The men of 'Melrose Place'
The male stars of the popular soap talk about being overshadowed by the ladies, playing dumb, and body hair
Let’s say you’ve just dropped in from outer space and overheard a bunch of humans — and they’re all over the planet these days — dishing about a show on Fox called Melrose Place. Kimberly has come back from the dead! Amanda really tortured that Peeping Tom! Sydney is running a prostitution ring! Jo is pregnant by the lover she just shot!
You, alien, having also glanced at a newsstand, where the comely faces of Heather Locklear, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Josie Bissett, Daphne Zuniga, and Laura Leighton gaze dreamily from magazine covers, might conclude there are no significant men on this show. But you would be wrong. Sure, the gals get all the attention — and the juiciest plots — but they’d be scrambling for crumbs without the handsome beefcake that feeds their characters’ desires and demonic schemes.
It’s just that the Melrose men don’t have it as together as the women do. There’s Jake (Grant Show, 32), the brooding lunk who prefers the company of bikes and boats to that of people; Billy (Andrew Shue, 27), the magazine writer who naively assumed his fiancee would dump her job to follow him to New York; Matt (Doug Savant, 30), the gay hospital clerk who jeopardized his career by doctoring a lab report; and Michael (Thomas Calabro, 35), the sleazy surgeon who got blackmailed by his ex-wife’s sister into marrying her. Get the picture? They’re himbos.
After filming the final scenes a few weeks ago for the cliff-hanger that will end their second season on Wednesday, May 18 — and you might wanna stick around on Earth for what promises to be a doozy — the stared-at but overlooked male contingent of Melrose sat down for a heart-to-heart with Entertainment Weekly. As prime time’s reigning male sex symbols, they had a lot to get off their well-defined chests. Let’s hear it from the boys.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Since you’re about to change clothes for the photos, let’s start with the boxers-or-briefs question.
SHOW: I’m a 50-50 guy. Today, as you can see, I have silk boxers on, with little Mickey Mouse faces.
SAVANT: (Sounding annoyed) Briefs.
CALABRO: I don’t wear underwear.
SHOW: Wow. (They all laugh.)
CALABRO: I’ve never understood why someone would give a f— about what I liked. I’m just an actor.
EW: Are you like the people you play?
SHOW: I don’t think I’m that close to Jake. He has a bigger stick up his butt than I do. And he’s slower.
CALABRO: That’s the secret of Melrose Place: pretty but stupid people. That’s why people like watching. They feel superior.
SAVANT: I’m more assertive than Matt. I would never tolerate his level of abuse.
EW: Andrew, you can’t be as naive as Billy. Especially this season. He has been so…
SHUE: He really does take a lot, doesn’t he? But sometimes he does try to be this tough guy.
CALABRO: That was a nice scene when you went into that shrink’s office and told him off. My wife, Lizzie, loved that.
EW: Right, the shrink asked Alison (Thorne-Smith) to have lunch and she thought he was asking her to have an affair? That made no sense.
SHOW: But this is Melrose Place. You know lunch doesn’t mean just lunch.
EW: Right, you guys have to find the subtext in a scene.
SHOW: Subtext? On Melrose Place?
SAVANT: What’s subtext? (They all laugh.)
EW: What about the controversial kiss in the season ender-Matt makes out with a guy (actor Ty Miller of The Young Riders) at Billy and Alison’s wedding. Fox may not air it.
SAVANT: This show gets criticized for not doing enough (about gays), so let me first say, this show is doing something. But I don’t understand the controversy. (The kiss) is very tame. It’s more about Billy’s reaction to finding out that his best man is gay and he didn’t know.
EW: The nature of soaps is that plots can turn on a dime. Does that make you crazy?
SHOW: It really makes me crazy when it happens to these guys. When I see Michael going in to Jane (Bissett) and saying, ”I don’t think you should make this business deal and I won’t let you,” I want to scream at the set, ”Hey, f— you. You’re a silent partner.” It makes me absolutely crazy she doesn’t say, ”Michael, f— you.”
