Category Archives: Melrose Place

The Melrose Place Podcast You Should Be Listening To and the Fashion of Melrose.

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Sibling Rivalry. Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton) and Jane Mancini (Josie Bissett)

This coming July marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of one of the biggest shows that aired in the 90’s – night time Spelling mega soap Melrose Place.  Iconic characters, scenes and quotes have stood the test of time and now, with all episodes streaming on Hulu, Melrose is in the middle of a current day resurgence with younger audiences hopping on the Melrose train, taking in the fashion and life that was L.A in the 90’s.

Early in January 2016, I with my big eyes, set out to write an e-book episode guide for Melrose Place.  Recaps, episode information, character relationships, location information and wardrobe evolution were all planned for every episode but sadly, I did not realize the size of the task in front of me.  With seven seasons, each containing 30 plus episodes (yes 30!  None of this 13 episodes bull with a mid season break!) I realized by five episodes into season one, this was just too much to get done.

But unlike me, two fans have happily taken it upon themselves to take on a very similar and equally daunting task.  L.A based couple Jenny and Dan Hill have begun, from season one, to re-watch each and every episode of Melrose Place and podcast their hilarious and witty episode recaps, currently on a week to week basis per episode for their website.

Dan, a co-host on The Dan & Kody Podcast, spoke to me via email about the project.

“I really fell in love with the re-watch podcast format where one or two people will watch a movie or TV show and analyze/ re-cap every aspect of the movie or show. I really wanted to find a show that my wife and I had a connection to, but haven’t seen much of. Melrose Place was the perfect fit.

I was 10 years old when Melrose Place first aired, but I remember sneaking to watch it without my parent’s permission with my sister. Growing up it was our guilty pleasure and I suspect there are many other like me who share this. Being 10, I was way too young to wrap my head around what was truly going on once the show got into the thick of things, but I held onto bits and pieces of a few story lines that I to this day find fascinating!” 

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Sydney (Laura Leighton) knows how it goes on Melrose Place

So just what story lines are Dan and Jenny looking forward to re-watching and recapping? For Dan, it’s Michael’s (Thomas Calabro) downward spiral into TV villain along with Kimberly’s (Marcia Cross) ‘psychotic shenanigans’ while for wife Jenny, it’s the complex run of ever evolving relationships between the characters.

When asked about podcast release time Dan says “With a 6 month old, we’re hoping to record and release one episode per week covering one episode of the show. This could be a 5 year run, but we’re up for the challenge! Maybe as our little one gets older it will become easier to record more frequently. We also want to sprinkle in episodes that spotlight one character where we break them down and cover their story arc.

Currently on season one (episode four is the latest update as of writing this post), the podcasts feature funny, entertaining and tongue-in-cheek recaps of the Melrose episode along with “moral of the episode” and “favorite 90’s moment” spots at the end of each cast which are must-listen to moments!

It’s great to see someone pick-up where I could not, with recapping Melrose Place!

Now, remember that episode guide book I was planning to write?  Well, the early stages of planning saw me making contact with Denise Wingate, the costume designer for 112 episodes of Melrose Place starting at Drawing The Line (S01E14) and finishing up at the very wonderful Dead Sisters Walking (S04E32).

Boasting a very impressive resume including Cruel Intentions, The Sweetest Thing and Wedding Crashers, Denise spoke to me about dressing some of our most beloved Melrose Place tenants.  With the book dead in the water and this being the 25th anniversary of the Melrose Place pilot episode, it’s only befitting I share with you our chat about all things 90’s power suits and wedding dresses bound for a watery cat fight!

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After being involved with over 100 episodes of Melrose Place that aired twenty years ago and then moving from production to production in the years after, it’s no surprise Denise’s memory is a little bit foggy when asked about some of the iconic outfits worn during the shows run. “I have to admit that half of the costumes I don’t even remember! It’s amazing how digital cameras and computers have changed how I document my work now!” she says before getting into how sourcing costumes back in the 1990’s was a lot more hard work than it is these days.

I used to take our Christmas hiatus and travel to Europe or Asia and tried to find some interesting fashions and fabrics and bring them back to use on the show. You  have to remember this was before the internet, so everything I sourced would have to be with my own eyes. Our stages were about 30 miles outside of Los Angeles and there wasn’t really any shops around so sometimes new jewelry or fashion designers would just ship me boxes of jewelry or clothing and I would buy what I liked and send back the rest.

And did working on one of the most watched shows at the time come with dressing regulations from cast and crew? “I don’t remember any rules or guidelines I had to adhere to from the producers. At the time I was on the show, the ratings were huge and the fashion was getting a lot of press, so they just figured if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. They pretty much let me do whatever I wanted. I had a great time!!!” Though the same can’t be said about Heather Locklear and a certain pink dress Denise had created for her “It was the most memorable outfit that I remember and it was a really tight form fitting lycra dress that I bought in Paris for Heather Locklear. At the last minute I decided to dye it this bright pink color, but unfortunately the dye wasn’t set and it turned her whole body bright pink. Oops! I don’t think she was too happy about that.

