'One Tree Hill' sneak preview: Time jumps, hot new characters, and life without Chad Michael Murray

Last season’s One Tree Hill finale sent long star-crossed Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) off into the sunset after finally getting hitched…and this summer we found out they wouldn’t be coming back. Ever. Meanwhile, Brooke (Sophia Bush) seemed to finally find true love with Julian (Austin Nichols) and Nathan (James Lafferty) made the NBA. Which left us wondering: Where the heck do things go from here? Creator-exec producer Mark Schwahn gave us a preview of the new season, which starts Sept. 14 on The CW. (Hint: It involves another jump forward in time. And lots of hot people.)

Last season’s finale felt like a series-ender. Did you write it that way, thinking that it might be the end for the show?
I knew that some of the cast deals would be up in the air by the time we finished the season. In a way I felt like it wasn’t fair to the fans to write a bunch of cliffhangers. I also felt like it wouldn’t be fair to the actors: Like, if you don’t take the deal, you’ll be under the bus.

And now you’re jumping ahead in time again for the new season?
Mostly because Jackson Brundage [who plays Haley and Nathan’s son, Jamie] is getting older. He’s playing 5 ½. He’s going to be 9 soon. The kid’s going to have a mustache soon and he’ll be playing 6. The best way to deal with it is to let some time pass and not pick the show up in that moment. We’re going to go 14 months. In a year, things change. Basically we’re going to pick it up on Jamie’s 7th birthday. It allows us to put everyone together to meet the new characters. Some of the characters have been in the world for a year, and other new characters are showing up on that day.

Will you explain the absence of Lucas (Murray) and Peyton (Burton) on the show?
I know there are a lot of fans who are going to watch to see how we explain Peyton and Lucas’ absence. They’re gone, and there’s a gift from them for Jamie. They’re traveling, they’re spending time with [Lucas’ mom] Karen and [her husband] Andy, they’re raising their child, he’s working on his book. They’re living their lives. I sort of buy that they’re out living their lives. I’ve been very upfront with the studio and network in saying, Look, the audience may not accept a new version of the show. But we’ve reinvented it a few times before. I don’t want to be dismissive of Chad and Hilarie. But when you see the first couple of episodes [in the new season], you’re either in for this new show or not. So every week, to talk about Lucas and Peyton actually feels like it hurts us more than it helps us. Obviously, they were a huge part of One Tree Hill. But you move forward.

So what’s coming this season? Will Brooke get to keep her happy ending?
I was concerned that because Julian and Brooke had such a great moment in the finale, the audience could feel like we missed all the good stuff [by jumping ahead]. But he’s been consistently working in L.A. and she’s been consistently working in Tree Hill. The storyline in the first episode is: Is this the time when their relationship’s going to actually start in a real way?

What’s up with the new characters?
We have some ridiculously beautiful new people. Robert Buckley plays Clayton, Nathan’s sports agent. He’s been in their lives for the last year. Clay is very much the keeper of Nathan’s livelihood, but he’s also a very close friend. It’s always interesting when you mix business and friendship. He’s cocky and a bit of a womanizer and good at what he does. But he also cares immensely about that family. Nathan being in the NBA, he’s in the spotlight in a way he’s never been before. And Clay’s his agent and friend and a bit of a party boy. Nathan’s married and a good family man, but he likes hanging out with Clay. That may pose problems down the line.

Then there’s Quinn, played by Shantel VanSanten. She’s Haley’s older sister by a couple years. She’s a photographer. She comes to visit for the birthday party. She’s married. She was always successful. But as we know, sometimes people change. And Quinn shows up at a crossroads in her life.

Jana Kramer is going to play Alex. She’s the new face of Clothes Over Bros. She’s an actress, not a model. She’s decided maybe she’ll make some money from Brooke and do some modeling. She’s going to push buttons. She doesn’t censor herself. She’s wily enough to know that she’s sexy and can be really powerful being sexy. But sometimes the lights are not on with Alex.

You always have at least one trademark off-the-wall plotline each season. Please tell us this will continue.
Yes. Dan Scott is still alive. And miraculously, he has never been in better health. Not only that, he has become a millionaire by telling a story of redemption. He has his own talk show. He’s basically Dr. Phil-meets-Tony Robbins. The question is: Is he duping us all again or has he really changed his ways? The entire season starts on this clock. The seconds are ticking off. It’s Dan’s voiceover: “I was on the brink of death. I was given days to live. I was broken.” He looks into the camera and smiles and says, “That was 14 months ago.” His talk show is called Scott-Free Redemption. The great part is we will go back and see moments along the way. We’ll see how Nathan and his world feels about this. It’s really fun. It’s the Nanny Carrie story, it’s the crazy stalker story. If you want a guilty pleasure, there you go.

