Hollywood can’t get enough of Orange Counrty. Josh Schwartz and McG’s hugely popular and now-canceled teen skein “The OC” put the county’s nickname on the map, and reality TV can’t seem to get enough of the county, from MTV’s “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” to “Life of Ryan” and Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Orange County.”
Ron Howard’s upcoming “Frost/ Nixon” most recently tapped the former winter White House in San Clemente as a location, while “Iron Man” and Fox’s “24” have made use of inland locales.
However, the Hollywood-O.C. connection goes back to the earliest days of filmmaking, as the area debuted in a Buster Keaton two-reeler and then became a retreat for some of the Golden Age’s top stars like Shirley Temple, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart.
Indeed, Orange County’s John Wayne Airport was named for the film icon whose family continues to reside in the area.
The Duke was an avid yachtsman, and his ship the Wild Goose is in Newport Harbor, available for charter, with his stateroom intact.
And of course there’s Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney — the epic Anaheim empire started by Walt Disney that’s the No. 1 entertainment draw in the state.
Moreover, the area has spawned numerous notable talents, including James Cameron (Brea), Will Ferrell (Irvine), Kevin Costner (a Cal State Fullerton grad) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Santa Ana). Some, like McG and his grade school bud Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, call it home. They’ve partnered in the revamping of Newport Beach’s signature spot the Arches, updating it with restaurateurs Tim and Liza Goodell while retaining an old-school vibe. It will open soon under the moniker A Restaurant.
Producers favor the O.C. for location production, and an estimated 65,000 residents work in the industry. “We have our own (IATSE) branch,” says Janice Arrington, Orange County film commissioner. “We like being referred to as Hollywood South.”