Lynette Rice
August 01, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Somebody make this guy mayor. WB entertainment president Jordan Levin was so concerned that quaint Wilmington, N.C., would suffer from the demise of Dawson’s Creek — shot there for six seasons — that he sent The WB’s fall drama One Tree Hill to film in the coastal town. ”We felt like part of the community,” says Levin. ”It’s rare on any TV show to see the same crew members year after year.”

Rarer still is Creek’s impact on the town (pop. 90,000). The Wilmington Regional Film Commission estimates that Creek pumped $120 million into the local economy. Feature films have come and gone (recent sojurners include Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and A Walk to Remember) but no TV show had ever lasted so long. (The last series to stick around for several years was CBS’ Matlock in the early ’90s.)

”When Creek ended, we had a public ceremony and handed The WB keys to the city,” says Johnny Griffin of the film commission. ”That doesn’t happen in L.A.”

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