‘Pretty Little Liars’ Producers: Are You Really That Surprised About Toby?

The fan reaction to the reveal of Toby (Keegan Allen) as a member of the “A” team on the midseason finale of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars was so insane that executive producer Marlene King told reporters a Mom even called the EP’s offices asking to speak to the head of television. But, fellow executive producer Oliver Goldstick says fans shouldn’t have been that surprised by the character’s evil turn.

“His darkness isn’t coming out of nowhere,” Goldstick said during the show’s panel at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena Thursday morning. “This is not a betrayal of his character. It’s actually a reminder of where we started, coming fill circle.”

If you can recall, Toby was an outcast when the show first started after he returned from reform school. Even the Liars thought he killed Alison (Sasha Pieterse) at the time.

Goldstick and King, along with Allen and cast members Troian Bellisario (Spencer) and Shay Mitchell (Emily)  were all on hand at TCA to dish on what’s to come on Season 3B,  just how long the show can last and the “A” of it all.

Of course the biggest storyline fans will see on this half of the third season will be the reveal of Toby as an “A” team member to the Liars, specifically Spencer. King told reporters, “It’s a mind-blowing storyline that we had a lot of fun with.”

She remarked that in previous seasons, “A” has really gone after Emily but with this revelation the storyline really shifts to Spencer’s direction. Bellisario noted that her storyline this year, “was truly beyond anything that [she] ever imagined that you guys would allow me to have” calling it an “amazing” and “harrowing” experience.

As for the “A” storyline in the long term, King revealed, “We always know who ‘uber-A’ is. I don’t think we could be successful doing what we’re doing if we don’t have the final answer.”

Goldstick added, “But it’s very specific as far as season to season, because we really do begin the season knowing what the end of the season is and try to work backward from that as well. There are tentpoles that we create, that we mount and then just say, ‘OK, we have to get to this.’ But as far as knowing, yes, we have a plan. But if it were that direct and straightforward, there wouldn’t be a lot of twists, and a lot of fun along the way. There are a lot of detours.”

King remarked that they try to keep fans satisfied by “giving little bits and pieces of the puzzle” while targeting “mysteries within the big mystery” noting that “part of the fun of the show is everybody trying to figure out who ‘A’ is.”

As for the longevity of the show, King noted that Sara Shepard, who writes the books the show is based upon, is now 12 or  13 books into the series showing them that they can keep the mystery going.

Goldstick also noted that the show doesn’t play as real time and joked, “They’re going to be the Golden Girls’ Liars.”

Other highlights from the panel included:

  • King told reporters that Episode 16, which she directed, is “Misery-themed” whereas the “finale pays homage to [classic Hitchock film] North by Northwest.”
  • The show’s premiere on Tuesday accounted for 52 percent of all of Tuesday’s TV Twitter activity.
  • Mitchell says getting into her Converse sneakers to play Emily “really does help” noting that in real life she is “probably the girliest” of all the actresses.
  • The girls really want one of them to be on the “A” team. “I think we’ve all been kind of begging for that,” Bellisario said. “It’s so much fun to be the villain. And especially on our show because there’s so many crazy directions that they can think up.”

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8PM on ABC Family.

What do you about the Toby and Spencer storyline? How are you hoping he will be revealed to the Liars? Give us your theories in the comments below!

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Producers: Are You Really That Surprised About Toby?

The fan reaction to the reveal of Toby (Keegan Allen) as a member of the “A” team on the midseason finale of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars was so insane that executive producer Marlene King told reporters a Mom even called the EP’s offices asking to speak to the head of television. But, fellow executive producer Oliver Goldstick says fans shouldn’t have been that surprised by the character’s evil turn.

“His darkness isn’t coming out of nowhere,” Goldstick said during the show’s panel at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena Thursday morning. “This is not a betrayal of his character. It’s actually a reminder of where we started, coming fill circle.”

If you can recall, Toby was an outcast when the show first started after he returned from reform school. Even the Liars thought he killed Alison (Sasha Pieterse) at the time.

Goldstick and King, along with Allen and cast members Troian Bellisario (Spencer) and Shay Mitchell (Emily)  were all on hand at TCA to dish on what’s to come on Season 3B,  just how long the show can last and the “A” of it all.

Of course the biggest storyline fans will see on this half of the third season will be the reveal of Toby as an “A” team member to the Liars, specifically Spencer. King told reporters, “It’s a mind-blowing storyline that we had a lot of fun with.”

She remarked that in previous seasons, “A” has really gone after Emily but with this revelation the storyline really shifts to Spencer’s direction. Bellisario noted that her storyline this year, “was truly beyond anything that [she] ever imagined that you guys would allow me to have” calling it an “amazing” and “harrowing” experience.

