News Roundup: 90210, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek

30 08 2010
  • Zap2it has spoilish video interviews with Gillian Zinser (Ivy, 90210) and Jessica Lowndes (Adrianna, 90210).
  • PEOPLE.com also has a spoiler-filled interview with Lowndes.
  • Three networks are reportedly trying to snag Good Christian Bitches, a TV series based on the books of the same name, which would be executive-produced by Darren Star (creator, Beverly Hills 90210).
  • Megan Fox, wife of Brian Austin Green (David, Beverly Hills 90210), did a (NSFW) video interview where she talks about a dream she had about Luke Perry (Dylan, Beverly Hills 90210). BAG is not mentioned at all in the interview, which I thought was weird.
  • Ivanka Trump tweeted that she and her husband Jared filmed an episode of Gossip Girl today.
  • Bethany Joy Galeotti (Haley, One Tree Hill) has a few new recent blog posts, including one today where she said she was off to Vancouver to shoot the Life Unexpected crossover.
  • Rick Fox (Daunte, One Tree Hill) will be on the new season of Dancing With The Stars, making him the first OTH star to compete on the show, and making OTH the second teen drama (after BH90210) to have a star on the show.
  • Jane Lynch (Mrs. Witter, Dawson’s Creek) beat Julie Bowen (Aunt Gwen, Dawson’s Creek) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy in the Primetime Emmys last night, but Bowen’s show Modern Family won Outstanding Comedy. Lynch lost for Outstanding Guest Star In A Comedy.
  • SoapCentral.com has an interesting article about conflicting reports as to whether Roger Howarth (Professor Hetson, Dawson’s Creek) is returning to One Life To Live.




Happy Birthday Rob Estes!

22 07 2010

Estes (Harry, 90210) turns 47 today.

Check out this clip of Estes and Laura Leighton (Sophie, Beverly Hills 90210) on Melrose Place, which was created by Darren Star (creator, Beverly Hills 90210) as well as executive produced by Aaron Spelling (executive producer, Beverly Hills 90210) and E. Duke Vincent (executive producer, Beverly Hills 90210).





Exclusive: Charles Rosin Talks Beverly Hills 90210, showbizzle and More

14 03 2010

Think the Spellings are the only real-life Beverly Hills 90210 family? Think again. Meet the Rosins: Charles, Karen and their daughter Lindsey.

As you may recall from my previous interview with Charles, he was the executive producer of Beverly Hills 90210 for its first five seasons. Karen wrote nearly 20 episodes between 1991 and 1994 and Lindsey had a memorable cameo in Episode 2.o6, Pass/Not Pass, as a little girl asking Brandon (Jason Priestley) to dance the hukilau at the Beverly Hills Beach Club.

I mentioned in January that my interview with Charles was one of my highlights of TDW Year One. I never dreamed I’d interview him once–let alone twice and this time in person. But that’s exactly what happened in January on a weekday morning in New York City, where Charles, Karen and Lindsey came to promote their new media venture, showbizzle.

Charles and I sat down to talk about showbizzle and, of course, Beverly Hills 90210.

TeenDramaWhore: If you had to give your elevator pitch for showbiz, what would you say?

Charles Rosin: Showbizzle is a digital showcase for emerging talent that combines a webseries called showbizzle with a platform for talent away from the immediate pressures of the marketplace. So it’s two mints in one: it’s a show and it’s a resource for emerging artists. The show is populated by emerging artists and it was really conceived by emerging talents, namely Lindsey Rosin being the first one to be showcased, as the writer and director of the majority of the shows. So that’s the basics of it.

Unlike so many people who do webseries, what they’re hoping is “Oh, everybody loves our webseries and we create so much action and energy, FOX or The CW will find us and want to put us on the air.” We’re not interested in that. If we wanted to do something specifically for broadcast or cable, we would go into the room with those people and say “We think this works for your medium because…” But we like this form, the potential of it, the idea that you can just do what you want to do and not have to go through committees. From a business standpoint, there’s ownership potential that works in the current marketplace.

So the premise of the webseries is that Janey, a young wannabe screenwriter, who is very plugged into the culture of Los Angeles, sits in a coffeehouse in L.A. trying to write her screenplay and looking forward to all her friends who stop by and interrupt her from that. That’s the basic premise of it. What is a lot of fun about it is that for someone like yourself and the audience that you know, that although you meet all these disparate characters doing these short little two-minute snackable, for-the-digital-world kind of stories, you start to realize these characters are related and there is a serialized story. It builds to a serialized place. We’re fans of that. We try to do it with humor and insight and with a lack of snarkiness that is so prevalent in the digital world. We try to do a show that’s engaging.

One of our slogans is, “Just take a little bizzle break.” The one thing about all media, all the shows you cover–and thanks for even thinking about showbizzle in relation to it–is what they really are is diversions. Somehow in the last 20 years, the importance of the television business, the shows that are made, have been thrown so far out of proportion because of the material value of it. But all they are–we have a lot of issues going on the world–is just a little place to get a respite, to get a chuckle or a laugh. One of the things that Lindsey really values is when her friends say, “That happened to me” or “I’ve got a story.” The whole social network aspect came from Lindsey saying, “We should ask our viewers what’s happened to them,” because even though it’s very specific to Hollywood, because that’s where we’re set, at the same time trying to get ahead in life and figuring out what you’re going to do and using every connection you have when you’re kind of an adult but not really an adult, is something [everyone goes through] and we wanted to explore that.

TDW: How did showbizzle start? Who came up with the idea?

Rosin: The origins of showbizzle go back to a day in December in 2005 when Disney announced they were selling Lost on iTunes, which effectively meant the end of the syndication model that financed network television. Producers would make X number of shows and if they had enough, they could sell them to the local stations and other places, and that’s how the revenue would come back to the companies and people would profit from that. Fortunately, I benefited from that twice. Once from [Beverly Hills] 90210 and more recently Dawson’s Creek, which moved into profit because of the syndication of it. But when you sell something prior to syndication, it dilutes the value of the syndication and to do something that as dramatic as to put episodes on iTunes the day they’re running or the day after they run is a fundamental change.

I started thinking about that and how network television was going to be changing. In the spirit of “everything old is new again,” I started thinking about branded entertainment, which goes back to the pre-network era, where with the television of the 50s, companies–Chesterfield Cigarettes, Lucky Strike, Kraft, General Electric–would come in and buy the half-hour or the hour and be totally associated with the show, whether it be variety or comedy or drama. They all had that. That’s how the revenue was derived. I started to think about what company had the resources to do this and is currently not an advertiser on network television. I realized that anyone who was going to put their name above an entertainment project was going to do it and want total ownership and control and then go to a network or then go wherever they want to go.

So I approached Starbucks about a project called Starbucks Presents. We did this in the winter-spring in 2006. We were trying to create a social network for the people who use Starbucks, in store or at home, and program hours of different ways to do things. At the core of it was a daily soap opera about what goes on in a coffee house. Showbizzle is the distillation of that idea. By the way, Starbucks’ response was “Don’t bother us. Come back to us in 5 years. We’re in the music business.” They’re no longer in the music business. They’re still in the coffee business.

TDW: Where does the name come from?

Rosin: Well, we wanted to call it hollybizzle for a while but it was taken. So, showbizzle, not quite show business. And certainly Snoop Dogg is very “fo shizzle” and made my kids laugh. We were sitting around the dinner table–I have two other children besides Lindsey–and we came up with that and said let’s see if that one will work. We like the name quite a bit. It’s friendly and open.

TDW: What is your role on a day-to-day basis? Is this now your full-time gig?

Rosin: I teach at UCLA and I still develop shows. I was very active in the business from the late ‘70s to about 2005. Found my name wasn’t on the lists that I liked anymore and this was a place to do it on my own. The idea to get more sponsorships, provide things for the community–that is where I spend a lot of my time [with showbizzle]. I think like 85, 90 percent of the time I still do other forms of writing and developing other projects as well. I like teaching and I like doing this. If J.J. Abrams called, I’d answer.

TDW: What is Lindsey’s role?

Rosin: I get to refer to her as “the talent.” She’s the writer and director. The other woman who did a lot of writing and directing for the first season is a woman named Arika Mittman and Arika just won a Humanitas Prize for an episode of South of Nowhere that she did. Arika was my assistant on Dawson’s Creek. She’s terrific and very talented and gets along very well with Lindsey. Arika, she’s someone who in a different lifetime would’ve been head of daytime. She plotted the serial a little bit with Lindsey. But Lindsey, I say to her–sometimes to her consternation; it’s a family business and all–anytime she’s involved with the site, it’s better on all levels.

TDW: What has been the response you’re getting from people in the business?

Rosin: I think they admire the effort and realize we’re pioneers. This is not formed. People haven’t done things like this. They always ask, “How are you going to finance this?” and I kind of talk about it but steer away from it a little bit. It’s designed to be branded entertainment and we’re here in New York now to try and find brands. We’re hopeful that we can and we present something that has potential and is different. There’s certain things we did in the first year–we did a lot of monologues; we didn’t emphasize the cinema. We’d like to have a little more production value. Lindsey has a lot of ideas for the second season. We know where to pick up the show and what kind of sponsors we’re looking for. Forms follows function, after all…

TDW: You mentioned finding sponsors. Is that what you did on this trip?

Rosin: One of the most difficult aspects of doing webseries is, whether you’re doing six episodes with friends in your dorm room or if you’re trying to do something to ultimately become a daily habit on the web, is to get the levels of support that you need. When you do branded entertainment, you want to get to brands. Brands have not been oriented to this. So we’re starting to see the change and transition as more and more brands advertise or consider sponsorships and realize that it might be worthwhile to look at certain web series, to brand projects and put their name above the title and all that. It’s a question, though, of “how do you get access to that?” One of the ways is you do something and it goes viral and they come to you and say, “How do you do that?” The other way is to do some work, you put it together, you have more ideas, you go to the brand and say, “With your marketing support, we do A, B, C, D and E” and that’s the method we chose. Creatively, I think showbizzle is somewhere in a middle ground or at least between premium high content and user-generated. We want it have the feel of an independent but be scripted.

There was an event [this week] called Brand In Entertainment, which was an event to meet people who are independent purveyors of content and meet brands and those that are interested in the sector or interested in tipping their toe in. It’s a risk-adverse world, especially after the financial meltdown. It’s all going very slowly. But I had meetings with one or two other people who have access to brands and I wanted to let them know what we’re doing. It was a business-oriented trip.

TDW: You mentioned that you have people who are just starting out in Hollywood playing the characters in the webseries. Is anyone getting “noticed” from it? Any success stories?

Rosin: The thing that’s interesting is remember my original definition: digital showcase, emerging talent away from the immediate career pressures of the marketplace. So really, it’s only about a creative expression. Too much discussion in Hollywood has moved away from any form of creative satisfaction and is only based on business elements. That’s why you always hear about returning an investment and all that. Well, what about creative satisfaction? So the goal of [participating] is not necessarily to further a career but to allow them to perform. We are going to try and accelerate it. We’re going to formally announce soon that we’ll have a rotating group of casting directors as residents and we’ll supply short little monologues and encourage our community to perform them, upload the video and guarantee them that the ones the casting directors like the most, they will comment on them and be on the homepage. You get on the digital showcase. You’re in our community and now you get to be singled out. That might help.

