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"Beverly Hills, 90210" Flashback: "Fame Is Where You Find It"

By admin Published: September 11, 2008

Originally aired Feb. 28, 1991. Brandon learns about show business, Brenda finds an alter ego.

Summary: Brandon is playing street hockey on rollerblades in the park. We see a thief grab a picnicker's purse, only to be confronted by a girl -- but it turns out to be a scene from the popular teen show "Keep It Together," which is shooting in the park. When show discovers that the actor who is supposed to play "surfer dude" has gotten food poisoning, they need a last-minute replacement -- and, like an opening scene in "That Girl," they spot Brandon.

Later, in the makeup room, a hilariously costumed Brandon asks for help from a woman he thinks is a makeup artist -- only to learn, after he has admitted he doesn't watch the show, that it's Lydia Leeds (Marcy Kaplan), the star of "Keep It Together." But there's chemistry, and Brandon delivers his "surfer dude" line well.

At home, Brenda, who still watches "Keep It Together," is impressed that Brandon is on the show. But she's a little jealous when the show asks Brandon to do more. Brandon, meanwhile, wants Brenda to pick up his shifts at the Peach Pit while he does the TV show; Brenda agrees after Brandon agrees to give her more space in their shared bathroom -- and his beloved green shirt. Nat goes along with the arrangement, but warns Brandon not to let "all that Hollywood hoopla" go to his head. And Brenda has warned him that he may just be a pawn in the show's negotiations with former star Sean Judson (Graham Galloway).
But it's hard to keep perspective; David wants to interview Brandon on his radio show (Brandon notes that there are plenty of Hollywood kids at West Beverly) -- and Lydia later shows up in a limo to take him to work. When they get there, she notes, "I don't make a habit of giving people a ride to the set."

Brenda worries about the Peach Pit, and talks about how much she likes acting, doing different voices for Kelly and Donna. Back at the studio, Brandon and Lydia have a kissing scene -- which they do nine times. Brandon likes. That night -- in the green shirt -- he goes to a young-Hollywood party with Lydia, telling his parents that it's "a networking thing." When Lydia picks him up, Brenda tries to chat with her, mentioning that she knows Kelly and Donna, who knew Lydia in elementary school; Lydia is snotty about the whole thing.

Things go disastrously for Brenda at the Peach Pit. Brandon has a great time at the party, especially after Lydia kisses him, hard -- although it appears she's doing it just to make Sean jealous, since he arrives just before the kiss.

At the studio the next day, Brandon learns his big scene has been cut -- and Sean is back. He realizes he has been fooled. Brenda, meanwhile, arrives at the Peach Pit as "Laverne," a sassy, old-school waitress who charms everyone. As she succeeds, Brandon is doing a scene where he repeatedly gets doused with water, which makes him mess up every take.

Brenda, Kelly and Donna lip-synch "It's My Party" to a crowd including Dylan, Steve, David, Scott, Andrea and even Brandon, who is vague about what has happened at the show. Brenda gets a record amount of tips, which she is "saving up for something special." Brandon goes back to street hockey, where Lydia comes to chat; she assures Brandon that, even though things didn't work out, the show's producer is going to test-market Brandon's character for possible future use. They appear to have become friends -- until Brandon sees his "Keep It Together" episode, and discovers that his kissing scene has been reshot with Lydia and Sean kissing. Everyone is sympathetic -- "Even my mother's ended up on the cutting-room floor," says Steve -- but Brandon is still stung. He offers to let Brenda keep the job at the Peach Pit; she declines -- and reveals she is going to spend her tip money on acting lessons.

Comments: I'm not sure why -- may just be timing -- but I have probably seen this episode more than any other from the old "90210." And it has its virtues. Brandon's speechmaking is again kept to a minimum, and the ending is quite cold -- Brandon doesn't even get his one scene. (But what happened to his turn as "surfer dude"?) The Brenda transformation is amusing, although I would have been very interested to hear Laverne doing "Material Girl" -- mentioned in the show, but not seen. It's also an interesting reminder that Kelly and Donna are big deals at West Beverly but not in the Hollywood world at large, where Lydia has left them far behind. I was puzzled by Brenda's returning keys to Brandon -- wondering if she finally got her driver's license and borrowed Mondale while Brandon was getting chauffeured -- but I suppose those could just be the keys to the Peach Pit.

Other notes:

-- This is clearly a case of a song being knocked off the DVD -- since David dedicates something to Brandon and it's just generic instrumental.

-- The co-producer is played by the funny and talented Amy Hill, who would later co-star on Margaret Cho's "All-American Girl." Where, if IMDB is correct, Marcy Kaplan guest-starred.

-- Snotty actress MacKenzie (in the club scene) is played by Melissa Rivers, daughter of Joan. Read what you will into the reference to Mackenzie's getting roles just because she has a big-time producer uncle. Joan, by the way, had been Fox's first network star, as host of a late-night show in 1986-87.

-- Brandon says his on-set tutor is writing a spec script for "Twin Peaks." That ABC series had premiered in the spring of 1990 and at the time this episode aired was on a hiatus during its second (and final) season.

-- There may be a reference to "90210's" early ratings struggle in the discussion of "Keep It Together" after the gang watched Brandon's episode. Donna notes that "KIT" is a top-ten show, and Dylan says, "There's no accounting for taste."

-- Poor Scott. He gets in some scenes, but his big line is telling Brandon that his limo has arrived.

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