As for the “A” storyline in the long term, King revealed, “We always know who ‘uber-A’ is. I don’t think we could be successful doing what we’re doing if we don’t have the final answer.”

Goldstick added, “But it’s very specific as far as season to season, because we really do begin the season knowing what the end of the season is and try to work backward from that as well. There are tentpoles that we create, that we mount and then just say, ‘OK, we have to get to this.’ But as far as knowing, yes, we have a plan. But if it were that direct and straightforward, there wouldn’t be a lot of twists, and a lot of fun along the way. There are a lot of detours.”

King remarked that they try to keep fans satisfied by “giving little bits and pieces of the puzzle” while targeting “mysteries within the big mystery” noting that “part of the fun of the show is everybody trying to figure out who ‘A’ is.”

As for the longevity of the show, King noted that Sara Shepard, who writes the books the show is based upon, is now 12 or  13 books into the series showing them that they can keep the mystery going.

Goldstick also noted that the show doesn’t play as real time and joked, “They’re going to be the Golden Girls’ Liars.”

Other highlights from the panel included:

  • King told reporters that Episode 16, which she directed, is “Misery-themed” whereas the “finale pays homage to [classic Hitchock film] North by Northwest.”
  • The show’s premiere on Tuesday accounted for 52 percent of all of Tuesday’s TV Twitter activity.
  • Mitchell says getting into her Converse sneakers to play Emily “really does help” noting that in real life she is “probably the girliest” of all the actresses.
  • The girls really want one of them to be on the “A” team. “I think we’ve all been kind of begging for that,” Bellisario said. “It’s so much fun to be the villain. And especially on our show because there’s so many crazy directions that they can think up.”

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8PM on ABC Family.

What do you about the Toby and Spencer storyline? How are you hoping he will be revealed to the Liars? Give us your theories in the comments below!

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‘Bunheads’ Cast and EP Talk Show’s Pacing, Dancing and Growing Up

Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Lucy Hale Tia Mowry Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell Julia Goldani, Bailey Buntain Bailey Buntain

If you’ve noticed anything about the the pacing on ABC Family’s ballerina drama Bunheads, you’ve probably thought the show is a lot like Amy Sherman Palladino’s previous hit, Gilmore Girls, in that there is a lot of talk and not much action.

But Palladino isn’t worried. To her, pushing too much plot could damage the longevity of the show.

“We are the nihilistic, weirdo, crazy show that, you know, is the hour of, ‘Well, they are just talking.’ If you burn through all of your plot points in one episode, how do you get five years out of a show?” Palladino told reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour panel in Pasadena on Thursday.

“You know, longevity is important for somebody with my Neiman’s bills,” she joked. “It’s important this show continues for a while.”

Of the difference between her pacing and other current shows, the executive producer and writer said, “Well, you know, television has changed. I’m an old, tired broad. I do my thing. I know what I am. But television has changed, and I think that storytelling on television has changed.”

“It’s a very similar pacing to Gilmore Girls,” she said. “But now television shows are cut up. And I’ve never written to act breaks. It’s just not my style. It’s not my thing because I want the story to, sort of, unfold the way I hear it, the 20 voices in my head. So I think that it’s a combination of the structure of TV has changed, and there is just more plot now pushed into shows.”

Palladino was on hand, along with her cast, including Sutton Foster (Michelle), Kaitlyn Jenkins (Boo), Bailey Buntain (Ginny), Julia Goldani Telles (Sasha) and Emma Dumont (Melanie)  at the event to talk casting, “boot camp,” dancing, and what’s to come on the back eight episodes of Season 1. Here are some more highlights from the panel:

