Reborn '90210' Has Her Blessing

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Catch that familiar face in the previews for tonight's "90210"?

If you were a devotee of the original '90s teen-soap, then yes, indeed -- that's the same actress who played Kelly Taylor's crazy mom, back for another turn. And if you're a member of historic Christ Church in Alexandria, then yes, indeed -- that's your very own associate rector, the Rev. Ann Gillespie .

Once an actress who could never imagine becoming a priest, Gillespie is now a priest who never imagined returning to acting. Then a casting agent tracked her down to tell her about the new spinoff of the long-running "Beverly Hills, 90210."

"He said, 'You're written into an episode shooting next week; can you come?' " she told us. "I said, 'I don't have any weddings next week, and so far no one's dead.' "

Hard images to reconcile: filthy rich glamour-puss coke addict Jackie Taylor -- who humiliated poor Kelly at the mother-daughter fashion show! -- now leading the liturgy at the church where George Washington and Robert E. Lee worshiped. For all the fans who still recognize Gillespie on the street, she said, "many of my closest friends don't know anything about it."

The daughter of an Episcopal priest, Gillespie trained for the stage, married a fellow actor and spent 20 years in L.A., working steadily in movies and TV. She landed the role on the Aaron Spelling series before it began airing in 1990, with no inkling that it would become an era-defining hit. She appeared in every season of its 10-year run. When Gillespie became pregnant, producers decided that Jackie Taylor could marry David Silver's dad and have a baby.

But even as she enjoyed the show's success, Gillespie was looking for something else. Like many actresses, she found the roles drying up in her 30s. And "I wasn't crazy about a lot of the television I was doing, what it was putting out there about body images for young girls. I began to cast about and say, I have all these gifts, what should I be doing?"

Eventually she felt the call. In 2004, she moved her husband and two teenage kids east to enter Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. Now at Christ Church, her focus is pastoral care and liturgy, the latter of which she says taps into her theatrical skills.

The new show has new producers, a new network and mostly new actors. "The only person, really, that I knew is Jennie Garth ," who still plays Kelly. "We had an absolutely delightful reunion," said Gillespie, now 51. But it was a bittersweet reunion with her own character.

"One could have hoped that [Jackie Taylor] might have found great healing and conversion in her life, but she's very much fallen off the wagon and behaving badly to her daughters," she said. "I, Ann Gillespie, wish she could be not such a mess. . . . But she was acting out and being awful, and it was great fun to play!"


· Barbra Streisand is headlining a $2,500-a-person Hollywood fundraiser next week for Barack Obama hosted by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, Variety reports. The singer endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primaries, then switched to the front-runner in June. She also sang at concerts for John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000.

· Beyoncé finally showed off her wedding ring -- five months after she secretly married rapper Jay-Z-- in N.Y.C. Friday, People reports. Neither bride nor groom has publicly confirmed the nups, but she's wearing an 18-carat diamond (valued at more than $5 million, according to the jeweler) on her left hand. So Liz Taylor !


· Born: Twin girls to Fox 5 morning anchor Gurvir Dhindsa and her husband, former Fox 5 weatherman Tom Sater , on June 28, the couple told us in their first public announcement yesterday. Virginia Grace and Lena Caroline were born 10 weeks prematurely -- three pounds and 2 pounds 6 ounces, respectively -- and spent their first months in a neonatal ICU, coming home to the couple's Fauquier County place on Labor Day. Now the girls weigh in at a healthy 5 pounds 12 ounces each. Dhindsa has endless praise for the folks at Inova Fairfax and Inova Fair Oaks hospitals: "Those people are miracle workers." She'll return to the airwaves Nov. 3. (And no, we didn't know they were married, either. That's news, too!)

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· Ted Sorensen making a pit stop Sunday for ice cream. The JFK adviser (dark suit, tie) dropped by the Chevy Chase Gifford's for a vanilla yogurt milkshake, then headed across the street to flack his new book, "Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History," at the Friendship Heights Village Center.

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