7:30am PT by Lexy Perez
'The Hills: New Beginnings': MTV Exec on Newcomers Mischa Barton, Brandon Thomas Lee and More Changes
It's time to return to The Hills.
It's been nearly a decade since fans followed the lives of a group of 20-something friends navigating career, love and drama in Los Angeles. After The Hills — a spinoff of Laguna Beach — aired for six seasons from 2006-2010 on MTV, original castmembers reunited and surprised fans in August at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, after announcing news of a reboot.
For the new series, appropriately titled The Hills: New Beginnings, premiering Monday night, the audience will once again chronicle the lives of the cast and their friends in Los Angeles but this time with their significant others and children in the picture. Nearly every castmember from the original series is making a comeback: Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, Audrina Patridge, Whitney Port, Stephanie Pratt, Jason Wahler, Brody Jenner, Justin Bobby Brescia and Frankie Delgado. Jenner's wife, Kaitlynn Carter, Delgado's wife, Jennifer, and Wahler's wife, Ashley, will also be joining the cast.
Though the reboot — which began filming last October — will feature original castmembers, two prominent ones will not be joining the series: former series lead Lauren Conrad and eventual replacement Kristin Cavallari. Instead, the franchise welcomes newcomers Mischa Barton of The O.C. and Brandon Thomas Lee, the son of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. In a September interview with The Hollywood Reporter, original star Whitney Port said that she fully supports MTV's decision to add new stars to the series' reboot. "I feel like it's a new era and there's only so many of us that are doing the show," she said. "So, I totally support bringing in some new peeps to make things interesting."
Nina L. Diaz, president of entertainment for MTV, VH1, CMT & Logo, chatted with The Hollywood Reporter about what fans can expect in the reboot, why Barton and Lee made the perfect additions for the cast and whether Conrad and Cavallari will be making any surprise appearances.
The show's title now includes "New Beginnings," but what exactly will be new about the reboot that fans can expect?
Everything! The cast is in different stages — newly married, new parents, newly single and learning to navigate different chapters of their lives. A lot has changed since we last saw the cast on screens.
It seems as if we are in a time of reboots and revivals, but why was the show ultimately chosen to be brought back?
The idea was always — we'd be crazy not to bring it back. The Hills was an iconic series that indelibly shaped the landscape of unscripted TV. It truly is a pop culture phenomenon.
Why is now the perfect time for the show to return?
There's always been huge fandom for this iconic franchise and great love for this cast. The response when we first announced the series return broke the internet.
Because The Hills was such an iconic show during its time, did you feel any pressure to make sure the reboot lived up to expectations?
Of course, there's always pressure in making a show and one as phenomenal as The Hills, but at the end of the day, we feel great about the content and stories captured and think the audience will be in for a real treat.
Original castmembers are returning, but were any hesitant to join the reboot?
This cast was on television for the majority of their early adulthood, so I'm sure there were some initial hesitations about returning to reality TV nine years later, but then it was all-in with great enthusiasm and excitement to have a true "new beginning."
Were there any castmembers who ultimately refused to join the reboot?
No, everyone returning was excited when we first approached them. It was the right time for this cast to reunite.
What was the process in selecting Mischa Barton and Brandon Lee to join the cast? Were they hesitant to join the show, excited, etc.?
Mischa was on The O.C. at the same time as MTV's popular series Laguna Beach, which was originally titled Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, which then became The Hills. We loved the art-imitating-life aspect. She's been out of the spotlight for some time, and there's tremendous curiosity around her. Fans miss her, and this was a great platform to tell her story. It's really come full circle. Mischa traveled in the same circles as our cast, and she and the Pratts go way back. She knew the Jenners growing up and, in fact, has a close relationship to Brody's mother, Linda.
Brandon Thomas Lee is the definition of young Hollywood, with two iconic celebrity parents. Despite having famous parents, he's lived a lot of his life out of the spotlight. He has so much going on right now professionally and personally and has overcome so much that we immediately knew following him on this journey would be the perfect fit for the series. Growing up, he considered Brody an older brother, and the two bonded over their similar Hollywood upbringings.
Mischa and Brandon may be the newcomers to the show, but what do they bring to it that fans can expect to see?
A fresh, new perspective. The cast has such a great bond and dynamic after all of these years. Bringing in Mischa and Brandon really opened the group up to new things.
Were there any other stars considered for the show apart from Mischa and Brandon?
There was definitely a lot of interest in joining this iconic franchise and big names considered, but we can't say who!
How is the process of filming this show different from how it was done before?
This time around the show will feature confessionals, giving the cast the chance to tell even more of their first-person story onscreen.
For The Hills series finale, the ending scene implied that fans would never know what was reality or fabricated. Is that the same mentality fans should have watching the reboot?
The title says it all — "New Beginnings." This time around the cast are 30-somethings and many are at a pivotal crossroads in their personal and professional journey. The cast let us into their lives to reveal some of the truths of their new reality and their real emotions as they experience these new beginnings.
The earlier seasons centered on Lauren Conrad when she was eventually replaced by fellow Laguna Beach alum Kristin Cavallari. Though they are not joining the reboot, have there been any talks about trying to have them make an appearance in the reboot?
We love Lauren and Kristin and wish them the best. Who knows what will happen but we'd welcome them anytime.
What would you hope fans take away from the reboot?
We're hoping fans see behind the celebrity curtain of this group as we shed new light on their personal lives and find a part of themselves in each of them.
Will there be any future seasons?
We hope there will be many new beginnings and new seasons to come!
The Hills: New Beginnings premieres Monday on MTV, 10PT/9CT.