"You don't want to walk away from a job," declares Green between puffs on a cigarette. "Look at Shelley Long. She leaves Cheers and then begs to come back for the final show."
Three days after the french-fry incident, the set is less tense. Food technicians prepare pitchers of fake, neon-colored "smart drinks" while technicians start pumping in dry-ice fog. That's right: 90210 is throwing that most modern of parties, a rave. Normally, these all-night communal gatherings are held in warehouses or open fields, but not in 90210-land. "A rave in a '50s dinerhappens all the time," cracks Priestley between takes.
With the exception of Priestley and Perry, every original cast member says he or she will be back for a sixth season if asked (Spelling says he would like to see the show continue through college graduation; the characters are sophomores this season). Asked about his plans for the future, Perry mumbles into his cigarette, "This is probably it," then quickly adds, "I don't know-I refuse to speculate." Asked where he sees Brandon Walsh in five years, Priestley snickers, "Taking a long dirt nap," under his breath, but says he too hasn't decided if he'll return. If so, he muses, "What would we do?"
In the meantime, Green, 21 and looking alarmingly like Vanilla Ice's kid brother, is working on a rap album, due out next spring. Garth, thanks to a new career in small-screen movies (last winter's Lies of the Heart: The Story of Laurie Kellogg, the upcoming Without Consent), is on her way to becoming the Valerie Bertinelli of the '90s. ("If all I do for the rest of my life is make TV movies about issues that help people, that'll make me happy," she says with stunning pragmatism.) Priestley has completed an independent movie, Cold Bloodedan art film that sounds a long way from the more commercially minded teen fantasy Calendar Girl. "I'd rather not talk about that particular project," he jokes, adding, "As we all know, it's very difficult to make that jump from television to films. I was testing the waters. It didn't do exactly what I thought it would do, but I don't think it's hurt me. At least, not that I've seen. Yet."
As dozens of extras grind around them to Bizarre Inc's throbbing dance hit "I'm Gonna Get You," he and Ziering gamely tape a scene with Brandon congratulating Steve on the success of the rave. "Looks like you pulled it off, buddy!" says Priestley. "Party hearty, man!" crows Ziering. Watching the segment, which has a the-Beaver-goes-techno surrealism, you realize that 90210, despite its '94 reconstructive surgery, is still a show about clear skin and above-average household incomes. It's still a world where the women are unattainable prom queens, the men the sort who wouldn't even acknowledge you in high school hallways and would go on to be golf-playing bond traders. Having Thiessen's Valerie toke up at the end of the season premiere was a promising hit of reality. But even so, it is hard to imagine most of these characters at a Lollapalooza concert, much less grieving over Kurt Cobain's death.
"We're not old news, but stay tuned-we might be," says Rosin with a smile in a nearby office. "But it hasn't happened yet." Meanwhile, in the Peach Pit, the techno music cranks up again and the extras let out a large whoop. One more time, an assistant director yells out her order: "C'mon, everybodybig party!"