‘The Perfectionists’: I Marlene King on Reviving ‘Pretty Little Liars’ With a New Generation of Liars — and Two Returning Favorites

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“I’m still here, bitches, and I know everything.”

It’s been nearly a decade since the original “Pretty Little Liars” received the text from their dead best frienemy that kicked off a years-long series of twists, turns and shocking reveals in what would become a runaway hit for Freeform and a singular subject of obsession for its devoted fans. Now, less than two years after that series went off the air, Freeform and series creator I. Marlene King are aiming to show that, like “A” herself, “Pretty Little Liars” still has life, even in death.

“Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists,” the new spinoff premiering Wednesday, is based on an entirely different series of novels by “Pretty Little Liars” author Sara Shepard, but the show cleverly brings its storylines into the world of the original by incorporating two fan-favorite characters as pseudo-mentors to a new generation of beautiful, high-achieving, sometimes manipulative, more often manipulated and frequently victimized young people.

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists’ Trailer: Somebody Is Already About to Snap – And Kill

“As [“Pretty Little Liars”] started coming to an end — maybe a year before — I started talking to the cast and floating around the idea of who’s ready to move on and who’s ready to keep exploring their characters and where they go from here,” I. Marlene King said in an interview with TheWrap. “And Sasha [Pieterse] and Janel [Parrish] were both really excited about the opportunity to do that.”

Parrish’s character Mona, in particular, gets the biggest shift, taking a break from serving as a foil to the main cast and getting a turn as the victim of the mystery herself.

“I was excited because I really didn’t think we got to see enough of Mona on the first round of ‘PLL,’” King said. “I know fans wanted to see more and learn more about her. They wanted her to have romance and a full life beyond just being that sort of Crazy Mona on ‘PLL.’”

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Actor Brandon Jones Sentenced 6 Months for Gun Dispute With Neighbor

While plot details are carefully guarded, the focus of the spinoff largely remains on the new characters — the Perfectionists, in show parlance — three students at the fictional Beacon Heights University who are driven by their school, their parents, their own dreams of success to be, well, perfect, even to their own detriment.

Played by former Disney star Sofia Carson, “The Walking Dead” alum Sydney Park and newcomer Eli Brown, the Perfectionists are tied together by a potentially devastating secret — revealed in signature “Pretty Little Liars” fashion at the end of the first episode — but King promises the show won’t be all lies and intrigue, all the time.

“‘Pretty Little Liars’ was a show about these friends who become like family, and this show has that as well,” she said. “There’s murder, there’s intrigue and there’s all these twists and turns, but at its core, it’s really about that friendship. And I’m having a lot of fun watching these five — the Perfectionists and the two from ‘Pretty Little Liars’ — become friends on and off screen. It’s such a joy to watch.”

And to King, that element of the show — the central friendship, the romance, the emotional core — is as signification to the “Pretty Little Liars” brand as the mystery component.

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Spinoff ‘The Perfectionists’ Ordered to Series at Freeform

So keep that in mind, because while this is just the first follow-up, King says that colon in the title “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists” just might signal more to come. After all, in the world of “Pretty Little Liars,” you never really know what’s coming next.

Read TheWrap’s full interview with King below.

Freeform/Allyson Riggs

TheWrap: When did you first start talking about doing a spinoff of “Pretty Little Liars”? And I know it’s based on Sara Shepard’s books, but how did you settle on this idea to bring “The Perfectionists” into the “PLL” universe?

King: As the show started coming to an end — maybe a year before — I started talking to the cast and floating around the idea of who’s ready to move on and who’s ready to keep exploring their characters and where they go from here. And Sasha and Janel were both really excited about the opportunity to do that. Warner Bros. had the rights to Sara’s book, and I thought this was such a great place to explore new secrets, new lies, and incorporate a couple of our great O.G. characters.

How did you settle on these two characters as the ones who would anchor the new show?

Well, they were really excited about getting to explore their characters more. And I was excited because I really didn’t think we got to see enough of Mona on the first round of “PLL.” I know fans wanted to see more and learn more about her. They wanted her to have romance and a full life beyond just being that sort of Crazy Mona on “PLL.” So that was a real no-brainer for me.

But she’s still a little bit mysterious on this one. Will we get to see her be maybe a little bit more at the mercy of the mystery this time around?

You’re going to have to wait and see. Mona was never really trustworthy on “Pretty Little Liars” — I mean, she loved Hanna, but she still hit her with a car — but I think you’re going to get to see a side of Mona that you haven’t seen before, and you’re going to be able to trust her a little bit more than you were on the other show.

