October 28, 2016
        Ten Contenders will compete for Best Documentary Short Subject                "The Circle" and "The Lost City of Z": Which potential 2016 contenders got bumped to 2017?                Natalie Portman, Janelle Monáe, Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Stacy Keach at Hollywood Film Awards                Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster        

Pretty Little Liars girls on new secrets and scandals

By Fred Topel

hollywoodnews.com: ABC Family announced that they are picking up their hit drama ‘Pretty Little Liars’ for a second season, and they aren’t even finished with the first. We spoke with three of the pretty liars – Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale and Shay Mitchell – about the new drama coming this year and next. The current season continues, Mondays on ABC Family.

Q: What are you excited about for a new season?

Ashley Benson: There’s so much.

Lucy Hale: We’ve got new characters. What’s exciting for me is that some of the secrets that we thought would never be revealed are coming out into the open. For me, Aria, I can’t say exactly what it is but something huge gets revealed and sort of changed things a bit for her.

Shay Mitchell: I’m very excited about the new characters that we have that are even different from the books, which is really neat. So it’s definitely going to take each of our storylines in a different direction than any of the fans of the books could expect because it’s something very new.

AB: There’s also a lot more mystery and edge. We’re really pushed to our limits. A has a whole new way of dealing with us. She literally tortures us. For my character, she does things against her will.

LH: A’s very smart.

AB: It puts a toll on her friendships with the girls so A has upped her game.

SM: I think if you thought that the worst she could do was hit Hanna with a car, that’s not. So there’s still a lot more.

AB: It gets way worse.

SM: It gets way worse if that’s even possible. Oh, goodness.

Q: What new characters do you each get to interact with?

AB: Well, a new character for me is this guy Caleb. He comes to Rosewood and he’s a little bit of a bad boy, very edgy and has this whole attitude around him. He has this business that he does that he’s not supposed to be doing and Hanna kind of gets involved and that storyline kind of evolves too.

LH: Caleb has a big part in all four of the girls’ storylines. He sort of adds a whole new element to the mix. He’s not who we think he is. For me, aside from Caleb, there’s a small character that’s around for a little bit. Her name is Simone. She was Aria’s old babysitter and she comes back into town and sort of causes some friction for Aria and Ezra because they hit it off very nicely, so you get to see a jealous side of Aria which was fun to play.

SM: For Emily’s character, a huge new person that plays a big part is Paige McCullers played by Lindsay Shaw. You get to see Emily’s competitive side come out in the pool, that’s for sure. So there’s a lot of very intense moments with this new character and she brings out a very competitive side and Emily gets back into the water. I do. It’s going to be really good.

Q: What has it been like for you with the fan reaction to be so big in less than a whole season?

LH: Just for us, we’re sort of just riding the ride. It’s amazing. We knew it was going to do pretty well because of the books but it’s completely exceeding my expectations and I feel like it’s going to keep rising. We got nominated for a People’s Choice Award against Dexter and True Blood for TV Obsession. It’s like we haven’t even been on for a season so if it’s this good now, it’s just amazing. I just feel blessed to be a part of such a great show. What an experience. It’s crazy. It’s insane.

AB: The fans are so supportive too. This is not a big deal but it was just insane. When we were first airing the first 10 episodes, for two days straight, we’d always be trying to go on Twitter, for two days. Even before it aired, we have just so many fans that give us their feedback. If we have encounters with them, they give nothing but positive support. They’re just all so excited for everything. We had a huge number for the winter premiere last Monday. We got 4.2 million. It doubled the finale. We had no idea what to expect. It did really well.

SM: Just the fact that now it’s been picked up in the Philippines, in the U.K., in Australia. That’s kind of crazy. We see all this on Twitter when they’re like, “We’re watching you from Dubai online.” They go online if they don’t have it on their networks where they’re from. They go on Hulu and they’re watching our show weekly. That’s very cool too.

Q: Is going back to set like going back to camp?

LH: We’ve only had one short break. We’re about to be done with season one and I definitely think I’m not going to want to separate from you guys for a couple months but it’s definitely like a little family. These crew members are like our big brothers and really watch out for us and these girls, don’t even get me started. I just love them to death and we’re completely bonded. Leaving’s going to be a little hard but officially today, we’re picked up for a second season so we’re coming back which is awesome. I hope I can say that. I can say that, cool. So I’ll see you guys in a few months.

Q: Are you looking to up the ante and push the boundaries even more?

AB: Yeah, I think every new episode is kind of.

LH: We’ve definitely found our groove and we know what we can do, what we can’t push. I’m all for jumping over the line but of course we can’t always do that because I don’t write the show, but we’re definitely in the groove and we know, the writers know what our strengths are and weaknesses so they’re catering to what we can do which I think is awesome because we’re 22 episodes in. I think we’re making our mark. It’s awesome.

SM: The other thing is, we’re pushing the envelope but we’re pushing it just enough obviously because we’re getting such a great response. I think the writers know and they’re giving a lot of credit to our generation and the viewers that watch this show and saying, “We know you can handle it. It’s not too much for you guys. Two girls making out, you can handle it. It’s not going overboard.” I think that’s why the response has been so good because finally the viewers are like, “Thank you. We understand it, we get it, we relate to it. Finally, a show we can really relate to.” And I think that’s awesome.

AB: And I think it’s good to be risky. ABC Family has really upped all their shows. Every show has been a bit more grown up and more mature and I think it’s good. We’re not doing anything illegal. It’s just we push certain limits and the fans like it. It’s nothing too out there. It’s very relatable and it’s real and it’s very much issues that every teenager goes through and I think it’s really good that we’re showing that.

Q: As you grow older, the fans grow older and your characters grow older, will the show go further and reflect that?

AB: Definitely.

SM: I think we would definitely grow up with the show, yeah. I think that would be a really nice partnership with our fans and this show, for them to be able to grow as we grow and maybe go into college for a little while. Then we have some new issues that come out from it until we’re in the Golden Girls of Pretty Little Liars and we’re in the senior home, “Did you get that message?” Yes.

AB: And we have so many different ages that watch the show. Young teenagers, people our age, our parents.

SM: People our parents’ age.

LH: People that won’t admit that they love it.

AB: I’ve gotten so many people who are way older than I thought would even turn on the show or watch the channel. It’s so neat to see the different people who watch the show. There’s a lot of guys. It’s really cool.

SM: I think also because of our parents. You have Laura Leighton, Holly Marie Combs, Nia Peeples. That’s a huge thing too. It isn’t just a teen show. My parents are watching it, that’s for sure, and not just because I’m on it. They’re watching it because of the relationships. Ashley’s mom has struggles and that’s very realistic too.

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About Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles since 1999, for websites like Daily Radar, About.com, Crave Online and Sci Fi Wire. Follow his celebrity encounters on Twitter @FredTopel.

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