With Gossip Girl, 90210 and The Hills on hiatus for the summer, you can get your weekly dose of raging hormones, competition and high school drama with ABC Family's new show Make It or Break It, which debuts tonight.
Plus, now we don't have to wait another three years to watch Olympic-level gymnastics on TV! ABC Family, which seems to be increasing its edge factor daily, is branching out with a show that centers on the lives of teenage gymnasts as they climb their way to the top of the heap. After chatting with the show's creator and executive producer, Holly Sorensen, we're even more stoked about the premiere this week.
Read on to hear what Holly had to say about her inspiration for the show, about finding girls who could act their way out of a paper bag and do gymnastics as well as casting Full House child star Candace Cameron Bure.
Gymnastics is one of the most popular events of the Summer Olympics. Is this what inspired you to create the show?
I really liked the idea of preprofessional teenagers, teenagers with careers. I'm always kind of enchanted by the pursuit of the Olympic ideal. Everyone loves, loves, loves Gossip Girl, but I think there's kind of a feeling that we want to see girls with a different kind of dream, in addition to that stuff. Make It or Break It is a teen girl show that's really about something bigger than popularity or boys.
You've said before you traveled around to different gyms in search of gymnasts to be on the show. How did you find the girls who were cast?
The casting was definitely the most labor-intensive part of the process. I mean we really searched. To pull from anyone who's doing gymnastics is really hard, because obviously if they are competing and training, they don't have the time to do it. In the acting world, we really narrowed it down to the girls who had a fresh face, weren't overexposed and who had some training in dance or gymnastics. And Ayla Kell (who plays Payson Keeler) is like a full-fledged ballerina. She can do some stuff on the floor that even the gymnasts can't do. At the end of the day, we really lucked out.
When we watched the pilot, the actress Chelsea Hobbs (who plays the less-privileged gymnast Emily Kmetko) stuck out as having a totally different body type than the other girls. Was that on purpose?
That part was so hard to cast. I was just getting more and more nervous. We had three weeks before we went into production. Chelsea Hobbs has a track background. The problem with her is that she did not have a gymnast body. But she was so the character and was so interesting on screen. So we shot her in the pilot and then since the second we were done, she has been in gymnastics training. She's turning into an animal.
Are all the younger actors learning gymnastics?
Yeah. They have been training everyday, so they are all starting to do their own stunts and stuff. It's been fun to watch them.
Switching gears, we are psyched to see Full House's Candace Cameron Bure make her TV comeback. How did that come about?
We were thinking about needing to cast a coach, and Candace Cameron Bure was possibly available. I met Candace, and I said, "I don't see you as a coach. But there would be something great about taking you and putting you with the meanest family imaginable." And she said, "Yeah, that sounds like fun!"
Candace's boyfriend on the show is named Steve Tanner (Anthony Starke), and of course the Full House family name was Tanner. Was that on purpose?
Candace's character was created after the pilot and after we completely established the name of the family as Tanner. We actually went back into the pilot to see if we could take it out. But it's written on the scoreboard, it’s written on the cars...It was one of those crazy coincidences!
Is there anything juicy you can spill about the first season?
It's so action-packed. One of the interesting things about doing a teen show set in this world is that the sport has so much discipline and so much focus. I even have to remind the network that these girls aren't just on a cheerleading squad. They are like the Manny Ramirez's of their sport. So obviously there's going to be some juicy teenage stuff, some juicy gym politics, because we're kind of marching toward nationals in the first season.
What's your hope for the show?
We're dealing with the typical teenage girl issues: professionalism, body image, sexuality, competition but in a much heightened, much bigger way. An Olympic cycle is four years, so it would be cool to go on that whole journey with these girls.
Are you going to tune into Make It or Break It tonight? Are you happy to see Full House's DJ Tanner all grown up?