EXCLUSIVE: The question is whether this is a really smart or really stupid decision by The CW’s boss Dawn Ostroff. I’m told a contract controversy is preventing Tori Spelling from joining that so-called “edgy, contemporary spin-off” of the ’90s hit 90210 on the network this fall as planned. Insiders tell me that Tori was hired to reprise her role as fashion boutique owner Donna Martin for just “$10,000-$20,000″ per episode. But then Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty were signed for “$35,000-$50,000″ a show. When Tori found out her former co-stars were getting paid way more than she was, she got pissed and demanded equal pay. But the network suits have refused. So now my sources tell me that Tori has pulled out of the series, which premieres with a 2-hour special on September 2nd. “She thought she deserved parity, and she’s got a point,” an insider explained to me. (UPDATE: The CW has confirmed today that it has no deal with Tori, despite mentioning Donna Martin’s name in its initial press release.)
That’s because, for some bizarre reason, Tori is a reality show ratings hit by Oxygen’s low standards. (Last Tuesday’s Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood was the most watched telecast in the history of that execrable women’s cable channel as 1.4 million viewers saw the episode where Tori gave birth to her 2nd child.) And Spelling wrote a bestselling book besides. Showing once again that it doesn’t pay to underestimate the terrible taste of the American public…
As for Tori, she has told the media only that the timing didn’t work out for her to appear in the 90210 pilot because she was giving birth. “So we’ll see what happens later in the season,” she said last week on CBS’ The Early Show. One insider tells me it wouldn’t be surprising if Tori and the show eventually agree to bring her onto 90210 as a November sweeps stunt. Hmm.
You may remember that, back on May 29th, I wrote that the talk of Hollywood was when, not if, The CW’s Dawn Ostroff would be fired. After all, she got her job by the skin of her teeth after programming as badly as she could at the old UPN and brown-nosing Les Moonves who was making a power-play move on Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer. Well, I recently learned that Ostroff managed to buy herself more time on the back of 90210. Insiders tell me that her future, and the entire future of the fledgling network, rests on the teen show’s fall ratings. As a source explained, “Since Gossip Girl opened with a 3.1 for women 18-to-34 and still can’t get ratings, then 90210 has got to open with a ‘4’ in front of it for women 18-to-34 if The CW and Dawn are going to survive into 2009.”