Exclusive: Six Questions For 90210 Music Supervisor Scott Vener

13 06 2010

When 90210 featured The Script in an episode last fall, I had no idea who they were. Fast-forward to April when their single “Breakeven (Falling To Pieces)” went platinum–selling more than one million copies and playing on an endless loop inside my head.

In the last few months, I begun to increasingly wonder about 90210’s music selection process and (politely) stalked the show’s music supervisor, Scott Vener, for the low-down.

Vener took time out for a quick chat via e-mail about working on 90210 and two successful HBO shows.

TeenDramaWhore: What does it mean to be a music supervisor? What is the process for selecting music for a 90210 episode?

Scott Vener: The process is different on all shows.  But, on 90210, I pool together a library of music for the editors so they have music they can cut picture to.  I would say most of the songs come from me.  However, I’m really lucky on 90210 to be working with some really great editors who know music pretty well.  They make a lot of contributions.  Also, the showrunner [Rebecca Sinclair] has great taste and she is really supportive of using eclectic stuff, which makes my job a lot more fun rather than just placing songs that are currently charting on the radio.

TDW: Do you have a favorite 90210 “music moment,” a scene and song that really stands out to you in your memory?

Vener: I really loved using the song “Cat & Mouse” by this new group Nikki & Rich in the first episode of the season [Episode 2.01, To New Beginnings].  You can YouTube it.  It’s great!

TDW: The original 90210 had the After Dark, a club for the characters to gather where popular music artists would perform. This has also been seen on other teen shows, like The O.C., which had a place called The Bait Shop. Aside from The Script playing at the Beverly Hills Beach Club earlier this season [Episode 2.05, Environmental Hazards] and a brief performance by N.E.R.D [Episode 2.08, Women’s Intuition], the new 90210 has stayed away from that. Is that an intentional choice?

Vener: I don’t really know because I don’t write the scripts : )

TDW: How did Soundtrack 90210 come about? Any plans for a “volume 2”?

Vener: The soundtrack was CBS’s idea.  The show really lends itself to being a music-driven show.  So, having a soundtrack made sense.  I’m not sure if we’re going to do a new one.

TDW: You also work on Entourage and, more recently, How To Make It In America [starring Bryan Greenberg (Jake, One Tree Hill)]. How do you balance three shows and how do you think the music style for the shows differ?

Vener: They shoot at different times so it’s not hard to balance them all.  I definitely think the styles are really different.  There definitely is some cross-over.  I used Nas and Damian Marley’s song “As We Enter” and Broken Bells’ song “The High Road” on both 90210 and How To Make It.  But what I love about 90210 is I can use more singer-songwriter stuff that probably wouldn’t fit on either How To Make It or Entourage.  Entourage is definitely closer in style to How To Make It because they both lend themselves to hip hop.

TDW: Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have a favorite artist right now?

Vener: I really don’t like to use anything I don’t listen to in my personal life.  I definitely search music blogs all over the Internet from people all over the world.  I got a few people (blogs) working for me, who have no idea they work for me.  I feel guilty. I don’t pay them. (No, I don’t. Ha.) Foals’ new album is great.  It’s not out yet but I have it and it’s awesome.  Also, The Morning Benders, Nikki & Rich, and Freddie Gibbs.

TDW Interview Index

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Favorite Valentine’s Day Episodes

10 02 2010

Like I did with the Favorite Holiday Episodes series, during the next few days I will highlight some of my favorite Valentine’s Day storylines from each of the teen dramas show-by-show. Warning: it’ll be a bumpy ride!

TODAY: Beverly Hills 90210

1. Episode 2.22, Baby Makes Five

Despite airing an episode in season 1 on Valentine’s Day itself and an episode earlier in season 2 with the name My Desperate Valentine, this is the first actual V-Day focused episode. I like this ep for both its subtle seriousness and its significance. Brenda is eagerly awaiting Valentine’s Day with Dylan (technically their second together, but as I said, we didn’t get a storyline for it in season 1) and turns out Dylan has something a bit unconventional planned: getting blood drawn. As he explains, they’re actually donating their blood in recognition of the person who donated blood for him when he was seriously injured years ago on the 14th. Today the importance of donating blood is brought up time and again by the media but here and then the message was just as important but they don’t hit you over the head with it. Meanwhile, Kelly’s mom Jackie is stressed when she finds out she’s pregnant when she and Mel have only been dating for a few months. Kelly confides in Donna who in turn tells David and soon enough Mel finds out. Mel realizes he loves Jackie and wants not only have the baby but also marry her. And thus, all these years later, we have Silver on 90210.

