Exclusive: Simpson and Egglesfield out in 'Melrose Place' shake-up

ausiello-melrose-place-ashley_lTwo 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.

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.

Do you think viewers were turned off by the dark nature of the show?
SWIMMER:
Who knows why the ratings aren’t better? I think for us, it’s just a matter of moving on in the direction we [always] wanted to go.

Some people might wonder why you’re fixing what’s not broken. Personally, I love the show.
SLAVKIN:
Which we understand and I totally get that. I think our feeling is that TV shows need to evolve. Mike, you’re a fan of Smallville. You’ve watched that show and you’ve seen the evolution in that show. Characters come and go. This being much more of a soap opera, we feel that it’s heated up more rapidly, where characters come and go and have arcs and move on. There will be new characters coming in.

Tell me about those new characters.
SLAVKIN:
There’s a doctor, a new resident at the hospital who is irreverent and funny and will mix it up and move into the building. He will be a roommate of one of the characters and interact with Lauren. He’s a guy that, even though he’s a doctor, he doesn’t take life very seriously. Medicine can be very fun as well as serious to him and he ends up lightening up Lauren. We think this guy’s a lot of fun and is going to mix it up in a great way with the rest of the cast.

Has the role been cast?
SLAVKIN:
Not yet.

Any other new characters?
SWIMMER:
We have [Heather Locklear's] new love interest played by Billy Campbell. He has a three-episode arc. He plays basically a billionaire version of Jonah. He’s the equivalent of a Mark Cuban. Again, a lot of fun, funny, irreverent, and is someone who can actually make Amanda Woodward smile.

How long do you have Heather for?
SLAVKIN:
A long time. She’s in every episode moving forward. She’s a major focus [of the show]. She has a hidden agenda that will become not so hidden as the episodes move along. She’s not just the boss of Ella [Katie Cassidy].

Does Heather still have it?
SLAVKIN:
Absolutely. Not only is she so fun as Amanda, but she’s such an amazing, hysterical woman. Her [return] is going to be a big moment on Melrose Place.

Comments (253 total) Add your comment
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  • Eli

    Ashlee Simpson and the murder mystery are the worst part of this show and what was about to make me stop watching. Now that I know there is an end in sight, I guess I will stick it out.

    • JJ

      I totally agree. I almost stopped watching halfway through the last episode. But, now that I know that wanna-be-psycho is leaving the show, I’ll keep watching.

    • RR

      Well at least they were smart enough to realize that a large reason people were NOT watching the show was due to Ashlee Simpson, she’s a sweet girl but she is an awful actress. Sad for Colin though, but you gotta do what you gotta do I guess. 90210 shaked things up when ratings were the same as Melrose are now, and it worked for them.

    • Bill

      You guys are completely wrong. This show is amazing just the way it is. I think this is going to be a huge mistake that the show’s producers are going to regret in the long run… if there is a long run.

      • Nanette/Jade.

        The only mistake they are making now, is not inviting Jack Wagner to appear with Heather Locklear. He was an integral part of the original MP.

    • Katie R

      Ashlee Simpson was the reason I wasnt watching in the first place. Now I’ll prob watch.

      • Diggity

        Me too. I remember her from 7th Heaven and she was the worst. I couldn’t believe they were going to let her ruin Melrose. Maybe after ep 12 I will tune in for some Amanda.

      • Nancy

        I loved the original Melrose and did not watch the current Melrose because I can’t stand the lesser Simpson. I will watch once she is off the show.

    • Nanette/Jade.

      You are 100% correct. I’m so glad Ashlee is leaving show. Also, does anyone find it odd, that the producers do not even mention Jack Wagner? He must have really pissed some people off,and it is coming back to haunt him. That’s ashame, I’d love to see him back on screen with HL.

      • Barbara

        He can’t hes on Bold and the Beautiful.

      • Pattie West

        The only reason Wagner is still on B&B is because MP was not interested in him. His name never comes up in these types of articles.

