'Hart of Dixie': 'We've definitely abandoned George and Lemon'

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hart-of-dixie-cast.jpgAs The CW's rom-com/drama "Hart of Dixie" returns with new episodes on Tuesday, Jan. 15, Zap2it went to executive producer Leila Gerstein to find out what's up with love and life in idyllic BlueBell, Ala., with displaced Manhattan Dr. Zoe Hart ( Rachel Bilson), her beau, bartender Wade Kinsella ( Wilson Bethel); lawyer George Tucker ( Scott Porter); his ex-fiance, Southern belle Lemon Breeland ( Jaime King); local-girl-made-good Ruby Jeffries ( Golden Brooks); and her now-ex-love, NFL-star-turned-mayor Lavon Hayes ( Cress Williams).

Zap2it: Has the fans' reactions to various romantic permutations affected your decisions about which characters should be paired with which?

Gerstein: I like to hear all points of view. But at the end of the day, I go with my gut. I don't necessarily ascribe to the "One Mythic Couple" argument. So, a lot of what happens on the show comes out of seeing the way characters interact together and organically going from there. I love to hear from the fans. But it would be impossible to make them all happy.

Hart-of-Dixie-Jaime-King-Scott-Porter-Rachel-Bilson.jpgZap2it: Are there any romantic duos you've definitely abandoned?

Gerstein: For now, I'd say we've definitely abandoned George and Lemon. Also Zoe will not be running off with Tom Long anytime soon.

Zap2it: Between Zoe and Wade, it seemed fresh and interesting that Wade turned out to more of the monogamy guy and Zoe was the commitment-phobe, making for a bit of a reversal on stereotype. Where did that decision come from?

Gerstein: I wouldn't say that Zoe is less into monogamy than Wade. But she has a lot of neuroses, and almost no relationship experience. 

Hart-of-Dixie-Golden-Brooks.jpgZap2it: Has the inclusion of new character Ruby turned out as you hoped it would?

Gerstein: Ruby gave us a fun election storyline and re-energized the Lavon/Lemon dynamic. So a big yes.

Zap2it: There's a lot of sex in BlueBell but not a lot of weddings. Can we expect a bride and groom to actually make it to the altar together sometime this season?

Gerstein: Not to over-sell it, but the world's greatest ever proposal and wedding is on the horizon.

Zap2it: Is there a character that you, as writers, have had a change of heart or mind about over the course of the show?

Gerstein: We have really fallen in love with a lot of our townspeople and we love to deepen and expand their worlds. A lot of people came in with one line, and we decided to have them stick around forever, which is what's great fun about doing a small-town show.

Zap2it: "HoD" manages to be sweet without being overly sentimental. How do the writers maintain that balance?

Gerstein: We write the show we want to see. It's as easy as that. We want to tear up occasionally but don't want schmaltz.

Zap2it: How have Southerners -- especially Alabamians -- reacted to the show?

Gerstein: I've gotten a lot of positive responses. I hope they like it. I do feel like it's an idealized version of Alabama. We're not aiming for accuracy, we're aiming for wish fulfillment.

Zap2it: 'Bama fans of my acquaintance especially liked the reference to the rivalry with Auburn (apparently Lavon once played for the Tide, but needed to court local Auburn-fan votes to be re-elected as mayor). Now that we have a bona fide Crimson Tide dynasty, will we see more of that?

Gerstein: We love that rivalry too. We will see more.

Zap2it: Any thoughts on a cameo by Alabama Coach Nick Saban?

Gerstein: That would be very cool. 

Tim-Tebow-NY-Jets.jpgZap2it: Speaking of football, last season, I talked to Scott Porter about the notion of having Tim Tebow make a cameo, as this is one of the few scripted shows that might have a chance of getting him. Scott liked it (and said so to Zap2it) -- how about you?

Gerstein: Love it. If you know him, please ask if he would consider it.

Zap2it: "HoD" has managed to include references to faith that are both respectful and funny, setting it apart from many other shows. How important is it to see that represented from time to time?

Gerstein: I think it's important. This small town has a strong moral center, the church is key to that.

Zap2it: How many people tell you they want to live in BlueBell?

Gerstein: Lots. BlueBell is designed to be a special, nearly magical place you can escape to for an hour a week. It's kinder, more romantic, more neighborly and more event-filled than any real place. I want to live in BlueBell.

Zap2it: Lastly, why is it spelled "BlueBell"?

Gerstein: Because it is QuiRKy. Also, there is an ice cream company called Bluebell.

Photo/Video credit: The CW