‘It Made Me Feel Like I Can Do Anything’

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The day’s shoot was in Los Olivos, mere miles from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Technically, everyone had aged a decade, but I couldn’t tell. They all still looked tan and sparkly-eyed. If anything, they seemed like more potent versions of themselves, like stock that had been left to simmer, or in this case adults who were still playing characters they created at 22. Spencer was brawnier. Stephanie’s skin was so lustrous that she seemed to be molded out of Barbie-grade thermoplastic. Justin Bobby had gone full Johnny Depp — chin-length hair, a goatee-mustache combo, a blooming rose tattooed on his left hand. He’d brought a new lady friend but was still playing the world’s most unavailable boyfriend. Asked if they were “official,” he stuttered: “I think it’s still very ... I just haven’t like ... it just hasn’t, like ...”

Weber was all over that. “Can we get a reaction as Justin weasels away?”

Weber is the show’s omniscient, Godlike figure, manning the control room in ankle boots and a leather jacket, but she’s also a little like Puck, that quick-witted, meddling fairy, always perched somewhere just out of frame, watching the players, whispering in their ears, amused by their human foibles. At one point, watching Justin, she said: “He’s always so pensive, that Justin. What are you thinking about, Justin?” The original series aired shortly after Weber moved to Los Angeles from Ohio, and she still talked like a fan. “I think he’s uncomfortable because this girl is taking it real fast,” she finally said.

Santa Barbara was to serve as the setting for Heidi and Spencer’s wedding-vow renewal. The weekend would culminate with Heidi performing her new Christian single, which is exactly what it sounds like. While everyone was still arriving, the winery crew would get boozy and stir some drama, most of which had to do with Brody and his new wife, Kaitlynn Carter Jenner — not to be confused with Caitlyn Jenner, his father. Brody and Spencer used to be best friends, but since “The Hills” ended, their friendship had soured. Brody didn’t even invite Spencer to his wedding in Indonesia. There was a lot of talk about Brody’s “lifestyle,” which turned out to be code for what Stephanie called his “famous open marriage.”

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Justin’s slipperiness was just a B-story. The real story was coming, and Weber already knew what it was. Unlike her predecessors on the original, Weber doesn’t script the episodes. She might tell the cast where to sit, but she never tells them what to say unless it’s something they want to say, then she just helps them get there. (“We try to bring forth what they’re thinking,” she told me.) “Spencer is about to say something, and it’s going to be to Jason and Ashley,” Weber said.

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/magazine/the-hills-reality-tv.html