Wow … here is some surprising casting news coming out of Melrose Place … with all the great news about which folks will be joining the cast, I don’t know that many of us (me included) considered who might be leaving the cast. Entertainment Weekly is reporting today that both Ashlee Simpson and Colin Egglesfield have been axed from the show! Their characters will be making their Melrose exit in January after the Who Killed Syndey Andrews? storyline wraps up in December. Um … wow!
Two months into its run, The CW’s ratings-challenged (but creatively-smokin’) Melrose Place reboot is about to undergo a major renovation. For starters, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and Colin Egglesfield have been let go (they’ll last air in January), and the “Who Killed Sydney?” mystery is being wrapped up in December. Then, in addition to Heather Locklear’s Amanda, several new characters will be introduced and the show will take on a lighter, more fun vibe. Here, in an exclusive interview, exec producers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer explain why they’re fixing a series that many (myself included) felt wasn’t broken and tease what’s ahead for Melrose 2.0 3.0.
What was behind the decision to let Ashlee and Colin go?
TODD SLAVKIN: Well, we always knew that this murder mystery would end in episode 12. And we always knew that [Ashlee’s] character of Violet would be instrumental in that as a suspect, and [Colin’s character of] Augie as well. And once that murder mystery was solved, she would go on her way. That was the original plan going into the development of the show.
So it was always the plan for Ashlee to leave after episode 12?
SLAVKIN: Yes. Because we felt that once the murder mystery was resolved, the tone of the show was going to shift into a much more fun, romantic, sexy upbeat kind of show, and [her] character would move on.
Same thing with Colin?
SLAVKIN: Colin was always meant to be the ultimate suspect. And his brooding alcoholic [character] tonally didn’t fit the paradigm moving into post-murder mystery Melrose Place.
Is it fair to say that if either of those characters clicked you would’ve found a way to keep them?
SLAVKIN: Well, you never know when you go along. But in the end, we felt like it was right [decision].
DARREN SWIMMER: The nature of soaps is that as things progress along, the story takes on a life of its own and the characters come and go in relation to that.
After the jump, find out how Ashlee and Colin took the news of their axing and read what Slavkin and Swimmer have to say about the possibility of other castmembers getting the axe from the show …
How did Ashlee and Colin take the news?
SLAVKIN: They’re total professionals and they took it like professionals. When you go into a show you never know what’s going to evolve and what the possibilities are. But because they knew ahead of time [that leaving was a possibility], it wasn’t a complete shock.
People are going to look at these changes and assume it’s a direct result of the show’s disappointing ratings.
SLAVKIN: Well, I understand that perspective. None of us foresaw the ratings; there’s nothing we can do about that. All we can do is write and produce the best show we know how. It’s fine to speculate, but in the end there was always a plan.
What about Laura Leighton and Thomas Calabro? Are they leaving, too?
SLAVKIN: Thomas is very much a part of the fabric of this show. Many storylines are ahead for him. You’ll get to see him interact with his old friend Amanda Woodward as well as all the characters on our show. With Laura, we would never close the door officially. She did her part in the murder mystery. We love her. We think she is gorgeous and a great actress and would love to have her be involved in the future, but there is no plan at the moment.
Can you elaborate on the tonal shift?
SLAVKIN: Now that the characters are no longer suspects, they can have a great time, they can focus on their careers, they can get into bed with each other without having this ominous cloud hanging over the building… But this is still Melrose Place. There’s still going to be intrigue on the show.
Click HERE to read the rest of this EW interview with Slavkin and Swimmer. Aww … I’m bummed. I really love Ashlee’s crazy Violet character … sure, the acting is atrocious but it kinda works with her craziness. I know my very good friend Darion is going to be crushed that Colin Egglesfield is being written off the show … I believe the Auggie character was his fave of the bunch. While I’m very happy to know that we will soon know who killed Sydney, I’m bummed that these two characters have to be axed so early into the season. Ah well … I guess that’s showbiz.