      • Nisha

        We are glad to see these changes as it is often dfliicuft to wait for an appointment during an acute medical issue that is not acute enough to justify a hospital visit. A flu or cold can keep us from work which is important to us, but would not be significant enough to require an emergency room visit. As a result, being able to come in same day or next day can really help not allow a flu or a cold become more serious (pneumonia) or keep us from working too long. I believe this is why Pharmacy clinics have spurred up knowing that getting a doctor’s appointment is not always within reach.Thank you and I am certain this will increase our confidence and appreciation for your practice.

  • Elle

    WHAT AUGGIE NOOOOOOO!PETITION RIGHT NOW!!!!!Violet is interesting but maybe it’s good to get rid of her. Also the show is awsome it doesn’t need to be turned into a fun show its meant to be a drama ugh im SO PI$$ED!

    • Mags

      This is GREAT news! Auggie was the worst character.

      • april-ann

        Glad Ashlee’s out. Kimberly was a fun and over-the-top wacko, but Ashlee didn’t measure up at all. Auggie is very boring but serves a purpose, meaning, who will keep boring non-couple Jonah and Riley apart now?

  • Eli

    Also, Ashlee’s attempts at being vampy/sexy with Michael were laughable and vomit inducing at the same time.

    • Tarc

      Yeah… yeah. I was cringeworthy to the point of me considering turning the episode off.

      • Nicole

        Totally agreed, she needs to go. But Augie? He’s so pretty….

    • Chiami

      He he- My thoughts exactly! :)

      But I did like Auggie.

  • Joel

    I couldnt care less about Ashlee but I am beyond belief upset that colin is leaving. He is my faveourite character in the entire show. Super pissed off! Ausiello, get your powers in motion and lets get him back :(

  • @ImStillToni

    DING DONG! ASW IS FINALLY GONE! YAY!!!!

    • michelekamay

      I don’t know if we should be delighted, I mean, Ashlee may have a wealthy husband, she’s a young mother. It doesn’t look that good to fire a young mother, shame on you, MP producers, boo!!!
      Auggie is too cheesy but still he is hot; they should have given him a second shot…too bad.
      Those news just confirm that CW’s four aces of glamour(TBL, Melrose Place, 90210 and, Gossip Girl) are more than disappointing right now. I wonder which one would be able to make it through next season!

      • Danny

        a young mother married to a millionaire and you want to cry for her? Uh, michelle, go kiss fall out boy’s butt and grow up.

      • Laura

        LOL whatever – who cares about Ashlee being a “young mother” – no one cares.

        If anything, as a young mother she should be spending MORE time at home.

      • Diggity

        Laura is 100% correct. I don’t understand having any pity for ASW. There are much more deserving, more struggling actresses out there. Weird.

      • @TweedleV

        Everyone is so hard on this poor girl, her acting was bad at the begining but she had her moments, I thought her scene With Syd was great and I understand her leaving the show but its basicallty because of all her h8rs! Good luck ASW sorry ppl are so douchy and judgemental.

  • Jed

    FANTASTIC NEWS!! Not so much for Colin though? WTF? I didn’t have a problem with his abs, I mean acting and potential

  • Becca

    I am pretty sure I will go back to watching this show ONCE Ashlee is gone.. Talk about creepy!

  • Christy

    Uh. Spoilers?

    • kaci

      exactly what i was thinking after reading this!

      • Michael

        I think we know one of two (or maybe both) who killed Sydney.

    • Sarah

      My thoughts exactly… it seems pretty clear to me that Violet is the one that killed Sydney, especially after they called Auggie the “ultimate SUSPECT”…

      I must say, though, that I really liked Auggie’s character – beyond his good looks! He added drama, but just enough for it to still be soap-appropriate. Violet’s just crazy, but doesn’t that mean Ashlee’s playing the role well? I think we’re SUPPOSED to dislike her, or at least be creeped out by her!

      • Briana

        it also makes it clear that Lauren is NOT the person who is killed later on too, since it says that she will interact w/ one of the new characters… so they will probably kill off Violet or Auggie…

  • Kristina

    FINALLY! Ashlee Simpson-Wentz was dragging the show down. Down with her. Sad to see Colin go – he’s super cute, but I understand they have to switch things up!

    • stealthreinvestor

      I agree, she is awful on that show.

    • RR

      Agreed.