This time last year, a cute little blonde came in and started [working for us], making calls to colleges for outreach. She was really nice. One weekend she told me she had to go to New York. For my class at UCLA, I was putting together a list of what [new] shows [the networks] had ordered so we could [evaluate] them and I saw the girl’s name. It was Brittany Robertson [Lux on Life Unexpected]. She was the girl making our calls. I had Subway sandwiches with her for weeks. I sent her an e-mail and said, “Either you get major kudos or someone has stolen your name!” Now she didn’t perform on showbizzle and I don’t think necessarily that people have seen someone on showbizzle and said, “I need that girl or that guy,” but I think it gives people the confidence to be that girl or that guy.

In the second season we may go after a few names that people know to play little characters. It’ll probably make a difference. Two of the biggest names so far have been Fran Kranz, who was on Dollhouse and was just terrific, and James Eckhouse [Jim], who isn’t in the same demographic. But people can come [to showbizzle] for various reasons. As Lindsey likes to say, they can choose their own adventure. They can focus on getting industry resources or they can focus on the show, they can express themselves, they can take a bizzle break from all the troubles in life.

TDW: What lessons from Beverly Hills 90210 have you been able to apply to showbizzle?

Rosin: The main thing I learned from [executive producer] Aaron Spelling is you make a show for an audience. The audience satisfaction really matters. We continue to adjust to what our audience is looking for, what they say they want. The other thing, which I always like to say, is showbizzle is low-budget production. We were able to do a little content for not very much money but still paid people and all that. 90210 was lower-budget production. We had much less money in the first two or three years than what was there afterward. When we built the college set, that was a big thing for us. We didn’t have big restrictions. The first few years we did. We learned how to do something economically and you learn how someone is paying for all this. Usually that someone is your corporation, whether it’s Disney or Fox or Aaron Spelling. In the case of showbizzle, it’s us. You have to be prudent. Production we were able to handle very well. It’s the digital stuff, the Web site stuff that sometimes spirals out of control.

TDW: I was curious to know if you and Karen were already married when you started working on the 90210 or if the relationship was born out of the show.

Rosin: I met a really cute girl in 1976. We were married a year later in 1977. We’ve been together a long time.

TDW: That is a long time.

Rosin: Yes, we’re very old.

TDW: I know she’s had a career of her own but she wrote close to 20 episodes of Beverly Hills 90210.

Rosin: She wrote the best ones. It was an interesting thing. Mr. Spelling had had a bad taste in his mouth about putting a married team on a show from when he did Dynasty. He never really wanted to let Karen come on the staff and be a permanent part. It allowed her to stay home and raise our kids, which is a great thing but at the same time, she really deserved a lot more recognition as a writer, as a writer-producer, and didn’t really get that from 90210 and I always feel badly about that. But it was circumstances beyond our control. I really love collaborating with her, and I really love collaborating with Lindsey, because you find out with writers, all writers have strengths and all writers have weaknesses. A lot of writers who really excel at dialogue have trouble organizing the story, the scene dynamics. That’s what I do in my sleep. But I’ll struggle over dialogue for hours and hours. So it was a really nice fit with us. One thing I would to say anyone who is starting out and is thinking about collaborating, is that you have to feel whomever you’re collaborating with brings more to the party than you do. You’re not carrying them but you’re benefiting from them. And that’s my relationship with Karen as a writer. Anytime we work together, it gets better.

TDW: I know you did commentary for the earlier seasons of the DVD sets.

Rosin: Karen and I were asked to do it on season 3 and I did an interview for season 4.

TDW: Since season 4, there’s been no extras. We’ve had seasons 5-9 with no extras.

Rosin: Want my opinion? Because there’s nothing to say. The show ended with season 5, in my opinion. Season 5, if you were going to do one, the person you’d need to talk to is Luke [Perry, Dylan] because Luke was so important in those first 12, 13 episodes where he has his money stolen and has his whole depression and anger, leading to the crashing of his car. Luke drove those first 13 and it was a pleasure to do them with him. He had such intensity. If he’s not going to talk about it, then what are you going to say? Tiffani [Amber Thiessen, Valerie] would’ve been the other person to talk to for season 5.

TDW: Some of us have also been upset with the cover art and that many songs have been replaced on the DVDs or scenes were cut because of songs issues.

Rosin: Knowing how much Mr. Spelling cared about the audience, the fact that the music isn’t up to the standards that we had, he’d understand it as a businessman but he’d be rolling over in his grave.

TDW: I heard you were once working on a 90210 spin-off concept with Aaron.

Rosin: When we were thinking about moving forward with the college years, we also proposed they could spin-off a West Beverly High series but they didn’t want to do that at that time. Then in the year 2000, Spelling wanted to do it and I was hired to do something on it but it didn’t turn out to be what they were looking for. It was like 90210, the next generation. I think it had the exact tone of the high school shows but it was just for a different generation of high schoolers. Instead we have this bastardized version that’s on now.

TDW: What was your reaction when you first heard about the one that’s on now?

Rosin: The first reaction was that it just shows how important the brand is and how much branding means. Every generation has the right to do anything. I don’t own it. It was Viacom, Spelling. Darren Star created the show. It was more his world than it was mine. I was there to do something much specific. But now I’m more excited by a show like Life Unexpected than recycling shows from a different era just because of their title. I don’t feel [the new show] has that much in common with the original other than it has a high school premise and it’s in Beverly Hills. But tonally, from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t have that much in common.

TDW: Not sure if you’re aware but they recently killed Jackie Taylor [Ann Gillespie].

Rosin: Why?

TDW: They did this whole cancer storyline.

Rosin: I understand that. When you run out of ideas, you get people sick. No offense to Joey [E. Tata, Nat], but we were struggling and had to do 32 episodes. So Nat’s going to have a heart attack [Episode 4.18, Heartbreaker]. If you see characters getting sick like that at random, it’s usually evidence of a bankruptcy of ideas, in my opinion.

TDW: It came out recently that Rob Estes [Harry, 90210] is leaving the show and people are very surprised. “He’s supposed to be our patriarch. He’s supposed to be our Jim Walsh.”

Rosin: I would imagine that you do things like that when you realize a few things have happened. After the 5th year when I left [the original], so did Gabrielle Carteris [Andrea] but so did Jim Eckhouse and Carol Potter [Cindy]. At a certain point, you get to be a mature show. You realize you have to cut your overhead a little bit. You realize the storylines are going to move into a different direction and things are going to be different. So you do make adjustments. Why did Estes leave? Maybe he was profoundly unhappy with what they’ve done with his character. I wouldn’t know that but that’s usually why actors leave. They weren’t satisfied. The show thought they were paying too much money. He wasn’t being utilized, etc.

TDW: It came out recently that Jennie [Garth, Kelly] is sort of cutting ties with the show as well. The media went crazy with it.

Rosin: I only have admiration for Jennie. I don’t see her that often but I know she’s raising a wonderful family. She has political and social issues she’s very committed to. I really admired her on Dancing With The Stars. She wouldn’t have been able to do that at 21, 22. To have that courage, I admire that a lot. Jennie was very loyal to Mr. Spelling, very loyal to 90210 and I’m sure that led her back to [the new show] in a way. One thing you realize is that people do for their careers what they think is best, both in getting in with things and getting out of things. And I never like to comment on that because at a certain point they thought it was a good idea.

TDW: Are you in touch with anyone else?

Rosin: I am. I’m in touch with the guys. Luke, not as much. Hopefully will get back in touch pretty soon. But Jason Priestley [Brandon] I consider a really good friend. I love Ian Ziering [Steve]. He actually helped on showbizzle, doing an interview. And Jim Eckhouse I actually put in front of the camera. So those are the guys pretty much. And I keep in touch with Gabby through her husband, who is my stock broker.

TDW: I spoke with [writer-producer] Larry Mollin recently and he expressed some interest in doing a panel to talk about the show.

Rosin: If you ever want to do something like that, you let me know.

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





News Roundup: Gossip Girl, 90210, One Tree Hill and The O.C.

1 02 2010
  • Broadcasting & Cable has two very interesting articles on The CW. The first analyzes the network and its future and the second is an interview with Dawn Ostroff, the top executive.
  • The above articles make it seem like Gossip Girl and 90210 are surefire renewals. We’ll see!
  • TVByTheNumbers.com has an interesting analysis of the above articles.
  • Reuters has an article on Twelve, which stars Chace Crawford (Nate, Gossip Girl).
  • Somebody to Love by Leighton Meester (Blair, Gossip Girl) is included on the soundtrack for the new movie Valentine’s Day.
  • Entertainment Tonight has a short interview with with Michelle Trachtenberg (Georgina, Gossip Girl).
  • Kristen Bell (Gossip Girl, Gossip Girl) and Dax Shepard are engaged.
  • Gabrielle Carteris (Andrea, Beverly Hills 90210) is among several actors who should make a comeback, according to a tongue-in-cheek list by BlackBook.
  • National Ledger has a few quotes from Luke Perry (Dylan, Beverly Hills 90210) talking about working with a 90210 crew member again and whether he’ll commit  to a big TV role again.
  • Darren Star (creator, Beverly Hills 90210) is directing a movie about Anita Bryant.
  • SoapNet will air Valentine’s Day-themed or love-themed episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 and One Tree Hill on–you guessed it–Valentine’s Day. They’re calling it a marathon but it appears to me to be the normal Sunday schedule for those shows with just specific episodes picked.
  • SoapNet has a short article on and some photos from tonight’s One Tree Hill.
  • Mike Grubbs (Grubbs, One Tree Hill) and Wakey!Wakey! were on the PIX 11 Morning News this morning.
  • How To Make It In America, starring Bryan Greenberg (Jake, One Tree Hill), premieres on HBO February 14. Thanks to Kitty for the info.
  • Tate Donovan (Jimmy, The O.C.) was on The Wendy Williams Show today.




Exclusive: Beverly Hills 90210 Producer Talks College Years, Slams New 90210

17 01 2010

When I first contacted Beverly Hills 90210 writer-producer Larry Mollin, he immediately told me had nothing to do with the new 90210, saying in part, “it is diluting the legacy” of the original and pointing out “they are making decisions with characters that they hardly understand.” As loyal TDW readers might expect, that was music to my ears.

And, thankfully, Mollin was happy to chat about his tenure with the original show, which included a whopping 128 episodes from 1993 to 1997, also known as seasons 4 through 7–“the college years.”

If my interview with Charles Rosin, where we discussed “the early years,” was chapter one, consider this the next installment in the iconic show’s storied history.

TeenDramaWhore: How did you first get involved with the show? Were you familiar with it previously?

Larry Mollin: I had one teenage son and one moving on, so I knew they watched it. The season before that I had done the first season of Renegade and then I moved off. I was looking for a job and I had written a spec screenplay called Borderline Normal, which got made into a movie. A small movie, but it was quite good. It played on Lifetime. It was about children of divorce, about young people in crisis. I guess my agent must’ve got the script to Charles Rosin [Ed. Note: henceforth to be called Chuck] and all of a sudden I had an interview at 90210. Before that, I had done mostly drama, action drama. I had also done comedy, too. My background was theater. I had been a playwright and a theater director for years in Canada. I came here in ‘78. But I had mostly done CHiPs, Knight Rider–mostly action stuff–and did lots of pilots. I was a studio writer for years for different pilots. So then Chuck met me and really liked the script. He was looking for something different, because the show was going to college. It was going to start the year after the high school graduation. We hit it off and I had a deal there. And really quickly I became the main writer for the next 128 episodes. I was kind of the go-to guy. I wound up executive producing the show [my] last year and producing it when Chuck left after season 5. I pretty much ran it even though I didn’t have the title.

