around the set not including the actors,” Jenna Daugherty said. “They were all over the place.”

A little later in the shooting schedule on Tuesday, Chad Michael Murray – who plays lead character “Lucas Scott” – wandered over to chat.

“That was awesome,” Jenna Daugherty said. “He was really nice. He talked with everybody and took pictures.”

Chad Michael Murray also appeared in the movie “A Cinderella Story” as the “Prince” to Hilary Duff’s “Princess”.

Later in the day the group also had the chance to meet and speak with Mark Schwahn, the creator and executive producer of the show.

“He actually came over three or four times to talk with us,” Emily Lanman said. “He would take the time to explain different things to us that were going on and being filmed. It was really interesting.”

Once filming wrapped on Tuesday, the girls spent the rest of the day visiting other filming locations – scouting out their plan of action for the following day.

Wednesday dawned and the girls headed out to find outdoor locations such as the “River Courts” – a set of outdoor basketball courts that are a central filming location in the show.

“We found them, but they were covered with a big tarp and the goals had been taken down,” Jenna Daugherty said. “It’s a city park setting, but there was a rented lift and some lights and a generator with ‘OTH’ written on the side, so we figured that they were going to film there at some point. We were close.”

From there the girls left and found E. A. Laney High School, which is also used as a location in the show.

It also has another “claim to fame”.

“It’s gym is called the ‘Michael J. Jordan Gymnasium’,” Jenna Daugherty said. “That’s where Michael Jordan went to high school, so that was pretty good, too.”

Because class was in session at the school, the girls didn’t go in, but they did find the nearby community college where some of the basketball scenes are shot.

They also took a break and headed to the beach, but cool and windy weather kept them out of the ocean.

From there, it was back to their detective work.

“We went to the USS North Carolina, which is docked in Wilmington near where the River Courts are,” Emily Lanman said. “We went in the gift shop and asked the people working if they knew when they would be filming. They told us that they knew they were going to film but they didn’t know if it would be later that night or the next day, because of the weather.”

“So we went and got supplies – stake out food,” Jenna Daugherty laughed. “We got umbrellas, too, in case it started raining. And we waited.”

While still searching for filming clues, the girls ran across some signs that had been put up at the River Courts since they had left earlier that morning.

“No Parking After 5 p.m.” the signs said.

“We figured we knew what that meant,” Jenna Daugherty said.

Continuing their stake out of the River Courts, the girls said that eventually trucks filled with equipment began to arrive at the scene. Vehicles that are used by the characters in the show also began to show up at the location, and workers began the process of setting up the filming area.

“They didn’t start shooting until about 8 or 8:30 p.m.,” Emily Lanman said. “It took forever for them to get everything set up.”

It was at the River Courts that the girls met James Lafferty, who plays “Nathan Scott” on the show. He also had an Indiana tie – as he once played Steve Alford in the movie version of John Feinstein’s book, “A Season on the Brink” about the Indiana University basketball team and coach Bob Knight.

“He didn’t have a lot of time, but he still came over and talked to us for awhile,” Jenna Daugherty said.

“He saw Jenna’s ‘Switzerland County Basketball’ sweatshirt, and he wanted to know where Switzerland County was,” Emily Lanman said. “He spent quite a bit of time with us.”

The group also saw Paul Johansson, who plays “Dan Scott”, the father of Lucas and Nathan on the show.

As enthusiastic as the girls were about meeting the cast and seeing the shooting; they quickly acknowledged that they weren’t the biggest fans there.

“There was this one girl from France, and she’s only been in the U.S. three times – and the only place she’s been is Wilmington,” Jenna Daugherty said. “She comes all the way here just to watch the filming. When we met her, she’d been here for three weeks.”

“There was a couple who was there, and they had named their baby ‘James’ after James Lafferty,” Emily Lanman said. “The license plate on their car was ‘OTH 23’. Nathan’s basketball jersey number on the show is 23. People are a little strange sometimes.”

After filming wrapped up late Wednesday night, the girls headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before heading back to Vevay on Thursday morning.

So how was the adventure?

“It was the best spring break ever,” Jenna Daugherty said. “It’s my favorite show, and we got to meet all of the actors.”

“It was also fun to spend our last spring break before college together,” Emily Lanman said. “That made it special, too.”

And the moms?

“We think they had fun,” the girls said of their mothers, Kathy Daugherty and Jacquita Lanman. “Kathy drove the whole way, but everybody had a good time.”

The girls are also spokespersons for GPS systems.

“If we hadn’t had the GPS, we would have been lost,” Jenna Daugherty said.

“Once it broke and I had to fix it with the spring out of a pen,” Emily Lanman said.

“She thinks she’s McGyver,” Jenna Daugherty smiled.