Oops indeed, though for the most part, Denise happily admits her time on Melrose Place dressing the cast was filled with fun times. “In real life Daphne Zuniga who played Jo and I were friends, so it was always fun shopping or doing fittings with her and I still run into Laura Leighton from time to time and it is always such a joy to see her!”

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Workplace rivals Alison and Amanda were specifically dressed in opposites.

So how about the characters themselves? When asked about Amanda’s entrance on the show in season one, Denise says she relished the chance to shake things up when it came to her D&D Advertising power wardrobe. “The dynamics of the show really changed when Heather Locklear joined the cast as Amanda. She was such a wonderful evil diva and we really pushed the envelope with her D&D wardrobe as at the time, most suits were a little slouchy and conservative as seen on Alison Campbell (Courtney Thorne-Smith). We kept making Amanda’s suits tighter and shorter and as Heather had such a great figure, she could really rock that short skirt look.” Denise also notes how Alison’s wardrobe became a little more dynamic when she took over the role as D&D President from Amanda “When Alison takes over, she too, started wearing “power suits” but she was a little more professional [about her look]. It wouldn’t have been her character to wear skirts as short as Amanda would wear them!”

Jane Mancini, fashion designer extraordinaire, was a fun challenge for Denise as Jane’s career (and Josie’s modelling background) allowed for the use of new designer fashion. “The character of Jane was fun, because we were able to really experiment with using up-and-coming, interesting designers on her. As Josie Bissett started her career as a model, she really knew how to wear clothes, and everything always looked fantastic on her. She was more classy than the other residents but stylized and it suited her character. I had a lot of fun creating her outfits every week and she just made my job so easy.”

That ‘easy’ that Denise talks about also comes up when talking about Laura Leighton’s Sydney Andrews who made the transition from bratty little sister to trashy hooker to sassy stripper to 60’s go-go girl to polished business woman throughout her time on the show. “When Sydney arrived on the scene, things really heated up and I just loved Laura Leighton as she was game for anything we put on her. She loved wearing the period, kooky outfits and managed to carry off even the craziest of outfits with a sense of humor and style not many people could get away with. I loved dressing Sydney just for the sheer absurdity of some of the costumes we chose!” And THAT wedding dress that Sydney wore that ended up in the Melrose Place pool? “I can’t remember the name of the shop the wedding dress came from (it’s no longer in business) I just remember that we needed multiples, I think a total of 5 for multiple takes. It ended up looking perfect though!”

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The iconic cat fight and the wedding dress.

And it wasn’t all about the ladies either as Denise is quick to point out. “The guys were pretty easy to dress and they already had their own specific styles and also very large closets, so we could just pull from those every week. I mean seriously, how many pairs of jeans and t-shirts did I need to buy Jake every week?!. That being said, all of the guys on the show were really nice and super fun and easy to work with.”

For more information about Dan and Jenny Hill’s Melrose Place podcast endeavor, or to download the podcast, hit their social media links below!

iTunes – https://goo.gl/1PZPcD
GooglePlay – https://goo.gl/cxtxjT
Stitcher – https://goo.gl/54w8PA
Website –https://themelroseplacepodcast.simplecast.fm                                                        Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MelrosePod/                                                                Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/melrosepod/                                                                      Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/melrosepod/

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?

First Look: New Photos from Lifetimes Unauthorized Melrose Place Story

 Ciara Hanna (“Heather Locklear/Amanda Woodward”) and Frank Bailey (“Andrew Shue/Billy Campbell”) star in the all-new Lifetime movie, The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story Photo by Sergei Bachlakov Copyright 2015
Ciara Hanna (“Heather Locklear/Amanda Woodward”) and Frank Bailey (“Andrew Shue/Billy Campbell”) star in the all-new Lifetime movie, The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story Photo by Sergei Bachlakov
Copyright 2015

I am a Melrose Place geek.  It was my jam in the 90’s, I never missed an episode and I was (and still am) obsessed with Laura Leighton.  That said, I don’t know if I’m really ready to have that part of my teen years ripped apart with a Melrose Place tell-all movie that threatens to expose just what went on behind the scenes on one of the hottest shows of the 1990’s.

From Aaron Spelling and Darren Starr discussing a Beverly Hills 90210 spin-off to the revelation Grant Show turned down the role in Thelma and Louise that evertually went to Brad Pitt (and kick started his career) to Melrose’s early days with cast members Vanessa Williams and Amy Locane to the infamous Rolling Stone Magazine ‘Bod Squad’ cover shoot to Heather Locklear’s casting to ‘save’ the show, it’s all covered in the next installment of Lifetime’s ‘Unauthorized’ movies – The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story.

While recounting behind the scenes ‘drama’ the unauthorized movie also delves into the iconic 90’s dramas biggest and best story-lines including Sydney (Laura Leighton) transforming from annoying little sister to Jane (Josie Bissett) into a stripper/madam/druggie street walker, Kimberly (Marcia Cross) stealing Jo’s (Daphne Zuniga) baby and of course one of the biggest moments in the show’s history – Kimberly blowing up the apartment building during the season three finale!

