He has come a long way from his days as Brandon Walsh, the clean-cut hero of TV’s Beverly Hills, 90210. After Jason Priestley left the primetime hit in 1998, he reinvented himself as a big-screen actor, a director and most recently as the titular antihero of TV’s Call Me Fitz.
And along the way, the Vancouver-born heartthrob found the love of his life, his wife Naomi, with whom he’s raising two beautiful children.
It’s a journey that the star, 44, documents in Jason Priestley: A Memoir – a reflection on the highs and lows of his life including, of course, his 90210 heyday. Here, in an excerpt from his book [courtesy of Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers], Jason gives readers a glimpse of his teen idol days and remembers a memorable episode on the set of an iconic Rolling Stone magazine cover shoot with TV co-stars Luke Perry and Shannen Doherty…
Photo: Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
Rolling Stone scheduled a cover shoot for Luke, Shannen, and me in Los Angeles, to take place on a weekend because we were shooting all week long. I went out somewhere the Friday night before the shoot and wound up staying out very late. When I woke up the next morning I most definitely did not feel like going to a cover shoot—nor did I look like a cover boy! Fortunately, like every twenty-two-year-old, I had the ability to go out and get wild, stay out late, grab a few hours’ sleep, then get up the next day and do what I had to do . . . looking fine. That’s the great part of being twenty-two . . . for everyone!
It was a huge honor to be on the cover of RollingStone—that year we were in the company of other cover subjects including Bono, President Clinton, Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Nirvana, and Bruce Springsteen. I didn’t have time to fully slow down and appreciate what a big deal it really was. It was immediately back to work and then on to the next big event.
The Golden Globe Awards, where film and television stars mingle together, really is one big long party, just as it appears on television. It’s a full-on banquet, the fancy version of a rubber chicken dinner, and its reputation as a place where the stars get smashed is well earned. The bar is wide open, and by the time the last awards are presented, everyone in attendance has been sitting there for literally hours getting tanked.
In January of 1992, Luke and I were asked to present an award. The idea was to have the two teen idols from the hot new show nominated for Best Drama present an award. Beverly Hills 90210 had caught on like wildfire in Europe, and the Globes, of course, were sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Luke and I lived in different parts of town, so we arrived at the Golden Globes separately. I got dressed to the nines and was picked up in a limousine, walked the red carpet, and was interviewed and photographed by the international press. Back in those days, no fans showed up, just the press.
The show was running on Thursday nights at this time, up against Cheers and the popular block of NBC shows that had dominated the ratings for years. Apparently, we were giving the longtime favorite a run for its money. Luke and I got up from our table as the time to present drew near. We headed for the men’s room before going backstage. Just as we were walking in, the door opened and there was Ted Danson walking out. He stopped and pointed very sternly at both of us. “You two. Knock it off! Just stop!” he said and walked away.
Luke and I were floored. “Dude, that was Ted Danson!” we kept saying to each other. That encounter was much more exciting than going onstage as presenters. I also got to meet Jodie Foster that night, who had just won for Silence of the Lambs. This was another real thrill for me, so much so that by the end of the night, it didn’t even matter that we didn’t win.