The Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise has historically not been kind to the elder relatives of its nubile teens, which is why we were a little confused when producers of the new 90210 reboot announced that they'd be casting not just parents but a grandmother. Would there really be room on the show for a regular over sixty, we wondered? Then, they hired Jessica Walter for the role and announced she'd essentially be reprising her Lucille Bluth character from Arrested Development, and suddenly all the Shannens and Jennies in the world paled in comparison. Sadly, EW's Michael Ausiello says that Walter's contract has now been slashed:
A 90210 insider says while it's true that Walter's contract option was not picked up for the second half of the season, the Arrested Development grande dame has agreed to appear on a recurring basis, her schedule permitting. "Fans have not seen the last of Tabitha," assures executive producer Gabe Sachs. "We love Jessica." According to my moles, the decision to take Walter off contract was made purely for financial reasons. As the show continues to evolve, it didn't make sense to, as one 90210 insider puts it, "pay her all that money to utter two funny lines an episode." Instead, 90210 will continue to invest in headline-grabbing vets like Shannen Doherty, as well as characters that drive story, such as Jessica Lowndes' Adrianna (who was just made a series regular).
The idea that Jessica Walter might not be 90210's most valuable asset? We don't understand the question, and we won't respond to it. Reluctantly, we must drag BluthWatch '08 back out of the mothballs (and without so much as an Arrested Development movie to provide Walter with a soft landing!). Surely the producers could have found ways to incorporate Tabitha into the high school storylines — after all, aren't cougars hot right now? Perhaps we'd finally become invested in the terminally bland West Bev hunk "Ethan" if he suddenly started showing up under Tabitha's caftans. 90210 writers, consider that one a freebie.