Darren [Star] created it but he really wasn’t there to make it the hit. He left pretty quickly. Chuck Rosin was the guy who really gave his heart and soul to it the first couple of years and really, you know, put it on the map and it really reflected Chuck’s sensibility. And then the Wassermans, Steve and Jessica Wasserman [Ed. Note: also known as Jessica Klein] were his key. And then they had their own internal problems. They were a divorcing writing couple, which is not very productive, as you can imagine. So that was a disaster and then I came in in the midst of that so I became the go-to guy in season 4 and wrote with Chuck and wrote with the other influencer there, even though he didn’t have a big position, Chip Johannessen, who is now the executive on Dexter. Kind of  a quirky guy. Chip and I wrote a lot of stuff together. So between Chip, Chuck and I, in season 4 and 5, we pretty much wrote everything. The Wassermans certainly brought a lot of heart to it and when they were together they had a wonderful sensibility but, unfortunately, I guess it’s hard to sit in a room when you hate each other. So that didn’t quite work out. They stayed on for a couple of years but you had to work around them. It wasn’t a good situation. Steve’s gone now, but Jessica’s around. She’s a good lady and tried to make it work but it didn’t quite happen.

So that’s how I got on the show and on the show then we were basically trying to take this teen show and make it more, make it a bigger demographic. In those years, we turned it into the bigger hit that it was. Bigger demographic, more sophisticated. I come from a rock and roll background so I brought a lot more of a hipper thing, which kind of meshed with Chip. So we were able to put more of an edge than what had been happening. It became a hipper show, I think. Then we added The Peach Pit After Dark a little bit after that, maybe it was season 5. I can’t remember when we brought that in but it was different. But I created that whole college stuff. I created the KEG House. I remember that was a great day. Thinking, “Kappa Epsilon Gamma. KEG. Oh my god!” I was so thrilled to find something in an acronym that meant something that wasn’t a real fraternity. I couldn’t obviously use any Greek letters that were actual fraternities so that was a total miracle. I was so thrilled about that. We just had a ball. We always felt the show needed to have a certain level of immaturity to it and hijinks. Steve Sanders [Ian Ziering]–we all were Steve Sanderses a bit growing up and could bring in that level of it. And then we believed in romance. We believed in telling stories slowly, not rushing. Kisses were important. The storytelling of what we did worked. Plus, we knew the audience was watching so we were very, very careful not to break our own stories. Occasionally we screwed up. But for the most part, we really cared about the show. And this was, for the most part, before the Internet had really taken off. There were just hints of it. It was a dial-up world then. You had a sense of what the people were thinking but it wasn’t like today where you could really know. But we were really aware of our audience and cared. We were all in. We were doing 32 hours a year. No one ever did that again. After I produced the 32 at the end of college [season 7], no one ever did it again. It gave Chuck a heart attack after he left [after season 5]. It was hard, but it was great.

TDW: For someone in your position, when you’re coming into a show in its 4th season, how did you familiarize yourself with the characters and the past storylines?

Mollin: Well, you gotta do your research. You need to go back. You need to watch everything and you need to read everything and you gotta pay attention to what everyone’s saying. But the characters were well-drawn. I was a little bit older than everyone else so I kind of knew my way around TV writing. I had been doing it for 15-20 years by that point. But you had to go back and go over it, familiarize yourself with everything. There weren’t that many episodes–only maybe about 60 or 70 episodes at that point–so I could go through them kind of quickly in a couple of weeks, just to make sure I understood everything and wasn’t going to repeat stuff. And I could ask questions. I always had researchers then. But I loved the characters. And, like I said, I had teenagers then so I kind of knew what worked for them and what I thought was strong. It just suited me. It just suited what I was doing. It kind of combined a lot of the comedy and the drama. I was able to bring in some action stuff, like I did the whole action thing with Dylan [Luke Perry] in Mexico [Episode 5.18, Hazardous To Your Health]. We got a chance to do some things that were different for 90210, had a bigger scope. Chip and I did the two-hour in Palm Springs, P.S. I Love You [Episodes 5.31-32], with the whole action plot with Dylan on the tram. That was phenomenal what we pulled off. We had big production. And all the time we were doing that stuff, we were doing two shows at once.

Another big show we did, we did the Rolling Stones at the Rose Bowl [Episode 5.12, Rock of Ages]. I’m in that show; I played the roadie, ‘cause I was a roadie so it was kind of funny. I just wanted to go back to my roots a bit. I was a roadie for Blood, Sweat and Tears. So we did that episode and the same day that we were filming it, we were doing the fire episode [Episode 5.13, Up in Flames] with the lesbian and Kelly [Jennie Garth] in the bathroom. That’s how ballsy we were, production-wise. We were so good at what we were doing, we were working so hard, we could do two shows at once. Those were really big episodes, good episodes, I think. I think the first two years of college were really sensational. We really stepped it out and expanded our thing. It was too bad that Shannen [Doherty, Brenda] left. It was unfortunate. But we found Tiffani [Amber Thiessen, Valerie], which worked well.

TDW: That was actually my next question. You were there for some big casting changes. You had Shannen leave in season 4, Tiffani join in season 5, Gabrielle [Carteris, Andrea] leave later in season 5 and you had Luke leave in season 6. What do you remember about those times and having to adapt the show?

Mollin: Oh, it was sad. The Shannen one, we wanted her to work. I mean, the writers loved Shannen. She’s a child of this business. You give her a script and she’ll just read it exactly like you wrote it. Never change a word, never ask a question. She had a photographic memory. She could be doing anything she wanted the night before and just come in and nail it–and the other kids hated that. She’s tough on the set. She’s just a child of the industry. It’s not really who she is. She’s just whoever she plays, in a lot of ways. She’s just a kind of unusual, very talented professional but hard to get along with. She just kind of pissed everyone off eventually and she pissed off the most important person, which was, you know, Tori [Spelling, Donna]. And not only that, she introduced Tori to a man who beat her. So that pretty much put the death card on her. So that was pretty much that. I think they were willing to go with her but, basically, what happened was, in the middle of a show, she cut her hair and totally screwed us up for continuity so everyone was pissed off at her. Like I said, not the writers so much, but the producer people. And the other kids were out to get her head, because she had pissed everybody off, and they basically went to the old man [Aaron Spelling] and said she had to go. He was happy to let her go because, like I said, she had introduced Tori to the guy who beat her. I’m not going to mention his name. So that was just the way business was done there. The old man was never the bad guy. He would let everyone else be the bad guy and then he’d get rid of her and then bring her back again [in Charmed]. But it was unfortunate she left, because we had all intention of keeping her there. And I always feel bad, because it was my idea to send her to England to get acting lessons [Episode 5.31-2, Mr. Walsh Goes To Washington], which kind of became a bad joke because she was a good actress. I never thought she was a bad actress. That whole storyline came out of something that I really loved. I loved Tennessee Williams and we went to the estate and got the whole Cat on a Hot Tin Roof thing [Episodes 4.27-30]. We had the Laura Kingman suicide [Episode 4.29, Truth and Consequences]. It was kind of out there but it was good, it was fun. It was well-done and Shannen was good in it. But it was a way to get rid of her. But we, obviously, always kept her alive in season 5, 6 [by mentioning her]. We always meant to keep her and, of course, that’s the big relationship. Our largest triangle–her, Dylan and Kelly–that’s the crown jewels, as far as we were concerned. We would never do anything to harm that so we always just kept it going. And that’s what’s so harmful to me. All these careful things we did, these new people [on the new 90210] are just indiscriminate. Whatever they can get the jolt with, they do. There’s no thinking.

TDW: We’ll get to that later on, for sure.

Mollin: So she left and Tiffani came in. We obviously had an exhaustive search to replace her. We looked at many people. We liked Tiffani and we thought, “Oh, this is cute. I think she’s Brian’s girlfriend. He’ll love this!” When we cast her, Brian [Austin Green, David] was so upset! Oh my god, he felt betrayed! We were totally shocked and had no idea. But, then, of course, we realized why: because other people would be kissing and feeling up his girlfriend! That’s what the guys do. That’s their free shot. Luke’s a wonderful man and Jason [Priestley, Brandon] is a wonderful man. But they are young guy actors on a show, which basically means they get to feel anybody up they want. And that’s just the way they are. I’ve got tons of outtakes of this stuff. That was just the fun of it. That’s just the way it was before sexual harassment became really a watch word in the industry. Young actresses just had to put up with that sh*t. I had seen that for years and years on shows. It was the way it went. Obviously if a girl didn’t like it, she could complain but most of them just put up with it and just expected it. The guys were just like that. But Tiffani came in and we just had fun with her character. Chuck and I created her character. I remember creating that one-hand pot-smoking/rolling thing [in Episode 5.01, What I Did On My Summer Vacation And Other Stories] and her character just took off. She was a total two-faced character and we really hadn’t had anyone like that on the show. We brought in the character and it totally helped lift the show up a bit for a while. Who was next?

TDW: Gabrielle. She left later that season.

Mollin: Well, Gabrielle, we asked her politely–she was the oldest–if she could just hold back. We didn’t want to do a baby. Did not want to. We certainly didn’t do the Hunter Tylo thing where [Melrose Place] asked her to get an abortion but, you know, we didn’t want to go down that road. But she got pregnant and was having the baby and there was nothing we could do. I actually used my whole personal story for it. Her premature baby and all that came out of my life. We gave it a good shot. I have to admit I was not in the room when Mark Damon Espinoza [Jesse] was cast. I was totally appalled that they cast this guy. He had ears as big as Botswana as far as I was concerned. I just could not believe it. I have no idea what happened in that room that day when they cast him. I just thought they totally blew it. To have a guy with a receding hairline– just everything I thought was wrong. And he was a nice man but it just was never going to happen. And rather than getting like an Esai Morales, someone who was really sexy and good–I just had no idea what he was thinking, the old man. He was always difficult with minority casting. He would always go ways we would never understand but we never wanted to get into it. So they cast him and they just didn’t really click. It didn’t really add to us. It took away a lot of the fun, to have to be in this grown-up stuff. We eventually just didn’t think it was going to work, and I don’t know who made the decision; I guess it was the old man. She was done. She was gone. We sent her off to Yale, as I remember [Episode 5.30, Hello Life, Goodbye Beverly Hills]. But she came back. She came back for Steve’s birthday party on the Queen Mary [Episode 6.31-2, You Say It’s Your Birthday]. I think we brought her back for that. I did that one with Steve Wasserman. That was a big show, too. That was a fun show.

TDW: Yes. We also saw her again in seasons 8 and 10.

