Among the many folks doing cartwheels over the strong debut numbers for “90210”: David Stapf, president of CBS Paramount Network Television.
Mr. Stapf, along with CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff, was one of the driving forces behind the revival of the show. What’s more, “90210” is CBS Paramount’s single biggest new show of the fall.
The executive conceded that he and his staff “were petrified” about the ratings prior to this morning—and, not surprisingly, he said he’s “thrilled” with the early Nielsen data for the show.
“Obviously it’s one number,” he cautioned. “But what I was most gratified about was the fact that we held viewers across the two hours. They didn’t leave, which is nice.”
Mr. Stapf concedes that the show is “going to have stiffer competition” in the weeks ahead and that there could be a “curiosity factor” behind the ratings.
But he added, “We also threw a lot of obstacles at it.” He noted the show’s early premiere date, the last-minute decision to premiere with a two-hour episode and the lack of a pilot.
As for the return of original “90210”-ers Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty, Mr. Stapf took exception to the suggestion that their screen time in the first two hours amounted to cameos. However, he suggested both actresses will be getting more camera time in future episodes.
Mr. Stapf also left open the door for a visit by Tori Spelling, who abruptly canceled plans to appear in the show.
“We haven’t had any conversations in a while but we’d love to figure out a way to get her on the show,” he said. “All of the former cast members are integral to this brand.”
The CW will repeat the “90210” premiere Thursday from 8-10 p.m.