I know you were pretty meticulous in plotting out how the mystery unfolded on “Pretty Little Liars,” but do you already have a plan about how “The Perfectionists” will go?

We know who our original Big Bad is. It’s still “Pretty Little Liars,” so there’s going to be a Big Bad, and I definitely know who that person is. So for now, at least, we’re just going to have a lot of fun getting to the end of that road.

Do you have a vision for long the series could go? “PLL” had a bunch of interwoven storylines and mysteries that all kind of spun off from this one central storyline. Do you have similar plans for this show?

Yeah, I think we have just a richness of opportunity in this new world. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are so many great characters and such a rich woven story that there’s going to be tentacles from this first story that go one for a long time with plenty of twists and turns. With “Pretty Little Liars,” I thought that we’d be lucky to go for five seasons, so to get to go for seven, honestly, I just give so much credit to the fans and to the actors.

Freeform/James Clark

I’m not too familiar with the book series, but I know “PLL” diverged quite a bit from the source material. How much will you draw on the books for this one?

I think everybody should read Sara’s books because if you watch the show, we’re not going to give away the twists from the books. Because if you read the books, it would be almost impossible to pull off on a TV show and sustain that. So we’re really embracing this world of perfectionism and these young people who feel like they have to be perfect in everything. I’d say that more than anything — the characters and the overall mystery of the show — we pull from Sara’s original ideas.

The “PLL” pilot aired almost a decade ago at this point, but I think back to that moment at the end of that episode when they all get the first text from “A,” and how pivotal that was in terms of signaling the role technology would play on the show. How have you had to adapt your thinking on that aspect of the show as times have changed?

I think the technological advances, specifically social media and everything, will play a part in this world in the way that texting did on “Pretty Little Liars.” [In the pilot] is a perfect example showing how we’re sort of taking technology to the next level and how it helps us and hurts us all at the same time.

I want to talk a little bit about casting the “Perfectionists.” What were you looking for in that process and how did you settle on Sofia, Sydney and Eli as your central three?

Well, I have a great casting director, her name is Gayle Pillsbury, and she casts all of my shows, the pilots especially. We’re looking for good people, first of all. Quality human beings who you just feel have that something special. Sofia was doing an arc for us on “Famous in Love” when we were casting this, and I knew she was a big “Pretty Little Liars” fan. I just love and adore her, so she came in and read. I hadn’t had time to write a scene for her character yet, so we gave her a scene from “Pretty Little Liars” and just changed the names, but she knew immediately that it was a Hanna-Mona scene from what season and when. She initially read for Sydney’s character, but she’s such a fashion icon that we thought — even though in real life she’s such a Spencer Hastings — making her this coder-fashion icon was such a perfect fit. Because she is such a workaholic and just such a smart, bright young lady.

How about Sydney and Eli? They’re maybe not as well known, but what was it about them that made them the right fit for the show?

Well, Sydney has been for a while because she was a child comedian, basically. And she’s done significant work on “The Walking Dead.” So she came in and read for Caitlin, and she also just checked all the boxes, basically. A really good human being, really connected with the material, you know, and sit well with the other cast. So we were excited to have her. And you’ll see as the show progresses, she’s surprisingly our comic relief. It’s not surprising if you know her, but once we realized how strong her comedic sensibilities are, we started giving her a lot of our comic relief. Which is really fun on a show that can get this intense.

And Eli, I think we were maybe his first audition for a real paying job. He’s from Oregon and he had recently driven down here and was going to try out for some shows. When he came in, his resume literally just had high school theater on it. But when he read, he had such a presence and confidence that we knew right away he’d be our perfect star.

Freeform/Allyson Riggs

How does it change your thinking to have one of the central characters be a boy? Is it different at all?

Well, he’s having a lot of fun, I’ll tell you that. I was looking at photos today and here’s this good-looking guy with all these beautiful women. He’s having so much fun. But it’s fun. It’s really fun to have a guy be part of the group. As the show goes on, it starts to become what I’m calling “friend porn.” Their chemistry as friends is just so beautiful. “Pretty Little Liars” was a show about these friends who become like family, and this show has that as well. It’s really what the show’s about. There’s murder, there’s intrigue and there’s all these twists and turns, but at its core, it’s really about that friendship. And I’m having a lot of fun watching these five — the “Perfectionists” and the two from “Pretty Little Liars” — become friends on and off screen. It’s such a joy to watch.

