TCA: Escapism At Heart Of 'Hart Of Dixie'

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

Should we be calling the CW’s new series Hart of Dixie — about a fish-out-of water New York doctor (Rachel Bilson as Zoe Hart) who unwillingly relocates to Bluebell, Ala. – Southern Exposure? Following today’s TCA panel on the show, from the creators of Gossip Girl, executive producer Leila Gerstein acknowledged similarities in the doctor-out-of-water story line of CBS’ 1990s series Northern Exposure, about an urban doctor who finds himself doing rounds in Alaska, and the new show. But Gerstein said there would be big differences in story and tone: “It’s belles instead of … well, Alaska,” she said. She added that the show would have a light-hearted, sexy element. “I call it ‘city girl porn,’ she said — meaning that she created the show as a form of TV escapism from her routine own life as an urban mom. Originally conceived as a law show, the character was moved into a medical arena, where she said there were more stories.

Gerstein — co-executive producer with Gossip Girl’s Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, Len Goldstein and Donald Todd — would not admit her age except to say, “I’m a lot older than I look,” but said she did not create the show specifically for CW’s target demographic of 18-34. “I’m a mom, I wrote it for myself; I wrote it for my friends,” she said, acknowledging that watching a young, hip cast can appeal to a slightly older crowd (indeed, CW president Mark Pedowitz said in an earlier panel that the average CW viewer is 34-35, not 18). “I created a town that I want to move to, with parades; where people dangle their feet off the porches and sip mint juleps,” she said during the panel. “In my pitch, I said, ‘It’s full of hot fisherman and there’s a great love story,’ so it was created really out of an escapist need that I had.” (more…)

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