Making It On The O.C.

There was a time when one could count on the simple certainties – death, taxes and that if a band appeared on a trendy television show, it was done for.

The first two seem to still hold true, but something new is in the air when it comes to the nighttime soap opera “The O.C.” Although Pollstar hasn’t sat through an episode, word from our nieces and nephews makes it clear the show has a “Beverly Hills: 90210” quality.

That Aaron Spelling-produced program included a hangout called the Peach Pit (according to the parents of our nieces and nephews) and, in the show’s waning years, Luke Perry et al would go there to watch bands play – including a young Flaming Lips. The band recovered and now plays snippets from its appearance during concerts.

Then there was the Spelling project “Titans,” which found a way to put a rock band into an upper-crust dinner party, with music critic Yasmine Bleeth gushing how “good” the band was.

Objectively speaking, appearances like those were the kiss of death. But not so for “The O.C.,” which has included music by critical darlings like Beck, Le Tigre, and The Perishers, and live performances by Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Killers, The Thrills, and The Walkmen at fictional all-ages venue The Bait Shop. Not only that, but an inclusion on an “O.C.” soundtrack is considered “making it.”

What has made the difference and allowed so many artists and their handlers to embrace the Fox show?

It apparently comes down to a woman named Alexandra Patsavas, who hand-picks the music. Album sales by Gavin DeGraw and Rooney were apparently revived because of her interest in them. Unlike the past, where TV appearances felt ham-fisted and commercial, artists keep their cool on “The O.C.” because Patsavas chooses them, not the other way around.

With radio what it is today, “The O.C.” has become a new kind of “college” channel. And it doesn’t hurt when the show’s resident tortured soul, Seth Cohen, drops lines like “Do not insult Death Cab!”

Earlier this month, the fourth “O.C.” soundtrack debuted on Nielsen SoundScan’s top current albums chart at No. 56.

Who knows, maybe the whole thing will turn into a tour. The WB network’s “One Tree Hill” teen soap blended the line between fantasy and reality earlier this year when it launched an outing featuring cast members and artists who are on the “One Tree Hill” soundtrack.