Fans of MTV's "The Hills" won't settle for just any blonde reality starlet.
Following Lauren Conrad's departure, almost one-third of the show's audience has fled from the semi-scripted reality series.
When news broke that LC was leaving the series, some of her fellow cast members, including Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, slammed the idea that the show would suffer without its original leading lady.
"We don't need her. We'll miss her. I just don't know if we need her," Heidi previously told MTV News.
But it appears the blonde may have been wrong.
According to Media Life Magazine, the audience for the September 29 season premiere with new leading lady and LC rival, Kristin Cavallari, was down 30 percent compared to the prior season's debut, which starred LC.
The Season 5, Part 2 premiere netted just 2.36 million total viewers and three weeks later the number of people tuning in had slipped even further to 1.72 million. And among 18-34-year-olds, current episodes are getting less than half of the 2.3 million fans that tuned in each weak two seasons ago.
MTV noted that it's still the network's second-most-watched show and the highest-rated program on television in its timeslot for viewers 12-34.
Could Kristin be the problem? Or possibly her candid take on show the show is crafted?
"I pretty much do anything they have me do because I don't care," she told the Los Angeles Times in September, just before her season debut. "I mean, we're filming a TV show. Let's make it interesting. Let's have a good time with it."
The MTV series' scripted tendencies are not exactly a secret, but previous stars have been a bit more tightlipped about how the show is produced – well, until Kristin came along.
"Everyone is trying to get story lines and create drama in their lives," she continued in Times interview. "It's just so…fake. There's no truth to it. At all."
As for Lauren, since leaving "The Hills" she's had a best-selling novel — "L.A. Candy" --which is loosely based on her experiences on the MTV series. The novel, which is just the first in a series of planned books, has also been option by Summit Entertainment as a feature film.
Following her last episode of the "The Hills" in June, LC blogged, "A part of me is sad to say goodbye to something that has been such a prominent part of my life, but I know that it was time and I am very happy with my decision."
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