Real estate downturns aside, 90210 is still a very good ZIP code.
Slated to premiere Sept. 2, the CW's new version of the Aaron Spelling classic has dominated the entertainment press this pilot season like few other new television shows.
Of course, TV fans have been hungry to learn who will be cast as the new clique of rich kids, but they seem even more interested in which of the old characters who left the prime-time schedule eight years ago might be stopping by West Beverly High or the Peach Pit. It's a challenge that executive producers Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah (Freaks and Geeks) have welcomed as they try to appeal to fresh, young viewers as well as their parents, aunts and uncles.
"We see this as a totally fun thing," Sachs said. "It's not the same show, but we get to have the element of such a cool, big hit. It's an honor to do it or to be able to do it. We'd love to have anyone from the old cast that would like to be on it.
"In fact, there's been so much reporting on casting that it has become difficult to keep track of who has actually committed to the new show."
The show's first "get" came easily, Sachs said - Jennie Garth, who jumped at the opportunity to reprise Kelly Taylor. Kelly will now be working as a guidance counselor at her alma mater and will appear in a few episodes during the season, said Sachs, who has known Garth for two decades. Viewers will first see her in the pilot.
"Jennie is one of those people that when she does something, she always wants for it to mean something," Sachs said. "She loves helping people. So I thought it was perfect: her as a guidance counselor. Originally, we were going to put her on the school board, but that was a mistake."
After reading the script, Tori Spelling expressed interest in updating viewers on Donna Martin's fashion-forward life. Initially, Sachs' idea was to have Donna own a boutique, but now writers are playing with the idea of Donna having her own fashion line. Spelling, who recently had her second baby, will appear on the show later in the season.
"Tori wrote me an e-mail after she read the script and said, 'My dad would be really proud,' " Sachs said. "That was the biggest compliment we could ever get."
Joe E. Tata, who played Nat, the owner of the Peach Pit, will appear behind the counter in the pilot and in episodes throughout the season.
"Nat! My gosh. It was such an accident," Sachs said. "Someone said they saw Nat in a store, so I called casting and told them, let's see if he'd like to do it. He was ecstatic. It's going to be a big deal."
What about Shannen Doherty, who left the show after four years because of on-set friction? It's still a maybe, though Sachs recently had a 3 1/2-hour dinner with the actress.
"People hear all these things and, going in, you're like, what am I getting myself into?" Sachs said.
"But we had the greatest time. It would be a dream to have her because she's a dynamic character and it would be interesting to see what that character is doing now. But it's complicated. It's up to the business folks."
Brian Austin Green might be approached sometime soon, but producers have yet to reach out to Luke Perry, Jason Priestley or Ian Ziering.
Silver, a funky character played by Jessica Stroup, might be related to David Silver (Green). "I guess we'll have to stay tuned," Sachs said. "There's a lot of Silvers in the phone book."
Maria Elena Fernandez writes for the Los Angeles Times.