At the 61st Monte-Carlo Television Festival, Jason Priestley reflected on the hit ’90s teen soap opera “Beverly Hills, 90210” and explained why the 2019 reboot of “BH90210” was canceled by UKTN after one season .
“BH90210” was described by Variety as a “soapy parody” that gave “the actors behind our favorite characters the space to play versions of themselves while poking fun at public personas, rabid fans, and the roles that made them famous”. It saw original Priestley series cast members Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, Tori Spelling and Shannen Doherty play enhanced versions of themselves, rather than their original characters. But it was a high-stakes gamble that ultimately didn’t pay off, the North Vancouver native said.
“We tried something with this show. It was a risky premise to build a show around. It was a real high-flying act to pull off this show, if we were going to be able to pull it off,” he said.
“I thought the concept itself that we had built was interesting enough to get us all there. And we thought maybe it could be interesting, and maybe we could have fun with it.
“And I feel like we all took a long time to create the story that was going to be the pilot, and there wasn’t a lot of thought given beyond that, and what shape the show was going to take it beyond that,” Priestley said.
The six-episode summer event series was the highest-rated scripted show of the summer, with an average rating of 1.4 among adults 18-49 after three days of delayed viewing, and around 3.5 million total viewers per episode.
“BH90210” exited the ratings charts with a 1.52 in Live + Same Day, but saw a substantial 38% drop by episode two, and another 18% drop by episode three, before to stabilize.
The series also went through behind-the-scenes drama during production, which led to showrunner Patrick Sean Smith and several high-profile writers leaving the series, such as Variety reported exclusively. According to one source, the exodus was prompted by interference from two of the show’s main cast, while another noted at the time that the writers were unhappy with one of the executives overseeing the show. project.
“BH90210” was produced by UKTN Television Studios and UKTN Entertainment. Paul Sciarrotta was showrunner and executive produced alongside creators Chris Alberghini and Mike Chessler. Carteris, Garth, Green, Priestley, Spelling, Doherty and Ziering were all executive producers.
“Once we got into production, too many people thought they were running the show,” Priestley said in Monte Carlo. “The network thought he was running the show, the studio thought he was running the show, the writers room in LA thought he was running the show, the executive producers we had in Vancouver thought they were running the show. Like, everyone thought they were running the show, and so nobody was running the show.
“And a concept like that, it was so hard to pull off, we really needed someone with a super steady hand and a super clear vision of what the show was going to be to guide this show. And I think, unfortunately, there were just too many people who contributed too much to the show. And that’s why it didn’t work.
“And at the end of the day, I feel like the audience, although they showed up to the show first, as the show was floundering and didn’t really have a clear view of what was going on. he was going to be, ended up quitting the show, and UKTN didn’t choose the show because it just didn’t have the audience it needed.
Priestley directed one episode of the reboot and also directed several episodes of the original series. How did they differ?
“It was no different. The filmmaking process is the filmmaking process. Right? But it was different in that the rebooted show had a much larger budget than the original version of the show. And so, as a director, I had a lot more toys and a bigger visual effects budget. I had a lot more at my disposal to create this episode than I ever had in the original series,” he said. “The original show we were doing on a shoestring budget every week, but on the reboot we apparently had all the time and money in the world. So it was different in that sense.
Although the original version of the show aired decades ago, he’s not sick of people asking him about it.
“No, I mean, that show was a very iconic show. And that show was a very important show for a lot of people, and at a very big time in their lives when they were growing up. Like it was a really big show for a lot of people. And that show was a worldwide phenomenon, in a time when there weren’t so many channels, there weren’t so many options, and there were still watercooler shows. So it was an amazing experience for me to be part of a show like that. I don’t know if I’ll be part of a show like this again. So I don’t mind talking about it.
