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When the series he created, "Beverly Hills, 90210" premiered on Fox in 1990 and launched his career, Darren Star was credited by some with energizing the network and with reviving the Spelling TV empire. Prior to "90210", Star's entire writing output had amounted to an unproduced "Charles in Charge" spec script and two features, "Doing Time on Planet Earth" (1988), a failed comedy about a teenager convinced he must be from another planet, and "If Looks Could Kill" (1991), a teenage spy spoof that was supposed to turn Richard Grieco into a film star but didn't.
The idea for "Beverly Hills, 90210" was actually spawned in the executive suites at Fox, but Star--hired because of his reputation in writing screenplays about teenage characters--conjured boy-girl twins, Brandon and Brenda, moved by the their parents from Minnesota to Beverly Hills, and forced to attend West Beverly High where they quickly become the social deacons of the "In" crowd. From its debut, "90210" followed its core characters from high school through college into the working world. Meanwhile, Star's second effort produced through Spelling debuted in 1992. A spin-off of "90210", "Melrose Place" followed the ongoing story of a host of twentysomething Los Angelenos trying to find love and career success and was reputedly inspired by Star's own experiences living in a motel-style West Hollywood apartment building while working at a public relations firm by day and writing scripts at night.
Additionally, one of the leads was a former UCLA roommate, Daphne Zuniga, although the most publicized performer was Heather Locklear, who joined the cast in its second season. Star was enticed by CBS to leave the Spelling empire in 1995 to create, write and executive produce "Central Park West", another ongoing primetime sudser, based and shot in New York amidst the backdrop of a publishing empire. It premiered in the fall of 1995, but failed to spark the same enthusiasm from viewers and was pulled from the schedule a few months after its premiere for "revamping", subsequently airing in June 1996 under the title "CPW". The name change didn't do much to attract viewers, and "CPW" left the airwaves in 1996. With his Fox franchises aging and succumbing to eroding viewership ("Melrose" ended in 1999 and "90210" in 2000), Star turned his attentions to a new series, the frank HBO comedy "Sex and the City" (1998- ).
Based on the book of the same name, a collection of New York Observer columns written by Candace Bushnell, the NYC-lensed series followed the lives and loves of four single Manhattanites riding through their thirties in the fast lane: libertine publicist Samantha (Kim Cattrall), jaded corporate lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), idealistic art dealer Charlotte (former "Melrose Place" resident Kristin Davis) and the central character, lifestyle columnist Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker). The cable network offered writer and sometime director as well as series creator Star creative freedom that regular broadcast television could not, resulting in "Sex in the City" containing more explicit sex scenes and racy dialogue.
Rather than use this freedom simply to titillate, Star drew characters who were refreshingly more realistic than his previous creations, and audiences responded well despite the fact that these affluent, sexually adventurous socialites live a life quite foreign to the average viewer. The series hit its stride in 1999, with an especially inspired second season that earned a handful of Emmy nominations and scored two Golden Globe Awards, including one for Star in the category of Best Television Series (Comedy or Musical). Not satisfied to rest on his laurels, Star endeavored further into television, with two pilots developed for the 2000-2001 season, "The Street" (Fox), a Wall Street-set serial drama starring Adam Goldberg and Christian Campbell that met an early demise, and "Grosse Pointe" (The WB), a quirky single-camera comedy focusing on a twentysomething ensemble that barely held on for the year.
- Creator and co-producer, Beverly Hills, 90210, Fox, 1990
- Supervising producer, Beverly Hills, 90210, Fox, 1991-92
- Executive producer, Beverly Hills, 90210, Fox, 1992-95
- Creator, Melrose Place, Fox, 1992
- Executive producer, Melrose Place, Fox, 1992-95
- Creator and executive producer, Central Park West (also known as CPW), CBS, 1995
- Creator and executive producer, Sex and the City, HBO, 1998
- Creator and executive producer, The $treet, Fox, 2000
- Creator and executive producer, Grosse Point, The WB, 2000