By Brian Feinzimer
By Charles Lam
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Joel Beers
What about shooting it guerrilla-style?
“Oh, God, no. Everything has to be signed off on,” he says. “All the people in the background sign releases.”
As it is, reality must wait. When Justin Brescia and Patridge broke up, they had to delay their sadness for several days while the producers struggled to get permission to shoot on the pier. “We scouted and spent some time working on getting that location, and it played beautifully,” DiVello remembers.
Strangely, the place he’s most proud of filming is the one place everyone has access to: the airport. “We have shots of planes at LAX that most people don’t have,” he says. “To me, it makes the show feel so big.”
* * *
If The Hills’ Los Angeles isn’t exactly the life that everyone in the city lives, it is a Los Angeles that most Angelenos recognize, even if only from a distance. It is a city with a pool at the heart of every apartment complex, a camera hidden behind every tree. DiVello hears often enough from people (who hear from people) about fans of the show who move to Los Angeles to live the Hills lifestyle. “The show has a lot of wish fulfillment to it,” he admits.
As for their disappointment at finding the place not what they wished it to be, that’s something you’ll never see on the series. There are things DiVello just won’t show.
“Traffic,” he says. “We don’t show a lot of traffic. But we have a lot of traffic.”
It’s true. Cars are always moving in The Hills, the ultimate Los Angeles fantasy. “We don’t want to show people waiting to go to work in the morning,” he continues. “We don’t want to show lines at Starbucks. That’s not fun. It all exists, but I don’t want to see it.”
So much of The Hills was a dream. “These kids, they do go where we would want them to go. They go to the newest places. They know exactly where to buy the best handbags, the best shoes, the best coffee. They tell us,” says DiVello, who’d then go out and get it on tape.
Conrad buys her coffee—organic, heirloom, low-acidity, fair-trade, Ugandan, gorilla-friendly—at Urth Caffé downtown. She comes in for salad, bagged coffee and the “secret” Spanish granita, says owner Shallom Berkman.
He apologizes that he has never watched The Hills, but he is aware that its stars frequent his restaurant. The waitstaff let him know whenever Conrad stops by. One of the servers comes over then and mumbles something in Berkman’s ear. Berkman nods solemnly. “I’ve been told that they also order boba drinks,” he says.
It’s a Saturday, and the paparazzi are camped outside the café’s entrance, waiting to see what celebrities the day will bring.
DiVello believes his larger-than-life cast could never be upstaged by the setting. Pick up any tabloid rag to see evidence of that. But when people look back on The Hills, when they miss it or hate it or miss hating it, they won’t remember exactly what Spencer said to Brody about Lauren, who mentioned it to Heidi, who told Audrina, or any of that crazy drama. They’ll remember where it happened.