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The real O.C.? It's kinda boring

Public-access series' producer doesn't care that horses and square dances won't be popular.

April 06, 2007|Roy Rivenburg | Times Staff Writer

What do you call a reality TV show without sex or psychodrama?

"The Orange Park Acres Lifestyle Series," a new weekly program about the horses and humans inhabiting a chunk of land surrounded by the city of Orange.

Compared with Orange County's other reality shows -- MTV's "Laguna Beach" and Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Orange County" -- this one is decidedly drama-free.

Instead of sex-addled teens and surgically enhanced socialites, the stars of this series include the local water company, the annual pancake breakfast and Christmas carolers on horseback.

That might explain why even the producer's own family doesn't watch the show.

"They're not interested," acknowledged John Cox, a 59-year-old machine-shop owner who launched the series after taking a video production class at Orange Coast College.

But Cox said he has no desire to spice up the show with scandals or theatrics.

"The stories these people have to tell are exciting enough," he said.

Like the time in the 1950s when local teens escorted sheep into Orange's city hall to protest development plans that would have reduced minimum home lot sizes in their neighborhood to half an acre.

Or the time a married couple had a square dance and went to bed before everyone left.

OK, so maybe "The Orange Park Acres Lifestyle Series" isn't destined to score big ratings. After all, it only airs on public-access cable channels in Orange and Villa Park.

But huge audiences aren't the show's purpose, Cox said.

The aim is to chronicle the neighborhood's history -- which began in 1928 with avocado trees and egg ranches -- and introduce Orange Park Acres to nearby residents.

"It's an opportunity to show our neighbors we're not those crazy horse people over the hill," said Cox, who serves on the Orange Park Acres history committee.

Nevertheless, horses play a key role in the series. Several episodes revolve around equestrian shows, complete with slow-motion galloping. Another follows the annual Christmas caroling parade, which includes holiday-costumed horses.

Additional topics include the recent Windy Ridge fire, the yearly Denim and Diamonds dance, a women's league fundraiser, a nearby sand and gravel pit owned by a British lord and a three-part report on the neighborhood's recently shuttered golf course.

The format consists largely of interviews and dialogue-free scenes taped with Cox's camera.

The show airs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on Time-Warner channel 6 in Orange. In Villa Park, the show isn't broadcast on any set schedule. DVD copies of the series will be available at the Orange Public Library's new main branch.

roy.rivenburg@latimes.com

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