"Melrose Place" gets scandalous Hollywood makeover
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Melrose Place" -- the 1990s television soap opera that became an international pop culture phenomenon -- returns in September with a new cast of characters but still promising to be "the most scandalous address in Hollywood."
A decade after ending its seven-year run on U.S. television in 1999, "Melrose Place" has been remade, recast and, judging by the promotional posters, sexed-up for its run on the small CW network.
But although the new prime time series draws its inspiration from the original tale of diverse 20-somethings living in an elegant apartment building in the Melrose area of Los Angeles, the producers hope to draw a mix of nostalgic fans and new young viewers.
"We were huge fans of the original but when we set out to do our version, we wanted to pay tribute to the old show but create our own show with our own characters," Todd Slavkin, one of the executive producers said on Tuesday.
"I would say it is definitely still the most scandalous address in Hollywood," he added.
Promotional ads showing the iconic apartments, central swimming pool and sexy cast with taglines like "Tuesdays are a bitch" and "Tuesday's the new Humpday" have already caused a stir.
Original cast member Thomas Calabro returns as the diabolical Dr. Michael Mancini and actress Laura Leighton is back as scheming Sydney Andrews. Josie Bissett is among old alumni expected to appear in the new version, whose biggest star is actress/pop singer Ashlee Simpson-Wentz.
Slavkin said that other Melrose originals may come back, adding; "The door is always open for Heather Locklear."
The remake of "Melrose Place" follows a make-over last year for its 1990s sister show, teen drama "Beverly Hills, 90210".
After a good ratings start to the new "90210" on CW in September 2008, audiences in the United States slipped off. But CW executives said the remake had proved more popular overseas and had been sold to some 179 nations.
They are expecting the same interest overseas for the new "Melrose Place", whose convoluted plot lines have a heavy element of mystery and intrigue.
"This kind of product does well overseas. People like soap operas, and seeing the sordid lives of people in LA really seems to appeal," said executive producer Darren Swimmer.
(Editing Bernard Orr)