What could be more addictive than a TV show that explores the trials and tribulations of living, working, and sleeping with your neighbors? How about two shows! Recently, Fox announced plans to spin off Melrose Place, one of the network's highest-rated programs (behind perennial favorite Beverly Hills, 90210) and arguably the hottest one-hourdrama on televison.
Created to fill those dreaded months next summer when television is stuck in reruns, the tentatively titled Models Inc. will be set inside a high-powered Los Angeles modeling agency and focus on the tawdry and tangled lives of its paper dolls. "This was a Fox call," says executive producer Aaron Spelling, who just signed a deal to keep the network stocked with Melrose and 90210 episodes through the 1994-95 season. "They asked if we would do an eight-hour series. And we came up with Models."
Melrose writers Frank South and Charles Pratt Jr. will slowly introduce the series through two story arcs beginning this spring. "Two of the models will [move into] an empty apartment there," says Spelling, "and then we'll pick it up in the summer after the Melrose season is finished." According to the producer, the action will center around Melrose's Jo (Daphne Zuniga), the tough-girl photographer once linked with tough-guy mechanic Jake (Grant Show). (As fans of Fox's twentysomething soaps will recall, it was Show who helped launch Melrose by first appearing on 90210 as Jennie Garth's crush.)
Although initial reports had Heather Locklear moving out of Melrose and into her own digs, the actress has proven too valuable to the cul-de-sac since her arrival in February Melrose has gone from from No. 94 to No. 60 in the ratings so far this season. With Locklear staying put, who will play Model's requisite vixen? According to a Fox insider, Melrose's most dastardly denizen is about to be reunited with her long-lost mother. Mom will stick around just long enough to bond with Jo, lock on to Melrose's new models, and then segue into the new show. If Models is a success, it could continue into the fall season, but Zuniga will return to her role on Melrose.
Noticeably absent from the new series is 32-year-old wunderkind, Darren Starr, the creator of both Melrose and 90210, who seems worried that Fox has copycat fever. Asked why he won't be working on the show, Starr says, "It was one spin-off too many for me." Nonsense, counters his mentor. "No one even thinks of Melrose as a spin-off anymore."
In their haste to set Models in motion, however, Fox and Spelling may have overlooked one small detail. At press time, they had neglected to contact Zuniga, who is, after all, their crossover star. "Aaron hasn't spoken to Daphne about a spin-off," says her agent, Erwin More. "She doesn't know anything about it."
(Additional reporting by Alan Carter and Jessica Shaw)