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Part of the first season cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1990-91), with Jason Priestley at centre. (Andrew Semel/Fox)
Part of the first season cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1990-91), with Jason Priestley at centre. (Andrew Semel/Fox)

Behind the scenes of 90210 with Jason Priestley: Highlights from his new memoir Add to ...

Aaron Spelling knew how to party

One night early on in the run of Beverly Hills, 90210, executive producer Aaron Spelling brought Jason Priestley and Luke Perry back for a private tour of the newly constructed Spelling manor, which included a basement bowling alley and a beer tap – a big deal at the time. Spelling (who had had a few) fell on his butt trying to demonstrate his bowling prowess.

Brad Pitt was almost Brandon Walsh

Okay, not exactly, but he was Priestley’s roomie in the eighties. Both actors were part of a group of young, aspiring actors who tried out for the same gigs and occasionally made bets on who could go the longest without washing – Pitt would always win. Priestley still holds on to a Bible that Pitt gave him as a Christmas gift.

Brenda was always a b-word

Priestley witnessed Shannen Doherty’s penchant for diva antics early on when the on-screen sibs were flown to New York to promote the show. Beverly Hills, 90210 had yet to air its first episode and already a still-teenaged Doherty bitched about everything from her town car (she wanted a limo), the lack of private jet, the in-flight food and temperature. All in front of numerous Fox executives.

On-set squabbles

The two female leads of the early 90210 years (Doherty and Jennie Garth) were frequently at war and Tori Spelling would bounce back and forth between camps. Priestley writes about a photo shoot where all three actresses wanted to wear the same show-stopping red dress. The disagreement became so heated that an executive producer was brought in to settle the situation. No word if this was the inspiration for the famous Brenda-and-Kelly-wear-the-same-prom-dress episode.

Betting on Brenda’s love life

Shannen Doherty’s steam relationships were the source of a lot of on-set gossip for cast and crew. After dating her way through a bunch of bad boys, Doherty married Ashley Hamilton (son of the impossibly suntanned George Hamilton) in 1993. The crew had a pool going on how long the marriage would last – over/under was 10 weeks. The marriage lasted five months.

Emily Valentine and Brandon were a real-life item

On screen she was an unbalanced pyromaniac with a serious peroxide addiction, but off screen Christine Elise (a.k.a. Emily Valentine) was Priestley’s live-in girlfriend for five years. The couple shared a home and numerous canines, but eventually split because she didn’t want kids.

Directing the boss’s daughter in Donna Martin Fornicates!

While filming the famous graduation episode about the time when Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) almost didn’t get to finish high school, Priestley led the cast and hundreds of extras in a more X-rated chant (see above), which had to be dubbed over in the editing room. A few years later he directed the episode when Donna finally loses her v-card. Priestley recalls how Aaron Spelling chewed on his pipe while watching his only daughter lose her on-screen virginity. Afterwards he called it “tasteful.”

The gang goes to each others’ weddings

Priestley had much of the class of West Beverly at his own wedding and he has attended the nuptials of Jennie Garth, Tori Spelling and Ian Ziering. He arrived at Garth’s wedding (to her now ex-husband Peter Facinelli) in a limo. He couldn’t drive because he had been convicted of a DUI.

Once a bro, always a bro

The second person to arrive at the Kentucky Medical Center following Priestley’s nearly fatal race-car accident in 2002 was his long-time pal Luke Perry, who got on a plane as soon as he heard. Perry grabbed his barely conscious bro, asking, “What’s my name?” Priestley replied “Coy L. Perry,” which is Luke Perry’s real name.

Tori & Dean: A couple of jerks

Priestley met Tori Spelling’s (now-estranged) husband Dean McDermott for the first time in 2006 at an event to celebrate the release of the show’s Season One Box Set. He walked up to him and offered a friendly welcome to the 90210 family. McDermott refused to shake hands and gave serious attitude. A few months later, Priestley saw that Dean and Tori had sold the invitation to his 2005 wedding at their televised garage sale – for five bucks.

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