Millennials might fondly remember Beverly Hills, 90210 as the quintessential teen drama, but they also remember that the series got a sequel on The CW simply called 90210. That series began in a similar vein: a family from the Midwest moves to Beverly Hills and must deal with culture shock of being around the rich and wealthy, while the teenagers have to learn to navigate the minefield halls of high school.
The series did fairly well for The CW, and went on to run for five seasons. After the initial group of characters graduated from high school, the show followed them into college, where even more dramatic and scandalous events occurred.
Although the series would originally feature a few members of the original cast of Beverly Hills, 90210, it eventually changed its focus to the new stars of that zip code, turning a new generation of actors and actresses into stars.
Like the original, life on the set of 90210 was not always sunshine and roses. Scandals occasionally rocked cast members behind the scenes and the series has its share of secrets that rival some of the stories about Shannen Doherty on the original show.
Here are 15 Dark Secrets Behind 90210.
15. The cast found out about the show’s cancellation on Twitter
When a show gets canceled, the production team usually lets the cast and crew know first before the general public. For the cast of 90210, though, they learned about the show getting canceled from Twitter. Ouch. 90210 star AnnaLynne McCord called the news a “shocker” and stated that finding out through social media “wasn’t cool at all.” Of course, it was no secret that the show’s ratings in its fifth season were less than stellar. But the news still came as a surprise to everyone involved with the production.
“The CW has had five great seasons with America’s favorite zip code, 90210,” CW network president Mark Pedowitz said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the talented cast, producers, and crew for all their hard work and dedication to the series. We are very proud of the West Beverly High alumni.”
14. Tori Spelling was furious that she was offered less pay to return than Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty
Rivalries from the original Beverly Hills, 90210 continued to carry into the new series. Original series actress Tori Spelling found herself furious when she learned that The CW offered her less pay to return to the show than her original series co-stars, Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty.
While the network offered her $10,000 to $20,000 per episode, Garth and Doherty got an offer of $35,000 to $50,000. Spelling demanded equal pay, but the network refused. This resulted in her almost not appearing on the show. The official excuse about why Spelling is not in the pilot is that she was busy giving birth to her second child. But she and the network must have worked something out, because she did turn up in later episodes.
13. AnnaLynne McCord broke down during a scene about assault
There was one scene on 90210 that particularly traumatized AnnaLynne McCord. On that series, her character, Naomi, was the victim of assault by someone she knew. That scene left McCord sobbing uncontrollably, making her co-stars believe that her reactions were due to her acting skills.
Eventually, though, McCord opened up and admitted that she was a victim of assault in real life. The actress courageously came forward and told her story to the public. After the incident, she stated that she felt depressed, and even suicidal. But she also stressed that she felt it important to tell the world what happened. And this was well before the #MeToo movement.
“‘You have a voice,” she said to Cosmopolitan. “Don’t put yourself in a box. Don’t let the polite lies of society silence you,” she said.
12. Tristan Wilds (Dixon) had to take a break from the series due to illness
In 2012, actor Tristan Wilds disappeared from 90210 for several episodes,while he battled an illness. The actor contracted a fungal infection called coccidioidomycosis, or Valley Fever, which is fairly common in California. He was sick enough to get hospitalized, which meant that he could not work. Fortunately, the 90210 writers had an easy way of writing him out of the show, at least temporarily. His character, Dixon, was a singer. That made it easy: the writers just sent him off on tour until Wilds recovered and could get return to the set.
“(It is) something like pneumonia… it’s called Valley Fever… I been in the hospital for the last 3 weeks,” Wilds tweeted. “It’s gonna be a while (before I get better)… I can’t wait till I come back to set… Just nursing myself back to full strength.”
11. Controversy around how thin the female actresses were
It’s no secret that Hollywood puts undue stress on actresses when it comes to their bodies. This is why many actresses suffer from eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder. Images of the actresses from 90210 brought attention to the fact that they were very thin, seemingly too thin.
The story even ended up on the cover of US Weekly, with claims that Jessica Stroup, as well as McCord and Grimes, received orders from The CW to gain weight. The story also mentioned that their 90210 co-stars planned an intervention to get them the help they needed. Entertainment Weekly asked if they were setting a bad example for their young audience, and there were even claims that The CW execs wanted them to stay thin. Talk about mixes messages.
10. Jennie Garth shaded the new cast
For TV fans who remember the original Beverly Hills, 90210, they generally recall it fondly, in spite of its own dark secrets and scandals that happened behind the scenes. The reboot of 90210 on The CW tried to capture that magic in a bottle for a second time. That included adding original series cast member Jennie Garth, returning to her role of Kelly Taylor. Although Garth appeared in many episodes of the new series, she still seemed unimpressed with the new cast and its stories.
“That’s an example of a cast that really didn’t have that chemistry, you know,” Garth said in an interview. “It’s hard to find actors who have that. It’s like lightning in a bottle, and you either have it or you don’t.”
9. Shenae Grimes didn’t like Annie in season four
Actors don’t always have a say in how their characters get written and sometimes disagree with a character’s storylines. This happened in season four with Annie, as portrayed by actress Shenae Grimes. Annie was a young woman trying to hang on to her Midwestern roots. But in season four, she became an escort who seduced a priest. Grimes admitted that she had trouble finding a connection with Annie during that season.
