11 Things We Learned From Lifetime’s Unauthorized Melrose Place Story

The ladies of the original Melrose Place.
The ladies of the original Melrose Place.

From a pilot that was a massive hit to a slow burning season one to eventually becoming one of the hottest shows on the 90’s, Melrose Place cemented itself in pop culture history.  Loved it or hated it, you knew Melrose existed and the bed hopping, black mailing and crazy that went on.

But behind the on screen dramas, we got to learn a little more about our favorite 90’s guilty pleasure, the cast and the crew, thanks to Lifetime’s Unauthorized Melrose Place Story.  Check out the 11 things we all learnt from this tell-all…

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1: Grant Show was almost Brad Pitt

Having been name checked in 90210’s Unauthorized movie (Pitt at the time, lived with Jason Priestly before Priestly was cast on 90210) it was revealed Grant Show was originally intended to play the role of good looking bad guy J.D in Thelma and Louise but had to turn down the role due to his Melrose Place commitments.  The part of course went to Brad Pitt and kick started his big screen career.  Wise choice?

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2: The Melrose Place cast could have looked VERY different 

While Thomas Calabro (Michael Mancini), Josie Bissett (Jane Mancini), Grant Show (Jake Hansen), Doug Savant (Matt Fielding), Vanessa A Williams (Rhonda Blair) and Amy Locane (Sandy Harling) were already cast, it seems the role of good girl Alison Parker almost went to Courteney Cox (who was coming off Family Ties) instead of Courtney Thorne-Smith and before Tori Spelling selected Andrew Shue for the role of Billy Campbell (who knew Tori had a knack for casting?) Matthew Perry, Paul Rudd and Jason Bateman had all read for the role.

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3: Thomas Calabro was a major theater snob!

It was pointed out on several occasions that not only was Calabro a theatre actor but that he somewhat despised the shows early scripts, often mocking them and pointing out how much lesser the content was when compared to his previous stage work (ok, so season one and early season 2…he’s not wrong there!).  It was until his characters affair with Kimberly Shaw (Marcia Cross), which saw a new shady direction for the Michael, that he started to get into the part.

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4: Laura Leighton’s manager got her on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine

We all know the cover – it’s now iconic – Laura Leighton, Josie Bissett and Heather Locklear looking all sexy with tousled hair and white tank tops and satin slips on the cover of Rolling Stones 1994 Hot Issue special…but it turns out, Courtney Thorne-Smith was originally in Leighton’s place and it wasn’t until Leighton’s then manager (who was also Heather Locklear and Bissett’s manager) suggested the two swap spots, ensuring Leighton (and her two other clients) made the cover. Thorne-Smith and Daphne Zuniga ended up being folded under the cover of the magazine.

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5: FOX and Darren Starr told no one about Matt’s gay kiss being cut from the show

What should have been history in the making (Savant’s Matt Fielding was the first ever gay character on prime-time network television) led to fan outrage as the the first ever on-screen gay kiss between Matt and his date Rob (Ty Miller) was cut from the Season 2 double episode finale – even though it had been filmed.  When the episode aired with the edited scene, no one from the cast inlcuding Savant had been told.

Side note – the actual kiss took place in front of Matt’s apartment door while Billy (Shue) watched on in surprise but in the unauthorized movie, the scene was set on a park bench and the two’s kiss was interrupted by a passing cars headlights. Either way, Matt finally got his kiss on screen!

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6: Josie Bissett, Daphne Zuniga and Courtney Thorne-Smith all asked for crazier story lines.

When going up against Amanda’s power bitch monologues, Sydney’s hooking-stripping-drug taking and Kimberly’s cray-cray, the other female actresses felt they needed their characters to go a little more into the dark side.  In the movie Thorne-Smith suggests Alison robs a bank while sleep walking, Zuniga recommends Jo becomes a serial killer and Bissett wants Jane to go all out crazy – but we can all safely assume none of those suggestions actually happened.  In the end, all three saw their characters get some more juicer story lines including stalking ex boyfriends, killing ex-boyfriends, dealing with stolen babies and pretending to be blind to win over an ex love!  Gotta love Melrose Place!

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7: Heather Locklear and Laura Leighton were originally hired for a handful of episodes

While Leighton was hired for three episodes as Jane’s bratty younger sister and Locklear was brought in for a few more for a guest-star ratings push, both actresses ended up securing themselves multi-season contracts.  Leighton came back in season two as a recurring then regular character until the season five finale (where Syd was unceremoniously run over by a car on her wedding day!) and Locklear maintained her guest-star status (and dark roots) until the end of the shows run at season 7.

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8: Andrew Shue has someone else to thank besides Tori Spelling for the role of Billy Campbell  

Actor Stephen Fanning (or Stephen Dale as oddly named in the movie) actually HAD the role of Billy Campbell when Melrose first began to shoot.  Scenes for the pilot were shot and promo photos taken, but according to the movie, the time between being cast and production beginning (which is being quoted as two months) Fanning lost his ‘hot body’ while with family in Canada, gaining a crap load of weight and thus being fired from the show – because Melrose had no room for fatties.  Fanning didn’t find out until he arrived on set to find Andrew Shue in his trailer!

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9: Vanessa A Williams was convinced she was going to stay on Melrose for more than a season

It’s the case of what-could-have-been or blind want, with season one actors Williams and Amy Locane both being booted by the end of the first season.  Convinced her and Savant’s Matt Fielding were the shows two edgiest characters i.e “the black chick and the gay guy” Williams, it seems was completely blind sided by her axing from the show.  She did however go onto bigger and better things like…the TV movie Ice Spiders and a recurring role on Chicago Hope.

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10: Laura Leighton and Doug Savant got married after Melrose Place

While not news to me, twitter was abuzz about finding out two of the shows stars were in fact married and are still to this day.  While the movie made note of the Thorne-Smith/Shue and Leighton/Grant Show’s off-screen romances, Leighton and Savant began dating (after her romance with Show ended and Savant had separated from his wife) and were married in 1998.

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11: The entire cast all got on well together off-screen

Unlike that which was shown in the 90210 movie (Jennie and Shannen car park fight!!), the entire cast of Melrose Place was shown to actually get along with each other off set.  There were no over-bearing egos or fights over wardrobe and even when Thorne-Smith and Zuniga were lost on the Rolling Stone cover (they barely battered an eye lid), Leighton called her manager demanding to know why.  Sadly, this really off-set the whole ‘unauthorized’ feel of the movie as there wasn’t really much drama to be told.

Regardless of how much the truth was stretched or how badly the Melrose time line was presented, we can all agree this Unauthorized movie reignited our love with Melrose Place.  I wonder how many are cracking out the DVD’s right now?

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