Pilot is the first episode of the new Melrose Place series. The epsidoe premiered on September 8, 2009 on The CW. Melrose Place is a spin-off of the original series with the same name. The pilot was written by Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer and directed by Davis Guggenheim. The pilot attracted 2.31 viewers on its original broadcast.
A consideration for a new version of Melrose Place was in talks ever since 90210 aired and on February 23, 2009 it was officialy anounced that the pilot would be made.
The series "follows the original formula and chronicle a new group of twenty-somethings dwelling in Los Angeles' perpetually trendy Melrose neighborhood" as stated by Swimmer and Slavkin.
In an elegant Spanish-style apartment building located at 4616 Melrose Place, in the trendy Melrose neighborhood of Los Angeles, a diverse group of 20-somethings have formed a close-knit surrogate family. Sydney Andrews is the landlady, still beautiful at age 40, and a central figure in the lives of all her tenants, especially handsome and rebellious David Breck. Sydney started an affair with David despite her turbulent history with his estranged father, Dr. Michael Mancini. Both father and son learned through experience that Sydney was not above using blackmail to control people. Another tenant, high-powered publicist Ella Simms, once considered Sydney her mentor, but their friendship was destroyed by betrayal, and Sydney threatened to evict Ella and ruin her career. Sydney also played a pivotal role in the career of Auggie Kirkpatrick. After they met at an AA meeting, she became Auggie's sponsor and encouraged his dream to become a chef. Now a successful sous chef at the trendy restaurant Coal, Auggie has been avoiding Sydney since she began drinking again. The other tenants include Lauren Yung, a medical student in desperate need of money to pay her student loans, and Jonah Miller, an aspiring filmmaker who has just proposed to his live-in girlfriend of five years, Riley Richmond, a first-grade teacher. The newest tenant, 21-year-old Oregon native Violet Foster, has just arrived in LA with her own secret connection to Sydney. When a bloody body is found floating in the courtyard pool, David is the leading suspect. However, as the police are soon to discover, almost everyone living at Melrose Place had a reason to want the deceased out of the way.
While making out with a girl at the restaurant, David gets a call for help. David tells Ella and Auggie that he needs to get back to the apartment penthouse to check up on their landlord, Sydney.
David calls Lauren and tells her he thinks Sydney overdosed again. David arrives at Melrose Place and sees Sydney with a drink. She tells David to stay the night.
The next morning in another apartment, Jonah gets up to go to work. Riley asks him if he remembered their anniversary. Jonah says everyday is their anniversary. He sits down, turns on the TV and plays a video showing their time together. Afterwards, Jonah gets on one knee and asks Riley to marry her. Before she can answer, they hear Violet, a new resident, scream. They run out and discover Sydney's bloody body floating in the pool.
The police arrive and tell the residents that Sydney was stabbed at her doorway. Violet tells Auggie she has never seen a dead body before. At the station, the police question David about his time with Sydney. Ella arrives and tells the police David was with her when Sydney died.
At the hospital, Lauren consults her patient and her son, Toby. She gets a call from her dad who tells her he was laid off. Lauren says she will pay for her medical school tuition herself.
Outside the station, Ella tells David they have to stick to their story and doesn't care if everyone in the building thinks they slept together. She says she doesn't think he is a killer. Ella recalls when Sydney told her she wanted to evict her. David's father, Michael Mancini, pulls up and tells his son to get in his car.
Later, Ella and Jonah arrive at a mansion to take video during a client's daughter's birthday party. Ella tells Jonah she is her agent/publicist because she recognizes his talent. Jonah says he proposed to Riley earlier. While Jonah films the party, Ella tells him he is going to miss being single. Jonah says Riley is going to take a day to think about his proposal.
Lauren prints up a tuition bill that has gone past due. Toby, her patient's son, asks her out to dinner. Lauren goes back to Melrose Place and tells Riley about her financial problems. Riley says she wants to help her out. Lauren says she wants to go out with a guy, but doesn't have anything to wear. While Riley goes off to find some clothes, Lauren notices Riley's engagement ring, but Riley says that nothing is official yet.
Back at the party, Ella points out that the owner of the mansion, Gary, is a movie mogul. Jonah introduces himself to Gary and asks him to look at his short film. Gary becomes upset that Jonah tried to promote himself after he hired him only to video his daughter's party.
At the restaurant, David tells Auggie he blacked out and is not sure if he killed Sydney. Auggie says he is not a killer.
Later, Gary's wife asks Jonah to film a room full of gifts. While taping, he catches Gary being intimate with his daughter's friend.
