Melrose Place finally returns to The CW Tuesday night, March 9th, after such a long hiatus it's almost hard to remember what happened! To play catch up and recap a bit, when we last saw the new gang at 4616, Violet (Ashlee Simpson-Wentz had just killed Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro)'s wife in the infamous pool after a confrontation that revealed who really killed Sydney (Laura Leighton). Amanda (Heather Locklear) just happened by at the right time and offered to cover for Violet and say she saw the whole thing and it was self-defense. However, knowing Amanda's predilection for drama, there has to be an ulterior motive-- perhaps one that sets Violet fleeing (as we all already know, Simpson-Wentz has left the show). Oh, and David (Shaun Sipos) is trying to save Lauren (Stephanie Jacobsen) who is comatose after a john slipped her something...and he might also be a father! This new version of a classic show certainly has raised the stakes up to eleven!
"My Life, Made Possible By Pop Culture" had a chance to speak with Calabro about all of the twists and turns his character has gone through between seven seasons of the original and this first split season of the new. Find out what's in store for Dr. Michael Mancini right here, right now:
I just have to say that I, too, am a Stuyvesant graduate, so it's nice to see that we can make it out in Los Angeles, let alone the entertainment business!
- Oh that's so funny! I just recently ran into another Stuyvesant graduate who was a big friend of my son's in school, and I was like 'What? You went to Stuyvesant, too!?' And another gal who's a producer that I graduated with, she's out here, too.
I think they're starting to get it: you have to go west! There's tons of opportunities out here! How much of that early math and science education do you think helped when you were first formulating the role of Dr. Michael Mancini in Aaron Spelling's Melrose Place?
- Oh my gosh; there's a question I've never been asked! Let me put it this way, I did go pre-med for a year because my sister is a surgeon, but that's after Stuyvesant, isn't it?
Well, that's okay. I really mean just in general; he is a doctor, and there was medical jargon for you to learn...
- Yeah, you know, the thing I was most flabbergasted by when I went to Stuyvesant was how competitive everybody was, and I think more than anything, Michael is a competitor if there ever was one! He's a predator competitor, so I think I really learned how to get what I wanted and what I had to do to get it...[Laughing] I never saw so many people kissing the ass of teachers until they went to Stuyvesant!
That is definitely true, except when I was there they were kissing the asses of other students, as well because they knew so many people were going to go places.
- See, I wasn't aware of that. I was like the only student in the fifty years to get suspended. They were shocked!
So I've begun rewatching the original series on DVD, and this new incarnation seems to be much more of a love letter to Los Angeles. As a native New Yorker, does that ever make you miss home and desire to shoot something on the streets of Tribeca or Brooklyn?
- It's funny that you should say that because it's truly Darren [Swimmer] and Todd [Slavkin]-- our executive producers and creators-- both grew up in Los Angeles, so that comes across. [But] I don't feel like I'm without New York. My family's still there, and I still love it, and I go back about three times a year. You know, my kids are out here, so it's my home. I guess I don't feel like because I'm thousands of miles away from it I'm without it. It lives inside me, believe me, you can feel it; it might be off-putting to some people.
It's a cliche that you can take the boy out of New York but not the New York out of the boy, but it is so for a reason. It seems to be true that you just can't lose a certain attitude or energy you spent years absorbing while growing up in New York...no matter how hard I may try.
Revisiting the role all of these years later, do you think Michael has learned anything from his past mistakes?
- He's learned how much he can get away with and continue to do so continually with little or no repercussions! That's going to change a little bit. Repercussions are gonna grow for him, and that's a good thing, I think. It's tough-- Michael's tough. It's his first nuclear family, but there's this kid outside the marriage, and [he has] to work that out...Now that I think about it, it doesn't seem like he's changed much at all, does it? [Laughs]
Prior to the hiatus, the audience heard Sydney intimate that Noah might be David's son. Is this something that Michael knows and perhaps is part of the reason for the tension and conflict between him and his elder son? In the episodes beginning March 9, will that be brought to the front burner, so to speak?
- There's any possibilities, all of which you mention. Yes, you'll find out. That storyline is going to move forward, and you'll find out a lot more about his family and his boys. That much I can tell you for sure.
Can you tell me anything about Lauren? Will she pull through soon?
- She's going to continue to struggle, and those struggles will involve more things than we see right now. There will be many more struggles for her moving forward. My sister went through it...she was a surgical intern, and it's difficult, and when you're on Melrose Place, it's even more difficult! [Laughs]
Of course! That's what makes it so interesting!
- She will still struggle professionally, personally, financially, yes, the shit is going to continue to hit the fan for her, and it will involve a number of the other characters on the show.
We saw a little teaser with Michael and Jane (Josie Bissett) in a somewhat dubiously titled 'romance' trailer. Do you think Jane is the only woman Michael has truly loved?
- Do you think that Jane is the only woman that Michael has ever loved?
You know, I don't know. I'm only up to the end of season two with my re-watching, and there are so many things that I had forgotten about from the first time around! But you've been playing this character for a long time...
- [Laughing] Yeah, there was a lot in those seven seasons! So, I think Michael's love is a little different for everybody. He has plenty of it to go around, but [it's] a little like a rubberband: it always seems to come back and hit him...That love scene is going to dissipate pretty quickly!
Do you think Michael has ever really met a woman who is his match?
- If there's anyone out there who's a real match for Michael, it would be Amanda Woodward.
So will anything be rekindled between Michael and Amanda then in this second half of the first season?
- Plans are laid that may lead to that, yes indeed. We already know they have a history, so anything can happen moving forward. And every scene has a little something underneath it that isn't quite what the scene is about, you know what I'm saying?
It's the will they/won't they and who are they really subtext Melrose Place has always done so well! And what made you decide to come back to the character all these years later?
- The passion of our creators. The passion that our creators had when I met with them at first when we were just thinking about me coming back to the show. They had their own unique vision, and that it was, in fact, an homage to Los Angeles and all that goes with that. And that they had no interest at all in trying to replicate what we had already done...It just had the same name as the original Melrose Place, but it's really a whole new show.
Even Michael-- I mean, he still has key elements of who he was as an intellect and a schemer, but he seems a little cooler, a little sleeker. How much of that was on the page and how much of it was just what you brought with your years of experience as Michael Mancini?
- That's our interpretation-- and I'm talking about Darren, Todd, and myself...This guy thinks he's impenetrable, and I think that's what I came in with. Like supremely, there's nothing you can do to hurt me. The guy comes back and his biggest difference is he owns the friggin' hospital, practically.
And the car!
Is there anything that will get under Michael's skin in the next few episodes?
- Oh no doubt, otherwise you just become sort of old and dead. His son gets under his skin, though he doesn't think he will. Yes, we are changing the tone of it as we move into the second half of the season...He's going to become much more vulnerable. There's going to be a lot more chinks in his armor-- which of course he'll cover up as best as he can.
Melrose Place has not yet been given a verdict on renewal for a second season come Fall 2010, but as Calabro pointed out, the show is going through many of the same creative processes now as it did in the early years of the original series. "And [that show] didn't get its legs until season two or three!"