  • On casting the Bunheads: “I had very four very specific kinds of girls in mind, and that always makes casting harder. Like Boo had to be very specific, and Sasha I mean, they’re all very specific,” said Palladino of her cast. “It was like these four girls were the four girls. There was only Sutton. There was only the four girls. So the picking process actually was relatively easy because it was sort of like it was just a lot of like, ‘Oh, God. We’re not going to find her. Oh, God we’re oh, she’s here. Okay. Great. We’re done.’
  • Palladino likened the first 10 episodes of the season to “boot camp” for the girls making sure that the dancing was to “snuff.” In the back eight, is “the first chance we had to really sort of now meet boyfriends, meet parents, open open the world of the girls up, and now I felt like we pounded into them enough, like, ‘Here’s how you talk. Here’s how you dance, kid. Now let’s see you act.’
  •  The second half of Season 1, which began airing Monday, will focus on breaking down Michelle’s walls and growing up.”Now that she’s [Michelle] sort of gotten the ‘I’m running away’ out of her system, it is sort of that hunkering down and figuring out what’s next, because it is the letting go of old goals and old dreams and refocusing on what is the road ahead,” said Palladino. “As we learn more about the girls, as we learn more about their lives, … and they bring all that into the world of the dance studio, it’s even more interconnected of Michelle’s, a person who has a lot of, you know, gates and walls up. She’s smack dab in the world where she’s going to have people constantly trying to connect with her, and those walls are gonna be slowly broken down. That is sort of what our first season is is getting her deeply connected and entrenched into this crazy madcap world.”
  • Jenkins said the increased dance numbers on Bunheads are nothing like those on FOX’s Glee and very realistic. “I think it’s also — it’s not just like Glee – where it’s like you expect to see a dance number every single five minutes. It works. It actually is realistic. It’s not like, ‘Oh, and now we do our dance number.’” Dumont added, “What’s great is that  we do have dances that are part of the plot that we learn in our class and we perform, but we also have dances that mirror storylines that happen in the show.”

Bunheads airs Mondays at 8PM on ABC Family.

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‘Bunheads’ Cast and EP Talk Show’s Pacing, Dancing and Growing Up

Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Lucy Hale Tia Mowry Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell Julia Goldani, Bailey Buntain Bailey Buntain

If you’ve noticed anything about the the pacing on ABC Family’s ballerina drama Bunheads, you’ve probably thought the show is a lot like Amy Sherman Palladino’s previous hit, Gilmore Girls, in that there is a lot of talk and not much action.

But Palladino isn’t worried. To her, pushing too much plot could damage the longevity of the show.

“We are the nihilistic, weirdo, crazy show that, you know, is the hour of, ‘Well, they are just talking.’ If you burn through all of your plot points in one episode, how do you get five years out of a show?” Palladino told reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour panel in Pasadena on Thursday.

“You know, longevity is important for somebody with my Neiman’s bills,” she joked. “It’s important this show continues for a while.”

Of the difference between her pacing and other current shows, the executive producer and writer said, “Well, you know, television has changed. I’m an old, tired broad. I do my thing. I know what I am. But television has changed, and I think that storytelling on television has changed.”

“It’s a very similar pacing to Gilmore Girls,” she said. “But now television shows are cut up. And I’ve never written to act breaks. It’s just not my style. It’s not my thing because I want the story to, sort of, unfold the way I hear it, the 20 voices in my head. So I think that it’s a combination of the structure of TV has changed, and there is just more plot now pushed into shows.”

Palladino was on hand, along with her cast, including Sutton Foster (Michelle), Kaitlyn Jenkins (Boo), Bailey Buntain (Ginny), Julia Goldani Telles (Sasha) and Emma Dumont (Melanie)  at the event to talk casting, “boot camp,” dancing, and what’s to come on the back eight episodes of Season 1. Here are some more highlights from the panel:

  • On casting the Bunheads: “I had very four very specific kinds of girls in mind, and that always makes casting harder. Like Boo had to be very specific, and Sasha I mean, they’re all very specific,” said Palladino of her cast. “It was like these four girls were the four girls. There was only Sutton. There was only the four girls. So the picking process actually was relatively easy because it was sort of like it was just a lot of like, ‘Oh, God. We’re not going to find her. Oh, God we’re oh, she’s here. Okay. Great. We’re done.’
  • Palladino likened the first 10 episodes of the season to “boot camp” for the girls making sure that the dancing was to “snuff.” In the back eight, is “the first chance we had to really sort of now meet boyfriends, meet parents, open open the world of the girls up, and now I felt like we pounded into them enough, like, ‘Here’s how you talk. Here’s how you dance, kid. Now let’s see you act.’
  •  The second half of Season 1, which began airing Monday, will focus on breaking down Michelle’s walls and growing up.”Now that she’s [Michelle] sort of gotten the ‘I’m running away’ out of her system, it is sort of that hunkering down and figuring out what’s next, because it is the letting go of old goals and old dreams and refocusing on what is the road ahead,” said Palladino. “As we learn more about the girls, as we learn more about their lives, … and they bring all that into the world of the dance studio, it’s even more interconnected of Michelle’s, a person who has a lot of, you know, gates and walls up. She’s smack dab in the world where she’s going to have people constantly trying to connect with her, and those walls are gonna be slowly broken down. That is sort of what our first season is is getting her deeply connected and entrenched into this crazy madcap world.”
  • Jenkins said the increased dance numbers on Bunheads are nothing like those on FOX’s Glee and very realistic. “I think it’s also — it’s not just like Glee – where it’s like you expect to see a dance number every single five minutes. It works. It actually is realistic. It’s not like, ‘Oh, and now we do our dance number.’” Dumont added, “What’s great is that  we do have dances that are part of the plot that we learn in our class and we perform, but we also have dances that mirror storylines that happen in the show.”

