Photo: FOX, Michael Buckner/Getty Images For STARZ
During its ten-year run, Beverly Hills, 90210 was a desirable Zip code for photogenic young actors looking for a stepping stone into prime time. One of these actors was Kathleen Robertson, who played Clare Arnold during the gang’s California University days and has recently reemerged on the TV schedule as Kitty O’Neill in the gritty Starz drama Boss, which airs its finale tonight. The show has garnered critical acclaim and a second-season renewal, but what’s most gratifying for us former 90210 fans is watching Robertson as the sometimes bare-breasted assistant to Kelsey Grammer’s corrupt Mayor Tom Kane. This got us wondering: Where would we like to see other semi-memorable 90210 supporting characters show up? We offer career advice to eleven other former 90210-ers, Brenda’s prom date and Donna’s figure skater cousin included.
90210 role: Janet Sosna, Steve’s production editor at the Beverly Beat. Becomes involved with Steve after they have sex in a broken refrigerator while investigating a haunted house. Eventually becomes his baby mama and, after lots of noncommittal waffling on both ends, his wife.
Post-90210: Starred in four failed shows: Eastwick, Coupling, Pepper Dennis, Lipstick Jungle. Guested on How I Met Your Mother and dated Josh Radnor for a year. Just had a baby with foodie pin-up Curtis Stone.
Our next-step suggestion: Obviously, multiple producers think that Price can carry a show, and we’re inclined to agree. After all, she single-handedly made pigheaded Steve seem sweet and lovable. She could probably pull the same magic with Tim Allen’s character on Last Man Standing, but she really deserves better. For now, maybe she could transition her new-mom cred into a role on Up All Night. (Ruthless breast-feeding advocate? Nymphomaniac “Music Together” teacher? The possibilities are endless!)
90210 role: Matt Durning, the lawyer who hides his schizophrenic wife, Mr. Rochester-style, as he starts a relationship with Kelly. Defends Kelly’s rapist (without realizing he was her rapist); proposes to Kelly in the final season, then takes acid and cheats on her, spurring on her inevitable happily-ever-after with Dylan.
Post-90210: Returned to his pre-90210 roots, becoming a cast member on three consecutive daytime soaps (Guiding Light, As the World Turns, and All My Children), and one prime-time soap (Dirty Sexy Money), all of which were canceled during his tenure.
Our next-step suggestion: Cosgrove has made an entire career of daytime and nighttime soaps, which now seems kind of noble, like being the last actor in vaudeville. He should therefore keep up the song-and-dance for as long as possible on the upcoming TNT reboot of Dallas.
90210 role: Colin Robbins, the painter who comes to live on Venice Beach after meeting Kelly in New York City and a sometime boyfriend of Valerie Malone. He is such a creative intellectual that he “likes to make out to Mozart.” More important, he’s a cokehead who drags Kelly into his addiction.
Post-90210: Played short-tempered NYPD officer Bosco on six seasons of Third Watch and starred in NBC’s surreal 2010 mini-series Persons Unknown. Had a small part in Zodiac.
Our next-step suggestion: Wiles has matured nicely since his days of painting Peach Pit murals, and is quite the charismatic presence. It’s time for him to transition into film. If his Zodiac director David Fincher can ever pull the graphic-novel adaptationTorso out of development hell, we think there’s a serial-killer-chasing cop role with Wiles’s name on it.
90210 role: Susan Keats, editor of the college paper who dates Brandon. The feminist of the show, she wins an award for a pro-choice editorial that discusses her own abortion. Leaves Brandon (and the show) to pursue a campaign job.
Post-90210: Won a loyal fan following as Anya, the vengeance demon who falls in love with Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She now has a web comic called Contropussy, about a housecat that searches for excitement in the outside world. Most recent claim to fame: targeted by the celebrity nude photo hacker.
Our next-step suggestion: Caulfield wasn’t bad in the Buffy musical episode, and she’s got impeccable comic delivery (especially when playing, as she did on both Buffy and 90210, the Uncomfortably Blunt Character). We’d peg her as a villainous teacher on Glee, wreaking vengeance on Will Schuester for being generally unbearable.
90210 role: Antonia “Toni” Marchette, daughter of the mob boss who ordered the hit on Dylan’s dad. She and Dylan get married after a whirlwind courtship, but before they leave for the honeymoon, she’s killed by her daddy’s goons. The hit was meant for Dylan, who mourns by leaving the show for the next three seasons.
Post-90210: Her latter-day career consists of horror movies (Scream 2, Urban Legend), short-lived TV dramas (Wasteland, Dead Like Me, Vanished), and guest spots on soapy hits (Nip/Tuck, Ugly Betty). In 2009, a sex-free “sex tape” of Gayheart, her husband Eric Dane, and former Miss United States Teen Kari Ann Peniche leaked onto the Internet, giving Gayheart her highest-profile role in years. Of course, she’ll always be the Noxema Girl in our hearts.
Our next-step suggestion: Peniche channeled her own sex-tape infamy into a stint on the VH1 rehab circuit, but we suspect that Gayheart has greater ambitions than Dr. Drew’s therapy circle. At 40, the still-striking mom of (almost) two has just stepped over the line into MILF territory, giving her an entrée into whatever new show steps up to replace Desperate Housewives. In the meantime, she can play one of those English teachers/publishing moguls/incestuous duchesses who are always seducing the boys of Gossip Girl.
90210 role: Noah Hunter, owner of the Peach Pit After Dark and Donna’s other real boyfriend (besides David). Joined the cast during Season 8’s Hawaiian vacation premiere; assumed by the gang to be a beach bum, but is revealed to be the son of an oil tycoon. An alcoholic with a history of drunk driving, Noah falls off the wagon after being kidnapped and eventually finds love in AA. In real life, dated Tori Spelling for two years.