Mollin: I never watched after season 7. What they did there was so appalling to me. Our thesis was always that we basically tried to write them as ordinary kids living extraordinary lives. But after I left, they were ordinary kids living ordinary lives! Like they couldn’t get jobs. What do you mean, they couldn’t get jobs? They went the wrong way. Brandon was supposed to have a great job! What the hell? They made them struggling. It was just wrong. Every choice they made was all wrong. They didn’t understand how to tell stories. Michael Braverman [the new writer-producer] was a disaster and Jason was supposed to take over and he didn’t take over. It lived on and it did its thing but it just became more of a Melrosian soap opera. They didn’t follow the thing that we had set up. These kids were supposed to be having great lives and that would’ve made the show fantastic.

TDW: Well, let’s now go to Luke, because he left in season 6.

Mollin: Luke, he was tired of it. All the kids hated the show by season 5, other than Tori. They all just hated it. Every day they would come in was just torture for them. We were making them do things, making them play these characters. Luke is a wonderful man and a good professional but he just wanted to go. We tried to really stack it up, and thank god we cast Rebecca Gayheart [Toni], who was just such a dear and so wonderful in that part.

TDW: I have a question about that storyline. Chuck told me they had purposefully filmed Jack’s death in season 3 [Episode 3.21, Dead End] in such a way that it could turn out he was really alive. In season 10 we saw that happen [Episodes 10.18-20] but I’ve heard that it was supposed to happen in season 6 until Luke revealed he was leaving. So instead in season 6 we find out that there’s this guy Tony Marchette [Stanley Kamel] behind Jack’s death and Dylan sets off seeking vengeance.

Mollin: I don’t remember the exact sequence of it. Josh Taylor [Jack] never came back when I was there but there was talk of that. Chuck had that FBI agent [Christine Pettit, played by Valerie Wildman] who he always liked. She was a friend of his and he liked to try and throw her work. So we always teased with that. We talked about that but we didn’t really know where to go with it at that point and Chuck was gone at that point. So once Luke was leaving, we wanted to have a big story and there’s nothing bigger than avenging the death of your father and we kind of went that way. That was a very good storyline in the sense that it was a good way to get to Dylan to leave [Episode 6.10, One Wedding And A Funeral]. It was really powerful. It was huge ratings for us. It might’ve been the biggest rating for a non-season finale show. It was big and we did it right. Everything went pretty well with that one.

TDW: It was a phenomenal storyline and it still stands out today to fans as one of the saddest ones.

Mollin: Yeah, it was great. The leading up to it was good. I was able to bring in a lot of my cop show background. We had a lot of tense stuff, stuff we had never done before so that was fun. And we had good actors. That gentleman who played Tony just died recently.

TDW: Yes. He died in 2008.

Mollin: He was excellent in that. But, yeah, that was fun. Luke left and we knew we were certainly going to miss him. We were floundering for guys after that a little bit and went through a bunch of different ones but I guess he came back [in Episode 9.08, You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello] and needed the money or whatever. He would’ve been too embarrassed to come back when I was there or any of the regular [writer-producers] from his time because we knew him so well and we’d know why he was coming back. He was just too proud a guy to come back when Chuck or me or the Wassermans were there. He wouldn’t have done it.

TDW: What would you say were the biggest challenges you faced while doing the show?

Mollin: The workload. Like I said, we were doing 32 hours a year when I was there so the biggest challenge is just trying to meet the audience’s expectations and beyond. To be true to the characters and just have each show have the template be satisfied. For us the template was–we used to kid about it. Let me see if I can remember it. It was emotion, passion, bonding, fun. If it had that, we felt pretty good about an episode. And then Chip and I added another 4, which was kind of the reverse. I have try to remember this now. Commotion, fashion, blonde-ing, sun. That was the reverse. It was a chance to really reflect on what was going on for us but be true to these characters. And we got a long game in them. We knew what our big rooting interests were, we knew who our big couples were and we were going to take our time to get to them. We obviously knew David and Donna were really, really important no matter who they were with at the time. It was always going to be when they would get back, because that’s what the audience wanted. The same thing with Dylan and Brenda or Dylan and Kelly or Brandon and Kelly. You had all that stuff there. We put people in between them and made you suffer and wait for them but we knew where our money was buttered on that stuff. It was just trying to get there and not jump the shark, not go for the cheap jolt. Don’t do anything indiscriminately because you have to deal with everything. There’s ramifications. You have to deal with the reality. We tried to keep emotional reality. That was really important to us. Whereas other shows like Melrose didn’t have emotional reality. We tried to keep that–and also keep time real. We stayed in the seasons. If you were watching the show in February, the show was about February. We were doing 32 but we tried to make that reality seem real and just have fun with it.

TDW: Do you have favorite episodes or storylines that still stand out to you?

Mollin: I have ones that didn’t work that I remember!

TDW: That was going to be my next question!

Mollin: I think Dylan losing his money [in season 4/5] was kind of a fun of storyline, Dylan getting fleeced. He had the half-sister [Erica, played then by Noley Thorton], and that whole thing, which ended up in Mexico, was pretty good. That storyline I really, really enjoyed that a lot. I enjoyed all the storylines that led to the Palm Springs thing, too [in the season 5 finale]. We had Kelly and the lesbian, Dylan and the stupid movie after rehab. And that episode ended with Brandon and Valerie [hooking up], which we knew was going to be a great season-ender. I think they were watching the Smurfs birthday party they had had as kids and I remember we had to get the rights to that. But that was a very cool episode. Chip left after that.

TDW: So what do you look back on with regrets or what do you think you could’ve done better?

Mollin: Interesting. Regrets would be Jamie [Ray] and having to fire him.

TDW: That was going to be another question!

Mollin: That was such a sad time. That came out of the season 5 finale, too [where Ray pushes Donna down the stairs.] We had this whole plan. He was going to go to rehab because he was an abused child. We were going to redeem him because we liked him. He was a wonderful kid. Jamie was a dear guy. We liked him. He was a great worker. But that episode happened and there was a lot of mail to the old man–“How can Donna be so stupid and be with this guy?”–so we came in to start the new season, which was right after since we only had like a week or two off because we were doing 32, and he goes “You have to get rid of him.” And we go, “What are you talking about?”  He said, “You have to get rid of him. Everyone thinks Tori’s stupid.” There was no arguing with him. That was all he cared about. So we had to fire him. It was just devastating that I had to tell him that. We had just signed him for a million dollars, but he got to walk away with his money. But it was still devastating for him. We left him as being a beater, which stayed with him, unfortunately. People thought he was a beater. It was just terrible. I just always felt really bad about that. It just didn’t work out well. [Ed. Note: Walters was written out in 6.13 but had brief returns in 6.30 and 7.10]

TDW: Do any other regrets stand out?

Mollin: D’Shawn Hardell, who was played by Cress Williams. We loved having him there. We wrote an episode called Blind Spot [Episode 4.26] and the secondary plot has Tori in a little relationship with Cress Williams. I think they might even kiss.

TDW: Donna was trying to make David jealous.

Mollin: Yeah. Well, that was it for him. The old man brought us upstairs and said, “No, we have to get rid of him.” [Ed. Note: Williams does appear in 4 more episodes, 3 of which were in season 5.]

Here’s another story about the old man: We had to create a new guy for Kelly and we hired a guy, paid him a bunch of money. His name was Dalton James. He played a character called Mark. He ran the TV station.

TDW: Yep. It was season 7.

Mollin: So we’re doing 32 episodes so we’re writing away and we have half the season written but we’ve only shot through episode 5. We get called in to the old man’s office. “We have a big problem.” I go, “What’s the problem?” Well, we knew that Jennie didn’t like him. So it’s me and Steve Wasserman, and he goes “I just found out that Dalton James is anti-Semitic.” We go, “What?! That f*cking–” And he goes, “Well, we have to get rid of him.“ And we go, “Well, we’ve written another 10 episodes for him! We have this whole story!” And he goes, “Well, he’s anti-Semitic. I can’t have him here.” And we go, “You’re right!” and we get all pissed off and then we walk out to the elevator and Steve goes, “He’s a f*cking liar.” He knew we were going to complain if it was just that Jennie wanted to get rid of him, so he made up a story that the guy was anti-Semitic so we’d be pissed off and write him out. And that’s the kind of guy he was.

[Jennie] didn’t [complain regularly] and was a tireless and loyal cast member from the get-go to the end. So whatever she told him that set up him calling us upstairs into his office to kill off “Mark,” I have no idea. We were basically told no chemistry and he was an anti-Semite. The old man knew with the character suddenly gone we had a heap of rewriting to do in a very short time and figured we’d resist mightily. He took preemptive action, jacked us up so we swore we’d sent the sucker off to hell in a blink of an episode. I think in the elevator going down from the office we laughed, speculated that we’d been played but appreciated the old man’s artistry at it. With him, the ends justified the means and screw the actor’s or anyone else’s reputation. He played at the game hard. We had no evidence that Dalton James was anti-Semetic. Most likely wasn’t.

TDW: The way Mark was written out–he and Brandon competed for the Dreyer fellowship and Kelly didn’t like his behavior and she said sayonara [Episode 7.14, Jobbed].

Mollin: “Next time your phone rings, bet someone it’s not me. You’ll be right every time.”

TDW: Exactly. But really, you would’ve kept him?

Mollin: Oh, yeah! We were going to keep him. Once that happened, we changed everything. But he was going to be one of our regular characters. We had hired him for 13 more but we got rid of him in the middle of the season. We planned to have him the whole year. We had written scripts for it so we had to go back and re-do everything to get rid of him.

TDW: Well, getting rid of him paved the way for Brandon and Kelly’s reunion.

Mollin: There was always that but we were going to have him in the middle of it and really save it for a little later. I just remember us going down there and being pissed off and going “We don’t care how long it takes to rewrite!” and then we realized he totally just lied about it. He was willing to throw the guy under the bus because he knew we’d resist. So that’s typical Spelling. He just manipulated us with something we’d want to hear. He knew the only way to get that reaction from us was to tell us the guy was anti-Semitic.  It probably hung with the guy. I don’t know if he ever worked again.

TDW: Another actor-character I’m curious about is Jason Wiles who played Colin in season 6.

Mollin: That was fun. He did a good job for us, I thought. He was never going to be a long-term character for us so we kind of set him off on a stupid path a bit. At the end we maybe went off a little. We had a car chase [in Episode 6.32, You Say It’s Your Birthday]. It was not terribly out of place. It was fun having Kelly on cocaine for a while. I thought that was kind of good. It challenged all her relationships with her friends, thanks to the new guy in town. Brandon worried that she was becoming a cokewhore. And that was pretty good. We felt we had earned that. We built it up pretty good. That was another thing we believed in. We believed you had to earn emotion. You had to set your scenes up to earn the emotion. You can’t just all of a sudden indicate and tell it and then try to explain it. You have to set yourself up. We were really tough on ourselves on that. We wanted to make sure we earned our emotions.

TDW: I am curious to know your personal preferences: Kelly and Dylan or Kelly and Brandon?

Mollin: If I’m Kelly, I’m thinking you’re better off with Brandon. As a father I guess, I’m saying Kelly and Brandon. Dylan’s an addict; he’s always going to be an addict. Dylan’s the bad boy. Dylan’s going to want Kelly and Kelly’s going to want Dylan but Kelly’s going to be better off with Brandon. But Kelly’s always going to be fantasizing about Dylan. I think that’s just how it is. It’s your typical “girls want bad boys,” even though they’re bad for them.

