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PaleyFest '09 -- MTV's 'The Hills'

The hills were not completely alive at the PaleyFest panel for MTV’s The Hills Tuesday evening. The Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, Calif. was less than half full of fans and press coming to see what the docu-soap starlets and creators had to say.

Cast in attendance included Lauren Conrad, Whitney Port (The City), Audrina Patridge, Brody Jenner, Lo Bosworth and Stephanie Pratt. Creator and executive producer Adam DiVello and executive producers Liz Gately, Sean Travis and Sara Mast were also part of the panel, which was moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s Tim Stack.

Noticeably absent, however, was the couple America loves to hate — Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. When the panel was asked where the blond twosome could be, DiVello paused and said they are, “Preparing for a big event, a big gigantic event with a white dress.” And to the delight of Speidi fans and, as Spencer likes to call them, “haters,” cameras will be there to film this monumental event, which DiVello hinted will take place this weekend.

Here are some highlights from the panel itself:

Will The Hills be continuing without Lauren?

Liz Gately: “We’re finishing up the season and we’re in talks to see if there is enough there…We’re hoping if we do, Lauren will miss it so much that she’ll want to come back.”

DiVello says they are continually shooting and shooting. “If the stories keep unfolding, we may go on, we may not. We’ll see.”

On the show being real

Divello: “We’re not 100% documentary. It’s not 24 hours a day. We shoot about four days a week. We go after what is necessary to tell stories.”

DiVello recalls a time in the first season when Lauren had to decide between going to Paris for an internship or sharing a summer house with her boyfriend Jason as an example of how real the show is. He said, “We were all set, passports ready to go and this one [Lauren] is like ‘I want to spend the summer with Jason’….We have some sort of idea of where we’re going…[but that] was a complete 180.”

Do they ask the cast to do recaps and recreate conversations not captured on film?

Most of the panel is quiet and hesitates. Then, there are a few head nods which appear to be signaling a “yes.”

On the characters being superficial

Gately: “It’s an escape…These folks do talk about a lot of intelligent things like global warming…We just don’t show it on the show.”

Is it hard to tape people when they are going through hard times?

Sara Mast: “I cry when they cry…I feel awful, but I feel like I have to get the goods. Lauren and I have gone at it.”

On the cast not being hungry for fame

Gately: “None of these people wanted us to invade their life. They are smart, educated people. You can tell when someone shows up and they are not there for right reasons…They just live their lives.”

The Hills theme song

DiVello says the theme song originally used in the pilot was Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” because of its “moving to a big city” theme, but it fell through. Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Unwritten” just came out and they decided to give it a shot and it just stuck.

When did the cast realize the show was a phenomenon?

Whitney Port: “Once we had the Rolling Stone shoot.”

Brody: “At the finale after party at a mansion there were thousands of people…[I realized} this is a big deal…It’s not just me trying to hit on Lauren.”

Lo: “When there were 25 paparazzi on the street at our house. Tour vans came by the house…It was a culture shock.”

Lauren: (She shared a memory from her Laguna Beach days — the reality series The Hills spun off) ” We went to a high school for an assembly and Stephen Colletti (star from Laguna Beach) walked out and a girl pulled out an inhaler and almost passed out. He actually took her breath away…I was like, I guess it’s doing well.”

The real story behind why Lauren was so mad when Jen Bunney hooked up with Brody

Lauren: “There’s a lot more to that story.”

After the evening, Lauren went home and Jen called her on speaker phone from inside a closet while Spencer filmed it. Jen called numerous times continually asking Lauren if she cared if she hooked up with Brody.

“What kind of weirdo calls on a speaker phone and films it,” Lauren exclaimed with laughs from the crowd.

She said it was never about Brody, it was about feeling like her friends were making her look stupid.

Stephanie Pratt on her brother Spencer

Stephanie: “He’s a complex person. [long pause] I am new on this show so I missed the whole triangle of Lauren, Heidi and Spencer. We never have always gotten along; he does have a good heart. At the end of the day Heidi is the most important person in his life. I will always defend him.”

She also shared a fond memory of Spencer that elicited a collective “Aww” from the crowd. Spencer had all of his friends buy Stephanie a rose, totaling over 80 roses, on Valentine’s Day so she felt welcomed during her first year of high school. (Yeah, that just doesn’t quite do it for me either)

 ***Warning Spoiler**** 

Lauren says Spencer admits on camera that he was responsible for the sex tape rumors and apologizes. That moment we’ve all been waiting for is set to air sometime this season.