Aaron Spelling described 1996 as his lucky year. 'Malibu Shores' was originally intended to be a made-for-television movie. However after NBC saw the cast which included Michelle Phillips, Tony Luca, Keri Russell and Christian Campbell, the network decided to give it a tryout. E. Duke Vincent reminded, "Any television show starts with a concept and if you don't have a story you don't have anything but probably the most important thing in television is casting and that's where he is king." Aaron remembered, "They ordered 6 episodes, then went to 13." In all only 8 episodes were filmed, not including the 2-hour pilot. 

'Malibu Shores' was a school-based drama which told the story of 2 rival high schools, one in Malibu and one in San Fernando Valley. TV and radio editor Robert Bianco remarked, "Like it or not, you have to hand it to Aaron Spelling. Only he could come up with a show where the great culture clash is between the upper-middle and lower-middle class." The different classes would be explored via a star-crossed romance between 2 students, Chloe and Zach (latter-day Bobby and Pam from 'Dallas'). "Zach lives in the Valley, and I live in Malibu," Chloe told viewers. "There are only 18 miles between them, but in reality, they're worlds apart." 

Aaron elaborated, "We're really playing 'Malibu Shores' as 'Romeo and Juliet' with a little bit of 'West Side Story' because the people of Malibu are very, very wealthy. The kids in the Valley are not gangsters or anything like that. They all come from moderate homes. Their parents all work for a living. The kids work weekends. So when they come to this school (Pacific Coast High School) is where the conflict (*) is pursued. It's really a running love story with a show that I think we can do some issues on." (*) To clarify, "When the kids are transferred from the Valley to this rich school, the snobs don't want them there. So it's trying to see if kids from different financial conditions can bond together." 

In January 1996, NBC announced 'JAG', the TV series created by Donald P. Bellisario of 'Magnum, p.i.', would be moving from its Saturday prime time opening hour (8 o'clock) to Wednesday nights. 'Malibu Shores', which was "not like '(Beverly Hills) 90210' at all. These are much younger kids, 16-17-year-olds, and we have lots of parents and their relationships," would be occupying 'JAG' former time slot. 

On reflection, Aaron conceded, "It was on Saturday night - a very tough time to get young people." David Jacobs believed soap operas were hard to launch because the audience would be required to be “there not only to watch this week but next week and the week after that. That’s why serials have never worked on Saturday night. People can’t make the commitment. The biggest mistake some producers have made is beginning a show as a serial. You have to win the audience first. 'Dallas' and 'Knots Landing' didn't begin as serials."

'Malibu Shores' was up against 'Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman' which catered to the Saturday night demographic. 'Malibu Shores' finished the 1995-96 season attracting only 3.8% of the 96 million American households with TV sets. Each week, 'Malibu Shores' attracted about 10% share of the audience or between 5 and 8 million viewers.

"I don’t know what fluff is," Aaron said matter-of-factly. "If you do pure entertainment like 'Love Boat' and let people escape and take shut-ins to China, Russia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska – is that fluff? I think fluff is when you have a hit show like 'Friends' and 8 other shows are copies to emulate 'Friends.'" Robert Bianco acknowledged, "To his credit, he's (Aaron Spelling) also used his considerable success to support worthy projects." Of 'Malibu Shores', Aaron confessed back in March 1996, "The problem is that we're on the air soon and we're trying to shoot our little butts off trying to keep up with it. It’s tough."

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