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'Pretty Little Liars' Natalie Hall in, Josh Stamberg out at 'Drop Dead Diva'

Date June 06, 2013

By Jethro Nededog

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - "Drop Dead Diva" was brought back from cancelation on Lifetime, but not without some changes.

First off, Natalie Hall will guest star as Britney on two episodes, TheWrap has learned while on-set in Peachtree City, Ga. The production is keeping the role very hush-hush.

Hall held a recurring role on ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars" as Kate Randall, Hanna's (Ashley Benson) stepsister. Daytime soap fans will surely recognize her as Colby Chandler on "All My Children."

She has also guest starred on CBS's "CSI" and will appear on the series premiere episode of CW's "Star-Crossed."

The dramedy - which returns Sunday, June 23 - has also booked guest stars John Ratzenberger and, as TheWrap reported on Monday, Sandra Bernhard.

Meanwhile, series regular Josh Stamberg isn't returning as law firm managing partner, Jay Parker. Onscreen girlfriend Kim Kaswell (Kate Levering) will carry on with her unexpected pregnancy with Jay's child, which was revealed on the Season 4 finale episode.

"Drop Dead Diva" and producers Sony Television had to make some budget cuts in order to ensure its fifth season: Besides Stamberg's exit, production has been reduced to seven days per episode and there will be less on-location shooting.

"The viewers will never notice the change in our budget, and the show has never looked better," series creator Josh Berman told TheWrap.

"As a fifth year series, we've already invested a great deal of money in our sets, sound proofing, and edit equipment," he continued. "Because these items have already been paid for in prior seasons, we have a natural way to save money this year. I truly believe that the production values in the upcoming season are our best yet. In the past, we spent our budget in very smart ways and it's paying off now."

These kinds of cuts are not uncommon in the industry when a show is on the bubble and needs to make concessions to secure a season renewal.

"Suburgatory" recently let go of regulars Alan Tudyk and Rex Lee as part of budget cuts in an agreement between Warner Bros. TV and ABC for a third season renewal.

"Drop Dead Diva" has brought on "Switched at Birth" and "Arrow" actress Annie Ilonzeh on for a recurring role as Kim's assistant. And as we previously reported, "90210" actor Justin Deeley has joined to play Jane's (Brooke Elliot) new guardian angel after Carter McIntyre's departure from the series.

The series about a petite model who dies, then returns in a curvaceous attorney's body also stars Margaret Cho, Jackson Hurst, and April Bowlby.

"Drop Dead Diva" was canceled by Lifetime in January after four seasons. But, the network reversed its decision in May as a result of ongoing efforts by producers Sony Television and pressure from the show's fans.

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