Fun Facts, Feelings, And Outrage: The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story
Jesse Murray reacts to Lifetime's take on one of his favorite things in the world. Get your MP fun facts here!
There are few things I love more on this planet than Melrose Place: mystery novels, movies involving scavenger hunts, English Breakfast tea, the Massachusetts accent, Susan Lucci, the character of Batgirl. Notice how I don't list my family in there, which says something. Thusly, my feelings upon hearing Lifetime was airing a behind-the-scenes look at the series, The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story, was sort of like dogs in those videos where they greet their owners who have returned from war. I was completely freaking out with excitement!
For those that need a quick primer, Melrose Place was a spin off of Beverly Hills, 90210 and ran from 1992-1999. Originally it was about twentysomethings living in an apartment complex struggling to make their dreams come true in the real world. That's boring and no one watched, so they brought on Heather Locklear as bitch goddess Amanda Woodward and had everyone start screwing (or screwing over) each other. The ratings soared.
My thoughts, questions, feelings, and outrage, broken down by key MP figure:
Aaron Spelling and Darren Star
Homer Simpson, aka Dan Castellaneta is either broke as hell or has a great sense of humor. Otherwise, why would be take the role of Aaron Spelling? Actually, I retract this. Why WOULDN'T anyone want to play the man that brought Charo to TV?
Apparently Aaron Spelling keeps every script of every TV show he's worked on bound in a shelf in his library. We got glimpses of the hardcover edition of Hart to Hart Season 4!
If we're to believe Homer Simpson's acting choices, Aaron Spelling was a vaudevillian performer who moonlights in English-as-a-second-language instruction videos for the hard of hearing. EVERYTHING WAS SPOKEN AT A HIGHER VOLUME AND JUST REALLY BIG.
We never get mention that Darren Star is gay. Predictably, we get the scenes of the network balking at the character of Matt Fielding being gay, and the infamous man/man kiss that was cut in Season 2. So it's odd that Darren fighting for these never features at least a passing acknowledgement of that.
Apparently Darren Star and Aaron Spelling had a falling-out when the former decided to leave at the end of Season 3 to go start Central Park West? Which, first of all, Aaron Spelling should have thanked him in advance for creating the show that spawned these opening credits:
Anyway, it was an interesting source of drama, except it got one scene and Aaron didn't even seem that pissed.
We did NOT get to see Candy Spelling's wrapping paper room, which was a missed opportunity.
Fun fact: The original Season 3 finale was going to see Kimberly tie Sydney to a plane and have it crash into Melrose Place, but a dude really tried to do it to the White House so they had to rewrite it to Kimberly blowing up the building (which they later they had to delay showing because of Oklahoma City).
Darren got really teary-eyed and emotional while they were filming Kimberly trying to firebomb all the characters since it was his last episode, which is just perfectly bonkers juxtaposition.
Apparently Aaron Spelling wanted Darren Star to work on Models, Inc but Darren said no. But the timing portrayed was all wrong -- Models, Inc was being planned towards the end of Season 2, not the end of Season 3 as portrayed. Whatever, who cares. I hope Lifetime does the unauthorized Models, Inc story.
The set looked like shit! It was about three feet wide (the actual set was impressively large), made of cardboard and the pool looked like a bedpan.
And they got the explosion scene all wrong! If you'll recall, Kimberly had lured Michael to Melrose Place in order to off him and everyone else, but he knocked her out so he and Sydney ran around to warn everyone to get out (including an arriving Morgan Brittany) before she woke up and things actually went boom.
It was actually an amazing cliffhanger, but this cheap-ass TV movie screwed it up! They only had Sydney, Michael, Amanda, Billy, and Kimberly in the explosion! I also wanted to see another human being actually portray Morgan Brittany (I'm sure she did too), because only in anything associated with something as batty as Melrose Place would Morgan Brittany get some Canadian to portray her.
Courtney Thorne Smith (Allison Parker)
Apparently she and Andrew Shue dated during the first season, and then broke up but he'd still occasionally use tongue in scenes.
