"One Tree Hill" (WB/CW 2003-2012) was never a critical darling and is more widely regarded as a guilty pleasure than a high-quality show, but for nine seasons over two networks, writer and showrunner Mark Schwahn touched hearts with his small town story, combining the fast-paced world of competitive sports with achingly realistic romantic and familial struggles. Born on July 5, 1966 and raised in Pontiac, Massachusetts, Mark Schwahn matriculated at the University of Maryland with a BA in radio, television, and film. Schwahn's first love, in actuality, was music, and in 1990 he headed west to Los Angeles only to see his bandmates abandon Southern California, leaving him behind with very little in the bank account. Switching his focus to film, he interned with Douglas Wick, writing screenplay coverage for a measly five dollars a day while working on his own screenplays. While volunteering for the 1996 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, he attended a screening of Nicole Holofcener's debut film "Walking and Talking" and struck up a quick conversation with a producer's assistant, who agreed to read one of Schwahn's screenplays. A year later, Schwahn premiered his film "35 Miles from Normal," shot in his hometown, at the very same festival where he once worked for free. With his foot now firmly in the door, Schwahn's next three screenplays went swiftly into production: the James Franco star vehicle "Whatever It Takes" (2000), 2004's "The Perfect Score," a crime comedy starring future Avengers Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, and the 2005 sports biopic "Coach Carter." While the first two were met with shrugs at the box office and with critics, it was the Samuel L. Jackson starrer "Coach Carter," which dramatized the Richmond High School basketball team's controversial 1999 season, that became his first hit, although it was a few years between the screenplay sale and the film's premiere. A lifelong fan of the sport, Schwahn pitched a second basketball movie to studios, one about two half-brothers vying for dominance on their rural high school team, only to be rejected across town. The story wasn't big enough in scope and too character-focused for film, the studios said, so "Coach Carter" producer Brian Robbins suggested Schwahn repitch it as a television series. "One Tree Hill," as it was now called, premiered on The WB on September 23, 2003 to staggeringly low ratings, the lowest debut of the season, only to see its viewership increase week-by-week against all odds. Starring Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty, and Sophia Bush, the show was earnest and heartfelt, building up enough goodwill and fan obsession to last nine full seasons, surviving a network merger (its latter seasons were broadcast on The CW), major cast upheavals, and a bold decision to jump the story forward by four years between seasons four and five. (The financially sound decision to film in Wilmington, North Carolina didn't hurt, either.) Three years after the "One Tree Hill" series finale, Schwahn returned to television with "The Royals" (E! 2015- ) the network's first fully scripted program, about the opulent lives of a fictional British royal family.