Friday, August 5, 2016

"Melrose Place was not famous for its subtlety, but one of the things that was lost on me while I watched the show was the nearly subliminal presence of art works by a collective known as the GALA Committee"

Chin sought out Deborah Siegel, Melrose Place’s set decorator, who took the idea of having the collective make works for the show to the network executives. Chin’s plan was for the works to appear on TV over a period of years, then to show them in a museum, after which they’d be auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting various charities. Starting in season four, in February 1996, the work started to pop up on the series, in the background of scenes.


This obviously went over well with the studio executives, concerned with the bottom line, and the artists were able to get away with most of their ideas. Chin said of about 200 works that the group produced, roughly 70 percent were accepted. In one episode, when Alison gets pregnant, she wraps herself in a quilt that has printed on it the chemical structure of RU-486, the morning after pill. One important subplot deals with a character’s pretty domestic paintings, which are actually depictions of the sites of gruesome violence across L.A.—the Ambassador Hotel, where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, or Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo. An ad campaign overseen by Locklear’s firm on the show is the work of the GALA Committee. (It’s for a beverage company, and the tagline is: “It’s in the water.”) In one scene, Kimberly holds a Chinese takeout box, which has written on it, in Chinese characters, the words “Human Rights” and “Turmoil and Chaos,” a nod to the different interpretations among the West and China of the Tiananmen Square protests.