TV

The Dark Reasons Why Two "Saved by the Bell" Stars Won't Be in the Reboot

Lark Voorhies and Dustin Diamond have both hoped to be included in the reboot, but they both have complicated histories

The stars of Saved by the Bell are together again, filming a reboot of the early 90s high school sitcom.

Or, more accurately, most of the stars are together again. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris), Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano), and Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) are all returning for the new show, while Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Dustin Diamond (Screech Powers) will sadly not be in attendance.

Saved by the Bell stars

So why have Lisa and Screech been cut from the show? One explanation would be that those characters have simply moved on with their lives in the world of the show. The new series will follow the next generation of Bayside High students, including Mac Morris—son of now-California Governor Zack Morris—and Jamie Spano—son of Jessie Spano. But obviously, not everyone sends their kids to the same high school they went to. People move on. It makes sense that Lisa and Screech may have moved away from "The Palisades" area of Los Angeles (where Bayside High is located), or maybe they just don't have high school-aged kids.

Then again, when have reboot writers ever shied away from shoe-horning in old cast members where they don't belong? Shows like Fuller House and Girl Meets World don't exactly succeed on the strength of their careful verisimilitude. That potent hit of childhood recollection is the main appeal, so when two lead cast members are left out of the reboot—despite both expressing clear interest in being involved—there are definitely deeper explanations. In the case of the Saved by the Bell reboot, those explanations are a mixture of sad, in the case of Lark Voorhies, and gross, in the case of Dustin Diamond.

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When Lark Voorhies went on Dr. Oz to discuss the reboot, she expressed feeling "hurt" and "slighted" by not being included in the reboot and by her fellow cast members participating in various reunions and events without extending an invitation to her. But Voorhies also stated that she understood why they might have excluded her, acknowledging that she has struggled with her mental health in recent years.

At one point Voorhies was rumored to be dealing with a drug addiction, but Voorhies refuted those claims—responding with a libel lawsuit—and they were never substantiated. It may be that people around her were misinterpreting the signs of a misdiagnosed personality disorder—which has since come to light. The first word of the issue came in 2012—following a bizarre interview on The Yo Show, Voorhies' mother claimed that her daughter was suffering from bipolar disorder, which Voorhies denied at the time. Since then—after a scandalous and short-lived marriage, and some more painful and disjointed interviews—Voorhies has opened up about her updated diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder, which causes her to hear "many competing voices" that disrupt her thoughts.

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If Voorhies progress is anything to go by, this new diagnosis is the correct one. Her improved mental state is evident both in her demeanor and in her mother's renewed optimism. Both appeared on Dr. Oz and pointed to the work of Voorhies new psychiatrist in helping her cope with her condition. Sadly, many production companies would be hesitant to make accommodations for a performer's mental health, and it may be that she's still seen as a risky investment. Dustin Diamond is another story entirely.

In a recent interview with TMZ, Diamond bemoaned the idea that he would be left out of the reboot, saying, "How do you have Saved by the Bell without Screech? Right? It seems like there's a missed opportunity there." He also noted that he has so far been in more episodes of the franchise than any other cast member, which is undoubtedly the case, as Screech was the only character to star in both Saved by the Bell spinoff series—The College Years and The New Class. All told, Diamond played Screech for well over a decade, but the way he handled himself later seemed almost designed to tank this opportunity. The appeal of Screech as a character—apart from being a living punchline—was that he always came across as sweet and sensitive, and Diamond has proven himself to be anything but.

Screeched Sex Tape

It started in 2006, when Diamond tried to cash in on a trend of "leaked" celebrity sex tapes by making his own, entitled Screeched—Saved by the Smell. He has since claimed that the sex in the tape was faked using a "stunt wang" because his is, in his words, "not an idiot," and "an opportunist, really." The next year, Diamond appeared on the VH1 reality show Celebrity Fit Club, where he made a fellow cast member cry with his brash, rude behavior and challenged various people to "physical combat." He now attributes this to a deliberate and scripted effort to distance himself from the Screech persona.