She was cut out of a Rolling Stone cover due to Laura Leighton's scheming manager and was sad, but only for like a minute.
Apparently at one point, Courtney suggested Allison rob a bank while sleepwalking. Which would have been better than her romance with Jake.
Andrew Shue (Billy Campbell)
He sort of never wanted to be there and all he cared about was playing soccer and starting a charity called Do Something. We sorta knew that anyway. Whatever, Billy always sucked. Apparently Tori Spelling was the one that cast him, so we have her to thank.
Daphne Zuniga (Jo Reynolds)
Jo was brought on to give Melrose Place an "east-coast edge," which brought back memories of Jo constantly talking about "the things that she saw in New York." Apparently Daphne and Darren Star went to college together and he asked her to be on the show as a favor, which she wanted to get on anyway (really? Had she watched it?). Anyway, I actually never knew that, so points for Lifetime.
Daphne at one point suggested Jo be a serial killer! And she had trouble learning lines because production moved so fast! Which made me realize she'd never survive on a soap opera because they shoot 90 pages a day.
Heather Locklear (Amanda Woodward)
There's nothing to say here. We see Tommy Lee from afar. Heather was nice. Actually, everyone in the cast was apparently really nice.
Thomas Calabro (Michael Mancini)
So I guess Thomas Calabro was working in theatre in New York when he got cast. Basically he spent the entire movie talking about how he and Marcia Cross were the only good actors because they did theater.
Amy Locane (Sandy the Southern Waitress)
She got one scene in which she smoked and bragged about how she was in Cry Baby.
Vanessa A. Williams (Rhonda Blair)
We got the requisite scene where a network executive said, "That's not Vanessa Williams!" and Darren Star replied, "That's Vanessa A. Williams! And she'll be bigger than Miss America!" Which, guess what, never happened. She was perky too much.
Laura Leighton (Sydney Andrews)
So basically this movie was the Laura Leighton story! I guess she was super-naïve coming onto the show, had a quickie romance with bad boy Grant Show (Jake), and then settled down with nice Doug Savant (Matt). Her arc involved her getting a manager who was "ruthless," which mostly meant she ensured Laura got on a Rolling Stone cover and sent her feature film scripts "without a message."
Grant Show (Jake Hanson)
He was portrayed as kind of a dick and horny a lot. He complained about always having to have his shirt off, and I guess rode a motorcycle in real life? He got the best line of the night: "Who goes to the theater anyway? Old rich people. You know who watches TV? Hot babes."
Doug Savant (Matt Fielding)
This movie was also the Doug Savant story! Apparently he was like this super gay-rights advocate, refusing to tell press whether he was straight or gay and really fighting for Matt to get laid. I had forgotten Matt's kiss -- which got cut -- was actually a huge deal at the time. I was 14 at the time. I know I was pissed it got cut. So was Doug Savant!
Outrage alert! They totally changed the gay-kiss scene. On the show, Matt and Billy's best man go out on a date and kiss outside Matt's apartment, which Billy witnesses (they actually show his reaction shot, not the kiss).
This budget TV movie did some shit with Matt and Best Man on a park bench with headlights.
Marcia Cross (Kimberly Shaw)
She was portrayed as really cool and up for anything. BUT! When they recreated the scene of Kimberly ripping off her wig and showing her scar it was in front of some janky ass mirror from Lowe's, not the gorgeous beach house bathroom from the show. Who did the research on this piece of shit?
Josie Bissett (Jane Mancini)
I guess Josie thought playing a good girl was boring and was always begging to do bad-girl stuff. Remember when Jane went psycho in Season 4? Missed opportunity alert, though: We never ONCE got to hear Jane utter the word "design," which, as all Melrose Place viewers know, Josie Bissett would always pronounce "deee-zyne."
The movie ended with the Season 3 finale, meaning we didn't get to see the amazing arc where post-explosion Kimberly goes to the mental institution, gets on house arrest, removes her tracker by breaking her wrist in a waffle iron in order to apprentice Dr. Joyce Brothers and then moves into the very building she blew up 8 episodes earlier.
I miss Melrose Place.