'Hellcats' Sneak Peek: AJ Michalka joins sister Aly for three-episode arc

hellcats-aly-aj-firstlook.jpgAs Zap2it was first to report, "Hellcats" star Aly Michalka welcomed her 78violet bandmate and younger sister, AJ Michalka, as a guest star on the show this spring. Now, we've got your first look photo of AJ and Aly in character in AJ's first episode, airing Tuesday, April 19.

When "Hellcats" returns, Marti (Aly) is looking for information about her long-dead father. That's where Dierdre (AJ) comes into play.

"Marti meets Deirdre along the way while unraveling the mystery surrounding Rex, the father who died when Marti was three years old," executive producer Kevin Murphy tells Zap2it. "Deirdre is a local in the Memphis music scene who works in a guitar shop where Rex used to play. She may hold a piece of Marti's puzzle and also have a mystery of her own."

While "Hellcats" has always featured music heavily in cheer sequences, more recently they've taken to highlighting the cast's considerable musical talents as well. This storyline provides the perfect opportunity for that. As it turns out, Rex left behind some music -- which, of course, Aly and AJ will perform onscreen together. It's original music written specifically for the show by singer/songwriter Dan Bern.

"Deirdre is a special character to me, partly because she's named after my sister and played by Aly's real-life sister. According to the transitive property of sisters, I believe that means Aly and I are now technically related," Murphy jokes.

Dierdre was developed specifically with AJ in mind, and she's the only "Hellcats" character to have been created for a particular actress. "In this case, quite an accomplished one," Murphy says, noting that he was a fan of AJ's screen work, which includes films like "Secretariat" and "The Lovely Bones."

"I'd also seen Aly and AJ interacting with each other and loved their natural sister chemistry - watching them is a little like watching a seasoned vaudeville act. Aly is tight with her family and loves being around them," Murphy says. "There was downtime on set one day and Aly mentioned it had been weeks since she'd seen her sister. I joked that we could always put her on the show. Aly got really excited at the notion and suddenly we weren't joking any more."

He describes Dierdre as a "reckless, socially backwards townie with the demeanor of a feral cat," and says that after the character was developed, the final 6 episodes began to fall into place creatively. "Agents were called and a few weeks later, AJ was on set charming us all to pieces in our 'Cheerleaders versus Zombies' episode directed by 'Reefer Madness' helmer Andy Fickman."

Murphy confirms that he does hope to see Dierdre return for episodes of Season 2 if "Hellcats" gets picked up.

Aly told us in January that it didn't take any convincing to get AJ on board. "She's just thrilled to be able to visit me anyway, just because she loves Vancouver and we've had some fun little sister hangouts there by ourselves, but she's just excited because she loves the show and she wants to support it and contribute to it in her own way," she says. Check out our video interview for more from Aly about Dierdre. 

"Hellcats" returns with new episodes Tuesday, April 19... with zombies. (Dan Patch is making a movie, kids!) Check out a preview on the official CW site and be sure to tune in at 9 p.m. after "One Tree Hill."
Photo/Video credit: The CW