Bunheads airs Mondays at 8PM on ABC Family.

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Winter Premiere Recap: Mona Returns With a Fiery Start and a New Friend

It’s a new year and there’s a new Mona (Janel Parrish) on the loose on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.

But the first episode of Season 3B didn’t only feature the former Radley patient back to torment our girls at Rosewood High, fans were also treated to some sketchy background info on Mr. Montgomery (Chad Lowe) and clues as to possible new “A” team members.

Before we dish on the episode though, let’s talk about how good Parrish and Keegan Allen (Toby) are at playing creepy? The actors playing the currently outed “A” team members freak me out every time they’re on screen. They are fantastic. And if Mona showed up in my bedroom in the middle of the night like that you can bet I’d be sleeping with a crowbar too — just like Aria (Lucy Hale) said she would.

Note: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Tuesday’s winter premiere, “She’s Better Now.”

The winter premiere opened with Mona’s aforementioned late night visit to Hanna (Ashley Benson) and a creepy Toby knocking down a black hoodied skateboarder with his car. Meanwhile, Emily’s (Shay Mitchell) parents have gone all Defcon 1 and installed a new security system in their house to protect their daughter from anymore crazy incidents ala last summer’s midseason finale.

As expected, Mona doesn’t get the warmest reception upon her return to Rosewood High. But things come to ahead when she opens her locker to find a cow brain tacked to the door with a knife. Every smartphone on campus, of course, documents the incident as Mona throws the brain and the knife out, whispering to Lucas (Brendan Robinson) before walking away. Shortly thereafter, she was also seen talking to the janitor who the Liars remember as Harold (Travis Richey) from the Lost Woods Resort, the place where Mona had her crazy “A” lair.

When Lucas heads to Hanna’s for no other reason than to further the story, he lets her know that Mona had been sneaking out of Radley long before she had permission to. He also credits his new limp to a skateboarding accident, which gets the wheels in my head turning. (More on that below.)

Now, it appears that Rosewood High’s new janitor has a whole lot of Mona’s things in his office, including one of Allison’s (Sasha Pieterse) old journals. When the girls ditch a charity 10K to go through the stuff, they find Ali’s diary containing an entry highlighting Aria’s dad, Byron. From what we were shown in the flashback, it’s clear she was blackmailing Mr. Montgomery over his affair with Meredith (Amanda Schull) and asking for a pretty penny to keep quiet.

After Aria and the girls had a small incident with Meredith in her class, “A” had exactly what she needed to frame the girls. Meredith, in the wrong place at the wrong time thanks to a note from “A,” gets injured in a fire at the finish line. Later, Byron confronts Aria about the incident, questioning whether or not she and her friends did this, as he knows what they’re capable of. But what is Byron capable of? His accusations, tone of voice and creepy stares while listening to his daughter’s call with Spencer — which mentions “A” — indicate there is a lot more to learn about the Montgomery patriarch.

The note marks the second time Aria was “A’s” main target in the episode, after she received an “It’s a boy” basket outside Ezra’s (Ian Harding) apartment.

We also NEED to discuss Mona and her new friend Jason (Drew Van Acker). Now, without a doubt, the best line uttered in the one-hour episode had to be Spencer (Troian Bellisario) telling Toby, “he [Jason] is basically hugging a hand grenade.” But what exactly is this partnership between Spence’s half-brother and Mona? I really have no idea and that’s the writers’ point. Of course, Spence does her best to convince Jason that Mona can’t be trusted but by episodes end, we see the duo together on his steps as she cleans his wound. But where could he have gotten hurt?

With Jason’s cut and Lucas’ limp, it seems to me that we have at least two possible new candidates for the “A” team. My theory, based on what executive producer Oliver Goldstick told us about Lucas revealing too much, makes me think he was the one Toby was chasing down. Perhaps he doesn’t want part of the “A” team anymore? While maybe Jason was hurt by Aria on the “A” train (I hope not!) or the culprit who set the fire?

As with most PLL premieres, there were little answers provided but a whole lot of questions ensuring a VERY interesting season to come.

Buzz Moments:
OMG: While there weren’t any moments that made me gasp during the episode, I was SUPER creeped out when Mona showed up in Hanna’s room to plead her case. Seriously, not ok.

Thank you, TV gods.: That PLL is back! I missed this show while it was gone!

