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Veteran TV producer still unstoppable

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Ask Aaron Spelling when he didn't have a show on television, and he's likely to shrug. As far as this child of immigrant parents is concerned, he's always been in TV, from his childhood years of watching through the window of an appliance store to fretting over a script for one of his eight shows currently on the air.

This veteran has had his hand in virtually every decade of television, from "Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater" to "Charlie's Angels" (the show that earned him the title he dislikes most, creator of "jiggle" TV) on up through "Melrose Place," "Beverly Hills, 90210," and the new "Rescue 77," "Charmed," and "7th Heaven." For a time in the 1980s, people were calling ABC "Aaron's Broadcasting Network."

Mr. Spelling has been excoriated for celebrating a decadent beach-bunny lifestyle and possessing an uncanny knack for pandering to the public's lowest tastes.

But nobody denies that his shows have managed to pick up on a certain Zeitgeist for every decade. Many of his series, such as "Dynasty," are among the longest-running on the air. And Spelling was behind the critically acclaimed "Family," as well as two Emmy award-winning TV movies, "And the Band Played On" and "Day One," achievements that he often says are overlooked by his detractors.

It has escaped the view of few industry observers, however, that one of the oldest men in TV now has captured the eyes of that coveted youthful demographic, the 18-to-34-year-olds, with "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Melrose Place" (the show will go off the air this year after nine seasons).

After nearly half a century in the industry, the diminutive producer, by all accounts a shy, private person with a personal passion for TV, is back on top again, with no fewer than 15 new shows in development.


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