Local film producer promises personal perspective to own ‘One Tree Hill’ convention

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Actress Hilarie Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer on 'One Tree Hill,' is among the cast set to attend a new fan convention this summer. Photo courtesy 'Inside OTH.'
Actress Hilarie Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer on ‘One Tree Hill,’ is among the cast set to attend a new fan convention this summer. Photo courtesy ‘Inside OTH.’

As an avid TV viewer, Beth Crookham knows how eager fans are to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their favorite shows.

As a long-time TV producer, she’s an expert of that vantage point.

Using her connections within the local film community, this summer, Crookham is offering “One Tree Hill” devotees a firsthand peek at the cult-level CW classic teen drama.

Tickets for “Inside OTH” – set for July 23 and 24 at Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Center – go on sale online at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 29.

It’s an event not unlike EyeCon’s “Return to Tree Hill,” which brought in massive crowds at its first convention last year. The Florida-based company touted it as the first of its kind in the country. It sold out so fast, in fact, that EyeCon scheduled a second event in August before the initial convention had even been staged. And a third, featuring the first appearance of James Lafferty, will be held March 11-13 at the Wilmington Convention Center.

While both events offer the typical fan experience — opportunities for autographs, meet-and-greets with cast, celebrity Q&A sessions, among them — Crookham believes her ties to the show, and to the Port City, add a more intimate touch to “Inside OTH.” The independent film and major network producer was on the locally shot show’s production team for eight of its nine seasons.

“I’m a serious fan of a lot of series myself, and I know I’m obsessive about the behind-the-scenes details that I can’t get from just watching a show,” Crookham said. “It’s the same with ‘OTH’ fans, so who better than the people who worked on the show to give them that behind-the-scenes peek?”

That’s actually the question that prompted the creation of “Inside OTH.” About a year ago, Crookham and some fellow “One Tree Hill” crew members were chatting about how much fun it would be to organize their own fan convention.

“I took that conversation to heart and started to build the idea we now call ‘Inside OTH,’” she noted.

In addition to having access to unique crew gifts and other memorabilia from personal collections, “Inside OTH” will employ crew from the show and other local film professionals.

“We’re all hoping that this is just the first of many events like this, that present opportunities for fans and visitors to town but also provide employment opportunities for film, TV and event folks – and a boost to the local economy,” Crookham said. “As we plan the first event, we are constantly asking ourselves the questions, ‘How can this involve more of the community?’ and ‘What can we do to support and promote the North Carolina film community?’”

Multiple attempts to reach EyeCon officials via the cell number listed on the website were unsuccessful as of this story’s publication date.

Like EyeCon’s “Return to Tree Hill,” Crookham’s convention offers a variety of event passes and fees for individual events, such as a trolley tour of notable “OTH” film locations—with a cast member as the guide—and red carpet photo ops. Updates about the summer convention, including confirmed celebrity appearances, are available on the “Inside OTH” website.

Yet to sign on with the “Inside” gig is Chad Michael Murray (“Lucas Scott”), who will appear at EyeCon’s March event. Meanwhile, co-star Hilarie Burton (“Peyton Sawyer”) will be at Crookham’s convention but has not confirmed with EyeCon.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.