Today’s cuppa: PG Tips tea (chased with office coffee)

Here’s my feature story from this week — with a little something for the boys and a little something for the girls …

Melrose_Place_Heather_Locklear.jpgThe
suds will be rising as three of The CW’s prime-time soaps – Monday’s “Gossip
Girl”
and Tuesday’s “90210” and “Melrose Place” – return this week with a fresh
batch of episodes.

Of
the three, “Gossip Girl,” the story of Upper East Side teens living large in
the Big Apple, generates the most critical attention and ratings heat, but that
doesn’t mean that the other two, revivals of Aaron Spelling hits from the
1990s, are taking it easy.

In
“90210” (an updated version of “Beverly Hills 90210”), lesbian teen Gia (Rumer
Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) shares a kiss with Adrianna
(Jessica Lowndes), who’s overcome drug addiction and had a baby that was given
up for adoption. No doubt her “bucket list” is shrinking fast.

In
“Melrose Place,” Amanda (Heather Locklear, at left) tosses a party at the home of her
billionaire boyfriend, where she has a confrontation with young Ella (Katie
Cassidy) over an alleged flirtation.

Well,
it’s a party thrown by Heather Locklear – something had to happen. With any
luck, they’ll pull off the classic soap-opera move of somebody being hurt at
the shindig, meaning everybody has to hang out in the ER in their party
clothes.

But
we’ll see.

Meanwhile,
a CW trailer for the new episodes of “Gossip Girl” includes hints of hot
romance between social lion cubs Nate Archibald and Serena van der Woodsen
(Chace Crawford, Blake Lively), the return of Chuck’s (Ed Westwick) supposedly
dead mother (and it doesn’t look like a Hallmark moment), and trouble for
Humphreys young and old.


(Click here for a trailer.)

Speaking
of Nate, Crawford took some time at New York’s JFK airport before hopping a
plane to Florida to see the Super Bowl (the former teen quarterback was rooting
for the Saints, so he probably had a good weekend) to answer a few questions.

An
extensive interview last summer with the Texas-born-and-raised Crawford (in picture, below) showed
him in pictures with a wealth of tattoos, including letters spelling “America”
on his fingers and stars on his hands, appropriate for a Dallas Cowboys fan.
But in real life, Crawford is unmarked.


“My
mom said, ‘Keep them on!’ “
he says. “I said, ‘Mom, that bird on my neck is
getting weird
looks.’ I didn’t like having something creeping out of my shirt.
That’s the one thing about tattoos; those neck ones are the most b—sy ones.


“It
took about four hours to do them all. They made me shave my arms, so I was
like, ‘This better come out good.’ My arms felt weird for about a month.


“I
contemplated (getting tattoos) a lot, actually. But I’m the type of person
that, if I got one
, I
Thumbnail image for Gossip_Girl_Chace_Crawford.jpg wouldn’t stop. I don’t want to have to sit in the makeup
chair for four extra hours covering them up. I’d start with the neck one, and
then possibly all the way down my side. I’m totally kidding.

“I
never will, but I like the idea of being pure and clean. The thing about
tattoos, everybody has them. They don’t make the same statement as they used
to. My statement is no tattoos.”


As
to how things are going this season, Crawford says,
“I got to do some fun
scenes with Penn (Badgley). That was a good time. Finally got some humor, not
so much intense brooding conflict.


“Nate
is so conflicted over doing the right thing or the wrong thing. You just never
know what to do. He’s like the moral backbone of the show, so I finally got to
play in an episode that was fun.”

Speaking
of moral backbone, it was Badgley, not Crawford, who shot the show’s infamous
“threesome” scene late last fall with Hilary Duff and Jessica Szohr.

“It
was a little anticlimactic, I feel,”
Crawford says. “But you can’t really go
all the way with that one. That’s what they were really trying to do, a little
ratings hype.”

Crawford
is a graduate of Trinity Christian Academy, so how does he feel about the
charge that the show is a bad influence on youth?


“I
don’t know,” he says. “Of course, I think about that, from time to time. I used
to, more. It would weigh on me a little bit. Whatever happens, happens. I’m
just an actor.


“I
heard some superstar actors say, in a completely unrelated deal, ‘Hey, I’m not
an expert on parenting, on counseling.’ We’re just actors. We’re not writing
it. We are the face of the show, I guess. We’re going to get the blame. What
are you going to do?”

At
least his character is now in college and out of that Manhattan prep school.


“We’re
allowed to mature a little bit,”
Crawford says. “The second half of the season, I’m starting to have a lot more fun for different reasons. It’s good. I like it. Anything to get me out of that godawful uniform.”