EW: A lot of Melrose viewers scream at the set, especially at the men. They think you’re all so dumb.
SHOW: I don’t know if the men are dumb. We do take a lot of abuse from the women, but that’s the nature of a soap opera. It’s directed at a female audience. We’re not spineless. Just, uh, misdirected sometimes.
CALABRO: I don’t think we’ve lost our identity as men.
SAVANT: It’s happening all over TV, the emasculation of men.
SHOW: It’s bashing, maybe.
SAVANT: Bashing, right. We’re almost cliches, all men on TV. There is no perfect role out there. I just see this as a bad place in time for men.
EW: No. You guys are almost always undressed. And how many times can they pan up and down Andrew’s legs?
SHOW: Have you seen daytime TV? I don’t think we compare. Maybe for nighttime we’re out there.
SHUE: I try to avoid that stuff as much as possible — ”Oh, Billy is in the shower again.” If it’s for the scene — the shower or a sex scene or in the pool — it makes sense. But one time it was ”Billy is writing at night, shirtless,” and I thought, he is shirtless, writing? So I put a shirt on but left it open. They needed that because Alison was ”thinking” about him and looking and…
SHOW: I think the women on the show are sexually exploited as much as we are. Look at the dresses they wear!
CALABRO: Right. It’s not exactly like Amanda (Locklear) wears business clothes! This show is about fantasy on some level.
EW: Does the fantasy make it harder to pull off?
SHOW: I forgave him (points at Shue) for f—ing Amanda while I was putting him up in my house? Right!
EW: You did punch him out. SHOW: Oh, right. I slug him and then I forgive him — the next time I see him.
EW: Tom, you’ve been the most over-the-top male character. Have you had any trouble justifying what you do?
CALABRO: None. (He smiles.) It was harder for me, actually, when Michael was nice and sweet.
EW: And Andrew, what about you and Billy? His relationship with Alison has had so many strange bumps.
SHUE: I loved when Alison flew 3,000 miles to see me in New York and she caught me with this other girl and she ran away and I just stood there. This woman I love? I stood there.
SAVANT: Thomas and I have talked about how (the nasty things) our characters did to each other didn’t make sense. We played it every which way. When we played it as I’m secretly falling in love with him, we thought maybe the writers would go with it — and they didn’t.
EW: Much of the press for this show has given the women, especially Heather, credit for its success.
SHOW: F— that! (They all laugh.)
EW: Seriously, do you feel you’ve gotten enough credit? People might think, ”Why talk to the men?”
SHOW: Because no one else has? (They laugh.) Look, the show is from a woman’s point of view. With the exception of Thomas right now, it is all about the women. We are the supporting cast.
EW: You guys are becoming popular.
SHUE: I feel like we’re the Monkees or something.
CALABRO: Andrew, you’re too young to remember the Monkees!
SHOW: Hey, I think I’m too young to remember the Monkees. Okay, there’s four of us, we’re popular, but we’re not the Beatles. Or the cast of Seinfeld.
SAVANT: If we’re the Beatles, does that make me Ringo? And, guys, I sat down here on the ground so the editors of the magazine can easily cut me out like they do on the show. (They all laugh.)
EW: What female character on the show (Jo, Amanda, Alison, Sydney, or Jane) would you want to date? Doug, I don’t know if you should answer this.
SHOW: Ask him which guy he’d want.
SAVANT: It would have been Billy earlier, but Jake is starting to show us a more sensitive side.
SHUE: Uh, Jane maybe.
SHOW: Think about this, Andrew. All America is going to hear this answer lie if you have to.
SHUE: If I had to pick one, Alison. Okay. Alison.
CALABRO: Who would I pick? Oh, Jesus! I’d want them all. The question is, would you get on a plane to L.A. to go live with the people of Melrose Place? I don’t know… (They all laugh.)
