Ahead of Wednesday’s BH90210 debut, the cast behind the Fox reboot gathered at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour to preview the show-within-a-show that co-star and exec producer Jennie Garth dubbed a “soapedy” for its genre-busting format.
Picked up straight to series, the six-episode limited offering features original stars Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, Tori Spelling and Shannen Doherty returning to play heightened versions of themselves in a bid to launch a revival of Beverly Hills, 90210.
Multiple stars expressed that they’d been approached in the past decades with interest in a reboot, but as Carteris (Andrea) revealed, nobody ever thought this would happen after Garth and Spelling spearheaded this new Curb Your Enthusiasm-like take on the beloved former Fox drama.
Here are the highlights from the gang’s time before press on Wednesday.
• Creator Darren Star isn’t involved in the new take because he’s busy with TV Land’s Younger and Paramount Network’s forthcoming series Emily in Paris, exec producer Mike Chessler said.
• Spelling, daughter of the show’s original exec producer, Aaron Spelling, said she is hopeful the audience will decipher what’s real and what isn’t, as the stars are all playing “fictionalized versions” of themselves. “We think they’ll have a lot of fun doing that.” Garth said all the original cast leaned into the pre-existing perceptions people had about them and opted to use that to inspire the storylines. Added Garth: “We used people’s perceptions, and that was a great launch point for so many stories. For us to take back the power, spin it and use it to tell these stories was an interesting angle for everyone involved.” As for what’s true and what isn’t, all the actors’ significant others and children are fictional.
• Garth (Kelly) and Spelling (Donna) were in conversations with original star Luke Perry about having some level of involvement in the new series. Perry, who died earlier this year, “was supportive,” Garth said, noting his series-regular role on The CW’s Riverdale prohibited him from joining full-time. “He had started to share ideas,” Garth said.
• Speaking of Perry, Doherty (Brenda) said her longtime friend’s death actually prompted her to join the BH90210 reboot after she initially passed. “I wasn’t going to do it,” she said. “Nothing against the show; I knew it’d get sold and do well with or without me. They didn’t need me. At that moment, it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. When Luke passed away, things drastically changed for me. This was a great opportunity to honor him. I’m glad I made that decision and get to sit up here with people I love. It’s been an amazing journey together, and we got to heal together after losing somebody who means a lot to us.”
• As for the way the series pays tribute to Perry, exec producer Chris Alberghini said they went through various incarnations of what they wanted to do, scrapping some ideas before landing on how the show addresses the loss of their dear friend in the pilot. “A lot of thought went into it,” he said. “We knew we had to acknowledge and pay tribute to him. It obviously was a very painful loss for the cast and everyone who knew him. We wanted to do it as respectful a way as possible,” he said.
• As for BH90210‘s somewhat wacky concept, Spelling said it was an idea she and Garth conceived of together because nobody wanted to do a straightforward reboot. “We can’t ever top the amazing 10 years we had when we started 30 years ago. We wanted to do something fresh and groundbreaking like we did originally,” Spelling said.
• BH90210 was conceived as a half-hour comedy. Spelling said that’s what she and Garth expected to do, but that changed when Fox picked it up. “It was so nice to partner and go home again to Fox and do an hour,” Spelling said. “To be able to set a tone that’s different from what’s out there — we couldn’t give examples and references to what the show was because we were creating something new: drama, comedy and soap.” Added Garth: I call it a soapedy.“
• Ziering (Steve) acknowledged the elephant in the room: The CW’s 90210, which ran for five seasons and “had nothing to do with what we created.” He said that show — on which Alberghini and Chessler worked — had to “lure people in.” “That was more of a soap, where the original was more substantive and more issue-oriented,” he said. “People related to our show more because of that. We were on for 10 years and they were on for five, which is a success, but, with all due respect, no one is going to make a remake of that.”
• As for the future, all involved hope the series returns for another season (if not more). Ziering hinted that should the show score a second season, the stars could wind up slipping back into their original Beverly Hills, 90210 alter egos. “You might see an authentic episode … but right now, it’s all about the journey of us coming together,” he said. Spelling, for her part, noted that the cast would “love to continue to work together.” She compared BH90210 to being in high school, only this time she gets a chance for a do-over. “We have so many stories to tell that this could keep going on season after season,” she said.
• Speaking of coming home again, BH90210 shoots in Vancouver instead of Beverly Hills. Carteris noted that should Fox renew the show, she really does want to literally come home. “We do want to be able to shoot here if we come back,” she told reporters in Beverly Hills.
BH90210 premieres Wednesday, Aug. 7 on Fox.