General News

R.J. Wagner and the Birth of '90210'

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

So, would you want to take credit for helping bring about -- even indirectly -- the primetime soap that was "Beverly Hills 90210"? You would if there was a bunch of money involved.

And so it has come to pass that Robert Wagner ("Hart to Hart") is suing Aaron ("90210") Spelling, saying that he (Wagner) was cheated out of $20 million in ka-chingable "90210" monies.

A fascinating bit of TV history Wagner's lawsuit is: It says that all the way back in 1973, R.J. and wife Natalie Wood dreamed up the dream that was "Charlie's Angels." When the series made it to the air in 1976, Wagner and Wood got a cut.

And when Spelling got a deal to make an "Angels" revival series in 1988, Wagner was in line to get another cut. (Wood died in 1982.)

Thing was, "Angels '88" never made it to the air. Fox, the network with whom Spelling had a deal, backed out. Spelling, Wagner's suit says, threatened to sue.

To placate the producer, the network let him pitch two more drama series -- one of which became, ta-da, "Beverly Hills, 90210."

Wagner says he didn't learn about the Fox make-good offer until 1999. The way he figures, if he and Wood didn't pitch "Charlie's Angels," there wouldn't have been an "Angels '88" deal, and, hence, there wouldn't have been a "90210."

The mind boggles with Tori Spelling implications.

No comment yet from Spelling.

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