EW: Andrew, you’re the unattached guy in the cast (Calabro and Savant are married; Show dates Leighton, who plays Sydney). Have you gotten used to the public scrutiny of your private life? This year you’ve been linked with Courtney, Heather, and…
SHUE: I dated one person (Thorne-Smith). You learn very quickly not to take what people say, or the tabloids, so seriously. I laugh at it-what else can you do?
EW: Tell me about the show’s body-hair policy.
SHOW: The what?
EW: Facially, you always seem to be clean-shaven. And there was this rumor that they wanted you to be more accessible to teenage girls, like on Beverly Hills, 90210, and chest hair was threatening.
SHOW: What? There is no truth to that rumor. Have you ever seen me with a shaved chest? Never.
CALABRO: Where do things like that come from?
SHOW: Think about the four of us. Can you imagine what we would say if someone asked us to shave our chests?
EW: Well, Grant, you’d probably say no.
SHOW: Noooo? Is that exactly what I’d say?
EW: Okay, f— no.
SHOW: There you go. (They all laugh.)
EW: You get to have one wish. More sex, more money, more free time, more stardom. What do you pick?
CALABRO: Oh, Jesus! Where did you come up with these?
SHOW: With money or fame you get the rest. But that’s not to say I want any of those.
SAVANT: I want free time no, make that money.
EW: Why money?
SHOW: Baby, he has the rest. (They all laugh.)
CALABRO: I don’t want or need any more of any of those things.
SHUE: Easy. Free time, free time.
CALABRO: Now, if you asked me if I wanted more Brady Bunch reruns, this would be a tough question.
EW: During your hiatus you can star in either an art film with a great director that no one will see or a blockbuster that will make millions but won’t necessarily be good for your career. Which do you pick?
SHOW: How can a blockbuster not be good for your career?
EW: Look at Jurassic Park — that wasn’t a movie that helped the actors.
SHOW: Okay, you’re right.
SAVANT: I would take the artistic job.
SHUE: So would I.
SHOW: We all would.
SHUE: Why would we take the job that’s going to pay that isn’t going to do anything for our careers?
SHOW: Right, with Melrose Place we’re already doing that! (They all laugh.)
EW: How would you say this show has changed your lives? I mean, Doug, you were delivering pizzas two years ago.
SHUE: Opportunity. I can start something like Do Something (a youth-led foundation to encourage community activism).
SHOW: I threw out the bottle of tequila. (He laughs.)
EW: Being serious for a minute, do you guys talk politics ever? Like Bosnia?
SAVANT: (Deadpan) Isn’t she the singer? (They all laugh.) See, we’re not dumb.
EW: This question speaks to celebrity and power. If you could be someone else for one day, who would it be?
SHOW: For a day? We all know who Andrew would be.
CALABRO: Drew wants to be Kennedy.
SHOW: Yeah, JFK.
SHUE: Thanks, guys.
SAVANT: Tom Waits. He’s cool.
SHOW: Me? Bond. James Bond. But I never wanted to be anyone else.
CALABRO: Neither do I. But if it’s just for one day, Charles Bukowski. Why? I always wanted to work in a post office.
SHUE: I’d also like to be Einstein. To be that brilliant and know what that is like.
SHOW: I don’t know any of the shuttle astronauts’ names, but I would love to do that. To be in space for a day.
EW: This is the Match Game question: On Melrose Place I have the biggest…
SHOW: (Quickly) Penis! (Long pause.)
EW: I don’t think anyone is going to, or wants to, contradict you!
SAVANT: I have the biggest sense of absurdity.
SHUE: I have the biggest phone bill! (They all laugh — Shue’s family lives on the East Coast.)
CALABRO: I would hate to disagree with Grant, but I probably have the biggest penis.
SAVANT: If you want a body part I would have to say I have the biggest gut.
CALABRO: I have the biggest lips. And they aren’t implants.
SHOW: I would have to say, seriously, that I have the biggest temper.
EW: Penis was better. Now you’ll get a lot more fan mail!
CALABRO: Actually I have the biggest…
SAVANT: …heart. Tom does have a big heart.
CALABRO: Actually, I’d go with that. That’s nice. I do.