Post-90210: Young’s career for the past ten years consists solely of three zero-budget comedies (Eagles in the Chicken Coop? Anybody?) and three appearances on prime-time acronym shows (CSI: NY, NCIS, JAG).
Our next-step suggestion: A new agent. But since Hawaii once worked out well for him, and police procedurals seem willing to hire him, we’d deploy him to Hawaii Five-0. He and Daniel Dae Kim can have a cheekbone-off.
90210 role: Gina Kincaid, Donna’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks ice skater cousin, later revealed to be Donna’s father’s secret love child. Struggles with bulimia; sets fire to Donna’s menswear collection; secretly turns the Peach Pit into an after-hours strip club. Replaced Tiffani Amber Thiessen as both the show’s brunette vixen and Brian Austin Green’s real-life girlfriend (they dated for four years and had a son, Kassius, in 2002).
Post-90210: Played manipulative casino host Sam for five years on NBC’s Las Vegas. Hosted a 2008 reality competition called Blush: The Search For the Next Great Makeup Artist. Has continually returned to her breakout role as Brenda Barrett on General Hospital, and rejoined the cast full-time in 2010. (No scenes yet with James Franco, although he did blow up her limo.)
Our next-step suggestion: Marcil’s sexy-but-authoritative demeanor is exactly what TV law firms look for in a woman. Given David E. Kelley’s tendency to fire whole casts between seasons, there should soon be an opening for her at Harry’s Law.
90210 role: Griffin Stone, Steve’s slimy frat brother. Dates Donna, taking her to Catalina in a failed attempt to claim her virginity; when he finds out she’s been seeing Ray, calls her “a pathological tease who sluts around.” Responsible for the rave fire that burned Kelly, putting an end to her modeling ambitions.
Post-90210: Had a small part opposite Christina Ricci in Sleepy Hollow and showed off an impressive torso in Starship Troopers. Set to follow in Christian Bale’s footsteps as Patrick Bateman in The Rules of Attraction but ended up on the cutting room floor. Has since been top-billed in a number of B action movies and thrillers. Documented his marriage to Dynasty actress/Yugoslavian princess Catherine Oxenberg in the 2005 Lifetime reality series I Married a Princess.
Our next-step suggestion: Unless he gets cast in the Starship Troopers remake in the works, we’re not sure we can do better than a Lifetime reality series called I Married a Princess. Van Dien does have that two-martini luncheon sort of look, so perhaps he could reunite with his former co-star Christina Ricci as a cocky pilot on Pan Am? Sure, that show is headed for a nose dive, but dude is married to a princess.
90210 role: Tony Miller, the poker-playing jock who takes a reluctant Brenda to senior prom. Voted Most Athletic in the West Beverly Hills High Class of ‘93. (A refresher: Dylan gets Most Handsome, Kelly is Most Beautiful, Brandon and Andrea are Most Likely to Succeed, David is Most Talented, Donna is Best Dressed, and Brenda is Most Likely to Leave the Show in One Year. Kidding: Brenda gets nothing and sulks about it.)
Post-90210: Slyly referenced his 90210 character as a past-his-prime jock in Grosse Pointe Blank; appeared in Band of Brothers; played an LAPD officer in two episodes of Lost. Currently playing TV’s least stereotypical gay character, a divorced police officer battling a pill addiction, on the underwatched series Southland.
Our next-step suggestion: Cudlitz is terrific on Southland, but he’s spent the majority of his career playing military and police officers. He convinced Brenda to go to the prom by telling her he loves to dance; can we please see more of that Michael Cudlitz? Even if it’s in a “Funny or Die” video? Thanks.
90210 role: John Sears, the obnoxious frat boy who drives a wedge between Kelly and Dylan during their freshman year of college. Tries to pressure Kelly into sex with the line “What did you think, I was hanging around with you for your brilliant freshman repartee?” Sets Steve up for expulsion after he interferes with John’s attempt to mack on a 15-year-old girl. Gets his comeuppance when Steve beats him in a mud-pit jousting match (Brenda and Donna distract him with their boobs), forcing him to leave the frat.
Post-90210: Best known as Dan Scott, the villainous father of One Tree Hill’s rival brothers. Also played a man with a cow’s head in the Takashi Miike cult film Gozu and had an uncredited bit part in The Notebook. In 2011, directed the critically reviled film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (which is not about courage and self-sacrifice).
Our next-step suggestion: Johansson’s résumé is impressively random, so much so that we suspect it’s the carefully conceived plan of an evil genius. Note, for instance, his clever leap from onscreen villain (John Sears, Dan Scott) to real-life villain (director of Atlas Shrugged). We’re not sure if he should be butchering people on Dexter or marrying a Kardashian.
90210 role: Lucinda Nicholson, the married professor who has an affair with Brandon while he’s a freshman at California University. Later tries to seduce Dylan so that he’ll fund her film; ironically, teaches a popular class called the Power of Feminism.
Post-90210: Endeared herself to the Comic-Con crowd with roles in Johnny Mnemonic, Starship Troopers, and Star Trek: Nemesis. Played Detective Allison Kerry in the first four Saw films. Will guest-star on the CW’s 90210 during November sweeps — although her character, a modeling agent, appears to be completely unconnected to Professor Nicholson.
Our next-step suggestion: It’s all well and good to wear designer heels on the CW, but it would be interesting to see Meyer get roughed up for a good character role. She could show some range (and some viscera!) playing a survivor on The Walking Dead. Why abandon the geeks now?
Photo: Katy Winn/2008 Getty Images