“I was supposed to [start a music label] with our boss [Mark Schwahn]. That was the whole schtick,” Burton Morgan, 41, said on the Monday, September 4, episode of her “Drama Queens” podcast, which she cohosts with fellow OTH alums Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz.“When he was mentoring me, we were going to start a label and that was the carrot that was dangled.”
Burton Morgan, who worked as an MTV VJ before portraying music enthusiast Peyton Sawyer on the first six seasons of the teen drama, revealed that the concept was “taken away” after she “raised [her] voice” over increasingly toxic work conditions.
“Starting a label was something I was definitely into because I had hosted a radio show for a college station and found all these bands and was going to venues trying to find unsigned [bands] all the time. It was art and life converging,” she continued. “I think I wanted Peyton to succeed so I wanted a real record label to succeed. I kind of like that crossover of fact and fiction in any movie or TV show. It’s the Blair Witch effect. The thing you’re watching feels more fun if it might be real.”
In November 2017, in the wake of the Me Too movement, the women of OTH came forward about Schwahn’s alleged harassment and abuse in an open letter via Variety. Shortly after the op-ed was published, 25 cast and crew members of Schwann’sshow The Royals shared similar claims and he was subsequently fired from the E! drama. Schwahn has still not publicly addressed the allegations.
Four years after their open letter made headlines, Burton Morgan started her OTH rewatch podcast with Bush, 41, and Lenz, 42. While discussing the season 4 finale with Danneel Ackles in April, the foursome recalled when the alleged tension with Schwahn — whose name is censored on the podcast — came to a boiling point.
According to the actresses, Schwahn allegedly was rubbing actresses’ shoulders and putting his arms around them between takes, making the women feel uncomfortable. Burton Morgan told him to stop touching them and he later screamed at her with her brother, boyfriend and boyfriend’s father in the next room, she alleged, claiming no one came in to defend her until an executive producer eventually showed up to break the tension.
Throughout her time on “Drama Queens,” which launched in June 2021, Burton Morgan has been candid about how difficult revisiting some of the darker stories from the set of OTH can be, but she knows there is an important reason for doing so.
“There was an actress who was on our show who I recently touched base with, and she was quieter during all the Me Too stuff,” Burton shared on a “Drama Queens” episode earlier this year. ‘I’m always scared that he’s ghostwriting.’ Because he was never held accountable. Because the executive producers of our show never publicly said, ‘We won’t do business with him anymore. We’re so sorry to you girls.’ Because there was never any kind of closure. Someone is giving him ghostwriting work somewhere, and there’s this fear that we’re going to walk onto a set one day and be confronted with that.”
Burton Morgan continued: “It’s the boogeyman in the closet. To talk about it over and over again, I am making a commitment to continue talking about it so that other showrunners don’t operate that way and so he’s got no safe passage, like a ship.”