Awk-ward: Every single moment that Spencer and Toby are together (For the audience at least).

Hotness: Toby was looking all sorts of HOT and kind of creepy after he and Spencer went for a run!

Fab-u-lous: All of the PLLs were looking cute on the premiere. I particularly loved Hanna’s blue polkadot dress, which thanks to wornontv.net I found out is from Anthropolgie. Spencer’s cami/skirt combo was also one of my faves and Possessionista has all the details on where to get it!

Can. Not. Wait.: To find out what the deal is between Jason and Mona? Also, to see how Toby is revealed to the girls as a member of the “A” team! As with any and every premiere of PLL there are so many new questions to be answered!

Celebuzz (1-10): 8. An overall great episode that set up this season’s mysteries quite nicely.

Do you think Lucas was being chased by Toby? Is Jason working with the “A” team? Are you just as creeped out by Mona and Toby as I am? Sound off with your theories and observations about the winter premiere below!

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ EP Talks Mona’s Return, Toby’s Reveal and ‘Provocative Revelations’ About Alison

She’s back!!!!

Fans of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars are in for a treat when the addictive drama returns for the second half of Season 3 as Mona (Janel Parrish) is back in action and out of Radley Sanitarium.

But the real question of this half the season is: Is it Mona or someone else who is REALLY in charge of the “A” team?

“Mona’s back, Toby’s [Keegan Allen] in black and Byron [Chad Lowe] may be whacked is sort of how we started the season,” Pretty Little Liars executive producer Oliver Goldstick told Celebuzz about the upcoming episodes. “We really wanted this question … because Toby is a huge question mark. And with Mona’s return, does this precipitate Toby really starting to act out?”

Note: Mild spoilers ahead for Season 3B.

Season 3B’s opener, appropriately titled “She’s Better Now,” not only sees the duplicitous Mona back to wreak havoc at Rosewood High but you’ll also see Hanna’s (Ashely Benson) former BFF develop a new relationship with someone fans wouldn’t expect –  Spencer’s (Troian Bellisario) half-brother, Jason (Drew Van Acker).

“Our Pretty Little Liars are on terror alert because they know this girl and what she’s capable of. But, people like Jason — it seems like he doesn’t know,” he explained. “The fact is Jason is still dealing with his late sister’s missing remains. He’s got a quest as well that may be different than the Pretty Little Liars to solve. Maybe his relationship with Mona – who knows, if that’s something he wants answers to or is he part of it [all]?”

And while we know from talking to the cast of PLL at the premiere of the show’s Halloween episode that Toby’s involvement on the “A” team will be revealed to the Liars at some point this season, when exactly can we expect this to happen?

“It’s a midway point,” said Goldstick. “They’re going to start finding things that are just highly suspect of somebody who they love and trust. Toby has earned quite a place in their hearts, all of them, obviously Spencer [Troian Bellisario] and Emily [Shay Mitchell], so no one is going to jump to this place right away. And then evidence starts to mount that [his loyalty] is questionable.”

The EP also revealed Season 3B will provide “much more insight to what happened that summer” with Allison (Sasha Pieterse).

“We are going to be revealing things that our girls were not privy to,” he teased. “As well as [the Liars] thought they knew Allison, there’s even more very provocative revelations about what happened that summer with her. You’ll know a great deal more about Allison in 3B.”

These revelations will not only deal with her connection to Aria’s (Lucy Hale) dad, Byron, but also her secret BFF, Cece (Vanessa Ray).

As for that scoop Brendan Robinson, who plays Lucas on the show divulged to us, about being gone for a good chunk of 3B, Goldstick elaborated, “He sort of has to go away because of the way events are unfolding. He reveals a little too much possibly in 3B that forces him to disappear for a bit.” When we asked him if we should be nervous about this disappearance, the EP simply said, “Yes.”

We’ll also learn more about that suspicious N.A.T. club that has been brought up now and then on the show. Look for a mention of the creepy club on the winter premiere and more information to be divulged over the course of the season.

Of the club, Goldstick said, “Even Allison’s connection to it will be hinted at in this season and you’ll understand maybe even stronger motivations for why someone may have put her underground.”

Pretty Little Liars returns Tuesday at 8PM on ABC Family following a marathon of Season 3A beginning at 11AM.

What are you most looking forward to on Season 3B of PLL? What are you expecting when the girls find out about Toby? Sound off in the comments below!

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Star Lindsey Shaw Talks ‘Pailey,’ an ‘Interesting’ Alliance for Paige (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Paige (Lindsey Shaw) and Emily (Shay Mitchell) are in for some much needed romance on the upcoming second half of the third season of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.

