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Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 director reveals what went on behind the scenes

We are so freaking excited for the The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story we’re already digging out our high-waisted jeans, bodysuits and headbands. We were lucky enough to sit down with the director, Vanessa Parise, to find out what it was like trying to recreate this lightning-in-a-bottle show.

Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story
Image: Lifetime

At a recent press event for his upcoming film, Welcome Home, Luke Perry, who played Dylan McKay on the hit show Beverly Hills, 90210, was asked if he was going to watch The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story. Perry told that the Lifetime film isn’t “relevant to anything that I’m doing now” and “I don’t even watch my own actual self on TV, why would I watch [this]? I don’t see it happening.”

Well, Mr. Perry, we think you’re going to seriously be missing out. We are so excited to hear about what Lifetime is calling “the roller coaster ride behind the show’s first four seasons” that we sat down with the movie’s director, Vanessa Parise, to find out what making this film was really like. The thing Parise was most surprised by was how much people of all ages adore the original show.

“Anytime I mentioned that I was directing this, people were universally interested. Even people you wouldn’t think would be. I think it just taps into the nostalgia. Everyone watched it when they were in their teens and now it brings back memories,” said Parise.

She also told us that the script came out of an enormous amount of research, using multiple sources to validate rumored events, hook-ups and, yes, fistfights. But Parise was clear, “There has been no involvement with the original cast at all.”

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Vanessa Parise
Image: Sergei Bachlakov

Parise’s plan was to do less scandal-revealing and pay more of an homage to the show fans still love so much. “Beverly Hills, 90210 was groundbreaking in that it handled all these really important issues. They had an AIDS episode, a rape episode and one about being gay. Even when we take a look back at it now, the show was very impressive.”

One of the more difficult parts of recreating the 90210 magic was casting actors who were relatively unknown but who looked like the original cast. Eventually, they hired actors from Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver.

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In order to create camaraderie and a sense of openness with the cast, Parise had them shake their booties before takes, doing all sorts of crazy dances. “I just wanted them to be loose and bond. We started dancing and it was just a blast, so it became a thing.”

Vanessa Parise
Image: Sergei Bachlakov
Parise knew that bonding would be necessary since her actors would be engaging in a lot of onscreen kissing. In fact, actresses Samantha Munro (Shannen Doherty), Abbie Cobb (Jennie Garth) and Abby Ross (Tori Spelling) all got together to rank the kissing skills of each of the male actors, Jesy McKinney (Luke Perry), Max Lloyd-Jones (Jason Priestly), David Lennon (Ian Ziering) and Ross Linton (Brian Austin Green).
While the actresses said they’d never reveal who had earned the title of super-snogger, Abbie Cobb did reveal the top tongue-wrestler just might have been from Scotland. After a quick Google search, we found that actor Ross Linton is from Scotland. And he’s super hot.

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But all of the kissing wasn’t the reason the cast and crew nicknamed the Vancouver movie studio where they shot the “porn studio.” The low-budget studio seemed more suited for films of an adult nature. “It had really low ceilings and these terrible carpets, but they covered the carpets for us with plywood. Normally, I’d want to shoot above the cast, but there was no room for a camera above the set,” said Parise, who had to be extra creative with her shots.

Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
Image: Lifetime

Another funny story Parise shared with us was when the executive producer had to transport a wig on a plane from Los Angeles to Vancouver for Dan Castellaneta (Aaron Spelling). “It reminded me of the movie Seven. Our producer was carrying a head with a wig on it, in a box. It was hilarious, but it was a really expensive wig and it looked fantastic.”

The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story will air Saturday, Oct. 3 on Lifetime. Look for The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story the following week on Oct. 10.

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