Behind the scenes on 'Sex and the City' and 6 other secrets from Darren Star's TV empire
Credit: TV Land; Everett Collection; HBO

Over his 26-year career in television, Darren Star has created an array of hits — Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place; Sex and the City — and worked on a few misses that were ahead of their time (shout out to the cult classic, pitch-perfect satire Grosse Point). Star is making magic again as the creator of Younger, TV Land’s naughty romp starring Sutton Foster as a 40-year-old woman who, after a failed marriage, shaves 14 years off her age and totally reboots her life. Ahead of tonight’s season 2 finale, Star spills the secrets behind his lifetime roster of shows. (For more from Star on his stellar resume, check out this week’s issue.)

Imagine Alec Baldwin and Aidan Quinn fighting over Carrie Bradshaw

“I was thinking of Alec Baldwin for Big initially [in Sex and the City]. I don’t really watch Law & Order, but I met with Chris Noth and thought he was perfect. I remember the first table read, how good he was. I’m not saying that Chris was Mr. Big, but he brought a lot of his own persona to the role… We initially were thinking about Aidan Quinn for Aidan, but I think he wasn’t available. I loved John Corbett in Northern Exposure, and we were like, ‘Well, what’s John Corbett been up to?’ He just had the laconic, dudish vibe. But we kept ‘Aidan’ because we loved the name.”

Trust your crystal ball when it shows Bradley Cooper’s name in lights

“Bradley Cooper was on Sex and the City, and I always just loved him. I brought him up to the network [for Kitchen Confidential], but he wasn’t a big name. They wanted a star. We were looking at everybody from Paul Rudd to… I can’t remember, but it was definitely ‘Let’s get a name.’ We did cast Bradley, and he was fantastic. When the show got canceled I said, ‘This guy’s a big movie star. You will look back on this someday and realize that you canceled a show with Bradley Cooper.'”

Write what — and who — you know (because one day there may be an unauthorized TV movie about it)

“[Melrose Place star] Daphne Zuniga, who was my roommate in college, definitely was an inspiration for Alison. The scene where Alison puts her name on all of her food came directly from life. I never ate Daphne’s peanut butter again. And such a twist of fate that 10 years later she joined the cast. There was a surreal moment for me, watching these Melrose Place and 90210 Lifetime movies: There was a casting session where evidently there were a number of actors I was looking at that I really don’t have a recollection of meeting.”

A certain type of project might be music to his ears – and yours

“I’ve never done a musical episode of anything. I promised Sutton no karaoke and no singing on Younger, but I’d love to write a musical. I love theater, so if the right idea comes where I feel like, ‘That’s a play,’ I think it would be fun to do that, for sure.”

Goldie Hawn and David Schwimmer almost joined the Starverse

“I wish that The Viagra Diaries with Goldie Hawn had worked out. We were about to shoot it. Paul Feig was directing, and it was one of those things that fell apart at the last minute, but I thought that was a great world. There’s a pilot that I wrote called Him and Her about a guy that’s married that leaves his wife for a man, and that didn’t go forward. I was talking to David Schwimmer about it eight or nine years ago.”

Be ahead of the curve — but maybe just slightly ahead

“Originally I pitched Grosse Pointe to HBO, but they didn’t want to do a teen show. It was before its time — a show about a show, before Entourage or The Comeback… The show was mocking the audience that was watching and mocking the shows that audience loved. It was too smart for the room.”

Network(ing) is key

“Melrose was really a misbegotten offspring of 90210. It wasn’t working ratings-wise, and I was cut loose to do whatever it took. Sometimes when a network basically stops caring, you can say, ‘Okay. Let’s go a little crazy here…’ I would love to go back in time and redo Kitchen Confidential with Bradley Cooper at Showtime, which originally had wanted it. It most definitely should have been on a cable network. That was a big mistake… For me, Younger was always intended to be bingeworthy. Going on a network that was hungry to reestablish and redefine itself… that’s a fun challenge. I love it, because if you’re doing something out of the box, you get the network behind you; whoever you’re doing the show for, you need them supporting you.”