[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE ALTERNATE SERIES FINALE ENDING OF THE HILLS THAT MTV AIRED THIS MORNING]
MTV has been re-airing its glossy reality soap The Hills this summer, and today, they re-aired the series finale … but with a twist. The network debuted an alternate ending for the show, a spin-off of their similar hit Laguna Beach, which featured the return of – gasp! – star Lauren Conrad. The previous ending had Brody waving goodbye to on-again, off-again girlfriend Kristen and then the camera pulling back to reveal they were actually shooting on a backlot – a nod to rumors of the series being staged. In this new edition, Brody returns to his apartment where Conrad, who left the show in season 4, is sitting on his couch. When Brody says that he was saying goodbye to an old friend, Conrad cheekily responds, “It’s hard to say goodbye,” and then lets out a huge grin.
EW exclusively chatted with series creator Adam DiVello about this surprise ending, how it all came together, why it was scrapped, and the potential for a Hills reunion movie.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you get Lauren back?
ADAM DIVELLO: It’s something I always wanted for the finale, and it just took a lot of persuading. Calling and calling and calling and calling. I was relentless and I bugged MTV until they gave in.
Did you shoot multiple endings? Was this first before the Hollywood-sign backdrop?
The backdrop one was obviously a nod to the culture believing that the show was fake, so we just wanted to play to that. So we shot that first and we were happy with that. Then, I just really felt like it needed something extra, like one more beat, and I felt like it needed Lauren. I remember going back to MTV and even reaching out to Lauren and just saying, “Is there any way we can make that happen?” It kind of seamlessly fit with adding Brody at the end.
There was a point at that time [in the series] Brody kept saying he had a girlfriend. At the time, it was Avril Lavigne. We didn’t wanna mention it and she didn’t wanna mention it, so we never said who the girl was. Kristen was very much like, “I hope you’re happy with your girlfriend.” So the tongue-in-cheek thing there is that he comes home and Lauren is the one sitting on the couch. Lauren is the one who got the guy in the end.
So why did you scrap that one and go with the Hollywood sign?
It wasn’t my decision. I handed in two finales. I think you were there at the Roosevelt [Hotel] that night. We aired the show live from there. None of us knew which one they were going to pick. It was out of my hands. I’m really proud of both versions, but I think we were all waiting for it to come on the screen and I think even Lauren was surprised when they decided to go with the other one.
Was she bummed that her part got cut?
I don’t know. She had said goodbye from the series two seasons before, so she was probably a little more disconnected from it than obviously we all were. We were all kind of surprised. We thought, “Okay, well, MTV will air it one day or it will end up on a DVD collection.”
Did you push for them to air this?
I pushed a lot to air it. I really liked the one with Lauren. It was her story that I started the show with and followed her with Laguna Beach. I always wanted to end it on her face and her being happy. I think that big smile across her face tells exactly how she’s feeling. I think it was just a nice way to end it with her saying “Goodbye is hard to do.” But yeah, I was in favor of airing this one, but you don’t always have a say in what airs.
Do you still talk to any of the cast?
Sure, yeah. I stay in touch with Lauren and Whitney and Brody.
Do you ever think there will be a Hills reunion?
I hope there is. I hope that there is someday. I talk to MTV about it pretty often. We’re all kind of waiting for the right time. I think we wanted enough time to go by for there to be enough separation. I think it’s kind of waiting for an event in one of their lives. But I think very much like Sex and the City did, we could come back with like a movie version, whether it’s for air or MTV or online. It would be nice to see where they all are right now.
I would love a Hills movie. Just don’t send them to Abu Dhabi!
[Laughs] It would be genius if that’s how it started in the cold open and they were all there and they were like, “Why are we in Abu Dhabi?” No I would not send them there. If there was a retail store in Beverly Hills that looked like Abu Dhabi, that would be funny.
Kristen has kind of been talking some smack about The Hills, though.
That’s Kristen though. That’s what makes her a fun character. She’s gonna say what she wants. She’s been like that since Laguna Beach. She’s always been that girl, and I think that’s what the audience likes about her and what we all liked about her. I don’t think any of it is malicious.
Do you know where Heidi and Spencer are?
I don’t know. I don’t know where they are. I just hear from other people. I haven’t seen them. I heard he went back to school. Wherever they are, I hope they’re happy and well.
People are still fascinated by whether or not the show is fake. Do you still get questions about it?
I do, constantly. There’s been so much reality since and so much is manufactured in a sense for entertainment purposes. I think people learned to accept it much more. If the show was scripted 100 percent, we would have had a much different show. It was definitely the case of two friends torn apart. All those stories were real. Lauren really dated Brody. Everything really happened. It’s just the way we edited it and the way we shot it and the way we kind of told the stories. Sometimes we had to do walk-ins and out of restaurants a couple times. If we missed something, we always said we would have them redo it. So I think that’s why people thought it was over-the-top scripted, but it really wasn’t. I’ll hold my ground on that.
What do you think the legacy is of The Hills? Is it that it was kind of a genre-breaker?
I like to think so. I think we amped up what we had done with Laguna for two seasons. I hope that people always look back and think of it as a great cast and good storytelling. I consider myself a storyteller, and we put a lot into crafting these stories. For me, that’s the legacy of it.