Old School Rules: Hollywood Loves Gen X

But don't count Sachs and his producing partner Jeff Judah among those nostalgic types. "Jeff and I didn't watch the original "Beverly Hills, 90210,"" Sachs said. "I think what we liked about the opportunity was that it was a chance for us to try to tell stories in a backdrop that was so foreign to us. We come from a "Freaks & Geeks" world, and we're used to telling small, grounded stories. We thought this was a fun challenge for us to try to inject our style of storytelling into this slick world of Beverly Hills."

Still, living up to the hype -- especially once it was announced that Brenda and Kelly would be reunited -- was no easy task. "Expectations are really, really high for this," Sachs said. "All we can do is make the best show that we possibly can and hope that viewers will give us a chance. The built-in audience is fantastic for us. We want those viewers. We definitely respect them and don't want to piss them off. That's why we have nods to the old show."

That youthful enthusiasm is what's driving fans like screenwriter du jour Diablo Cody to gush about the NKOTB reunion. "Of course, we love what's familiar. But this nostalgia fest is driven by two factors, really. The creative impulse and the financial will -- both have to be there. First, there is the nostalgia. The audience was there -- and it could still easily be there now," said Blender editor at large -- and former New Kids on the Block fan Elizabeth Goodman. "But second, there's whether or not it will make money. When you look at a band like the New Kids, it's surprising, but in the '80s and '90s, they were a big touring success. They made more money than Madonna or Michael Jackson. That would be my big reason, if I were a New Kid, to get back on the stage."

Rapping, for one, expects the tour to do well. "People are really entranced when someone pays attention to whom they used to be. So a tour like this will become like a major bonding event for these women in their 30s," Rapping said. "They'll get together with their girlfriends, go to dinner, then go sing along to these songs from their teens. Who wouldn't buy the tickets?"

And the NKOTB aren't the only ones getting in on the action. "The nostalgia market has become a big deal," said Blender's Goodman, who cites nostalgia tours by acts like Sonic Youth, Liz Phair and a rumored Smashing Pumpkins reunion. "The expectations for this type of entertainment, with its built-in audience, are even higher than usual because the media is so tuned into them. We have all the stats, the numbers on how well the originals did, and so we will be comparing the new ones."

Which is why "Knight Rider" producer Thompson is pulling out all the stops for the show's Sept. 24 premiere episode. "Anytime you make changes to an iconic thing, fans are going to react. And the expectations are sky high," Thompson said. "That's why we have over 500 visual effects in the first episode. With the market these days, we might not make it to episode 10, so we have to hit the ground running. And we have to make it work for today. In the '80s, the awesome thing about KITT was that it wasthe car that talked. Now, my kids say, 'Dad, everyone's car talks. What's the big deal?' We had to research not what's around the corner but what we could expect 10, 15, 20 years from now. So this KITT transforms, it downloads, it's got a KITT cave, it can think -- it's all about the artificial intelligence. It's the iPhone of cars."

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