Brace yourself, prime-time soap junkies -- it's looking like curtains for both "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Party of Five."
Trade paper reports today say Fox is preparing to ax the two long-running series after this season. As is the way in TV, money and ratings apparently teamed to doom the once-happening pair.
Both Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter say Fox was unable to come to a deal with TV legend Aaron Spelling to buy at least 12 new episodes of his company's "90210" to air this summer. Reports say the network decided the money just wasn't worth it -- what with the formerly hot show a good six seasons beyond its sizzling hot status. ("90210" spinoff "Melrose Place" died last year.) There also was said to concern over whether the likes of Spelling's own daughter Tori would reup for an 11th season.
And then there's the matter of the ratings. For the season to date, "90210" is ranked No. 81. Even if it outpoints the WB's "Dawson's Creek" (No. 121), it's no demographic challenger to the newer show's teen and young adult audience.
As for "Party of Five"? It's never been a big player in the Nielsen race -- it's currently running in 99th place. But Variety cites expected cast defections -- including one by budding movie star Neve Campbell -- as another reason why the network's pulling the plug now.
"90210" debuted in 1990, en route to becoming the fledgling Fox network's first bona-fide hour-long drama success. The show, about the lives (and boyfriends and girlfriends) of a clique of Beverly Hills rich kids, made teen idols of Jason Priestley and Luke Perry and tabloid fodder of Shannen Doherty (late of WB's "Charmed"). Other actors to pass through its doors include Golden Globe winner and Oscar-nominee hopeful Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry").
"Party of Five" bowed in 1994. Soapy, but less, well, stupid than "90210," the earnest show about five earnest (and good-looking) orphans barely survived its first low-rated season. Critical and award-show success (it won the 1996 Golden Globe for best drama series) kept it alive -- as did its breakout cast, including Campbell, Scott Wolf ("Go") and Jennifer Love Hewitt. This fall, "PO5" producers moved Hewitt out to her own spinoff, the equally endangered "Time of Your Life."
No word yet on the reputed deaths of "90210" and "PO5" from the shows' producers.