During Season 3A, the couple was put through the wringer as Paige was considered a suspect by the Liars for much of the season and was then kidnapped by Maya’s “fake” cousin, Nate (Sterling Suleman).

“Obviously there’s a lot of trauma that she’s dealing with from that at the beginning of the winter premiere,” Shaw told Celebuzz when she stopped by our Hollywood studio. “We kind of see her very secluded and isolated. She’s very fearful and traumatized and we get to see Emily kind of come to her rescue, which is great. You get to see Emily take care of her in this really loving way so in the midst of all the chaos there’s a lot of good romantic Pailey scenes. ”

But Paige won’t just be sitting around experiencing post-traumatic stress all season.

“A little ways through Paige gets her fight back and she kind of teams up with someone very interesting to sort of continue the battle against the ‘A’ team,” the actress revealed. Though she wouldn’t dish as to which character Paige teams up with, she did say the duo will be working together to gather “some dirt on the ‘A’ team.”

Shaw, 23, also divulged that we can expect to “see her and Emily in some intense situations where the audience sort of knows Toby [Keegan Allen] is there but they don’t.”

As for Toby’s big reveal as a member of the “A” team to the Liars, she said, “It sends intense ripples through Rosewood.”

“It’s the coolest way that they reveal Spencer [Troian Bellisario] finding out,” she explained. “You can expect Spencer to sort of find out a little bit sooner than everybody else. It’s very, very cool, the way that it happens. I can’t say anymore than that.”

Watch Shaw’s entire interview above.

The winter premiere of Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesday at 8 PM on ABC Family following a marathon of the last season beginning at 11 AM.

Who do you think Paige teams up with? Give us your theories in the comments below!

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‘Bunheads’ Preview: Cast Teases Family Visits, More Dance and a New Bunhead in Paradise

Bunheads Cast Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Lucy Hale Tia Mowry Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell Julia Goldani, Bailey Buntain Bailey Buntain

When we last saw ABC Family’s Bunheads, dance teacher Michelle Simms (Sutton Foster) had fled Paradise after her unfortunate use of pepper spray infuriated parents and sent dancers to the hospital prior to the performance of The Nutcracker.

With her departure to Vegas and Fanny’s (Kelly Bishop) dance studio now defunct, the second half of the dance drama’s first season opens with the bunheads in very different scenarios than we’ve seen before. The next eight episodes also feature appearances from some of Michelle’s Family, including her brother played by Foster’s real-life sibling, Hunter Foster.

Celebuzz was on the set of Bunheads recently to get all the scoop from the ballerinas on what will go down when we return to Paradise, Calif.

Here are 9 things you can expect from Bunheads this season.

1. Michelle’s return to Paradise. The winter premiere of Bunheads will find Michelle returning to Paradise by episode’s end but what brings her there? “I think what brings her back is that people see worth in her,” Foster told reporters on-set. “I think Michelle’s pretty convinced she’s a loser and has nothing to offer. And I think that what you’ll see with Michelle is her finally committing to something. I think in the first 10 episodes she always had a pretty solid foot out the door, ready to jump at a moment’s notice. And I think now she’s like, ‘Maybe there’s something of real value here. Maybe, I can mean something here.’”

2. Hi Brother! Foster will make his debut on Bunheads as Scotty on the Jan. 28 episode in a storyline that has similarities to the real life siblings’ living situation. Not only is his character crashing at Michelle’s place on the show but he is also living at Sutton’s during filming. Hunter calls Scotty “a chronic divorcee” having been divorced four times.

“I fall in love easily. I get married, I get divorced. And then every time I get divorced I show up on her doorstep. And so again, I show up on her doorstep and I crash at her place. And immediately start looking for wife No. 5,”  he said.

3. Michelle’s brother isn’t the only Simms member coming to Paradise. In addition to the arrival of Michelle’s brother, the Simms matriarch will also descend on the small town. Lolita Davidovich will take on the role, first appearing on the Feb. 4 episode of the drama. The introduction of Michelle’s family on these back eight episodes will give us some insight into just who Michelle really is.

“I think Scotty represents sort of my past and is a pull against where I’m moving in my future,” said Foster. “He still is like, ‘What are you doing? You know, this isn’t you. Like you flee, you don’t make roots, you don’t have roots.’ And, so it’s fascinating. With the introduction of Scotty and with the mom character you really start to begin to understand why Michelle is the way she is. Why she’s so guarded. Why she has so many walls and defenses. And why she’s been such a floater throughout life.”

