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Poor ratings for Aaron Spelling

From re-castings to cancellations, what the future holds for ”Melrose Place,” ”The Heights,” and others

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Aaron Spelling’s career has seen more ups and downs lately than The Love Boat during a monsoon. The veteran TV producer (Charlie’s Angels, Fantasy Island) approached the fall season with what looked like five surefire hits — Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, and The Heights on Fox, 2000 Malibu Road on CBS, and The Round Table on NBC — but one show has already bitten the dust, two are suffering from severe ratings anemia, and a fourth is in the midst of a cast make-over.

Last week, Melrose‘s Amy Locane was canned after 13 episodes (she played the pouting waitress with the Southern accent) and will be replaced this fall by Daphne Zuniga (The Sure Thing); Zuniga will play a tough-talking New York divorcee who’s moved to Los Angeles to resuscitate a photography career. The casting change is designed to jump-start the show’s flagging ratings: The Sept. 16 episode of the 90210 spin-off came in 76th place in the Nielsens, a major tumble from its top 10 ranking in August.

Spelling’s 2000 Malibu Road (starring Drew Barrymore as one of four female roommates in a Malibu beach house) did well in its limited run but suffered fatal financial woes. Spelling and CBS couldn’t agree on a budget, so the series will not return. And although one Spelling source insists, ”It’s been a very good year for us. We’re having fun over here,” The Heights (about a group of young musicians) may be the next to go: The show has dropped in the ratings every week since its Aug. 27 debut, most recently finishing 88th. (In addition, The Round Table, about a bunch of young legal eagles in Washington, D.C., has aired only once but came in third in its time slot and 68th for the week.) Life is never this rocky at West Beverly Hills High.