While driving home, Michael recalls when Sydney told him her relationship with David is over and she wants to get back with him. Michael told Sydney their relationship was a mistake and he is now happily married. Sydney told Michael she wants to tell his wife about their affair.
After dinner, Toby asks Lauren if she wants to have dessert at his place. Lauren says he is taking things too fast. Toby says he knows she is in debt. He offers to pay her $5,000 if she agrees to sleep with him. Toby tells Lauren where he is staying as she storms out of the restaurant.
At the mansion, Gary asks Jonah to hand over the video. Jonah tells him he can't because all of the footage is on one card. He says he will edit out the part with him and the girl. Gary offers to buy his film for $100,000 in exchange for the party footage. Gary's wife arrives and tells him they need to open gifts.
Lauren returns home and sees Violet. She tells her about Toby's proposal to sleep with her for $5,000. In their apartment, Riley tells Jonah their are several messages for him from an agent. Jonah says he caught Gary making out with his daughter's best friend. He says Gary's offer to buy his film is an attempt to keep him quiet. Jonah says he wants to be more responsible, so he took Gary's offer. Riley tells Jonah she accepts his proposal.
In the courtyard, the residents toast to Sydney's life. Jonah announces Riley acceptance to his marriage proposal. Violet asks Auggie if he wants to grab a coffee. Auggie says he is tired and asks for a raincheck. Later, Lauren goes to Toby's hotel room. Meanwhile, Auggie drives into an alley and burns a pile of bloody clothes.
After successfully relaunching the franchise with 90210 in 2008, there was considerable speculation as to whether The CW planned to create a new version of Melrose Place in a similar vein. An article in E! Online reported the possibility of a new version of Melrose in September 2008, though The CW declined to confirm any such project at that time. Some weeks later, The CW and CBS Paramount Network Television (successor-in-interest of Spelling Television and therefore the legal rights holders to Melrose Place) said they were "exploring the possibility" of creating a new version of the series, to potentially debut in the 2009–2010 TV season and targeting their "prized demographic: young women." Original series creator Darren Star also confirmed that discussions had taken place, but nothing was official. On October 31, 2008, Entertainment Weekly writer Michael Ausiello reported that One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn had been approached about running what was being called "Melrose Place 2.0". The Hollywood Reporter confirmed on December 14, 2008 that Schwahn was in negotiations to write the initial script for the potential series.
In January 2009, The CW's head of entertainment, Dawn Ostroff, discussed the network's plans to develop a Melrose Place update, stating that she had yet to identify a writer, and that the proposed project would include both returning and new characters. She noted that the original Melrose Place series which began in 1992 started "at a time not unlike what we're going through now ... they talked about the building being foreclosed on, people not having jobs. It took place in a very similar time, a time when the economy was in a downturn." Ostroff also told reporters that unlike the original series, the new version would try to capture life in the Los Angeles Melrose neighborhood. When asked whether the new series would be the "earnest Melrose of season one or the nutty Kimberly-blowing-up-the-apartment-complex of later years," Ostroff explained, "In the beginning you've got to get invested in the characters, but I also think it can't be so dramatic and sleepy that not enough is going on. Our fans really love that heightened drama as you can see when you watch One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl. So the job is to get them emotionally invested in the people and then do storytelling and have twists and turns and surprises you wouldn't have expected."
On January 19, 2009, with Mark Schwahn now officially off the project, Ausiello reported that The CW were talking with Darren Swimmer and Todd Slavkin (showrunners of The CW's Smallville) about helming the new Melrose Place. On February 6, 2009 Ausiello confirmed that Swimmer and Slavkin were officially hired as the show runners of the spin-off, and discussed some of the new show's characters that were yet to be cast.
The Hollywood Reporter reported on February 23, 2009 that The CW had officially greenlit a pilot episode for the new Melrose Place written by Swimmer and Slavkin, which would "follow the original formula and chronicle a new group of twenty-somethings dwelling in Los Angeles' perpetually trendy Melrose neighborhood." Academy Award-winner Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) was announced as the director and executive producer of the pilot.
The new series, ultimately just titled Melrose Place like its 1990s predecessor, premiered on The CW on September 8, 2009.
Ausiello's February 6, 2009 character preview introduced the series' seven new characters: David Patterson, son of the previous version's Jake Hanson "with the taut abs and thick black book to prove it;" his "omnisexual sometime lover" Ella Flynn, "a PR whiz whose tongue is as sharp as her stilettos;" Jonah Miller, an aspiring filmmaker; Riley Richmond, his "sickly-sweet schoolteacher fiancee;" Auggie Kirkpatrick, a "hunky hippie" and recovering alcoholic; "straight-arrow" med student Lauren Bishop, forced by hard times to "trade sexual favors for financial ones;" and Violet Foster, a small-town teen who is "fresh off the turnip truck" but knows how to "play the sex kitten" when necessary.
