The CW held a cocktail party for TV critics Monday at 90210‘s Peach Pit. But a gaggle of reporters was soon besieging network head Dawn Ostroff not about the current show, but about a possible new version of Melrose Place.
The project is in active development, she says, and talking with a writer about penning a pilot. There were reports last month that One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn would develop the show and hand it off — similar to what Rob Thomas did with 90210 before passing it off to Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah — but Ostroff now says he won’t be involved.
Nor can she say who will be writing the pilot: "We’re in the process of negotiating with someone, but I can’t say who yet because the deal’s not done."
So what can she tell us? Like the original, which was spun off from Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1992, the new Melrose Place would focus on people in their 20s "who are trying to get their lives started."
"They’re all … in either their first or second jobs, and it’s all about life in L.A.," Ostroff says. "What the original Melrose Place did was it was great drama, great storylines, but it didn’t really capture L.A. It wasn’t a show that went out and really captured the feeling of Melrose, which we think is an opportunity we can take advantage of. We envision the show being stylized and really getting the feeling of Melrose, of Hollywood, of that whole cultural scene."
What about the show’s tone? one reporter asked. Will it be "earnest first-season Melrose or crazy, Kimberly-blows-up-the-apartment-complex Melrose?"
"We’ve actually had that exact conversation," Ostroff says. "I think it’s certainly not crazy [and] people being blown up in the beginning. I think initially you’ve got to really get invested in the characters, but I also think it can’t be so dramatic and sort of sleepy that not enough is going on. Our fans really love some of that heightened drama, as they can see when they watch One Tree Hill or Gossip Girl."
The CW will also probably follow the 90210 template of populating the show with mostly new characters and a few familiar faces from the old Melrose Place, from Heather Locklear on down.
"We’ve talked about everyone, but we haven’t talked to anyone yet," she says. "… Of course Heather would be one of the people we talk about, because when you think about Melrose Place she’s one of the first people you think of."