In fact, much of the "Betty" cast is from the East Coast, so in some ways, moving felt like a homecoming. Ferrera lived in New York before landing the Betty gig. Williams has a house in Westchester, and three of her four kids were going to school here already. Urie, a graduate of the Juilliard School, had lived in Queens and squeaked by on $1,000 a month before getting cast and heading west. Newton and her actor husband, Chris Diamantopoulos, own a place in the city.
News that the show was moving was "a little shocking," Newton says. "My husband is an actor, and we know circumstances can change. The second they said we were moving back, I couldn't be happier personally and for the sake of the show. My apartment was waiting for me, so I got to move back home. Our families are elated." Though in a twist worthy of a sitcom, Diamantopoulos shortly after was cast on an L.A.-based TV show.
Still, says Williams, "a lot of people had to scramble. Judith (Light) is still in the process of trying to find where she's going to go. America just moved into a temporary place until her place is finished in another year. … In the grand scheme of things, I had the easiest move. It's easy to go back home."
Along with a new location comes a very different magazine. Williams' Wilhelmina has left her mark on Mode. "She has eradicated all signs of orange," Williams says. "It's sleek, black, white, chrome. The first episode everyone is wearing black because they're terrified to wear any color. Wilhelmina has a high standard and expects everyone to come up to that level. Whoever doesn't make the cut, she has no problem dismissing them. That hasn't changed."
But Wilhelmina shouldn't get too settled.
"She's ruling Mode, but things happen in the second episode," Horta says. "A lot happens very quickly."
Among the drama that will unfold this season: incidents with Botox, a mannequin, Lindsay Lohan and a food fight, a savage pigeon and Betty's new crush (a cool downtown musician played by Val Emmich).
The office power struggle, says Newton, affects some characters more than others. On the lower end of that scale is her Amanda, who's oblivious "because she's sitting at the reception desk."
But Amanda will face a personal crisis that "a lot of people can relate to," Newton shares. "We may see her working together with Betty and Marc. I love the interaction between them."
And, thanks to the new locale, we'll actually see her outside the office. "I don't know if we've ever seen Amanda and Marc on the street. People think she lives in the reception desk," says Newton.
"Now we have so much to draw from," she says. "Next week we're working in Central Park. My first day of shooting was in DUMBO (the neighborhood Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Being here, the vibe is so authentic. Having the fashion to draw from — you see around you what you're trying to create."
Of course, shooting in Times Square or on Seventh Avenue instead of a secluded set means real people — and paparazzi — gawking and calling out your name when cameras are rolling.
"It's just an added thing," says Ferrera. "When you're in a close-up and they're right behind the camera clicking away, it's bizarre. But I guess if no one cared, that would be worse."