TDW: I wanted to ask about one of the famous lines from that triangle, “I choose me.” [Episode 5.30, Hello Life, Goodbye Beverly Hills]

Mollin: Oh, god, yeah. That was Jessica, actually, who came up with that. That was a cop-out. That’s the “goodbye Andrea” episode, before the last of the season, and she had to choose between them. That was alright. That was kind of cute. That worked. I thought that worked well overall, because, again, we needed to sustain that. We didn’t want to kill the triangle. We wanted to keep making people wait for it. It’s an art.

TDW: And you had Brandon keep the ring he proposed with and it came out again in season 6 [Episode 6.02, Buffalo Girls] and season 7 [Episodes 7.19-20, 7.24, 7.26., etc].

Mollin: Yes, that’s right. In one of those season 7 episodes, Jason plays the jeweler [Episode 7.20, With This Ring]. Phil Savath wrote that episode. That was good. He’s gone now, too.

TDW: So you slowly put Brandon and Kelly back together and the ring was a big part of that.

Mollin: Yeah, that was good. It was a good use of stuff from the past. We tried to really remember what we did and always use things. We tried to have stuff in there that were rewards for people who were loyal viewers. Little, little things that they would get. We always threw that in there. And for ourselves, too. We’d pull in little things from the past and it worked out nicely.

We tried to be smart, too. We did a storyline that was just fun. Me and Chip, we created the character of Lucinda Nicholson [in season 4] . We tried to really have some fun. Her class stuff was really fun. We tried to make her this bizarre professor. It was a cool character. Dina Meyers, she was excellent. Those were interesting storylines, those first couple of years. And we loved the KEG stuff, all that kind of crazy, stupid stuff.

TDW: I was in Los Angeles last January and I went to some of the locations, including the KEG house.

Mollin: Oh, you went to Occidental College in Glendale?

TDW: Yep. It was such a trip to be there.

Mollin: That was perfect. It was really smart. Chuck and I went looking and we looked at Pepperdine, which is in Malibu, and Chuck said, “If we do that it’s just going to look like Malibu High. Let’s put it in Glendale.” And he was right. We always imagined it was in West L.A. but it was in Glendale. It had a California look without being too beach-y.

TDW: It worked well. It was just interesting to see that the KEG House was actually somebody’s house a few blocks from the campus.

Mollin: Yeah. That was fun. That fraternity stuff was great. Because we all were Steve and we all felt very close to his character. He didn’t have the biggest storylines but he always had the most fun.

TDW: When you have the girls changing their hairstyles and the way they looked, how does that work? Did they need to come to you first?

Mollin: Well, hopefully, they would run it by us first. But what typically would happen is that one would do it and then the other one would want the same thing. Every time that would happen. “Oh, she’s got the good hair. Why can’t I have that?” So you have to, basically, move it around. But they’d have to clear it with us because so much of it has to do with continuity. When you’re doing two [episodes] at a time, you had to be careful. They would run it by us and we had very good hair people and wardrobe people. We had the best of that. It was always tough, though. That’s why when Shannen did that one thing with cutting her hair in the middle of the show without asking anybody, that really screwed everybody up and kind of created the atmosphere that, when the push came to get rid of her, no one resisted.

TDW: Tori seemed to have the most hair changes of anyone.

Mollin: Well, you know, she was a special case. When you’d go to meet Mr. Spelling–that’s what how we referred to him–to tell him what the episodes were going to be about, the first thing he’d ask was “So…what’s Tori doing in this episode?” So then we always started with, “Well Donna is…”–even if she had a small part, we’d start with her in the pitch. Donna first. But it was endearing. He obviously loved his daughter. It was a wonderful for thing for him to be able to create this character. But we would tailor the pitches to begin with Donna, no matter what they were, even if she had one scene in the thing. But eventually she became a very good actress and a lovely person. Whereas all the kids kind of got jaded about the show, she always came in “Where’s the new script? I can’t wait to read it.” Lovely, lovely gal. A trooper. We had some great times with her. Really well-liked by everybody. She was a trooper.

TDW: So at what point did you decide not to continue with the show?

Mollin: Well, I never had a chance to continue. They came into my office and threw me out.

TDW: I wasn’t sure what happened…

Mollin: It was terrible. I was the only one standing at that point. Chuck was gone. The Wassermans had totally blown up, couldn’t even be in a room together anymore. I was the only executive producer left, doing 32 episodes with a weaker staff. I brought one guy down from Canada, who I used to work with from years back, who helped tremendously. The ratings were fine–maybe they were a tick under but they were certainly really good ratings. But Jason wanted to take over the show. He had some bright ideas. Again, the kids hated the show. To make them sign their contracts every year, the company had to make assurances to them. They didn’t want the Wassermans back because they had really pissed everyone off and they kind of painted me with the same brush. Jason said, “I want to take over. I want to have a whole new show” and that was it. They decided to have a whole new show. They brought in some guy [Braverman] and then fired him six weeks later.

And in typical Spelling fashion, for all of us, Chuck, the Wassermans–not Chip, because he wasn’t running the show–but for anyone who ran a Spelling show, even Frank South at Melrose, never worked for FOX again. Spelling would always stop it. He was a motherf*cker. He was a loving man who could be a motherf*cker. He didn’t want you to have any success beyond him because that would mean he wasn’t successful. We all learned this but it was a shock to us. To come out and then never work for FOX again.

TDW: When you say it was a struggle to keep the actors to stay on, what were they upset about and what made them stay on? ‘Cause, by the time we got to the series finale, there were 4 originals [Garth, Ziering, Spelling and Green] still there.

Mollin: They stayed because something kicked in: the fact that they were getting paid pretty handsomely. They would never get that kind of money again, probably, most of them realized. Ian Ziering figured that out. Brian did. Brian was the youngest and he was a good kid. But they were all growing up and they hated it but they loved it. They understood it but at the same time it was hard for them. Like any actor on a long-running show, you love it and you hate it.

All the actors look fondly back on it now, I’m sure. They all knew what a good opportunity it was. And we created a very good environment for them there. They had it pretty damn good but they had to work their asses off, just like I said. For 4 years, we did 32 hours a year. People do 13 a year now and that’s a season. 32 hours! And they were big shows. They weren’t small shows.

TDW: Did you keep in touch with any of the cast?

Mollin: Jason I talk to occasionally now. He probably cost me millions of dollars but we’ve become friends again. He’s a good man. He just didn’t think that he was putting someone out of a job. He just wanted to take over executive producer and then six months later he didn’t. Like I said, he hired this guy Michael Braverman and they had no idea what to do. They totally floundered. They cut the order down. They were f*cked. They brought in this one guy that we had worked with, John Eisendrath, [and] with him they driveled it out til the end [of the series] and even repeated storylines, which was kind of annoying.

TDW: Jason continued to have his name as producer even after his character left in season 9 [Episode 9.06, Brandon Leaves].

Mollin: Yeah, that was just a deal. He wasn’t producing.

TDW: Talking about storyline repeats, in season 10 is when they did do the “Jack McKay is alive” storyline but they did it in such a way that it didn’t make sense with earlier things.

Mollin: They were untrue to the saga. You had to know the saga. That was so hard about writing the show. The show was only in our heads. You had to be on the inside. And not a lot of people wrote the show. We just kept it with a couple of people writing because we were the only ones who understood all the different details of it. It was always fluid, because people were dropping in and out because  it was hard to keep up. I remember the network was telling me I had to get more writers; I was writing too many episodes. I was like, “What? I’m just trying to get through this. We’re doing 32 hours. Give me a break here.” They didn’t understand. And, like I said, no one was able to do [32] after me. We were exhausted. Chuck had a heart attack. I took a year off. It was a lot of work but it was something we were proud of. And that’s why the new show diluting the legacy is so hurtful to us.

TDW: Sticking with the old show for another minute–so you never kept up with it after you left?

Mollin: I never watched after the start of the new season, the Hawaii episode [Episode 8.01-2, Aloha Beverly Hills]. I saw that and went, “Nope, that’s it for me. They don’t know what the f*ck they’re doing.”

TDW: That is just so interesting to me. Chuck told me the same thing, that he didn’t keep up with the show after he left.

Mollin: No, he didn’t. We’re all built with schadenfreude. You want it to do poorly after you leave. Everyone feels the same way. But I didn’t realize it was going to be that poor. I just got pissed off because they weren’t being respectful. I just stopped watching.

TDW: I’m sure you know about the series finale, though.

Mollin: I don’t know much.

TDW: Well you know David and Donna married. Did that seem right?

Mollin: Yes, that seems right. They should marry. That was always meant to be. That was the big relationship. The last episode I wrote had Donna losing her virginity in the college graduation episode [Episode 7.32, Graduation Day]. I always felt like one of those guys who built the pyramids and you bury yourself inside. You can’t survive after that. ‘Cause I finally did the thing you were never allowed to do: let Tori’s character have sex.

TDW: And that ended up being your last episode!

Mollin: You know, it’s funny. It was kind of endearing for many years. The old man, that’s how he controlled what he considered his daughter. Even though he couldn’t control her in real life because she’d be out there having sex with everybody, he was very concerned about keeping Donna a virgin. And we went with it because it was kind of good; we got lots of good stories out of it. We had lots of “almost”s and stuff. So, at the end, going into it, I went to him and said “Should she go to a priest? How should we play this thing?” and he said “No, just do it.” I always felt pretty good about that scene I wrote there. “How did I get so lucky?” “You waited.” It was kind of nice. It was sweet.

TDW: I also wanted to talk about the DVDs. I’m not really sure how the decisions are made but I’m going to guess that you guys aren’t involved.

Mollin: Chuck was involved–he did some commentary in the beginning. I haven’t seen any of them.

TDW: We haven’t gotten extras since season 4.

Mollin: Yeah, they didn’t want to put the money into it or they didn’t want to talk to us. They could’ve talked to me, certainly, but they never did.

TDW: The fans are not happy. They’re upset that there’s no extras, there’s odd photoshopped cover art, there’s scenes missing, there’s songs changed.

Mollin: Are songs changed after season 4?

TDW: Yes. Songs are either changed or scenes with certain songs in them are cut.

Mollin: Oh man. You see, what happened was this– and it hurt me with a lot of stuff I did before this. When we used to make music deals, we’d make them for 5 years because that was the life of the show. Then there was an afterlife when cable came in and things were running longer and longer. You had to start making your music deals in perpetuity. We didn’t start making our music deals in perpetuity until season 4 so all that stuff that Chuck had done from seasons 1-3, you had to redo. So whoever puts the DVD together has to go back to the music companies and make new deals. And they have you over a barrel, so a lot of people just strip out the music and redo it.

TDW: Well, I can tell you–thanks to a really dedicated fan I know–some of the things that are missing are what we talked about. In Luke’s last episode, Nobody Knows Me by Lyle Lovett.

Mollin: No! That’s out?!

TDW: That’s out.

Mollin: Oh my god!

TDW: Some of Jamie’s performances are out.

Mollin: No! Holy sh*t. Jamie’s performances are out?

TDW: Some of them, not all. It’s peculiar in that way.

Mollin: He must’ve had deals for some songs and then not others then.