2. Episode 5.20, You Gotta Have Heart

This episode aired a week before Valentine’s Day but revolved around a telethon at the After Dark for children with heart issues. While most of the Kelly-in-a-cult storyline is just bad, the impact it has on her relationship with Brandon comes to a head in this ep. And when Kelly is MIA for the telethon, Brandon is forced to make out with Donna for one of the segments, which is the only time we get to see these two go at it and, boy, do they go at it! Speaking of going at it, while Donna is somewhat innocently making out with Brandon, boyfriend Ray is being seduced by Valerie.

3. Episode 6.22, Bleeding Hearts

And while most of the Kelly-on-drugs storyline is just bad as well, the impact it has on her friendship with Brandon comes to a head in this ep. His Valentine’s Day plans with Susan are ruined when a drugged-out Kelly calls him for help. With his assistance she gets into a rehab program but when she confesses she’s still in love with him, Brandon doesn’t return the sentiment. David writes Valerie the most moving poem for Valentine’s Day–seriously, I get chills when I hear or read it–but under pressure from Ginger and her blackmail scheme, Valerie encourages him to sleep with Ginger. David is incredibly shocked and hurt that Val would ask him to do such a thing and breaks up with her. (I, unfortunately, couldn’t find YouTube clips of either the poem scene or the break-up scene.) This episode aired on Valentine’s Day in 1996.

4. Episode 7.19, My Funny Valentine

I like this episode for the storylines it sets up and for one that reaches its climax. The latter refers to one of the few heartfelt scenes Kelly and Valerie ever shared, as Val pleads with Kel to break up with her high school sweetheart. Cliff returns to town and finds Donna is now with David, leading to a short but sweet love triangle that continues into the next episode and results in one of my favorite D-D kisses. The ep ends with Brandon and Tracy’s V-Day happiness cut short when she finds an engagement ring and assumes it’s for her–except it’s the ring Brandon had for Kelly a few years back and couldn’t bring himself to return after she rejected him. This leads into a moving Brandon-Kelly storyline, one of my favorites, in the next episode and beyond. Oh, and Luther Vandross performs, which is perfect V-Day music.

5. Episode 8. 20, Cupid’s Arrow

So now it’s a year later and Brandon and Kelly have gotten back together…and broken up again. This episodes sees them reconciling once again and, well, I’m a sucker for it! Donna and David are no longer together but they end up spending most of V-Day with each other, pissing off their significant others, Noah and Valerie. Unbeknown to either of them, Noah’s brother roofies Val’s drink and she & drunk Noah end up sleeping together, setting up a storyline for the subsequent episodes. The ep also features a cameo from Ian Ziering’s then-wife. Unfortunately, again, I can’t find a clip worth using as the critical, climatic parts (with B/K and Donna/Noah/Val/David) are at the end of the episode and YouTube has all but that.

Some of these episodes will be shown Sunday, during SoapNet’s Valentine’s Day Marathon.

Tomorrow we move on to Dawson’s Creek.





Beverly Hills 90210 Season 8 DVD Available Today!

24 11 2009

I’ll be getting my copy sometime today.

Check back later for more details!

UPDATE

I was at Barnes and Noble when it opened its doors at 9am. The sales clerks in the DVD section had no idea what I was talking about but eventually located a copy with a retail price of $59.99.

Unlike the covers for the previous few seasons, this one doesn’t feature a cast shot but rather individual pictures of the characters. Staring out from the center is Hilary Swank (Carly). I’ve been complaining about this ever since the art was first released as Swank was only in 16 episodes. Sure, she was billed as a lead character (and hired to be in the whole season) but with limited cover space, that spot should’ve gone to Vincent Young (Noah), who was not only in every episode of the season but also seasons 9 and 10. I’ve been told the decision to put Swank front and center was a marketing decision designed to capitalized on the Oscar winner’s recognition factor. Apparently that applies to the individual disc covers as well as Swank is also featured prominently on one of those while this time the MIA actor is Brian Austin Green (David), who’s been with the series since Day 1.

The back cover also doesn’t feature Young but manages to include him and everyone else in the description (though in a different order than the opening credits): “The Real World: 90210…School is over and the friends of Beverly Hills 90210 are discovering that life after graduation is not as easy as they thought! Come along with Brandon (Jason Priestley), Kelly (Jennie Garth), Donna (Tori Spelling), David (Brian Austin Green), Steve (Ian Ziering), Val (Tiffani Amber Thiessen), Noah (Vincent Young), and Carly (Hilary Swank) as they explore love and life outside of college in all 30 titillating episodes of Season 8. Experience Kelly’s recovery from a drive-by shooting, Brandon and Kelly’s wedding plans, and Donna’s drug overdose. It doesn’t take long for the gang to discover that the real world can be just as unpredictable as college.”

The set contains 7 discs with descriptions on the back of the individual cases. It’s pretty much a given there’s going to be errors (or, at the very list, vague summaries that miss the key points) but there are some doozies here! (1) “Racial lyrics lead David’s band, After Dark, into problems.” First off, the band wasn’t David’s–he was pseudo-managing them. But more importantly, After Dark is the name of the club that’s been on the show since season 5, not the name of the band (which was actually called Cain Was Able). (2) Continuing with the band name errors, they say “a member of Jasper’s Legend tries to sue Noah after a car accident” but the band was called Jasper’s Law. (3) We’ve got a serious reversal of events when they say “Valerie accuses Noah of date rape when she wakes up without any memory of the night before…and Donna and David get into a car accident.”  Considering Donna and David’s interaction is partly the catalyst for Valerie and Noah even sleeping together, the order is crucial. (4) And the biggest error comes in the description for the two-part series finale: “Kelly takes an AIDS test after she comes into contact with the blood of an HIV patient. Trying to calm their new female news achor, Brandon ends up getting her drunk. Mel issues David an ultimatium. Valerie anxiously awaits her HIV test results. Brandon and Kelly have some very big news for their invited guests a few hours before the wedding.” The first half of that (from “Kelly…” to “…ultimatium” is from an episode in season 7! That’s right, folks. How a description for an episode that wasn’t even in this season–and wasn’t even a season finale, for that matter–ended up merged with the description for the actual season finale is beyond me. And, just to be totally accurate, Brandon and Kelly had their “surprise” *at* the wedding, not hours before.

Also worth mentioning is the pamphlet advertising other shows on DVD, including 90210: The First Season. The description reads: “New Drama. Same Zip. There’s a new generation in town, and they’re turning up the heat at West Beverly High. For hook-ups, break-ups, drug busts, and betrayals, 90210 is the place to go for the ultimate in guilty pleasures! Packed with Special Features.”

Unfortunately, this set isn’t “packed with special features.” Just as it was with season 7, my biggest complaint is the absence of special features altogether. I can only hope they are making some kick-ass ones for a complete series release. (And if there’s no complete series release, I’ll be hella pissed.)

Season 9 comes out in February.

Stay tuned!





Random Thought

30 10 2009

I was watching The O.C. recently when this thought struck me: three of our teen dramas have introduced a night club as a way of gathering the characters and featuring musical guests.

Beverly Hills 90210 started the trend (as they did with almost every teen drama characteristic) in 1994 with the After Dark.

One Tree Hill followed suit with TRIC  in 2004.

The O.C. debuted The Bait Shop a few weeks later.

Dawson’s Creek was an exception, and we’ve yet to see if Gossip Girl and 90210 will do something similarly.

Another common feature: the evil character that, after a health crisis, vows to change his ways.  On The O.C. it was Caleb and on One Tree Hill it’s Dan.

That’s enough randomness for now.  Until next time…





Top 10 Musical Guests: #6 and #5

16 01 2009

The countdown of the top 10 teen drama musical guests continues!

In case you missed it, here are numbers 10 & 9 and 8 & 7!

6. Jamie Walters (Beverly Hills 90210, Miscellaneous Episodes in Seasons 5 and 6)

True he appeared as the character Ray Pruitt, but Walters was playing original songs and released them on his own CD.

5. Christina Aguilera (Beverly Hills 90210, 10.2: Let’s Eat Cake)

Christina performs at the After Dark where the gang throws David a surprise birthday party.








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