When I heard that the CW is planning to remake Melrose Place, Aaron Spelling's juggernaut that ran from 1992 to 1999, I got giddy.
Truth be told, I haven't gotten into the network's 90210 remake (it makes me feel too, I dunno, old), but I'd totally be up for another go at the apartment-complex antics of L.A.'s prettiest, whiniest, and most conniving twenty- and thirty-somethings.
Before the first script is even fully inked, I offer some dream casting choices for the show's key characters. And fingers crossed ... Andrew Shue will agree to pop in for a guest spot as D&D Advertising's head of the copy department -- 'cuz, you know, he failed miserably as a real writer.
Character: Allison Parker
Was played by: Courtney Thorne-Smith
Who they should get: January Jones
Jones has nailed the I'm-smarter-than-I-look thing on Mad Men, and it'd be fun to see her play it up in a more contemporary, sunny setting. The California-ready blond is simply meant to be a Spelling beauty (I'd say her mug is one of TV's finest) and her ability to play naive Allison with such believable humanity would give needed heft to Thorne-Smith's fairly vacant embodiment of this consummate "All-American Girl" role.
Character: Billy Campbell
Was played by: Andrew Shue
Who they should get: Shane West
Before Ross and Rachel, there was Billy and Allison: Two people destined to be together because, well, they're neighbors. Shue was charming, if rather dull, as Billy and I think West, recently unemployed from a decent run on ER, could play the pretty-boy-writer role with more edge. No, he's not the cutest actor I can think of -- his nose is on the flat, squishy side -- but for me the hottest dudes are rarely the most perfect-looking (paging Patrick Dempsey's beak).
Character: Jo Reynolds
Was played by: Daphne Zuniga
Who they should get: Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Erstwhile mafia daughter Sigler is everywhere these days. She's recently popped up on Entourage, How I Met Your Mother, and as a grocery checkout girl in an extremely PG-13 SNL digital short, proving she has acting chops beyond whining and making bitchy faces. I think she'd do nicely the independent-minded photographer Jo (my favorite character on the show) with the East-Coast sensibility and an "I'm better than you all L.A. skanks" attitude.
Character: Michael Mancini
Was played by: Thomas Calabro
Who they should get: Jonny Lee Miller
Poor Miller! He scored the coveted lead in David E. Kelly's latest lawyer silly-fest, Eli Stone, only to have it yanked this fall because of poor ratings. That's OK: I think he'd be great as Melrose's resident a-hole doc, Michael, played to such skeezy heights by Calabro back in the day. Miller has tackled unsavory parts before (Trainspotting, being Angelina Jolie's first husband) so I have no doubt this Brit, who should keep his accent (perhaps he's doing his residency at Cedars-Sinai?) could work proper magic as Melrose's most manipulative dude.
Character: Jane Mancini
Was played by: Josie Bissett
Who they should get: Billie Piper
This toothy British beauty would be an ideal match for Miller. Most recently the star of Showtime's Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Piper has Bissett's sweetness, with none of the doormat-ness, and plenty of sex appeal to spare. I like the idea of the aloof British couple hanging at a typical Melrose pool party judging everyone harshly. I see Piper pulling off the two-faced thing quite nicely and becoming full-blown frenemies with Sigler by episode three.
Character: Jake Hanson
Was played by: Grant Show
Who they should get: Christian Slater
Don't laugh! Slater is a hot commodity again (or at the very least, still hot), so it's the perfect time for him to segue into a show that will survive at least one season and capitalize on his enduring good looks (My Own Worst Enemy was, plainly, a stinker). I can totally picture him slinging drinks at the local bar and taking home a different chick each night. Perhaps he can dip into his own sordid past as a druggie and (alleged) abusive husband to make Jake a bit more of an a-hole. Because, let's face it, that'd be a heck of a lot more fun.
Character: Matt Fielding
Was played by: Doug Savant
Who they should get: Paul Rudd
Ha ha, remember when shows had "a token gay character?" We've come a long way since Savant played gay, sweet, sensitive Matt, and I'm thinking we should continue the straight-playing-gay trend by casting one of my favorites, Rudd. He's cute as a button, funny, and one of the best gay-straight dudes to appear on camera. Remember The Object of My Affection? Adorable. And if you saw Rudd host SNL a few weeks ago, an episode filled with more homoerotic humor than I've ever seen, you'll understand why this choice is perfect.
Character: Sydney Andrews
Was played by: Laura Leighton
Who they should get: Samaire Armstrong
The former Entourage cutie and recently rehabbed star of Dirty, Sexy, Money has all the necessary qualities to play train-wreck Sidney, Jane's (long-lost American?) sister. Namely, she possesses a wispy, nymph-like presence that makes it impossible to take her seriously and resist her sluttiness. Sure, I was swayed by her Paris-Hilton-ish arc on Money, but I think Armstrong could really nail this part, while also making us feel sorry for her, a feat also pulled off brilliantly by Leighton.
Character: Kimberly Shaw
Was played by: Marcia Cross
Who they should get: Kerry Washington
I don't think anyone would disagree that this remake would need a serious boost of diversity. And in a post-Grey's world, black actresses are not only everywhere, they're playing all the parts they have been all along, namely doctors. Washington is ideal: recognizable, old enough to convincingly play a physician, super cute, and the just right amount of sexy to make her the object of Melrose Place tenants' desires. In fact, I'm picturing her having a tryst with Shane West (you know he's going to cheat on Allison, many times) and it's pretty hot.
Character: Amanda Woodward
Was played by: Heather Locklear
Who they should get: Lucy Liu
Yes, she's consistently typecast as the cold meanie, but she's so damn good at it! Liu, who just lost her Dirty, Sexy, Money gig, would be superb as the ruthless ad woman, Amanda -- the character that single-handedly resurrected Locklear's career. Liu would not only add yet more diversity to the cast, she looks like she hasn't aged a day since Ally McBeal. Sorry folks, but these things matter, especially in Melrose Land.