Comments (44 total) Add your comment
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  • brandi

    I cannot wait for the season to start. But no update on Mouth? Skills? Deb?

    • meisK

      i cant wait either! wow i js noticed tht i want an update bout them! lol

    • kathy

      there was a rumor going around that skills wasn’t coming back because the guy who plays him got in alot of trouble. i dont know bout the other two though. if you go to youtube and type in one tree hill season 7 spoilers they will tell you what will happen even though some of them aren’t true.

    • Jay

      Barbara Alyn woods was fired it seems. She wasn’t written out she was just removed from the credits :S.

  • OTH Fan

    Mark, thanks for the preview! I can’t wait for the season to start!

  • Rashad

    I’m VERY EXCITED!!!! One Tree Hill is GREAT!!

  • CEV

    I;ll miss Lucas and Peyton…but I am willing to give it a shot. The while show is one of my guilty pleasures! Night time soap opera at its best!

    • CEV

      Oh yeah and I am almost 30!

      • CEV

        Sorry for the typos above!

  • wowowow

    a talk show??? really???? man i loved this show so much but between a dog eating a heart, a psycho nanny and now dan getting a talk show i just don’t know what to make of it anymore. it needs to go back to the roots of the characters and relationships. also, have the characters play their age (mid twenties), as opposed to them all acting like their 40 would be a good start.

  • Naleyness

    I’m crossing my fingers that this is going to be the best season yet. Mark is a genius and I trust that he is going to bring us past the Leyton departure and on to bigger and better things for our favorite Tree Hill characters. Honesty the name Robert Buckley says it all in my opinion. I’ll keep watching for the eye candy alone. I’m very curious about Quinn’s story line as well and after reading this interview Mark has me intrigued about Dan. We’ll see how that one goes. Can’t wait for season 7.

  • dionne

    I am just happy that One Tree Hill is back! I couldn’t agree more that the season finale felt like a series finale. I love this show and can’t wait to see what is in store for this season!

  • lisa

    i cant wait for this show to begin again. i hope we get a lot of naley this season.

    glad to dan still going, he is great.

  • Cassie

    With such a drastic change in characters-the two people that were the main love story each season gone. It’s tough to think how the show will move beyond it. I hope everything works out! :)

  • lps

    Im really happy that Mark was really respectful to Chad and Hilarie in this interview

  • teendramawhore

    Wow, these are the best spoilers we’ve gotten. This is the first time anyone’s been on the record about how Leyton will be addressed.

    I don’t think the Dan storyline is crazy at all. It doesn’t even surprise me. I don’t see how it compares to Nanny Carrie and that “off-the-wall” storyline. Love the title of his show.

    Alex sounds a bit like Rachel. Hmmm…

  • britney

    I’m actually very upset I was shocked when I found out peyton and lucas were not coming back! The show is gonna loose without them they were my favorite by far and it seemed their story could have been so much greater! This is a let down to fans who are devoted to the show and have adoringly watched this epic love story unfold.Only to be told it’s the end yet were moving on with everyone else to me it’s sad and I don’t think i’ll be watching and it may be my loss but oh well I’m sure a lot of people will feel this way and this may be thier last season because of it!

  • becca

    Great explanation about LP and Sawyer i really like it

  • Dean Winchester


  • reba

    Well I have loved oth from the start but with time jumps and the TWO BEST CHARACTERS LEAVING… what will this show become I mean really they are just moving on like well Leyton never existed…come on how do they go from being the biggest part to nonexistent and then on top of it they are throwing in some sports agent who is now nathans best friends yeah ok that makes sense…what the heck do they want their fans to do….we have all stucked with this show thru it all and now it just seems a little dumb. I love that they are keeping a whole 3 of the main characters !WOW…how about they talked to each other this season instead of acting like they are 45 years old..last year they barely spoke to each other what kind of friends are they…they all are growing up and we have understood but seriously what 20 something friends aren’t going to hang out at least a few times a month…We hav all bought into the storylines and we have stayed thru some unimportant scenes and whole episodes hoping we would see just a spark of the magic that this show produced in the first 3 or 4 seasons even some of the 5th was great now it is getting a little ridiculous. This show should have ended last season with everyone getting their happy ending. Even The devil himself lived … Please put us out of our misery already…
    i know it is harsh but it is mostly true

    • PandaBear


    • Simone

      I know it looks like season 8 is gonna b the last. So lucas and peyton should come back for a few guests spots or stay. The auidence is getting board here.

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