BH90210 stars and producers on paying tribute to Luke Perry, using reboot to 'heal'
Nearly 30 years after the launch of Beverly Hills, 90210 — and 20 years after its farewell — the show that launched countless ‘Dylan or Brandon?’ and ‘Kelly or Brenda?’ debates is returning to television, albeit in a different meta form.
Fox’s BH90210 is a six-episode dramedy in which the original stars of the teen drama set at West Beverly High — that would be Jennie Garth, Tori Spelling, Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Brian Austin Green, Ian Ziering, and Gabrielle Carteris — playing exaggerated versions of themselves (but inspired by their real lives!) as they reunite for… a reboot of 90210.
Luke Perry, who died in March following a massive stroke, is the only main cast member not taking part in the new series. (The show does pay tribute to him at several points.) Due to his contractual obligations to another network series, The CW’s Riverdale, Perry was not part of the cast that was announced in February (which, in an eerie coincidence, happened to be the day he suffered that stroke). But it was likely that he would have participated in some form. “We had had conversations with him about it and he was fully in support of it,” Garth said Wednesday during a BH90210 panel at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. Carteris added that they had talked with Perry about guest-starring on the show.
One cast member originally not planning on participating was Doherty. But Perry’s death, she says, changed her mind and she saw it as an opportunity for her and her ex-castmates to honor the late actor. “As these guys know, I definitely wasn’t going to do it, nothing against the show,” shared Doherty, noting that the reboot would have done well without her participation. “They didn’t need me. It just wasn’t at that moment what I wanted to be doing. And when Luke passed away, things drastically changed for me and I felt like it was a great opportunity to honor him… And I’m really glad I made that decision because now I get to sit up here with a lot of people that I respect and love and we went on this amazing journey together where we also got to really sort of heal through losing somebody who means the world to all of us.”
BH90210 executive producer Chris Alberghini said that considerable thought went into figuring out the proper way to salute Perry, who played rebel teen Dylan, within the format. “We knew we had to acknowledge and pay tribute to him,” he shared. “Obviously it was a very painful loss for the cast and everyone that knew him, and we wanted to do it in as respectful a way as possible. It was something that we discussed a great deal with everyone in the cast. Trial and error — there were a few things that we tried that didn’t work, and then we found a way that we all felt comfortable with and we felt honored him appropriately.”
“We didn’t want to do anything big that would take away from the horrible thing that happened, just to do it,” Spelling told Today earlier this week. “So, we wanted to do it in a nice way.”
The actors also joked about how times have changed, how time has passed, and how material from their lives would seep into the reboot. “We sat down at a table to read the script and everyone pulled out their reading glasses and we thought, ‘Oh, damn things have changed,’’” quipped Ziering. “So we thought, we have to integrate that into the content, into the show at some point.“
Elsewhere, Green affirmed that the reboot afforded the cast the chance to work in pairings not seen on the original show. “Shannen and I talked about the fact that we were on the show so long together but we only had like two or three scenes together, and we hoped in this version that that would change and we would have more of an opportunity to work together and do that,” he said. “And I think this gave us that. I think it was fun for all of the actors to work with each other in ways that we hadn’t before. For as long as we had done the show. Because we got to be ourselves — sort of — and play where we are now and not just play these fictionalized characters.”
You can read EW’s review of BH90210 right here before it premieres at 9 p.m. tonight on Fox.