‘The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story’: Scoop on the SoCal Series (PHOTOS)

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The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story
Sergei Bachlakov/Lifetime

Sex and the SoCal

Like Lifetime’s previous unofficial outings about Full House and Saved by the Bell, two new movies about popular nineties dramas Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place are coming. Both shows draw from public information and press coverage that was lavished on the SoCal-centered hits created by Aaron Spelling and Darren Star (played in both flicks by The Simpsons’ Dan Castellaneta and Canadian theater vet Adam Korson, respectively). “Biographies, autobiographies, magazine interviews with a million people—there was a lot to cull from,” notes Braunstein, who worked at Fox through the filming of the 90210 pilot. "The Melrose movie starts at an affiliates party and it’s there that we see Fox is pushing to find an [spin-off] idea. Darren Star had become a commodity, so they start pushing to get one."

Similar to 90210, Melrose wasn't a hit right off the bat (thank you, Heather Locklear!), but the original cast sure did become iconic. While the addition of Locklear and the end of Star’s partnership with Spelling shook the foundation of TV’s most sexually active apartment complex, the original cast’s behind-the-scenes antics made waves as well. Here, Braunstein offers some scoop about the actors in the storied ensemble.
Everett Collection

Grant Show (played by Ryan Bruce)

Show’s mechanic Jake Hanson was introduced in the final episodes of 90210’s second season, and it was on his often bare shoulders that Melrose was launched. “He had to go shirtless a lot, and he was totally frustrated by it,” Braunstein recalls. “All the actresses on the show are like, ‘Oh, poor you…welcome to our lives!’”
Everett Collection

Vanessa A. Williams (played by Karissa Tynes)

Like poor Rhonda Blair, the cardio-funk instructor who never really found a storyline, Williams gets no love in the movie, either. “You have to choose which storylines you want to focus on in an 85-minute movie,” Braunstein confesses.
Everett Collection

Courtney Thorne-Smith and Andrew Shue (played by Rebecca Dalton and Frank Bailey)

“They were a couple, of course,” Braunstein says, adding that the film shows how the actors behind troubled lovers Alison Parker and Billy Campbell dealt with their own off-screen breakup. “It’s dramatic and poignant.”
Everett Collection

Josie Bissett and Thomas Calabro (played by Chloe McClay and Brandon Barash)

Paired with Bissett as perfect couple Jane and Michael Mancini, the stage-trained Calabro was thrown by Melrose’s crazy tone. “He took himself very seriously,” Braunstein says. “The irony is that he stayed with the show the whole time!”
Aaron Spelling Prod./Everett Collection

Amy Locane (played by Lanie McAuley)

Even though Locane’s wannabe actress Sandy Harling moved out of Melrose Place after 13 episodes, “we do deal with her Southern accent a little bit,” Braunstein says with a laugh. (The actress later served time for a fatal 2010 DUI, but that is not addressed in the film.)
Aaron Spelling Prods/Everett Collection

Doug Savant (played by Joseph Coleman)

Savant had pushed for Matt Fielding, the least-gay gay in Los Angeles, to get some action, but his same-sex smooch in Season 2 scared the censors at the last minute. “We see him filming it, and then he goes to watch it at a screening party and sees that it was cut,” Braunstein says. “He was devastated!”
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The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story, Saturday, Oct. 10, 8/7c, Lifetime

Plus: Take an Inside Look at The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210