The Watchman: Making a Million in Erie, Pa., and Making ‘90210’ in Beverly Hills

Senior content producer Michael Malone's look at the programming scene
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Undercover Billionaire, about a super-successful entrepreneur who turns up in a strange place, with $100, and attempts to create a million-dollar company in 90 days, begins on Discovery Aug. 6. Glenn Stearns is the billionaire. He came from nothing and earned tremendous wealth in mortgage lending, among other businesses, and aims to make a fresh million again.

Undercover Billionaire

'Undercover Billionaire'

Executive producer Tim Warren calls it “Naked and Afraid in the business world.”

Stearns gets a pseudonym and a pickup truck, and turns up in Erie, Pennsylvania. Why Erie? “It was an industrial powerhouse that fell upon hard economic times,” Warren said. That, and the city is rebuilding itself by encouraging small businesses to take root.

This is Just a Test produces Undercover Billionaire. In the premiere, Stearns volunteers at a shelter so he can get a meal. He cleans a house for cash and sleeps in his truck. He dumpster-dives to see what sort of jetsam he might resell.

After 90 days, an evaluator will assess the value of Stearns’s new business to see if it’s worth a million. Warren said the series is right for 2019. “It has a real motivational, inspirational and aspirational component to it,” he said.

And the Beverly Hills, 90210 reboot begins on Fox Aug. 7. Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling are in the BH90210 cast, playing “heightened versions of themselves,” said Fox.

The network will do six episodes.

“The storylines are a mix of real life and some fiction thrown in,” Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn said.

'BH90210'

'BH90210'

Beverly Hills, 90210 aired on Fox from 1990 to 2000. It can be viewed on Hulu and CBS All Access today. There’s also the fab Saturday Night Live skit from 1992 that saw the characters flip out when Beverly Hills is set to get a new ZIP code, prompting SNL host Priestley, playing Brandon, to take their keys away so they don’t drive while flustered.

Thorn called 90210 “one of those seminal TV shows.”

Luke Perry, who played Dylan, died in March. It came up at Comic-Con that Doherty will be in the season premiere of Riverdale as an homage to Perry, who played Archie’s father Fred on the show.

“The cast all has different things going on in their careers and their lives,” Thorn said.

Fox promises lively stuff in the redo. “What will happen when first loves, old romances, friends and frenemies come back together, as this iconic cast — whom the whole world watched grow up together — attempts to continue from where they left off?” it said.

“It’s the ultimate high-school reunion,” Thorn said.

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