4. A love interest for Michelle? While Foster told us there isn’t anything happening in Michelle’s love life yet, she said she believes that a man is not the answer for her character. “Wouldn’t it be great to have a character who finds herself and then maybe love will come?” she said. “I really want her to find herself … and then find love. I think I’d like for her to have a little fun. She can have some fun while she’s finding herself. But you know, but those are longterm goals.”

5. The bunheads and Michelle. When their former dancer teacher returns to town, the relationships between the bunheads and Michelle will obviously change. “Sasha and I, we were cut from the same mold,” Foster says of Michelle’s relationship with Julia Goldani Telles’ character. “She needs somebody and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if that person is me. Or if I have the capacity but I’ll do what I can to help you.’ That’s the relationship right now that’s probably the strongest with me and the girls.”

Bailey Buntain, who plays Ginny on the show, told reporters that she also gets to bond with her dance teacher upon her return.

 

6. Ginny’s new gig? When Season 1B opens with Fanny’s dance studio closed, some of the bunheads have taken it upon themselves to get new hobbies. For Ginny this includes a stint taking over her mom’s real estate business, but how long will she keep it going? “It’s really dependent on how long her mom is in crazy town,” said Buntain. “And it looks like she’s there for a while. So she’s going to be pulling her weight in the family for a good bit. I think it’s good. I think it also kind of distracts her from what’s going on. It gives her something to do and focus on.”

7. A clash between the new bunhead and Ginny. When a new bunhead pops into Paradise — played by Jeanine Mason, the Season 5 winner of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance – on the Jan. 14 episode, Ginny will be none too pleased.

“The relationship with the four girls goes through some stuff. We get an added girl. She’s not one of the four of us, but it switches dynamics a little bit. Some girls bond with her, some don’t,” Buntain told reporters. “And Ginny hates change, so she really resists it. I would hate to see that separate her friendships with the other three girls for too long. You know, if they ruffle her feathers, that’s OK. But I would hate to have that wedge stay there.”

8. New responsibilities for Boo (Kaitlyn Jenkins). Ginny isn’t the only character who is helping her family in the winter premiere. We’ve already seen that hilarious viral video with Boo from the premiere, but the red-headed ballerina will spend a lot of time care of things at home. With her pregnant mother on bed rest, her new responsibility “definitely starts to take over Boo’s life.” She added, “And it starts to affect her relationship with Carl [Casey J. Adler] a little bit. And definitely with the other girls. It kind of starts isolating her a bit from the other girls.”

9. A lot more dancing. In addition to all the drama, the cast of Bunheads told reporters we can expect a lot more dancing on the next eight episodes of the freshman drama, including a performance of Sleeping Beauty. Not only will the dances take place in the classroom and during performances, but there will also be some “out of context emotional dances” to look forward to as well. Buntain said the increased dancing has been “really fun” and that the “level that the nature dance was at [on the first half of the season], we’ve got some of that that surpasses that.”

Bunheads’ winter premiere airs Monday at 8PM on ABC Family.

Are you excited for the Bunheads to return? Let us know what you’re looking forward to most in the comments below!

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Carly Rae Jepsen on MTV’s ‘This Is How I Made It’: How Justin Bieber Gave Me ‘My Big Break’ (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

The story of how Carly Rae Jepsen made it big is a well-known one. Phenom Justin Bieber heard her infectious song, “Call Me Maybe,” on the radio while home in Canada and signed her to his label shortly thereafter.

But not everyone has heard the story straight from Jepsen herself.

Celebuzz has an exclusive clip of the pop star talking about her rise to the top on an upcoming episode of MTV’s This Is How I Made It.

“I remember getting a hysterical phone call from my younger sister Katie who was like, ‘Justin Bieber! He tweeted your song!,’” she recalls in the clip. “I was like ‘Calm down, what’s going on?’ and I went and checked it out and she was right – he had.”

“’Call Me Maybe’ had been playing on the radio for a little bit at this point,” she continued. “It had been mingling in the top 11 on iTunes within Canada and it had no life anywhere else. And Justin comes home and tweets about it and within a day it’s at No. 1 and that really was my big break.”

Jepsen was the first artist signed to Bieber’s label, School Boy Records, in early 2012.

“I got a call from my manager who said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but I got a call from Scooter Braun and Justin Bieber and they’re considering starting a label and they want you to be the first official artist that they sign,” she said. “Then Justin Bieber announced it on MuchMusic. As soon as it went that public, I got a swarm of phone calls from all my friends and family with everyone just being like ‘What is happening to your life?’ and I was like ‘I have no idea but it’s pretty cool.’”

Watch our exclusive clip of Jepsen above.

Jepsen’s episode of This is How I Made It airs Saturday at noon on MTV.

