One Tree Hill stars Hilarie Burton and Sophia Bush claim they were pressured into doing their 2006 Maxim magazine photoshoot. Burton, Bush and co-star Bethany Joy Lenz revealed what went on behind the scenes years ago while recapping an old OTH episode on their Drama Queens podcast. Lenz claimed she was left out of the Maxim cover spread as she was deemed to be "too fat."
The actresses began by explaining how the Maxim storyline was written into the fourth season as the network wanted to attract more male viewers.
"I was specifically pulled aside and told that our male numbers in viewership skyrocketed when [my character] Peyton got her ass kicked by Derek. So what you'll see, there's a pattern on our show, where, either violence towards women or super sexualized situations, there's gonna be an uptick in that because they were really hot to capture the male audience," Burton claimed. "That was really frightening to me, but I had to be a good sport about it … They were trying to get the dudes for sure. They couldn't do it with basketball, so we'll punch a girl in the face."
Bush added, ”I know they weren't trying to solicit basement bullies on the internet, but they saw that a lot of young men were drawn to a violent assault of women and they went, 'We should do more of that.' Not, 'Uh-oh.’ They were like, 'Maybe we should do more! Maybe we should make the girls do Maxim and tell them they'll get fired if they don't!'"
In the show, Bush's character, Brooke, takes photos of Rachel (played by Danneel Ackles) for Maxim's "Hometown Hotties" issue. The episode aired in October 2006, one month before Bush, Burton and Ackles appeared on the cover.
"We really did try to make it the best version of it we could, but ya, we got told we had to do it," Bush declared.
"Because Brooke had been so sexualized on the show, and the whole idea of this 'Hometown Hottie' was Rachel's storyline, I was like, 'Look, if the girls want to do it, that's great. I don't. I have gone to battle trying to make Brooke less of this thing that you guys tried to force me into. I don't want to do it,'" Bush continued. "I literally got told, 'If you do not go and shoot this cover with your co-stars, we will guarantee you that you will never be let out for a press day, a movie, an event, any of your charities. We will keep you here forever.'"
Burton remembered getting pulled into a production office when she was given a "soft pitch" by higher-ups: "Look, all the other shows have been on the cover of every single magazine and no one wants you guys. No one wants you. And you finally have someone that wants you and you're really gonna turn your nose up at that?"
"It was very much a, 'No one else wants you, the studio wants to cancel your show, if you don't start to generate some buzz and attract these male numbers, we're dead and all your friends are going to lose their jobs,'" Burton added.
Bush said she pushed back as she didn't want to do the shoot, but "was told I had to."
"It was such a profound threat and a threat to being able to — honestly, even to have the ability to escape for a weekend, a place that at this stage, this season, I was leaving every chance I got. I would come into work and do my job and I wanted out," Bush shared. "I wanted to go home, I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to be with my friends. I did not want to be on our set, it was not a safe place for me. This was such a threat to safety."
Burton, Bush and Lenz accused OTH creator Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment in 2017. Burton and Bush claimed on Sunday's podcast that Schwahn showed up on set of the Maxim shoot and made them feel "uncomfortable"
"We were all pitted against each other and here's a great example," Lenz said, revealing she was told her co-stars were shooting Maxim and had "replaced" her with Ackles.
"They told me that they didn't come to me because I was too fat and I just wasn't a hot girl on the show anymore," Lenz recalled.
Burton and Bush were shocked to hear their friend's version of the events.
"They go, 'Well she said no, so you have to say yes. She said no first,'" Bush claimed. "They scapegoated you to tell the three of us we couldn't say no… We weren't mad at you but we were pissed about it."
Lenz insinuated Schwahn was upset when she got married in 2005. She remembered later getting a script in which her character, Haley, was called "a fat girl with a little head."
"I remember reading that on paper and just being like, 'What? It's so random. That actually must be what he thinks of me,'" Lenz explained. "Sometimes someone will say something to you and you're like, 'I never, ever saw myself that way.' Now suddenly, every time I look in the mirror, I'm like, 'Am I fat? I guess I do have a little head? Is that bad? Is that unattractive?' It's so dumb, but it really followed me around for a long time in my brain"
Lenz added, "From that point forward, I started getting treated like, 'Just put Joy in the category of middle-age mom. We're gonna do the sexy stuff with everybody else. There's nothing interesting about Joy anymore because she's married' and apparently, they thought I was fat and boring. That was it. I just got kind of replaced with Danneel, who I love … It was just so weird."
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