The biggest star involved in “Hellcats,” the new series that started this week to what The CW called “solid” ratings, may be the one behind the camera.
Tom Welling, star of the network’s “Smallville,” is an executive producer on the series.
“When his project started coming together, we knew that this was going to be a perfect fit for The CW,” Welling told TV writers at the TV critics press tour.
Knowing people there helped as well. “If it wasn’t for “Smallville,” I wouldn’t have had those relationships.”
Now that it’s started, he won’t have a hard time doing both things, he says.
“Fortunately, ‘Hellcats’ also shoots up in Vancouver about, I’d say, 10 minutes away from where “Smallville” is,” Welling says. “We have a fantastic crew on both shows, and everybody kind of understands what’s going on. And so I’m doing everything I can and at the same time with a lot of support from both shows to facilitate what each needs from me.”
Then again, he’s also Clark Kent.
What drew him from superheroes to cheerleaders?
“This project is was based on a book called ‘Cheer,’ and through that book we were able to sort of understand that there was a whole world here that hadn’t been tapped into,” Wellig says. “I just thought of it as a great story. I think there’s a lot of heart. I think there’s a lot of struggle from all the characters, especially our lead. And it’s sort of that journey as her finding her identity and what she’s going to do with her life. I found that interesting.”
Besides all that, says co-star Ashley Tisdale of the “High School Musical” films, “He wanted to be surrounded by cheerleaders.”
Why not, says the show’s lead, Aly Michalka, formerly half of the sister duo Aly & A.J. “I mean, come on, people.”
Not that she has anyexperience in that field. “I have no cheerleading background, but my mom happened to be a Raiderette that went to the Super Bowl, and they won, which is rad, and a Rams cheerleader and a UCLA cheerleader,” Michalka says. “So that’s kind of a cool thing, that my mom has that background. So I guess I have it in my blood, but I’ve never had an interest to be on a squad, probably because there’s no home-schooling cheerleading squads. I don’t know. That might be weird, a home-schooling cheerleading squad.”
Physical abilities were a big part of the audition, Welling said. “Not only did you have to act and look the part, but then you had to audition through a dance number.”
Both Tisdale and Michalka nailed it, he says. “I think you are going to be surprised. There’s a lot of heart here, and the physicality, I think, will surprise you.”
“Hellcats” plays Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.