TDW: So this one dedicated fan has the DVDs but is also DVRing them on SoapNet but neither editions are perfect versions and they’re each missing different things.

Mollin: So on SoapNet, you’re seeing it with the original music?

TDW: For the most part, I think so. But some scenes are cut out. For instance, in the season 7 finale, Clare’s long goodbye scene with Steve on the beach?

Mollin: Yeah, I wrote that.

TDW: That’s not on SoapNet.

Mollin: That sucks!

TDW: So you guys are not consulted on cover art, asked to do extras, nothing.

Mollin: No, nothing. But don’t forget, there’s nobody there anymore. Spelling Entertainment doesn’t exist. The old man died [in 2006] and all Paramount has is a piece of software to market. There’s residuals. They have to pay us our money when they run stuff or if they create something off our characters, they have to pay us character payments. But they couldn’t care less.

The music stuff we had a lot of fun with, too, with the Peach Pit After Dark. I come from a rock and roll background so I was always bringing in stuff. We had The Flaming Lips [Episode 5.23, Love Hurts] and The Cramps [Episode 6.08, Gypsies, Cramps And Fleas]. Just stuff I really liked. Kind of odd stuff. And we got the Goo Goo Dolls [Episode 6.32, You say It’s Your Birthday]. Here’s something you can put in and Jason will have to live with it. Toward the end of “getting rid of Larry,” for the 2-hour final [in season 7] I was writing with Phil Savath. We had to have a group for the after-graduation party and I worked it around–this was like 1997–and I got the Spice Girls. I had the Spice Girls. And I go to Jason who is directing and I go, “I’ve worked this out. They’re fans of the show. We’re going to have the Spice Girls!” And he went, “I’m not doing the show.” So they wound up getting The Cardigans. Like did anyone know who The Cardigans are? Terrible misstep. It was going to be huge. Then he threw this [Roaring] 20s thing on me, which I never understood. I never understood what that meant. A 20s theme? I have no idea. At that point I realized I was dead. I liked the episode; I was happy with it but, again, J was trying to take over and insert his own style and stuff. So we didn’t use the Spice Girls, which would’ve just been goofy and campy and fun and made the show that much bigger. But instead we had something that was smaller and hipper at the moment but didn’t really last. I mean, does anyone know who The Cardigans are today? LoveFool? They were alright. It was one of the weaker groups we had. And, again, J was directing that and he wanted to insert his stuff and that 20s theme. I’ve never understood it.

TDW: Well, another interesting episode he directed is The Time Has Come Today [Episode 4.25].

Mollin: Oh, yeah. I did a lot with Chuck on that one, too. That one was just so much fun. I did the story with that with Chuck. That was fantastic. I mean, it was goofy and indulgent in a certain way but we had fun with that. It reminds me of another odd one that we did, we went down the stupid road of reincarnation [Episodes 5.26-29]

TDW: Yes! Well, I have to say, as a Kelly-Dylan fan, it’s fabulous to know that, in another life, they were together and that they were soulmates.

Mollin: Well, that’s what we felt! We were writing it for you. What can be more meaningful than learning someone is your soulmate? We bought into it. Again, it was a little indulgent and we did the whole Western aspect [Episode 5.29, The Real McCoy] but it was pretty fun. You’re doing so many episodes, you kind have to push yourself to keep yourself interested. But The Time Has Come Today was fun and interesting. That actually came right after Brenda’s animal rights stuff [Episodes 4.22-24].

TDW: Yes. It did a wonderful job of both hitting the 1960s–the generation, what was going on then and the major events–and paralleling what was going on in Brenda’s life to a tee. The character relationships were just mirrored so well, especially the triangle.

Mollin: Yeah. She had just been activist and it had blown up in her face. We were very happy with it. And, again, if the Internet had been around then, this show would’ve been so enormous. I don’t know if you remember, in the Rolling Stones episode–FOX had bought an Internet company. It was called Delphi. And I actually have Clare [Kathleen Robertson] and David online, doing flaming in a chat room. We had early Internet sh*t on that.

TDW: Yes, you did. And then in the fire episode, that’s how all the lesbians ended up at the party. David and Clare posted the message in the wrong message board.

Mollin: Exactly. So if the Internet had been full-blown when we were there, this show just would’ve been enormous. It might’ve been bad for the actors. It probably would’ve screwed them up even more and made them even bigger celebrities. But it was just so prime for that and it would’ve been enormous. We were just starting to get a bit of that. We tried to keep on the edge of stuff that was going on pretty good.  It was a fun time. I guess I never had an experience that was quite like that, that intense for that a long of a time.

TDW: What do you think is the show’s legacy?

Mollin: It basically put FOX on the map in the drama world. Obviously The Simpsons put FOX on the map really but certainly we were the first long-running drama they had. But the legacy, it made teen drama important. It made teen drama something that everyone could watch. Parents could watch it with their kids, ‘cause the kids were real. Now they just try to make a jolt every two seconds. Nothing adds up. There’s no emotional reality. It just jumps the shark every two seconds.

TDW: So did you watch any of the teen dramas that came after that? Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., One Tree Hill…

Mollin: Dawson’s Creek I didn’t watch. It seemed to be alright. They told a story. They didn’t kill the storytelling by rushing it. O.C.–for us, we were always very defensive. All these shows would come out and they would say “Oh, we don’t want to be like 90210. We want to be good.” In fact, when I went for jobs after and they’d ask what I’ve done, I’d say “Well, I just did 128 episodes of this FOX hit show, 90210” and they’d go, “Oh. It’s too bad you didn’t do a good show.” Well, what was a good show? A show that was canceled after a year? That was the thing. You got painted with this terrible brush. I had a couple of shots after that in primetime but I basically moved to syndication and international stuff because I didn’t want the insecurity of getting canceled after four episodes anymore. But the other shows–O.C., I never really watched, to tell you the truth. They kind of made it just like 90210. They had a Peach Pit thing [with a diner]. It was fine. I didn’t really care that much. It didn’t affect me. They weren’t going to hire me. I tried at one point to get a job but they weren’t interested in hiring me.

TDW: Let’s go to 2008 when you first heard they were going to do a new version of 90210. What was your reaction?

Mollin: Well, I just figured it would suck because they weren’t bringing anybody in with any mandate, who would understand the characters they had to write. It was all just about the title Paramount had sold. The old man would’ve never had done that. For all his failings, he certainly was protective of the material. He never would’ve let somebody just jump over without having taken care of it. They just sold the title, basically, and didn’t care what people did with it. To Paramount, it was just a piece of software. I was concerned. I liked the idea of Rob Thomas at first, because I thought he was a good writer. I liked some of the earlier stuff he had did. But then he was off and, just reading what they were doing, I was like “Wait a second. Do they not have any idea what they’re doing?” I realized right away and I just went, “Oh my god.” Once they had that Rob Estes [Harry] was going to be the principal of the school, I was “Oh, this is f*cked.” That should be the least important part. We would never be in school. That’s the worst thing to do. It’s the biggest mistake to set it even more in school. It was really stupid. And, you know, to have him involved in that, to have adults involved in that, that was really kind of lame. So I didn’t think it would be good but I did watch the first one. They didn’t know how to build or have anticipation. They didn’t know how to make a kiss important. At least Dawson’s Creek understood that. You don’t rush over these moments. You don’t just throw them out. ‘Cause then there’s nowhere to go. These are teenagers. It was just ridiculous, I thought. Jennie, she had her part and would do what they said. It’s not her fault. She was just playing the character but it had nothing to do with the character that we had set up. Then once they started making a decision about a child [Sammy] and who was the father, I just had to stop paying attention. It just irked me because they had no mandate to do these things. They had no equity. They were making decisions on this legacy, which, now, if we were ever going to pick it up again, we have to deal with.

TDW: I want to make sure I have this right. Paramount essentially sold the title, the rights to the name, to The CW and their production company.

Mollin: Yes. They had to make a little deal with Darren to pay for his characters, I guess. Every time you use one of the characters we created–like, if Valerie ends up on the show–you have to be paid. But otherwise, they just did what they wanted.

TDW: And you know for a fact that no one from the original was asked to help.

Mollin: Nope. In fact, Chuck tried to get a job there and they shot him down. They asked to see his daughter. They interviewed his daughter for a job and not him. She didn’t get it either and he was upset with that. But, no, there was nothing. They weren’t interested in what we had to say. They weren’t interested in anything.

TDW: In a conversation we had before this interview, you said the new show was guilty of a “brand abuse” and “revisionist history.” Can you elaborate on that?

Mollin: It is brand abuse. They basically took a brand and watered it down–by making it worse and not being true to it. They made the brand worse. Rather than people remembering our show–well, I don’t know if people are even paying that much attention to this show. It’s still on but it gets only a 2 rating or something. Like I said, we hope that if they use characters of ours that we get paid. That’s all we can do. It’s just embarrassing. Just when I hear what they’re doing–like that Jackie Taylor [Ann Gillespie] died–it just irks me. And it’s not that she couldn’t die, it’s just that these people have no right to make these decisions. Darren, I’m  sure, just had to turn his back to it because I’m sure it’s hurtful for him.

TDW: So you think if Aaron was alive, this wouldn’t be happing?

Mollin: It would’ve been handled in a different way. He would’ve been on it and he would’ve been protective of it. Absolutely. I mean, he’s a good showman. He has his idiosyncrasies and he could be mean and powerful and cruel–and loving–but he cared about his material. He’s a great showman and we learned a tremendous amount from him about what it takes. I really value the time that I worked there. It was great working with these people. You really learn the business from old-time showmen, not corporate people, not people that went to college for whatever. People that understand that we’re entertainers. He would be very protective of that.

TDW: Well, this year marks 10 years since the original ended and 20 years since it started. Has there been any talk of doing anything?

Mollin: No, not that I know of. Because, again, there’s no Spelling Entertainment anymore. There’s no one to kind of harness that, that would care enough about it.

TDW: Hypothetically, then, would you be interested in something, if the opportunity was presented?

Mollin: Would I be? Sure. We had a wonderful time there. There was nothing better than being on a hit show. When it was a hit show, it was great.

TDW: So you’d be up for a panel or something?

Mollin: Yeah, sure. I think Chuck would be, too. We all want to protect our legacy in it. That’s why we do these things, so people get a little bit of our story right.

TDW: Well, I’d like to see that happen.

Mollin: I’d like to see it happen but, again, the brand abuse has hurt the show. It just makes it more ordinary. It was special the way it was. The show probably should’ve ended after college or, like I said, it should’ve gone to a different post-college life for them. Not this struggling, ordinary life that they wrote. They just totally missed the opportunity with where the show was supposed to go. But there was a decision to keep actors in place even though they were bored and they wanted something different. And they got something different. But it struggled for the next 3 years and the ratings went down and they finished the show off. I guess the last episode was alright. Were you satisfied with it?

TDW: I was completely satisfied with it. I thought there was a payoff for Donna and David. I am a Kelly-Dylan fan to the core, so it was very rewarding to see them together in the end. But then, again, you have this new show that changed it but I like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Mollin: Oh, that was just ridiculous! For them to have done that–I just don’t know what they’re doing! He had a child he doesn’t care about?! That’s just so wrong. There’s nothing you can say. They’ve taken fictional characters and they’ve gone a different way with it. It’s not bad or good. It’s just unfortunate. They just never got the show. They just took it some other way. Plus there’s so much network interference, today, too. The writing is so difficult now for everyone that writes for network TV. There’s a billion notes. Every person in the world is a note-giver.