Should viewers expect any other familiar faces to pop up on the show? Have you had conversations with any of the other “Pretty Little Liars” cast about coming on?

Yeah, I think they’re all really excited for us. And because the show is premiering this week, we’re all getting together, there’s lots of different opportunities for the cast to support the show, and they’ve all been really fantastic. There’s quite a few people who’ve expressed interest in coming on. But for the first season, I felt it was really important to launch the show on its own and let it stand on its own two feet, so it’s not really about those appearances. But I think next season we’ll be a lot more open to having some of those OGs and those fun moments. I will say, though, even though we don’t see them, there are moments through Mona and Alison where we find out what’s going on in Rosewood. We will get information from them about what the other characters are doing.

In your mind, what are the core elements of the “Pretty Little Liars” brand? When a viewer turns on a “Pretty Little Liars” show, what are they seeing?

I think you know it when you see it. It’s not always that easy to verbalize, but I do think you know it when you see it. I think it’s a combination of things. It’s a little bit of a heightened world, but we can still find a way to make it plausible that these things could happen. I think the day-to-day problems that the characters have are very relatable to people who aren’t living in a heightened world, and there’s romance. It’s, of course, friendship. There’s scares, thrills, a mystery at the core, and somehow you put all that together in a blender with a great cast, and you come up with what “Pretty Little Liars” looks like.

Do you plan on expanding the franchise even further? Maybe more spinoffs, is this the kind of universe that can sustain multiple shows airing at the same time?

Maybe. I feel like there’s absolutely a world [where that’s possible]. There were all these meetings about “should it be “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists” of “PLL The Perfectionists” and then someone explained to me that if we want more to come, it should have a colon. So we’re definitely open to expanding the universe. It’s so much fun to play in this world, so I’m always open to new ideas and new tentacles to explore.

In those moments where you let your mind wander, what is your dream “Pretty Little Liars” show?

Hanna and Caleb as detectives is the one idea that comes to mind. I would have so much fun with that show.

Freeform/Allyson Riggs

“Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists” airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.

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‘Famous In Love’ Exec Producer I. Marlene King Reacts To Cancellation: “I Could Not Be More Saddened”

Read on: Deadline.

Famous In Love executive producer I. Marlene King reached out via Twitter to share her reaction to today’s cancellation of the Freeform drama series starring Bella Thorne.
“I am deeply grateful for the #FamousInLove cast, crew and our passi…

‘Famous in Love’ Canceled by Freeform After 2 Seasons

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Freeform is breaking up with “Famous in Love,” choosing to cancel the series from “Pretty Little Liars” showrunner I. Marlene King after two seasons.

“We are proud to have had the opportunity to air ‘Famous In Love,’” a spokesperson for Freeform told TheWrap in a statement Friday. “After many discussions we have made the difficult decision not to renew the show for a third season. We want to thank our colleagues at Warner Horizon and our incredible producers, writers, cast and crew, especially Marlene King, for their creativity, hard work and dedication.”

The Bella Thorne-led drama aired its season finale on the younger-skewing cable network last month, an episode that will now serve as the series finale.

Also Read: Bella Thorne’s ‘Famous in Love’ Renewed for Season 2

Rumors of the show’s demise began swirling earlier this week (which Freeform had denied at the time). Thorne herself saw the rumors via Twitter (and SpoilerTV), writing “If this is how I find out our show is canceled..I’m going to be so upset. Very hurtful freeform. I woulda liked a phone call maybe.”

If this is how I find out our show is canceled..I’m going to be so upset. Very hurtful freeform. I woulda liked a phone call maybe. https://t.co/B6Q5BX8hkt

— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) June 26, 2018

Also Read: ‘Shadowhunters’ to End After 3 Seasons With 2-Hour Finale

Thorne starred on the series as Paige, a college student who rockets to fame after auditioning for a big Hollywood movie. Carter Jenkins, Charlie Depew, Georgie Flores, Niki Koss, Pepi Sonuga, Keith Powers and Perrey Reeves also starred.

King, who served as creator and showrunner on the series, will stay with Freeform with the upcoming “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff series “The Perfectionists,” led by “PLL” alums Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish.

It is part of the network’s drama slate, which also includes the mermaid drama “Siren,” “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger,” “The Bold Type,” the upcoming “The Fosters” spinoff “Good Trouble,” as well as the final run of episodes for the YA fantasy series “Shadowhunters.”

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Spinoff ‘The Perfectionists’ Ordered to Series at Freeform

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Freeform has given a series order to the “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff “The Perfectionists,” the network announced on Monday.

