1 9 9 5 – 1 9 9 6 (USA)
21 x 60 minute episodes
Central Park West – a glitzy, trashy nighttime soap opera from CBS – promised viewers it would be “a sophisticated urban drama about a cross-section of young New Yorkers whose lives play out with the same intensity that drives the city”.
In other words, executive producer Darren Star, who also created Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place was sticking with a winning formula: catfights, raw ambition, red satin lingerie, good hair and bad dialogue.
The plot revolved around Stephanie Wells (Mariel Hemingway), the new editor of a glossy magazine called Communique, who showed her savvy in the first episode by finding a penthouse with a terrace for $3,000 a month.
Amongst those with whom Wells crossed paths were Carrie Fairchild (Mädchen Amick), the magazine’s caustic nighttime columnist, and Linda Fairchild Rush (Lauren Hutton, pictured at left), the new wife of Communique publisher Allen Rush (Ron Leibman) and Carrie’s mother.
Other characters included Peter Fairchild (John Barrowman), Carrie’s handsome brother and a District Attorney in the JFK mode; Alex Bartoli (Melissa Errico), a scrappy tabloid reporter with whom Peter becomes romantically involved; Gil Chase (Justin Lazard), Peter’s stockbroker friend and an all-around jerk; Nikki Sheridan (Michael Michele), Carrie’s pal who frequently and unwittingly helped Carrie accomplish her dirty deeds; and Rachel Dennis (Kylie Travis), a fashion editor from Australia who promptly raised the show’s sexiness quotient when she arrived in the third episode.
Despite a ton of hype – and being one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of 1995 – the series failed miserably in the ratings.
Hemingway was written out after the 13th episode as CBS yanked the show, retooled it with a handful of CBS-friendly stars (including the fiercely glittering Raquel Welch) and relaunched it in June 1996, rebranding the show simply CPW.
But nothing was going to help and by the end of the year, the show was gone.
Linda Fairchild Rush