TDW: And the original writer/producers [Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah], after Rob Thomas, aren’t even there anymore.

Mollin: Oh, no. Once they opened their mouths, I knew they had no idea. I remember reading their early interviews and going, “Oh my god. There’s not a chance they’re going to get this right.” Again, people wanted the old show. They didn’t invest in the characters. The only thing people wanted to watch was when Kelly or Donna was there or when Brenda came. So they were all living on our work, on what we had built up so that kind of pisses you off. But it is the way it is.

TDW: Well, you’ve provided a wonderful amount of information. It fascinates me, really.

Mollin: Well, good. It’s nice to be sort of remembered. It’s something we’re all proud of. And it’s gone on. I’m not surprised that it’s popularity has increased or that its mystique has not diminished. It meant a lot to a whole generation of people–and their parents. A lot of mothers certainly watched with their kids. I’ll still meet, like, 60-year-old professors who have seen every episode because they watched with their daughters.

TDW: And there really is a whole new legion of fans thanks to SoapNet. Well, thank you so much for your time!

Mollin: No problem, Shari. It’s always great to talk to fans.

Come back next week for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





Exclusive: Executive Producer Paul Stupin Revisits Dawson’s Creek

15 11 2009

With the Paley Center’s “Dawson’s Creek: A Look Back” panel and the release of “Dawson’s Creek: The Complete Series,” I’ve been on a DC high the past week and a half.  Imagine my delight in finding someone who was not only just as enthusiastic but also chock full of insider stories only true fans like TDW readers could appreciate. And when you combine that with the fact that this guy is also partly responsible for introducing Beverly Hills 90210 to the world, well, that pretty much makes him a teen drama god.

After reading all the DC and 90210 goodness executive producer Paul Stupin shared with me, you’ll never want TDW’s stroll down memory creek to end!

TeenDramaWhore: How was the Paley Center panel?  How did it come about?

Paul Stupin: It came about for two sets of reasons. The first was that there are a  lot of die-hard Dawson’s supporters and fans out there that could support such a event. And the second key element is Sony is planning to issue this monumental all-seasons of Dawson’s DVD collection.

TDW: Yeah! It came out yesterday and I went to three different stores and finally found it!

Stupin: I just think it’s the coolest thing ever. So it was a good opportunity to call some attention to the DVD collection while at the same time having an event for the fans. It was really fun for me because when I did Dawson’s, I look back on it as a very special and rewarding time in my life and to be able to talk about it and see some cast members and see Kevin [Williamson, creator] again was just a blast.

TDW: I’m sure. I wish I could’ve been there!

Stupin: Yeah, you would’ve liked it!

TDW: Oh, I’m sure. Well let’s go back even further, to 1997-1998, and Kevin Williamson comes to you with this idea to make this semi-autobiographical show. What made you come on board?

Stupin: Well, that’s not exactly how it happened but I can tell you. I had read an early draft of this film that he wrote. At the time, it was called Scary Movie but that was going to turn into Scream and they used the original title for something else. I had read a draft of that and I had really responded to the writing. One of the things I loved about it is not only did it have some smart thrills and chills but it also had this great sort of teenage/20-something dialogue. I just loved his voice and I loved the different perspectives that he had brought to the horror genre so I pushed really hard to his agent for Kevin and I to sit down. Originally, I wanted to run two areas by him. The first area was sort of a younger X-Files-esque kind of show and the second one was just a really smart, young ensemble sort of show that could tap into younger characters’ voices. I had ran programming at Fox, so the idea of doing a family show was kind of not on the board because Fox had Party of Five. So we started to talk about potentially doing a show about a number of younger characters who live on the same street. Then Kevin sort of went away and came back and sort of pitched to me a bunch of characters living on the same creek, which, of course, was semi-autobiographical. What made that so interesting is that it specified the idea and made it something unique and took us to a place I had never seen before. And the other thing that made that original pitch so exciting was the characters. He pitched to me the characters of Dawson [James Van Der Beek] and Joey [Katie Holmes] and Jen [Michelle Williams] and how that triangle would work. And then as we were talking about that, we came up with the idea of incorporating another character into the mix who could be a confidante for Dawson and that’s how the character of Pacey [Joshua Jackson] originated.

TDW: I think you really hit it when you said the show was unique. There are a couple of specific things that people are still talking about today and they really want the inside details of how it happened. I know you guys went over a bit of this at the panel but I’d love to hear it from you yourself.  So if we can just go over a couple of different storylines, I’d love to hear what you guys were thinking and the genesis of those. So the first one is in season 2 when we have Jack [Kerr Smith] announce that he’s gay [Episodes 2.14 & 2.15, To Be Or Not To Be… & …That Is The Question].

Stupin: I think there were two reasons for that. The first reason is it was a great way to integrate in a gay character on our series and to do it from the perspective of the kids we’d come to know and love on the show from the get-go. So the thought of involving Joey in a relationship with Jack and seeing that relationship take a completely unexpected turn and then understanding the emotional impact it would have on Joey’s character, and what it would do to Dawson and Pacey–all that seemed really interesting. And at the time, the thought of integrating a gay character and following that journey seemed really powerful and a way to tap into a whole set of emotions that would make our show even more memorable. One of the things that I love about Dawson’s is that it sort of wore its heart on its sleeve. Not only did it capture the voices and that sense of teenage yearning and teenage love and first-time love, and the power and the strength of all that, with love comes heartache as well in many stories. I think it enabled us to tell a really emotional and powerful story for a character that we’d really come to enjoy in the form of Jack. So that was one element to it and I think for Kevin it was a very personal story as well, and it was a way to again put a whole different perspective on the teen ensemble drama in a way that it hadn’t been done before. The second element to it was the fact that when Joey started that relationship with Jack, it was not going to go on forever. The key relationship in our series was what was going on between Joey and Dawson and Pacey, so the Jack character, that romance, was ultimately going to come to an end. And I think there was the thought of what a powerful way to see the relationship head south when the character starts to realize an insight into his own sexuality.

TDW: Going back to the Dawson-Joey-Pacey relationship, I read in Jeff Stepakoff’s book “Billion-Dollar Kiss” that Greg Berlanti–whom I adore–was the one to suggest putting Joey and Pacey together. I was wondering how accurate that story was in the book.

Stupin: Well, at the top of every season, we’ll sit and we’ll talk about [our plans]. We take a couple of weeks and we talk about each character and where we were going and what the sort of macro-issues were that we want to cover over the course of that particular group of 22 episodes. And Greg was definitely a part of that and the thought  of telling sort of a whole Joey-Pacey romance did in fact come out of that, absolutely. But I think you can go back, you can look at the pilot and you can look at the chemistry–and I did, in looking at the pilot last week–you can look at the chemistry between Joey and Pacey and you just know they’re sort of two peas in a pod and sooner or later that element of the triangle is going to get explored. So it’s definitely true what Jeff had in the book but I think that Greg was building from the seeds that were established in the original conception of the show, to tell you the truth.

TDW: Right.  Going to a more somber note: this probably came early on for you guys given how you plan the season but a lot of people were really surprised and devastated when in the 5th season Mitch [John Wesley Shipp] died [Episodes 5.03 & 5.04, Capeside Revisited & The Long Goodbye].

Stupin: Yes.

TDW: I’m wondering what the idea for that was. We never knew if it was casting reasons or storyline-dictated.

Stupin: It wasn’t really casting issues. The thing with Mitch was every year we would figure out a way to have 1 or 2 sort of emotional stories between Dawson and his mom and dad. In the first season we had all that great stuff with her affair with a newscaster. That was just sort of natural. The second season we have the story with mom and dad trying the open marriage, and it’s arguable as to how memorable that actually was. It seemed like such a fresh idea. I’m not sure that it translated quite as well as the idea initially seemed. And then after that, when the inter-relationships between the teenagers grew ever-more prominent and people became much more invested, it felt like the parents–though still important–were not quite as much a part of the storylines. So that’s when we would always try to include them, to have them in different things, to have great sort of Dawson-mom, Dawson-dad scenes but I think we were straining a little bit. And I think that when we got to the point of deciding the fate with Mitch, it seemed like we weren’t using him altogether that much in the series, in the seasons. We were using him but we weren’t using him in a huge way. There weren’t any financial or casting considerations. It really did come from the creative angle, in terms of how would it affect Dawson’s character if in fact this happened to his dad, and exploring that, and exploring the unexpected tragedy of it seemed like another way to really heighten the exploration as to who Dawson was, so that’s basically where that came from. And I remember talking to John Wesley and mentioning that the one thing that this would provide is that it was going to take the Dawson-father storyline to a really heartbreaking sense of conclusion and, at that point, we weren’t using him as much as we had in the past.

TDW: How does that contrast, then, to the decision in the series finale [Episodes 6.23 & 624, All Good Things… & …Must Come To An End] to have another death and this time it be Jen?

Stupin: It was so interesting last week; it came up that in a way it was a great book-end for the series. It frankly never occurred when we were talking about the beginning or the end of the show but one could argue that the series began with a catalyst and that was the arrival of Jen. And the series ended with a catalyst as well, and that was the departure of Jen. And the one thing that I think that it did is it really brought a sense of emotional resonance and power to that final episode, because one of the things with a final episode you want to be able to do, you want to be able to end a series in a satisfying and emotional and interesting way. And if we essentially had the last episode in history for Dawson’s Creek, we could talk about and we could explore issues of mortality involving some of our characters. Then when we talked about it, if we were going to be dealing with the characters’ mortality, she seemed like the most natural character in which to explore that.

TDW: Going back to the catalyst idea, it could be extended that that was really what it took for Joey to finally make up her mind between the two boys.

Stupin: Yeah, I think a little bit. I think the interesting thing was the series sort of ends twice. It ends in the episode before then [Episode 6.22, Joey Potter And The Capeside Redemption] where we get the sense that finally Dawson and Pacey are going to be friends and Joey did actually get to Europe. And I think that had a sense of closure. Then we took it another step and went to a sort of even more sort of larger-than-life ending of exploring who she was going to end up with. I think that was the big question: who was she going to end up with? And I think that that was handled pretty well, too. Like I personally love the thought that what this show was really about was not the romance of Dawson and Joey but about the strength and depth of that friendship and how that friendship was going to exist forever.

TDW: So if you had to answer the question, in your heart of hearts, do you think Dawson belongs with Joey in a platonic, friends soulmates sense and Pacey in the romantic soulmate way?

Stupin: In my heart of hearts, I think we ended it the right away. I think that what she did have in the romance with Pacey was as powerful as the friendship with Dawson. And I think that we were able to come up with a sense of satisfying closure for both of them. ‘Cause I will tell you, weirdly enough, when I was looking at The Sopranos–I’ll weirdly liken it to the conclusion of The Sopranos, at least from my weird perspective, because I was a fan of that. I like to think, in my mind, that Tony Soprano is still out there–maybe it wasn’t going to last forever, but maybe he’s still out there with his family, still dealing with the issues and still dealing with all the balls he was juggling. And in my mind, I like to think that Dawson and Joey are still out there in our alternate TV universe, still communicating with each other and still sharing the inner-most aspects of their hearts and still dealing with their friendship as adults, and that Joey and Pacey still have that romance. Because I feel like what we were able to come up with was, for me, an emotionally-satisfying conclusion for both stories which doesn’t let anyone down. And I know there are people who think Dawson and Joey should’ve been together romantically and I totally understand that point of view but I think we did the right thing.

