Beverly Hills, 90210 revival exclusive: Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth explain meta series BH90210
It’s not a reboot, a revival, or a reimagining, but Fox’s return to Beverly Hills, 90210 will give fans reason to rejoice. The new dramedy — called BH90210 and starring original cast members Gabrielle Carteris, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Brian Austin Green, Jason Priestley, Tori Spelling, and Ian Ziering — imagines what would happen if all those actors got together to make a revival of Beverly Hills, 90210. Meta, right? EW spoke to Spelling and Garth exclusively about the project, which goes into production later this month.
How would you explain the concept of the show in your own words?
JENNIE GARTH: [To Tori] Ummmm… You go first.
TORI SPELLING: Jen and I co-created it with Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler. I mean, I don’t know if it’s art imitates life or life imitates art — but we have had a close friendship, she’s one of my best friends, for 30 years. And we have gotten to the point in our lives where we just want to work together. Our kids are friends, and we want our families together all the time, so we wanted to develop something together. And that’s when we started talking about, Was it the right time to do something with 90210 finally?… We knew it was at that point where everyone had pretty much done a reboot — in fact, 90210 kind of had a reboot with The CW version. We wanted to do something different, and we wanted to do something that would cause noise and be groundbreaking just like our original show was back in the ‘90s. And that’s when together we came up with this version. And you can’t see now, but I’m turning it over to Jennie. [laughs]
GARTH: The premise of this show, it’s about the characters behind the characters. It’s inside the lives of people that lived in those shoes for those 10 years, and it’s about them coming back together. It’s really hard to do that show justice in a reboot, so we didn’t want to even try. We wanted to come at it with a totally different, fresh perspective, while still honoring the show and paying homage to all the characters that the fans are going to really love.
Tori, it sounds a little bit to me like So NoTorious, your underrated VH1 comedy — is this show in that vein?
SPELLING: Fortunately for this, no one saw that show. But thank you. This is different because I feel like it’s the first time a whole ensemble, an entire cast has come back to play a heightened version of themselves. Eventually for the fans’ sake, we will get into the show within a show. Because while they come back together and it’s kind of that whole thing, can you go home again? We worked together so closely and we were like family for so many years — but we were in our teens and in our 20s, and what’s it like now? We’ve all been through marriages and divorce and children and death — so what happens now when people come back together? It’s almost like the ultimate high school reunion.
GARTH: And the group is together with the parameters of putting together a reboot, so she mentioned in the second season we will probably get more into the reboot. The first season’s going to be about getting to the reboot.
How would you describe the heightened versions of yourselves vs. your actual selves?
GARTH: Worse. [laughs]
SPELLING: Mine was actually I think the hardest character to write for everyone, because there is so much public fodder, tabloid fodder about my life. I think definitely everyone was wanting to poke fun at themselves and poke fun at the image that other people have of them. We do want people to question, like, “Wait, is that based on a story from real life or is that something fictionalized?” I’m married on the show, I have a lot of kids. This is so heightened, right? [laughs]
Are you incorporating your real family members into the show?
GARTH: No. We’re fictionalizing everybody’s home lives to a certain degree.
Ah ok. So “Tori Spelling” is married with a lot of kids, and does she also have tabloids chasing her all around as well?
SPELLING: I think they all do… It’s something that the press is fascinated with, so we’ll definitely be doing the whole financials of it all, because I know that’s something that the press loves to post stories about. We’ll take a look into that.
And Jennie, how would you say “Jennie Garth” differs from you in real life?
GARTH: For me in developing my character on the show, I’m done a lot of looking at myself and my progression so far to this date. And we have just sort of leaned into, a woman in her ‘40s in a multiple-marriage situation, dealing with teenage girls, dealing with Hollywood, being in the limelight again and facing all those fears that were there when she was a young girl. It’s sort of tapping into a lot of my, um, therapy I guess. [laughs] I’ve been studying this character for years!
SPELLING: I think if we’re hesitant at all to describe the characters, we’re still in the process of writing it, so we’re kind of fleshing it out daily. We definitely have a story and what’s going to happen and the reconnection with all the cast, but it’s definitely a work in progress with each of our characters.
How involved are you guys with the actual writing?
GARTH: We’ve spent time with all the writers, and it’s definitely been a collaborative process so far.
SPELLING: It’s really fun, all of the actors — we’re all producing it, so we’ve all spent time going over stories are our recollections of how things happened back then and what we went through. It is like therapy. We found out a lot. You perceive things totally different, too, when you’re in your 20s as opposed to your 40s. And I think it’s very rare in life that you’re able to go back and say, like, “Gosh I would have done things differently or handled this situation differently.” But all of a sudden here we are! Just like with the photo shoot the other day, the promo shoot, we were doing a group shot together, and we did those every year for 10 years, and never thought we would go back. And it’s interesting, because when I was in the moment I never appreciated them, and then when I got older and I would tell my kids about it, I was like, “Awww….” In my head, it’s a bummer — I wish I had appreciated every moment of that. And then here we are again, so it’s like a do-over.
And you got to play with 90210 dolls in the photo shoot! Do you have your own dolls from when they were originally released?
GARTH: I think I have one in the garage somewhere.
SPELLING: I do have one. My kids wanted to open it. They didn’t understand why [they couldn’t]. They’re like, “We take the Barbies out of the box, isn’t that just a Barbie?” I’m like, “It’s a special Barbie. It’s mom!”
Everyone was so sad about the death of Luke Perry. Was there a moment where you guys wondered if you should still go through with the show? And how will the show honor him?
GARTH: We thought long and hard about all of those things at every step of the way — even when Luke was with us and involved with the development of the show on some level. But I personally am just not going to comment on that.
SPELLING: I feel the same way. Out of respect, if for no other reason.
So he was involved early on?
GARTH: Yes. Tori and I had certainly had conversations with him specifically about this. And he was into it.
As a fan I must know, will there be a Peach Pit, or will it be Peach Pit After Dark? Something else?
GARTH: What would be next after Peach Pit: After Dark?
SPELLING: It would be Senior Community Center. [laughs] Peach Pit Senior Center.
GARTH: We’re working on a location right now for our new version of the Peach Pit. You’ll be seeing the Peach Pit.
SPELLING: There’s definitely going to be for the die-hard fans, there’s going to be moments where they’ll get to see us play Kelly and Donna and all the other characters.
Besides the Peach Pit, are there other iconic things you want to incorporate into the show?
GARTH: Yeah, we’re definitely going to use the theme song, the original. We’re looking for opportunities for a lot of original locations and sets right now.
SPELLING: We hope to have winks at the original ones, and then modernized versions of things like the music we used and the credits we used — so [fans] get a little bit of both.
For more on the 90210 revival, check out the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday.