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The Ausiello Files for October 17, 2008

EW’s TV scooper spills on Brandon Walsh’s return to ”90210,” ”American Idol”’s Chris Daughtry on ”CSI: NY,” and more

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Look out ‘90210,’ Brandon’s back!
Well, he’s kind of back.

Beverly Hills’ original heartthrob, Jason Priestley, has agreed to do an episode of The CW’s 90210 later this season, but you won’t see him — he’ll be behind the camera, working as a director. Still, his comeback is a twofold victory for the freshman series: First, it will give the show another strong creative tie to the past (Priestley helmed multiple episodes of the original 90210), and second, luring him to the set may bring producers closer to getting him to return on screen as Brandon — a prospect that he’s balked at so far. ”We would have loved to have him on camera,” acknowledges executive producer Gabe Sachs. ”The fact that he wants to be involved in it at all is a big deal.” And, Sachs adds, ”Hopefully he’ll have such a good time directing that he’ll [change his mind].”

If Priestley does, he’ll be facing a 90210 veteran logjam. Not only will Jennie Garth continue to be a regular presence during the second half of the season, but Shannen Doherty’s deal to return for two more episodes is all but sealed, and there’s a chance that Tori Spelling may make an appearance or two as well. Plus, Sachs hasn’t given up on Luke Perry, despite the fact that the actor has publicly nixed a return as Kelly’s baby-daddy. ”We go after Luke whenever we have the opportunity,” he says with a laugh. ”But I haven’t tried recently, so maybe I’ll try him again.”

If that doesn’t work, there’s always Ian Ziering. Which is another way of saying: Please, Luke, pleeeeeaaase!

ASK AUSIELLO

Q: Is production on Project Runway continuing while all this legal mumbo jumbo gets settled between Lifetime and Bravo? —Jason
A: Sure is. I know this because they just finished taping an episode that features Desperate Housewives fashion plate Eva Longoria Parker and designer Tommy Hilfiger as guest judges. It’ll air when, as you so eloquently put it, all this legal mumbo jumbo gets settled.

Q: Got any more details about the upcoming 30 Rock episode featuring Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively and Leighton Meester? —Ginny
A: I’d call this a pretty substantial detail: It ain’t happening! According to a 30 Rock insider, the comedy canceled the hilarious-sounding cameo — the frenemies were supposed to appear in a flashback as high school classmates of Liz Lemon’s — for ”logistical” reasons. Spotted: B and L kicking themselves senseless.

Q: Did I read correctly: Chris Daughtry is going to be on CSI: NY? —Cress
A: Yep, the American Idol crooner is branching out into acting with a guest spot on CSI: NY‘s 100th episode, airing Nov. 19. ”He was very prepared and he really got into it,” raves exec producer Pam Veasey of the singer, who does not play himself. ”I wouldn’t be surprised if he grows into quite a fine actor.” I’m still waiting for Paula Abdul to offer her critique, but sources confirm to me that she ”felt his soul.”

Ahhh, scoop. If only it were daily. Wait, thanks to Ausiello, it is! Set your bookmark to EW.COM.