TDW: Well, as a Joey and Pacey fan, I completely agree with you!

Stupin: Well, I can tell you this: that decision wasn’t made until the last hour was being shot and so if you look at the first hour of that final two-hour, I think at that point we were leaning toward her ending up with Dawson and so there are a few, I think, little cues–for the life of me I don’t remember exactly–that were set up to lead us in that direction and then, frankly, in the last hour, when the last hour was being shot–because it wasn’t shot as a two-hour; it was shot as two separate 1-hours–that when we came up with that conclusion, it caused us to shift things around a little bit. So I’ll tell ya, we were undecided up until the very last minute ourselves.

TDW: Wow. Well, switching gears slightly, you spoke about Dawson and the way he would communicate with Joey. Going off that, both Kevin Williamson and James Van Der Beek are on Twitter these days. I was wondering, had the service existed when the show was on the air, how do you think Dawson would’ve used it, if he would’ve used it? As I said, They’re both on it now, and Dawson was very much a storyteller.

Stupin: Well, I think Dawson might’ve used it to express his emotions. I think he might’ve used it as a shorthand way of communicating with both Joey and Pacey. It’s certainly easier to communicate things to someone by Twitter than it is necessarily in real life. He might’ve, at some point in our storytelling, he might’ve used it to express something that he might not have been so willing to express in person.

TDW: When you look back on the show and the television landscape then and now, what do you think the show’s legacy is?

Stupin: You know, I think for me it’s–well, first of all, I’m so proud of the show. I think the characters were amazing. I think their stories were amazing. I think the quality of the writing, the quality of the direction was–of course I’m biased but I think it was just top-flight. And I really do think it took the young adult teen genre and elevated it from just a niche kind of show to something universal and iconic. I think adults could look at it. When we were doing it we never looked at it as just a teen show.  We looked at it as just a smart, interesting, relationship show that happened to deal with teenagers and though our core audience was teenagers, it was written for everybody, for people in their 20s, their 30s, their 40s. And I really think it managed to transcend all of that and bring an element of quality and exploration to the genre that really took it to the next step.

TDW: Do you have a favorite episode or storyline?

Stupin: You know, I’m so biased. It’s like trying to pick if you have 120 kids which one’s your favorite. But I think for me there are certain sort of moments that I love. There’s certain episodes, like the pilot because it introduced us to that world, and I remember so much of it almost like it was yesterday. The first season-ender when Joey went to visit her dad in prison, I loved that. I loved the detention episode [Episode 1.07, Detention]. A lot of them are some of the original ones. But then I think I love the episode when they graduated high school [Episode 4.22, The Graduate]. I thought that was just sensational. I love the one-hour ender as well as the two-hour series finale ender. I think there’s so many. The episode where they studied and it was an all-nighter [Episode 2.07, The All-Nighter]. The episode where Joey had to enter the beauty pageant [Episode 1.12, Beauty Contest]. I just love all of those.

TDW: Well, conversely, do you have a big regret or something you wish you did differently?

Stupin: Yeah. My biggest regret would probably be, as I think about it–and it was a mistake we made–was the character of Eve. Remember that character?

TDW: Yeah. You guys even have a joke about that in the episode before the series finale.

Stupin: Yeah. I don’t think the first episodes of season 3 really were as memorable as the other episodes. And I think that whole notion of “Is she Jen’s sister? Is she not?”–I don’t think that was that effective. I don’t look back on that run of episodes as my favorites.

TDW: Yeah, I think the fans do agree with that.

Stupin: Yeah, but you know what, we turn it around.  In the middle of that season we turned it around with–

TDW: With Joey and Pacey.

Stupin: Yeah, with Joey and Pacey. And that certainly helped get us back, I think, to our roots.

TDW: Going more to your history, I know you played a bit of a role with the creation of Beverly Hills 90210.

Stupin: Yes, I did.

TDW: What influence, if any, did that show have on Dawson‘s Creek?  If you learned anything from how viewers took to what was really the first teenage show, as Dawson’s Creek is largely considered the next step in the genre.

Stupin: Well, two things. And it’s an interesting question. The first thing: when I hired Darren Star to write 90210, I felt as if his voice was just so unique in terms of his ability to write characters and come up with dialogue and wit that seemed like it would be a particularly good fit if he put into teenager characters’ mouths. So in a way I think that when I read Kevin’s voice, I felt some of it was the same in terms of being clever and sharp and smart and pop culturally-savvy. I felt like I had found another voice who was capable of taking the genre to the next step. So I felt like both Kevin and Darren brought originally a really unique sense of humor and sharpness to their creation of characters and dialogue. So I think there was a similarity there. The one issue that I took away from 90210, that was very effective in 90210, was the mix of issue-oriented episodes and personal inter-relationships. Though, when we jumped into Dawson’s, we veered away from doing the issue-oriented episodes and explored further just all of the great inter-relationships.

TDW: Going further ahead to the rest of the genre and the teen dramas that are on today, do you think Dawson’s Creek influenced them?

Stupin: I’m sure it did, though I can’t say–you know, again, I’m biased. I don’t know. In my mind, I’m undecided as to what the next real step in the genre is after Dawson’s. I’m not sure what it is. I haven’t watched enough of the shows. I hold, of course again I’m so biased, but I hold everything up to the prism of Dawson’s. I don’t know if any of them that have come since have quite represented that cultural milestone that Dawson’s did.

TDW: Do you think Dawson’s Creek would fly on The CW today? Because it’s so different than what The WB was.

Stupin: Yeah. I’m not sure. I’ve often thought would I be able to sell Dawson’s today? Would I be able to pitch that as a series and get it going, and I’m not altogether sure. Because now, when you look at Dawson’s, we sold it off the strength of the characters and off of the strength of Kevin’s voice being so fresh. Now, I think that the networks are looking for slightly higher concepts. So I’m not altogether sure that a Dawson’s would be able to sell today.

TDW: I have to ask, then, why do you think the 90210 spin-off sold?

Stupin: Oh, I see, are you talking about bringing able to bring it back, for instance?

TDW: Well, no, not for it to be a spin-off. But the 90210 concept today is working.

Stupin: Well, I think the 90210 concept–everyone, myself included, has fondness for that original show. The thought of sort of putting two new outsiders into that world and bringing the  show back is a great way to hook people into a whole new group of characters, and I think it was a great idea. The thing with Dawson’s is I don’t know if bringing the world of Dawson’s Creek back with a bunch of new characters would generate quite the excitement. Because I think when you think about the show, you think about Dawson and you think about the very unique 3 characters, the 4 characters we had, and the actors that played them. And I’m not sure if it was brought back again–I certainly wouldn’t want to redo it with a new Dawson or a new Pacey. So the question would be could we go back to Capeside with a whole new group of characters, and I’m not sure we would be able to put together a new group of people as memorably as we did originally.

TDW: Right. You know, they say lightening strikes once.

Stupin: Right. And you know, I’m afraid you always run the risk of–when you make a sequel to a movie that’s not as good, it kind of reflects negatively on the original movie.

TDW: I completely agree.

Stupin: And I like to think of all our episodes as being so special, I’m not sure it’s something you could bring back.

TDW: Well, my biggest disappointment right now is that Dawson’s Creek is no longer on any channel in America.

Stupin: Really? You know, they gotta get on that! Wasn’t it running like forever in the early morning hours?

TDW: It used to be on TBS. When I was in high school, it used to be on at like 10am. And then they pushed it to 4:30am, 5:30am and then it just faded away there and now it’s not on at all.

Stupin: I’m not sure what the design is on that because I always like to know that Dawson’s is out there.

TDW: I know, I know. It saddens me that it’s just not in repeats anywhere anymore in this country.

Stupin: You know what, those things tend to be cyclical. Maybe in the future you’ll be channel surfing one night. Knowing you, you’ll know way before then but maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

TDW: Fingers crossed.

Stupin: Exactly.

TDW: Well, let’s bring it back and finish on today. You’re with Make It Or Break It on ABC Family. Just looking at your career over the years, what is it about Make It or Break It that you’re here now?

Stupin: Well, what I love about Make It Or Break It is I’m a big fan of the genre, having originally developed 90210 and then developed Dawson’s. When I left to become a producer, I never really thought that my first real success would be in the same genre as 90210 because I actually never thought that lightning would strike twice in that genre for me as quickly as it did. But after I ran Dawson’s, you know, for six years, I developed a real love for the genre. And the thing that I love about Make It or Break It is the idea. It’s a fresh idea, it’s a fresh world. And it provides a pretty unique prism in which to explore sort of teenage relationships in a really unusual way. I mean, these girls aren’t normal teenagers. They’re elite gymnasts and there are rules against relationships as they’re pursuing their passion. How do they deal with that? And how do we deal with the same elements of teenage love and relationships and heartbreak but from a whole different perspective? And I love that about it, and I also love the relationships between the main characters and their parents and their parental figures. I think they’re a really organic element to the show and give us an opportunity to deal with really unusual family situations as well. So that’s why I love it. And also the gymnastics is just really cool. It’s a lot of fun just to see the gymnastics.

TDW: Oh, the gymnastics is just phenomenal to watch.

Stupin: So I think that Make It Or Break It is just such a special show. We’ve done 10 episodes and I think it’s just starting to get its sea legs. I think it has a huge successful life in front of it, I hope.

TDW: Well, best of luck to you on that!

Stupin: Thank you!

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





News Roundup: One Tree Hill, 90210, Dawson’s Creek and The O.C.

27 07 2009
  • I’ll be hosting another trivia game tomorrow night.  Details will be posted in the morning.
  • Still taking submissions for the Defend Your Favorite Couple guest post opportunity.
  • There’s a bunch of videos and other goodies floating around from the opening of Galeotti’s, a restaurant partly owned by Bethany Joy Galeotti (Haley, One Tree Hill).
  • Rob Buckley (Clayton, One Tree Hill) is now on Twitter.
  • Christy-Anne of OTH TwitterBugs is planning a group trip to Wilmington, N.C. where One Tree Hill is filmed (and Dawson’s Creek was).  For details, you can check out the official Web site or follow the Twitter account.
  • The One Tree Hill Podcast is taking a look back at season 3.
  • Shenae Grimes (Annie, 90210) will be on The Bonnie Hunt Show tomorrow.
  • The Jerusalem Post has a feature on Darren Star, the creator of Beverly Hills 90210.
  • I’ve been hesitant to post Candy Spelling-Tori Spelling (Donna, Beverly Hills 90210) news from this weekend because I despise TMZ but PEOPLE.com is saying it’s legit, so here you go.
  • The London Free Press has an article on Luke Perry (Dylan, Beverly Hills 90210) and James Van Der Beek (Dawson, Dawson’s Creek) but I’ve posted those quotes already.
  • In a chat with readers, two Boston Globe writers discussed The O.C.







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