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'The Hills': Fake or not? Does it matter?

Lauren An "is it scripted or isn't it?" storm is brewing around this season of "The Hills."

Some sloppy editing in recent episodes, reported in several newspapers and blogs, have raised the question, and last week an online expose by series "star" Lauren's onetime date Gavin Beasley sent "Hills" fans into a tizzy trying to figure it out.

MTV has always 'fessed to so-called pickup shots, staged scenes that address issues of continuity and not storylines. But no one at the network will talk about the bomb that dropped Thursday, when an interview surfaced with Beasley that divulged the level of manipulation that goes on in "The Hills." (Interestingly, the interview was conducted with the blog www.BestWeekEver.TV, a product of an MTV sister network. "Et tu, VH1?")

The network declined to comment on the posting, perhaps the most incriminating evidence yet to surface supporting the -- let's face it -- fairly obvious allegation that the show's drama is largely manufactured by its producers. Beasley divulged behind-the-scenes details of his cameo, including how the producers asked him to get Lauren's phone number and listed questions he should ask her during their scene. "They wanted me to ask her about the runway show, how long she had worked that day, when would she get off, stuff like that," Beasley says.

He goes on to say that producers set up a barbecue party for the gang -- as in, producers rented the beach house, bought the food and drinks -- specifically so Brody and Gavin could meet, thus providing the fodder for an episode that would revolve entirely around Brody becoming jealous of Gavin. That fact wasn't lost on Brody, according to Beasley. "At one point, some other dude walked up to [Brody and me] while we were talking, and Brody goes, 'We're trying to film a scene here. Do you mind?' like he's interrupting our lines ... it was some of the best acting I've ever done."

Scripted or not, watching L.A.'s most popular layabouts bicker and backstab has been the definition of guilty pleasure since its launch a year and a half ago. You can't write someone like perpetual backstabber Heidi, who made herself so fun to hate during the second season. Heidi, however, has been sidelined this season by the considerably more bland Lauren, so can you blame the producers for trying to stir the pot? Especially when their subjects, with the exceptions of Heidi and Spencer, are the pretty and passive? At least Team Heidi is trying to live up to the role as bad guys, as evidenced in the routine publicity-seeking calls to Ryan Seacrest's radio show, People magazine and TMZ.

If producers are in fact helping things, er, roll along, though, then why is this season so dull? Sure, with Lauren and Heidi on the outs, the series has split into two so-so shows starring each girl in which conflicts are few and far between. Now that he's won over Heidi, Spencer has been relegated to apartment furniture, while the coma-inducing Brody has been upped to costar status. The producers have also made the mistake of promoting Whitney and Audrina to Lauren's chief sidekicks. Unfortunately for them, both are more venting boards for Lauren than anything else. Whitney's stuck in storylines revolving around Teen Vogue business -- the series' Achilles' heel -- and Audrina is only as good as her on-screen time with Justin Bobby. (And thank heavens for the Tao of Justin Bobby. On relationships: "We can either kick rocks and be acquaintances ... or let truth and time tell all.")

It's too late to fix this season with only six episodes to go, and so we offer some suggestions for the producers, who are no doubt drumming up new drama for the season that is currently filming.

Let's not give the girls their space. Remember this season's first episode when Lauren and Heidi got into a screaming match at the nightclub LAX? We like that. Their run-in at Ketchup? Gimme more! Send them to the same events, the same "BBQ parties." It's the stuff "A" storylines are made of. These last few episodes have barely merited B-level.

Less is more. Maybe an 18-episode season wasn't the best idea. We know the show is MTV's bread and butter right now –- "Kaya" had a lukewarm reception Tuesday, and "Making Menudo" tanked -- but its (deceiving) previews for next week have become the best part. Last night's episode, inaccurately titled "Stress and the City," sent Lauren and Whitney to New York, where (a) Whitney gave a horrible presentation to the Teen Vogue staff and was soon relieved to find that as a "Hills" regular no harm can befall you; and (b) Lauren did a some grunt work for her idol Marc Jacobs (only to play it a little too cool when they were introduced). The pair return to L.A., and Lauren cuddles up to Brody once again. We'd settle for 13 episodes where, ya know, better stuff happens.

Acknowledge "The Hills' " popularity on the show. Follow them to the nightclubs. Watch them address the press. Crash the photo shoots of Lauren and Heidi (who were dueling magazine cover girls last month). Get in on Heidi and Spencer's publicity-starved strategy sessions -- you know they have them -- and their early-morning calls to Seacrest. All this reality behind the reality drama is precisely what's made the show a hit, right?

Then again, that might be a little too real for this reality show.

-- Denise Martin

(Photo courtesy MTV)

Comments () | Archives (6)

The reason people in this country are so stupid is because of so-called entertainment like 'The Hills'

For next season, I'd like to see wedding pressure put on Spencer. Start plans: dress, location, invitations, wedding party. The big wedding...the whole enchilada. What produces more ratings than weddings? The "he's gay" accusations will multiply. The questions of his parents and their support/approval could be brought in. Maybe wedding stress can cause Heidi to lose her job and have to move back home. Yippee! More Colorado stuff with Heidi. Bring on the angst for these Hills upstarts.

This show is FAKE! Anyone who has even watched a multi-camera shoot understands the amount of equipment involved and how convenient none of the extras even look at the cameras or the so called 'stars'.

Forgetting all of the continuity errors(nail polish, clothing, hair length, LAX) the audio at the clubs they go to is sooo unbelievable - there is no way they could get any usable audio during any full-bore night at any L.A. nightspot.

This entire show is a MTV ploy to push actors/nightclubs/artists (remember the Sean Kingston episode?) down our throats.

C'mon, Bolthouse Productions, Teen Vogue, Epic Records(parent company Sony)...? I would love to see what considerations the producers are getting for showing these seemingly L.A 'hot' spots/products..? Product placement is one thing, but this is like a full-length commercial.

Too bad, it almost was a 'reality' show.

Its probably fake because sometimes when you look through a tabloid you see heidi or lauren in it. and audrina was recently on an episode of Pop Fiction. And on the hills papparazzi is nowhere in sight.

well you would think that Heidi would have some common sense to check previous episodes to see if Spencer or Lauren was telling the truth (or at least Spencer's manuipulative ways) to know who is the liar? so the show must be fake if she can't figure something out like that! especially if it's about something as important as friendships!

and seriously how many dramas can they have in their lives..... every week, every day they must have some days which would be pretty routine and nothing is happening at all!

It's only a show.. And yes we notice Laurens hair lenght and nail colour changing .. But we all still watch it.. If not to notice the mistakes but just cause we cant help ourseleves. There are more teenage girl fans than adults who are disgusted by the show.. 4 Season and Laguna Beach and now Whitney is getting her own show.. They must be doing something right.


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