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Kathryn Bigelow Says She Was Motivated by ‘Honesty’ When Making ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar, taking home the statuette in 2009 for her Iraqi bomb squad thriller The Hurt Locker. And this season she could do it again with Zero Dark Thirty, the gritty new procedural about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

“I found it very surprising that women were central to this operation,” Bigelow told reporters about her new film starring Jessica Chastain as a CIA operative — recruited out of high school — who spent 10 years tracking the man behind 9/11. “Keeping the honesty of the piece, that’s what motivated me more than anything else.”

When Bigelow reunited with investigative reporter and The Hurt Locker scribe, Mark Boal for Zero Dark, their original idea was to do a movie following a special forces team in the Tora Bora mountain range in southern Afghanistan during the months after 9/11.

But then, May 2nd, 2011 happened, and the writer-director team found themselves with an irrelevant story to tell as Seal Team 6 captured and killed bin Laden. So Bigelow and Boal began again from scratch, basing their story on a CIA agent who ultimately tracked bin Laden through a courier leading to the Al Qaeda leader’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The film and Chastain are being touted for Oscars on the heels of winning the National Board of Review award for Best Film as well as well as the New York Film Critics Award. Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for The Help, Chastain delivers a finely-tuned, internalized performance as a newbie thrown into a torture interrogation moments after arriving in Afghanistan.

“I was thinking about her like a computer, a woman who’s really good with facts and details and putting a puzzle together, and what happens when that woman is put in a situation that is much bigger than she ever imaged she’d be involved in,” Chastain said. “Just because she’s trained to be unemotional and analytical, precise, doesn’t mean she’s unemotional.”

“It’s a character defined by action,” added Bigelow. “That necessitates a very, very strong actor, an actor who can give you a very strong landscape just defined by action. I think there’s something very brave and exciting and extremely brilliant about those choices. It’s also a testament to the talent of Jessica to find the finely-calibrated nuances of emotion within a character that had to be so precise.”

Trying to excel in a man’s world, Chastain’s character, Maya, bears some resemblance to Bigelow herself who has accelerated as a filmmaker in a field dominated by men. And her work is not confined to frothy rom-coms or weepy chick-flicks. Bigelow excels makes the kind of movies most audiences associate with men, the 1991 surfer bank robber movie Point Break, sci-fi thriller Strange Days, and the submarine suspense saga K-9: The Widowmaker.

Such titles stand out for their testosterone-fueled, white-knuckled thrills as well as their moments of humanity and humor.

“It’s that somebody has tremendous facility to convey humanity, and humanity takes on a lot of different permutations,” said Bigelow about Jason Clarke’s character, Dan, a torturer who grows weary of the beatings, preferring the company of his pet monkeys. “Those moments of levity allow you a minute to decompress before you engage again.”

The movie’s final moments show Chastain’s character boarding a military cargo plane alone, after the killing of bin Laden. Strapping in for the flight home, she breaks down in tears.

“It’s not a victory because finally at the end of the day you’re left with much larger questions such as where does she go from here? Where do we go from here? Now what?” asked Bigelow. “It leaves you with a very interesting question.”

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‘X Factor’s’ Good and Bad Ratings News; ‘Parks and Recreation’ Nabs Jenny Slate for Guest Spot

Despite nabbing its best numbers in two months for its live results finale, FOX’s The X Factor was down 18 percent as compared to its Season 1 finale with 9.6 million total viewers. Meanwhile NBC’s A White House Christmas performed better than its usual Thursday comedies with 8.4 million viewers. [TV Guide]

Saturday Night Live alum Jenny Slate is headed to NBC’s Parks and Recreation. The comedian will play Jean Ralphio’s (Ben Schwartz) twin sister. Her character, Mona Lisa, will be hired by Tom (Aziz Ansari) to work at his Rent-A-Swag store. She is set to guest on at least one episode, which will air later in Season 5. [EW]

ABC News’ chief White House correspondent, Jake Tapper is leaving the network for CNN. He will be the chief Washington correspondent on CNN as well and also host a weekday program in 2013. In a statement, Tapper said, “With CNN’s impeccable reporting during the elections and the exciting changes in the network, this is a perfect time to join the CNN team.” [THR]

FOX’s Touch is bringing Ron Rifkin on for its Season 2 finale. The Alias alum will play Issac, a rabbi who believes in destiny. The second season premiere of Touch airs Feb. 8 on FOX. [THR]

Come January, ABC will be giving viewers an extra dose of Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23. Beginning Jan. 6 the two comedies will show additional original episodes in the now vacant slot left open by 666 Park Avenue. Both series will end their seasons in March to make room for Dancing With the Stars. [TVLine]

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