On February 25, 2009, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the first actor cast in the new series was Michael Rady, whose character Jonah was compared to Andrew Shue's Billy Campbell from the original Melrose Place. Variety announced on February 27, 2009 that Katie Cassidy had landed the role of Ella, whom Ausiello had previously compared to Heather Locklear's Amanda Woodward. On March 9, 2009 Ausiello reported that singer/actress Ashlee Simpson-Wentz had been cast as Violet, and quoted an unnamed inside source saying that talks with Locklear to reprise her role were "looking good." The Hollywood Reporter announced on March 17, 2009 that Jessica Lucas had won the role of Riley. The next day Entertainment Weekly broke the story that despite The CW "aggressively pursuing" her, Locklear had passed on the Melrose Place update, purportedly because "There wasn't a way to bring her back that made sense." On March 24, 2009, Colin Egglesfield was cast as Auggie, and Stephanie Jacobsen as Lauren. The Hollywood Reporter reported on April 3, 2009 that Shaun Sipos had landed the final regular role in the series – Jake's son David – now described as a rich kid whose "bad-boy behavior has cut him off from the family's money."
On April 5, 2009 The Hollywood Reporter broke the story that Laura Leighton would be joining the series as her original Melrose Place character Sydney Andrews. Though Sydney had seemingly been killed off in 1997 at the end of the original show's fifth season, the new pilot finds her alive and now the landlord of the titular apartment complex. TV Guide noted that Leighton would also continue in a recurring capacity should the updated Melrose Place be picked up. People reported on April 6, 2009 that Melrose Place original cast member Thomas Calabro would also reprise his series-long role as the duplicitous Dr. Michael Mancini, now established as the father of new character David (Sipos).
People reported on June 18, 2009 that Josie Bissett, who portrayed Michael's ex-wife and Sydney's older sister Jane Mancini in the original series, would guest star in at least one episode. Taylor Cole was next booked to guest star as David's ex-girlfriend, followed by Taryn Manning as a singer whose music video is directed by Jonah. The next day, Entertainment Weekly reported that original series star Daphne Zuniga would be returning as photographer Jo Reynolds for at least two episodes. On July 17, 2009, E! Online announced that actress Brooke Burns had been cast as Vanessa, wife of Dr. Michael Mancini and mother of his younger son Noah. That same day, TV Guide Magazine reported that actor Victor Webster had also been cast as Caleb, Ella's gay publicist boss. On July 20, 2009, E! Online reported that actress Kelly Carlson had been cast as a madam who convinces Lauren to work for her as part of her prostitution ring.
On August 19, 2009, E! Online announced that actress Jenna Dewan would appear on the series for at least two episodes as Kendra Wilson, a movie development executive who has her eyes on Jonah. Later that week, E! Online confirmed that Locklear was again in talks to join the update as her original series character Amanda. On August 31, 2009, former LA Laker Rick Fox announced he'd be guest starring on the series as an LA club owner. A rep for Melrose Place later confirmed the news to Access Hollywood, stating that Fox would appear in the eighth episode.
On September 22, 2009, The CW announced that Heather Locklear would finally join the update in its tenth episode. Show runners Slavkin and Swimmer were quoted as saying "We're ecstatic to have the chance to bring Amanda Woodward back to Melrose Place. Heather's involvement in the show is something we've been working on for some time, as we couldn't imagine creating and producing this show without the iconic character's inclusion." Ausiello revealed that Locklear would play Ella's boss at WPK, calling it "a genius move that will pit the show’s former and current vixens against one another." On October 9, 2009, TV Guide Magazine reported that actor Billy Campbell had been cast as a powerful billionaire named Barrett McMillan, who'd be involved with Amanda and first appear in episode thirteen. On October 27, 2009, Ausiello reported that actor Nick Zano was in talks to join as a pseudo-replacement for Colin Egglesfield’s Auggie. Zano later confirmed his casting in an interview with the Entertainment Weekly columnist, revealed that he would play a doctor who works with Lauren and moves into the Melrose apartment complex, and that his role is recurring.
- Katie Cassidy a Ella Simms
- Colin Egglesfield as Auggie Kirkpatrick
- Stephanie Jacobsen as Lauren Yung
- Jessica Lucas as Riley Richmond
- Michael Rady as Jonah Miller
- Shaun Sipos as David Breck
- Ashlee Simpson-Wentz as Violet Foster