The Disney cable network has ordered 10 episodes of the series, which stars Janel Parrish and Sasha Pieterse reprising their “Pretty Little Liars” roles alongside Disney Channel alum Sofia Carson.

Based on the book series by “Pretty Little Liars” author Sara Shepard, “The Perfectionists” is set in the town of Beacon Heights — where everything seems perfect, from their top-tier college to their overachieving residents — as its rocked by its first murder. Sydney Park and Eli Brown also star.

Also Read: Don’t Hold Your Breath for Octopus-Men on Freeform’s Killer Mermaid Show ‘Siren’

“Pretty Little Liars” and “Famous in Love” showrunner I. Marlene King wrote the pilot and serves as executive producer with Charlie Craig, Lisa Cochran-Neilan, Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo.

The series is produced by Alloy Entertainment and Long Lake Media in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television.

“The Perfectionists” joins a Freeform drama slate that also includes “Famous in Love,” the upcoming Marvel series “Cloak & Dagger,” the mermaid series “Siren,” “The Bold Type,” “Shadowhunters” and the final run of episodes for “The Fosters,” as well as its recently announced spinoff.

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‘Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists’ Picked Up To Series At Freeform

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The Pretty Little Liars universe will continue at Freeform. The network has picked up to series drama pilot Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, with a 10-episode order. The spinoff hails from the same auspices as the original series, writer/execut…

‘The Heiresses’ Family Soap Starring Shay Mitchell From ‘PLL’s Marlene King & Sara Shepard Set At ABC As Put Pilot

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On the heels of Freeform’s pilot order to Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, toplined by PLL co-stars Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish, from PLL mastermind I. Marlene King and based on the books by PLL author Sara Shepard, another soapy drama project from the PLL team has landed a big deal.
ABC has given a put pilot commitment to The Heiresses, headlined by PLL co-star Shay Mitchell, with King writing based on Shepard’s 2014 novel. Alloy Entertainment once again…

‘Pretty Little Liars’ Spinoff Launches at Freeform With Two Returning Stars

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Freeform has given a pilot order to “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists,” which brings back Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish from the original “Pretty Little Liars” series.

The new drama project from Alloy Entertainment and Long Lake Media centers on college town Beacon Heights and examines how its characters’ perfectionism leads to murder.

Pieterse plays Alison DiLaurentis, and Parrish portrays Mona Vanderwaal. Both are reprising their roles from “Pretty Little Liars,” which signed off in June after seven seasons.

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Finale: Creator on Last-Minute Change, Why a Death Had to Be Off-Camera

Marlene King (“Pretty Little Liars,” “Famous in Love”) wrote the “Perfectionists” pilot script and executive produces with Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo. It is adapted from the book by Sara Shepard, whose novels were the basis for “Pretty Little Liars.”

“At Freeform, we are committed to delivering shows that push boundaries and become a part of our viewers’ lives. ‘Pretty Little Liars’ was a cultural phenomenon, so it’s no wonder fans wanted more,” said Freeform executive vice president of programming and development Karey Burke. “We can’t wait to continue Marlene King’s rich and revolutionary storytelling with a new crop of leading ladies from Beacon Heights who will hold just as many secrets and lies as Rosewood did.”

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Star Shay Mitchell Joins Greg Berlanti’s Lifetime Drama ‘You’

“I’m beyond excited to continue my collaboration with Sara Shepard, Alloy, Freeform and Warner Horizon,” said Marlene King. “I can’t wait to introduce our fans — and Sasha and Janel — to a new world of thrills and chills in Beacon Heights.”

This is time of transition for Freeform, which recently said goodbye to signature series “PLL,” along with such other shows as “Baby Daddy,” “Switched at Birth” and “Stitchers.”

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Creator Lists Home Above the Sunset Strip (EXCLUSIVE)

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I. Marlene King Says ‘the Majority of People Will Be Happy’ With ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Finale

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Nostalgia and anticipation filled the air at the Dolby Theatre Saturday afternoon at the “Pretty Little Liars” panel for PaleyFest LA. In front of a rowdy crowd, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Tyler Blackburn, and almost all of the show’s stars sat down for a discussion about the Freeform drama’s seven-year history, while also looking forward at… Read more »

‘Pretty Little Liars’ Cast And EPs Talk “Huge Twist” And Final Episodes – PaleyFest

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Creator Talks Final Season Time Jump, Musical Number

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

I. Marlene King teased the final 10 episodes of “Pretty Little Liars,” promising a few surprises for fans, at the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday.