Check out the gallery featuring images from the movie below!

Before the movie airs, check out the exclusive Sneak Peek trailer exclusive to TVline.com

The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story airs Saturday, October 10th on Lifetime 8/7c

Unauthorized Melrose Place Cast Photo Revealed

The actual cast of Spelling's Melrose Place
The actual cast of Spelling’s Melrose Place

Lifetime’s Unauthorized Melrose Place Story is currently in the thick of filming and now the networks version of the cast has finally been revealed in full with the release of a full cast image.

The revelation of the cast image also offers up some tid-bits of what to possibly expect to see covered in the tell-all story with the addition of Vanessa Williams/Aerobics instructor Rhonda Blair who was unceremoniously booted off the show by the end of Melrose’s first season to the cast.  Check out the image below.

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Lifetime’s version of the Melrose Place cast



So who’s playing who?

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From left to right: Chloe McClay as Josie Bissett (Jane), Ryan Bruce as Grant Show (Jake), Frank Bailey as Andrew Shue (Billy) and Ciara Hanna as Heather Locklear (Amanda).

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Joseph Coleman as Doug Savant (Matt), Brandon Barash as Thomas Calabro (Michael) and Ali Cobrin as Daphne Zuniga (Jo)

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Lanie McAuley as Amy Locane (Sandy), Chelsea Hobbs as Laura Leighton (Sydney), Rebecca Dalton as Courtney Thorne-Smith (Allison), Karissa Tyner as Vanessa A. Williams (Rhonda) and Teagan Vincze as Marcia Cross (Kimberly).

I’m thinking the casting for Laura Leighton (Chelsea Hobbs), Doug Savant (Joseph Coleman) and Vanessa Williams (Karissa Tyner) is pretty spot on! Check out some of the behind the scenes shots below via Chelsea Hobbs, Rebecca Dalton, Ciara Hanna and Ali Cobrin’s Instagram accounts…

The original cast are keeping somewhat quiet on the subject though Daphne Zuniga (Jo Reynolds) has reached out to her new alter-ego via twitter…

“The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story” airs on October 10, Lifetime.

What are your thoughts on the casting?  Sound off in the comments below.

Melrose Place is Getting the Unauthorized Lifetime Movie Treatment

Laura Leighton (Sydney Andrews) on set with controversial guest star Traci Lords
Laura Leighton (Sydney Andrews) on set with controversial guest star Traci Lords

First it was Saved by the Bell, then Beverly Hills 90210 and now, Lifetime have added another 90’s soap to it’s “Unauthorized behind the scenes” movies in the form of the all bitching, all back stabbing, all bed hopping and all blackmailing Melrose Place.

Originally created as an ‘authentic’ and ‘grounded’ look at 20-somethings in Los Angeles, Melrose Place quickly amped up the heat and star power and become one of the most watched prime time soaps on the 1990’s, created stars out of some of it’s (then) lesser known cast, created a spin-off (Models Inc), produced a re-boot (CW’s Melrose Place lasted one season in 2010) and included guest stars from Loni Anderson to Linda Grey to Chad Lowe and Kathy Ireland.

According to US Weekly, shortly after announcing the 90210 movie, Lifetime quickly jumped on board with The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story which will draw from true stories and anecdotes from interviews with the original cast and crew, The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story will highlight the remarkable behind-the-scenes moments that shaped the series — from early casting drama and Heather Locklear arriving to ‘save’ Melrose Place to the actors begging its writers for even wilder story lines to make them fan favorites.

Did Josie Bissett (Jane Mancini) ask for Jane to get a backbone?

Or did Laura Leighton and Grant Show’s (Jake Hansen) real-life romance influence writers to hook up Jake and Sydney?

While most of the drama took place within the walls of 4616 Melrose Place (Sydney and Jane’s wedding dress cat fight – Kimberly blowing up the apartment building, Amanda having cancer, Kimberly stealing Jo’s baby…..) the show and it’s cast were often featured in and on the cover of tabloid magazines.  Andrew Shue (Billy Campbell) and Courteney Thorne-Smith (Alison Parker) dated, so did Laura Leighton and Grant Show (Leighton eventually married another former cast member Doug Savant – who played gay social worker Matt Fielding).  There was also the rocky marriage of permanent ‘special guest star’ Heather Locklear and her then-husband rocker Tommy Lee that dominated the headlines, porn star Traci Lords guest appearance and the mysterious case of Bold and The Beautiful star Hunter Tylo’s shock axing for falling pregnant before even filming one scene as Taylor McBride – a role that eventually went to Lisa Rinna (Tylo took Spelling TV to court and won).

The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story will focus on the original series run from 1992 to 1999 where cast members included Amy Locane (Sandy Harling), Daphne Zuniga (Jo Reynolds), Thomas Calabro (Michael Mancini), Patrick Muldoon (Richard Hart), Marcia Cross (Kimberly Shaw) and Kelly Rutherford (Megan Lewis) among many many other names.

No word on casting or just what exactly will be featured in this ‘tell-all’ or an air date.

Will you be tuning in?  What do you hope to see covered?