This week, Burbank's die-hard "Pretty Little Liars" fans got a glimpse at some of the ABC Family show's props and costumes, and to view the teen drama's fifth season finale an hour before it aired on the West Coast.
In a room at the Buena Vista Library on Tuesday, dozens of viewers — mostly pre-teen girls, but some teens, parents and other adults, too — giggled, gasped and groaned through the episode, which promised to unmask "A," the mysterious figure who antagonizes a clique of high school girls in the thriller based loosely on a book series of the same name.
"Shocking secrets come to light," said Mary-Elizabeth Michaels, director of community affairs at Warner Bros., the show's distributor, as she was introducing the episode. But she also encouraged the conclave of viewers to share the experience on social media, where she said the show generates tons of buzz, especially on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.
The event kicked off a collaboration between the Burbank Public Library and the studio which will bring three more events to the library in the coming year. Melissa Potter, assistant library services director, said the next event is slated for the summer, but is still shrouded in mystery. It will probably skew a little older in terms of audience appeal, she said.
"Pretty Little Liars" was selected as the first event, Potter said, in part because the program is filmed on the Warner Bros. back lot in Burbank, but also because it's based on a book series that's available in the library.
She said she was also confident it would draw a crowd and be "an easy start" for the program. Nearly 90 fans showed up out of 150 who had reserved seats, which she said was a strong showing.
"It was a natural fit for us," Potter said, adding that the event series is meant to "celebrate hometown stuff" and acquaint participants not only with the library, but with the local studio that they may know little about aside from its prominent water tower.
"People get jobs here [in Burbank] because of this show," she said.
The show's crew had lobbied last year for a bill that expanded the state's film tax-credit program with hopes of retaining home-grown productions and they were on hand in Hollywood when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law last September.
Julie Morgan, one of the adult fans who was originally wait-listed for the event, said before the lights were dimmed for the viewing that even though the show is filmed "in my backyard," she was very excited to see it an hour early. She said she rushed over after work.
"It seems like it would be a 'tween' show, but it's good for everybody," she said later, adding that what keeps her hooked is that "it's a constant mystery."
In the darkened room, when "A" finally was revealed — sort of — several viewers exclaimed, others gasped.
"What the …" said one audience member, adding later, "Wait, wait, wait."
After the credits rolled, Morgan stayed to check out costumes and props from the show, including dolls that "A" had made in the likeness of the show's heroines, four girls in the fictional town of Rosewood, Pa., in an episode during the show's second season.
While some fans snapped cellphone photos, Morgan posed behind the doll display case.
Also on display were a few of the girls' outfits, which Lisa Janney said was unique because they are costumes from an ongoing production, which are not normally lent out until a show or movie wraps. Janney, who said the show is a favorite that she watches with her 14-year-old son, is vice president of the corporate archives at Warner Bros. and helped make the display possible.
"This is really a special treat," she said.