According to King, the executive producer and creator of the series, Season 7 will be some of the most “dense” episodes of the show so far. In addition to wrapping up the story and solving any lingering mysteries, the final 10 episodes will also feature both a musical episode and yet another time jump.

“There will be a one-year time jump before it ends,” King promised, revealing few other plot details.

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Final Season Gets Premiere Date From Freeform

“We’ve said this is the most shocking, the most romantic, the most deadly season,” she said. “But I would add that these last 10 episodes are a real love letter to the fans.”

The final season, which is being branded by the network as #PLLEndGame, will be most rewarding for fans who have been following the show closely for years, King said.

“We almost need graphs and grids to understand what’s going on,” said series star Lucy Hale. “But that’s what I love about our fans, they don’t just watch here and there.”

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Series Finale Gets Hourlong After-Show

Season 7 will also introduce a new mysterious villain for the show, which executive producer Joseph Dougherty promises will only heighten the drama fans have come to expect.

“They’re all going to be under a tremendous amount of pressure,” Dougherty said. “Every heavy and every incarnation [of “A”] has been about trying to break the friends about, but perhaps this time has been more dangerous than it’s ever been before.”

He added: “They’re the closest they’ve ever come to shattering.”

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Final Season Tease: Let’s Do The Time Jump Again – TCA

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Series Finale Gets Hourlong After-Show

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Next year’s “Pretty Little Liars” series finale will be followed by an hourlong after-show, Freeform announced on Wednesday.

Featuring interviews with stars Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell and Sasha Pieterse, as well as executive producer I. Marlene King, the special will follow the two-hour Season 7 finale and promises answers to fans’ burning questions and behind-the-scenes secrets.

The network also describes the special, which is being billed as a “tell-all,” as “a retrospective celebration of the past seven seasons and as a way for the #PLLSquad to say goodbye to the beloved drama.”

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Series Finale Will Be a 2-Hour Movie, Creator Says

Freeform announced earlier this year after months of speculation that “Pretty Little Liars” would officially be coming to an end after Season 7, with the last batch of 10 episodes set to premiere in April of next year.

Wednesday’s announcement comes on the long-running teen drama’s final day of filming. King penned a note thanking the show’s cast and crew in an Instagram for Cosmopolitan.

“When I call ‘cut’ on the very last scene, all five PLLs will be in the shot,” King wrote. “Tears will be spilled, gifts will be exchanged, and final memories will be made. The most meaningful gift, however, is that we call ourselves ‘PLL Family’ because that is how much we mean to each other.”

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ to End With Season 7

King went on to thank the show’s fans for their dedication, making note of the fact that throughout the seven-season run of “Pretty Little Liars,” it was regularly the most popular series on social media.

“We have created a worldwide family of fans who have come together to watch and celebrate the show,” she wrote. “Friendships have been made and sealed over the love our passionate fans have for ‘PLL.’ In an age where technology often separates people, we used social media to bring them together.”

Also Read: ‘Pretty Little Liars’: A Guide for Grown-Ups

“Thank you to the cast, the crew, and all the fans who have kept Rosewood alive; we would be nowhere without you,” King wrote. “And as this chapter ends, to my ‘PLL’ family all over the world, I won’t say good-bye, I’ll say, ‘See you soon, bitches.’”

@imarleneking opens up about the end of #prettylittleliars (grab a tissue, PLL fans ????): “Today marks the series wrap on ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ my home away from home for the last seven seasons. When I call ‘cut’ on the very last scene, all five PLLs will be in the shot. Tears will be spilled, gifts will be exchanged, and final memories will be made. The most meaningful gift, however, is that we call ourselves ‘PLL Family’ because that is how much we mean to each other. We have created a worldwide family of fans who have come together to watch and celebrate the show. Friendships have been made and sealed over the love our passionate fans have for ‘PLL.’ In an age where technology often separates people, we used social media to bring them together. In season six, Spencer quoted A. A. Milne, author of ‘Winnie the Pooh’: ‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.’ And those words have never spoken to me so loudly. Thank you to the cast, the crew, and all the fans who have kept Rosewood alive; we would be nowhere without you. And as this chapter ends, to my ‘PLL’ family all over the world, I won’t say good-bye, I’ll say, ‘See you soon, bitches.’” – I. Marlene King, #cosmoinstagramcolumnist #pll

A photo posted by Cosmopolitan (@cosmopolitan) on Oct 26, 2016 at 7:56am PDT

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