Courtesy of Everett/20th Century UKTN
He conceded that ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ is “very dated” for his daughter’s generation – no smartphone, no texting – but he feels it still addresses issues relevant to teenagers. “What ‘Euphoria’ does now, we kind of did in 1992. Right? They’re doing the modern version of it now, 30 years later, that talks to young people, talks about the issues of that time, that our young people are facing, but they’re just doing it in a much cooler, much more stylish and sexy way than we couldn’t do it on network TV.
Would he play a role in “Euphoria” if he was a young actor now? “Yeah, sure. That’s the kind of storytelling you’re looking for, that would get you excited, right? Because it’s visceral, right? And it feels real and it’s exciting.
Priestley, who was 21 when he started ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ and 30 when he left, admits he had feared his career would not last beyond the duration of the series, he therefore consider it lucky to have remained active in the company for so long. long.
“When you get into the entertainment business, working in front of the camera, you hope you can carve out a career that will last 20, 30, 40 years, if you’re lucky enough. And being on a show that had this runaway success , you’re worried that your career will end when this show goes off. And so I was a little worried about that. But I was able to continue to build a career and I had two more TV shows successful since then, and I have been successful in many other projects within the company, which has been wonderful for me.
Courtesy of eOne
In addition to “BH90210,” another recent show that didn’t go as well as Priestley might have hoped was crime-solving procedural “Private Eyes.” Priestley played former professional athlete Matt Shade who teams up with fierce private detectives Angie Everett, played by Cindy Sampson, to solve crimes in Toronto. In its first season, it ranked as Canada’s top-rated new series for Spring/Summer 2016, after premiering on Global Television to 1.4 million viewers. Entertainment One has sold the show to over 110 territories worldwide. It was later picked up for an additional 18 episodes. But at the end of season two, Global canceled it. Was he surprised?
“I was, yes. I was surprised. The other producers were, we all were, as evidenced by the final scene of the series, you know, it was obvious that we weren’t prepared for this to be the final scene of the series. The cancellation came as a big surprise to all of us. At the time, we were the number one TV show on that network. So, I can’t remember the last time I heard of a network canceling its number one show. So it was a big surprise for all of us.
Priestley is mostly focused on directing now. He’s spent the last 18 months making a documentary about Harold Ballard, “Who was this madman who owned [ice hockey team] the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1972 to 1989, and single-handedly destroyed that franchise, which is a very Canadian story. If you’re not Canadian, you won’t know the story. And if you’re not an ice hockey fan, you won’t care about the story,” he said. He expects to complete it in about six weeks or so.
Next up for Priestley is a trip to Calgary, Canada to direct an episode of the new Netflix series “My Life with the Walter Boys.” He’s also set to direct thriller thriller ‘Projekt M’, which is set to shoot in Barcelona this fall. Funding is raised for “Projekt M,” Priestley said. “We’re just waiting for a talent to come into place for us. The availability of actors is the only thing that seems to hold us back.
He had hoped to direct the comedy “Keeper of the Cup”, but that film fell apart. It was about three Maple Leaf fans who are tired of waiting for their team to win the Stanley Cup, so they decide to steal it. William Shatner, Dan Aykroyd and Priestley were going to play. “It was a super funny premise, a great script,” Priestley said. “Unfortunately, we were two days away from going to the ground and our funding collapsed. So I don’t know if this film will ever see the light of day again.
He added, “We prepped for five weeks, and we were there and ready to start filming, and eventually that funding collapsed. I mean, it hasn’t happened to me since the 80s. It was a shock to me and to the rest of us. Like we were there, ready to start shooting and we were all sent home.
Priestley is a motor racing enthusiast and used to race professionally before a horrific crash in 2003 that required facial reconstruction. Will he run again? “No no No. It’s a young man’s game,” he said.
But could he make a racing movie? “I explored all of that, but it gets very difficult with this type of material just because of sponsorship and licensing and all that. It gets very, very laborious to get into all the legalities of this stuff. And so many of these companies don’t want to license their images and names and likeness, and so it becomes very difficult to actually navigate those waters.
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