Mischa Barton wasn't around to promote The Beautiful Life: TBL, but she still cast a shadow at the CW Press Tour. Mischa was on set filming, but the reporters peppered producers Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg and Karey Burke with questions about the missing star, who recently was hospitalized under an involuntary psychiatric hold. Even Dawn Ostroff, President of Entertainment for the network, couldn't escape the crowd's Mischa mania.
In the face of questioning, the producers got a bit cranky. Ashton and Jason were expansive and witty in their answers -- except when things touched on Mischa:
- Responding to a question about casting changes: "We're not making any casting changes," Ashton said. "New characters are gradually introduced into the show, people introduced in the first episode fade out and come back. The cast is the cast."
- On body image -- is this show going to hurt young women since the first episode seemingly revolves around a model who gained a few pounds? "The lead story in the pilot is not about a model who isn't skinny enough to fit into a dress," Ashton interrupted. That's what the clips shown seemed to imply, the reporter responded. "It's not. Body image is a daily battle for a lot of people, and of course we'll address that."
- The body image/weight question came back in the session with Dawn Ostroff -- tabloid pictures seem to have shown that Mischa had gained a substantial amount of weight. Are they worried? Not at all, Ostroff says -- she'd seen pictures from the set and Mischa looks fantastic.
- Did they worry that Mischa wouldn't be able to work? "She was ready for production, and it wasn't even an issue," Dawn said. "She started work with no issues. What went on in her personal life is a personal matter."
- Ashton was similarly dismissive of any question of Mischa's personal life being problematic. "She was never unavailable for a day of work," he said. "She's in New York today working on the show." In fact, he said, Mischa's presence is a great thing for the show: "For a lot of our young cast, this is the first show they're leading. [Mischa has] done it before in The OC. Her navigation and guidance for the rest of the cast is essential for us as a unit."
In the midst of all the Mischa Madness, the producers did managed to work in a few tidbits about the show itself:
- Executive Producers Ashton and Jason are basing the show on their very different experiences in the modeling world. Ashton had a very Reyna-like experience -- within a week of hitting New York, he was the Next Big Thing -- whereas Jason faced more of a struggle.
- The model residence provides plenty of opportunity for drama -- but not necessarily of the catfight variety. "Modeling is a great landscape for storytelling," Ashton said. "It's not just about the culture of a city or an industry -- it's the culture of the world. There are models from Africa, the UK, France. There are all different languages, all different backgrounds, an amalgamation of cultures in a really sexy world."
- Most of all, expect to see these otherworldly beauties portrayed as mere mortals like the rest of us. "There are a bevy of great stories working in this great world," Ashton said. "We can create rich characters that have flaws, and they become sympathetic because of flaws. We've got relatable characters in this industry backdrop. It's about the personal storylines -- love, connections, obstacles, family and work."
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