“To me, it seemed really off-base that my character would even be behaving that way, because she does come from a pretty solid family and there was never any mention of her reaching out to her parents at all for money or anything,” Grimes said. “I mean, they had a house in Beverly Hills, her mom’s living in Paris — it’s not like they’re broke! So I couldn’t really wrap my head around the thought process behind what was going on, so that made it difficult.”
8. AnnaLynne hated the ending for Naomi so she shot her own for fans
When The CW abruptly canceled 90210 after its fifth season, the cast and crew scrambled to put together something of a decent ending for fans. But fans weren’t happy with the fact that McCord’s character, Naomi, ended up with Jordan (Robbie Jones). It seems that it wasn’t just fans that felt unhappy about that, though: McCord herself wasn’t thrilled with how things ended for Naomi.
So McCord did something about it: she recorded a video with her own ending for the series, which featured her getting back together with her former husband, Max. The video featured a lot of photos of Naomi and Max, as well as a surprise scene with Max’s actor, Josh Zuckerman, where the two characters declare their love for each other.
7. Annie and Dixon were intended as the main characters but Naomi took over
As series progress, some characters become more popular with fans than others. This usually leads writers to re-think who the real stars of the show are. In the case of 90210, the series began its focus on Annie and Dixon, who producers intended to become the new Brenda and Brandon. This is evident in promotional posters released for the first season: there’s Annie front and center. By the fourth season, though, the focus of the show changed, as seen in the image above.
The character with most of the focus became Naomi, who ended up getting a lot of attention, both onscreen and off. Annie and Dixon were still there, but much of their drama became mostly forgotten, much like the Midwest they moved from. Welcome to Hollywood, kids.
6. Dustin Milligan (Ethan) replaced with Matt Lanter (Liam) for season 2
In season one, the series introduced the character of Ethan, as portrayed by actor Dustin Milligan. Ethan was a good-looking jock who really didn’t have a lot going on story-wise, especially as a good boy. Instead, the series decided that he was boring and replaced his character with Liam, as portrayed by actor Matt Lanter. Liam was a bad boy, which meant that producers felt he would provide more drama and be more interesting to fans.
Milligan sort of faded out of view on the show, gone and quickly forgotten. Most critics agreed that the change was necessary: the new series needed a bad boy like Dylan McKay from the original show. Liam became a hit with fans and stuck around until the show ended in 2013.
5. AnnaLynne’s rumored ties to Andrew Keegan’s “religion”
Andrew Keegan (10 Things I Hate About You) was once a teen heart-throb, but he eventually went on to found his own cult-like religion called Full Circle. It was sort of a new age spiritualism thing that he insisted was more “community” than cult.
Not only did the “community” get investigated for selling illegal kombucha, but it also had some financial issues that left it without a building (you can’t practice enlightenment without a temple, apparently). However, even after these problems, Keegan continues to hope that the movement can and will continue, even stating on Instagram that he has some potential investors. At one time, McCord was a member of the Full Circle movement, but there is no word if she is still a member.
4. PTC hated the show and warned advertisers away from it
Leave it to the Parents Television Council (PTC) to hate something as wonderfully dramatic as 90210. But the council, which often decries that most television shows set bad examples for teens, also wanted to really hate on 90210 and warned advertisers about the series due to the fact that they felt that it would glamorize all kinds of debauchery. This came on the heels of The CW barring anyone from seeing advanced episodes of the show before its premiere. PTC thought this was due to its attack on a similar show on the network, Gossip Girl.
The CW denied that, though, stating that “withholding the advance screener for 90210 has nothing to do with content concerns and everything to do with strategic marketing for the most anticipated new show of the fall season.”
3. The original showrunner was Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, iZombie) but he left for other projects
Rob Thomas is pretty well-known to TV fans. He not only brought us Veronica Mars, but is also the brains behind zombie comedy iZombie. Thomas also created the new version of 90210 and was originally supposed to serve as the series’ showrunner. Then other projects got in the way and Thomas stepped down from the series because he needed time to work on other projects.
It’s likely that 90210 would have been a completely different series had Thomas stayed on, and it’s even possible that the series would have seen more than five seasons. So what were those projects that kept him busy? One was a remake of ’90s show, Cupid, and a crime dramedy – neither of which ever made it to series.
2. More Behind-the-scenes trouble with showrunners
It usually doesn’t bode well when a series goes through showrunners like a fashion runway model goes through underwear. But 90210 had a lot of drama with its showrunners, right from the beginning. After Rob Thomas stepped away to focus on other shows before the series even got cast, Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah stepped in as executive producers. They oversaw the first season, which was not all that successful.
The CW then hired Rebecca Sinclair to take over as the 90210 showrunner with an idea to focus more on the female characters, something Sachs and Judah weren’t as experienced with. Sinclair stayed through the show’s third season, but then stepped down after her contract expired. After that, The CW tapped Patti Carr and Lara Olsen to take over Sinclair’s duties, and then the show got canceled after its fifth season.
1. Several original cast members refused to return
One might think that most of the actors from the original series would be gung-ho to get back to work on a series reboot, but there were three actors, in particular, who did not want to have anything to appear in the new 90210.
Ian Ziering stated that returning to that famous zip code would be a backward step for his career, which is probably a good thing because he went on to do multiple Sharknado movies. Jason Priestly had no interest in returning as Brandon, although he did direct a 90210 episode. Luke Perry also stated early on that he had absolutely zero interest in returning to Beverly Hills to reprise his role as Dylan, although he did sign up for teen drama series Riverdale.
Do you have any other dark 90210 secrets to share? Leave them in the comments!
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