Tag Archives: Aaron Spelling

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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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?

CBS Charmed to Reboot Charmed

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Charmed stars Holly Marie Combs, Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano

With the news of a Murder She Wrote reboot is in the works and revitalised versions of Dallas and Hawaii Five-0 currently on our screens, the news that CBS are looking to reboot the supernatural series Charmed makes me wonder if there are any more original ideas out there for a new TV show.

CBS TV Studios, who have the rights the entire Aaron Spelling library, have revealed that they are planning to bring back the classic 90’s show about a trio of sisters (are are also witches) who use their powers for good.  The original series, which began in 1998, ran for eight seasons and starred former Picket Fences star Holly Marie Combs, Beverly Hills 90210 bad-girl Shannen Doherty and child star Alyssa Milano (Doherty who left the show was replaced by Rose McGowan)

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No actual commitment to filming has been made with CBS noting only a pilot script has been ordered and is being penned by Party Of Five co-creator Chris Keyser and partner Sydney Sidner.

Looking at the success of current Fantasy/Horror series, it’s no real surprise that Charmed was picked to be re-boot with The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries all pulling strong numbers and with this reboot being created by CBS and not the tween orientated CW network, we’ll have to see just how dark the show could go.

While it’s been seven years since the show aired an original episode,  A report last year said Charmed was the second most binged show on Netflix and repeats still air on both the TNT and WE. networks.

Best of 90’s TV – Part One – Sci-Fi and Fantasy

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Buffy, X-Files, Xena and Sliders all aired in the 90’s

Television in the 1990’s was massive.  It was a time before reality TV became the monster that it is today. The ratings were big and the hair was even bigger.  Stars like Gillian Anderson, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Julian McMahon were finding their feet in prime-time shows and the term ‘shipper’ was created.  Cable networks virtually consisted of running shows in syndication and wasn’t until the mid 90’s that cable channels began to offer original shows. Sitcoms were popular and covered almost every topic, legal and law enforcement shows were in demand and family drama’s threw almost anything imaginable at us.

Sci-fi and fantasy shows filled prime-time viewing slots with The X-Files (1993) taking prime position and re-invigorating a genre that would spawn a slew of shows that took us into space, fighting vampires and into other worlds.

Cast of Angel
Cast of Angel

According to imdb.com, the top show in the genre during the 90’s is Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  The show about a teenage girl who finds herself betrothed as ‘the slayer’ was based off the movie with the same title (starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry began in 1997 on the WB network (Now CW network) and became an instant cult hit.  The series lasted 7 seasons, made a star out of it’s lead Sarah Michelle Gellar and created the popular spin-off Angel starring David Boreanaz. (Angel lasted 5 seasons).

Following close behind in popularity, is the fantasy themed Charmed.  Created by Aaron Spelling, the show about three sisters, each with their own unique power is still to this day, remembered favorably by many.  In true Spelling style, the show, along with it’s supernatural elements (a first for an Aaron Spelling production), also heavily relied on its drama and relationship story-lines and brought back three familiar faces to our tv screens in the form of Shannon Doherty (Beverly Hills 90210), Holly Marie-Combs (Picket Fences) and Alyssa Milano (Who’s The Boss).

The X-Files' David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
The X-Files’ David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

While on shows with a supernatural element, the alien themed teen drama Roswell also found itself with a cult status following.  While never really finding a high viewership, the show struggled to find an even balance between the drama and supernatural elements and alienated it’s audience (pun intended).  Roswell lasted 3 seasons.

When speaking of fantasy themed shows of the 90’s, you can’t forget about Hercules:The Legendary Journeys (starring well built Kevin Sorbo) and it’s equally popular spin-off Xena Warrior Princess (starring equally well built Lucy Lawless)  Both shows managed an impressive 6 seasons each with Xena garnering a more stronger following (perhaps due to the faux lesbian elements the show toyed with)

Intergalactic shows about space, time travel and other worlds were not only popular with viewers, but were also in abundance with variety.  Star Trek: The Next Generation (although premiered in 1987) ran for 8 seasons before it’s cancellation in 1994 and spawned two spin-offs, Star Trek Voyager (1995 running 7 seasons) and Star Trek Deep Space Nine (1993 running 7 seasons)  and in 1995, Sliders introduced us to Jerry O’Connell and his friends using a wormhole to ‘slide’ his way through to and explore parallel universes.

Probably the most well known show from this era and genre’ was the alien themed X-Files starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as a pair of FBI agents set out to investigate cases of the paranormal. Cases of little green men, sewer monsters and inbred hillbillies made for must-see TV and would often bring in 13-15 million viewers weekly in the US.  The show made way for a spin-off titled The Lone Gunmen and similar show Millennium starring Lance Henriksen and created by Chris Carter (Which also saw a cross-over with The X-Files).  Other shows such as Dark Skies and American Gothic came and left within the space of a season.

Check out the gallery of well-known 90’s shows all featuring that sci-fi/fantasy genre.

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Keep an eye out for the next part in this series: Best of the 90s – Comedy