  • M Weyer

    Personally liked Ashlee, had a great nutso charm about her but guess it makes sense not to drag the plotline out too long.

    • @TweedleV

      still pissed they killed Sydney off!! I love Laura Leighton in that role. and now shes useless it should have been Jane in the Pool!!! that way they could still use Sydney, and where the F did Jane go anyway?

  • sam

    Overjoyed that Ashlee is leaving. Sad that Colin is leaving, I enjoyed him on the show.

  • Alan

    Where’s the surprise? The original Melrose also axed two characters in the first season (Rhonda, Sandy). They’re just stickin with tradition! I like the move, those were my 2 least fave characters.

    • John

      Sandy stayed for 11 or 12 episodes, Rhonda at least lasted for ONE whole season. Rhonda character was way better actress then Violet!

  • Cynthia

    This sucks. I love Auggie! Ashley…..not so much.

  • Ryan

    Happy to see Violet go, not so sure with Augie. I kind of like him. Did they just cast Billy Campbell because of his name? And what about Jack Wagner? I know it’s probably not as interesting plotwise, but I wanted Amanda and Peter to be together. I’d like Billy 2.0 (Jonah) to get lost because he really irritates me. Ella’s definitely my favorite.

    • Sina

      Didn’t Amanda leave with Peter? They were married. They should have bought him back to compete with Michael or something. Ella is also my favorite. She is THE reason I continue to watch. I just hope they don’t take the focus off of Ella and give it all to Amanda. I like Jonah but why the heck is Riley still on the show! I bet they will be bring Auggie back. He was the only sexy guy on the show.

      • Michael

        Ella and Amanda will end up being arch-rivals.

      • Andy Bluebear

        Wasn’t the whole ending of Amanda and Peter was that they faked their deaths to escape from her crazy cheerleader friend and what not? Then again, they did bring back Sydney to kill her again, how hard could it be to bring back Amanda?

      • TC in NJ

        No way. Colin is nice (I was liking him on All My Children), but Michael Rady is a doll and we need more of David’s fence – what a hottie.

      • patsy

        and where’s Peter????

    • Briana

      was thinking the same thing about “Billy Campbell” lol

    • Sophie

      Yes, Peter & Amanda faked their deaths w/the help of Michael and escaped to an island. Crazy cheerleader was Eve-Rena Sofer (tv show killer). Jonah and Riley are definitely boring sort of like how Jane & Michael were the 1st season until Michael became a cheater which made him so much more interesting. I will like to know where is Jane’s daughter? She was pregnant in the series finale. The daughter was actually Michael’s but she and Kyle were going to raise her together. As for Ashlee Simpson leaving CONGRATS! She was a horrible actress and it was like watching Andrew Shue act and he unbearable!

    • Yanti

      Hi Rhonya,I think you are such a good writer, it’s pilsme but with feeling into, interesting and easy to read.I noticed that you don’t post often, but when you do it’s always creative and intelligent.I enjoyed reading this article, and the way you described following the pink path to the boutique, makes fashion sounds less boring and artificial.Also I would LOVE to see more of your photographs here, makes me happy just to look at. Thank you so much!Xoxo, Arianna

  • Nicole

    Man, Colin was HOT and the characeter of Auggie a great fit for the show. I am beyond disappointed that he’s being let go. Heck, I liked ASW too. Ausiello’s right-the show wasn’t broken so there’s no need to try to fix it by shaking up the cast already!

    • Krista

      I completely agree. It was just starting to get interesting for the character of Auggie with the Riley drama!! Also, I think ASW has more acting ability than most people give her credit for and her character was interesting unlike Lauren..

      • Michael

        Lauren’s one of the best things on the show.

      • PATRICK

        i strongly disagree. watching ashlee try to act was the hardest thing in the world. Lauren on the other hand is one of the most interesting characters on the show next to ella. its funny cause every episode i always look to see how the writers have balanced having Ashlee in the episode without actually making her do anything. it is clear that she was basically just a big name they were trying to get publicity off of.

    • gia

      Auggie majorly bored me, and I hated the actor. He’s just terrible. I will miss Ashley a bit, though.

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