Then, in 2009, with the release of his autobiography, Behind the Bell, he made things worse. It told a story of drama in which his cast-mates were more or less constantly either having sex with each other or doing drugs. In 2014—no doubt sensing that he had burned some valuable bridges—Diamond tried to disown the contents of book on the grounds that it was ghostwritten, but it's hardly surprising if that non-apology meant little to the people that book attacked. Later that year, on Christmas day, Diamond was arrested for stabbing a man during a bar fight. He was sentenced to four months in jail as a result.

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In a 2016 appearance on Dr. Oz, Diamond attempted to absolve himself of all his past misdeeds without taking any responsibility for them. Instead he referred to "repairing the damage that was caused by things that were done by people who took advantage of me and the situation I was in at the time," and he addressed his former co-stars, saying, "I think you're fantastic, working with you has been just one of the icons of my life and I'm sorry that this has taken advantage of me, the book and other situations."

Last year, Mark-Paul Gosselaar claimed that he doesn't hold a grudge against Dustin Diamond, referring to the book as a work of fiction and saying, "Who cares?" But he also mentioned that the two haven't seen each other in over two decades—and he didn't seem eager to change that. Considering the way Diamond destroyed his image as a sweet, sensitive person, coupled with the scale of personal attacks he made against his cast-mates, is it any wonder he isn't being brought on for the reboot?

The newest installment in the Bayside High saga will be airing on NBC's forthcoming streaming service, Peacock, which is slated to launch in April.

TV

Dear NBC, Let the Chaotic Evil of Zack Morris and "Saved by the Bell" Die

The show was about a teen sociopath named Zack Morris (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) who drugged, prostituted, and sexually harassed his friends and who once put a baby in a gym bag (before losing said bag).

NBCUniversal is launching its own streaming service called "Peacock" (seriously), for which the network has recruited talented 30 Rock writer and Great News creator, Tracey Wigfield, to give toxic masculinity a reboot with a new Saved by the Bell series exclusively available on Peacock.

If you weren't raised by cable television like a normal '90s kid (or if you were one of those sheltered homeschooled kids who has a mortgage by now), the original show ran from 1989 to 1992. It was about a teen sociopath named Zack Morris (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) who drugged, prostituted, and sexually harassed his friends and who once put a baby in a gym bag (before losing said bag). Morris was inappropriately friendly with his school principal, Mr. Belding (played by Dennis Haskins, who, according to his popular Twitter account, is "still chasing the dream!"), and his ability to freeze time and break the fourth wall was either a blatant rip-off of Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) or a manifestation of his schizophrenic mental disorder.

The Time Zack Morris Sold Swimsuit Photos Of Underage Girls www.youtube.com

The good news is that in April 2020, you can revisit the chaotic evil of Bayside High—maybe? Actually, not many details are known about the reboot other than the fact that NBCUniversal is launching its own streaming service to rival Disney+ and Apple TV, and they really, really want you to know about it as soon as possible. The cost has yet to be announced, but Peacock (Jesus Christ, we really have to call it that) will boast 15,000 hours of content, including original titles from NBCUniversal production. That means Peacock will be the only streaming service to offer The Office and Parks and Recreation, with other hit shows also available, from classics like Cheers, Frazier, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Will and Grace to 30 Rock and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

But 2020 will bring more problems than deciding which streaming service to subscribe to and ever worsening climate crisis. Peacock's plans to revive Punky Brewster, Battlestar Galactica, and Saved by the Bell mean that NBCUniversal is going to attempt the cringey tactic of aging its teen stars to suddenly become modern adults—and that never goes well. Whether it's Boy Meets World's bizarre, infantilized revival of Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence as terrible parents in Disney's spinoff series, Girl Meets World, Netflix's creepy (and critically panned) revival Fuller House, or the epidemic of Soap Opera Rapid Aging syndrome (SORAS): Stop it.

The Time Zack Morris Got Jessie Hooked On Caffeine Pills youtu.be

So far, only two original characters are confirmed to return for Saved by the Bell 2.0. Elizabeth Berkeley and Mario Lopez are expected to return as Jessie Spano and A.C. Slater. Mark-Paul Gosselaar isn't attached to the project as of yet, due to complications with his contract with ABC's Mixed-ish and the fact that 30 years after Saved by the Bell first aired signs still point to Gosselaar being not a terrible guy. (Luckily, the same can't be said of Mario Lopez and definitely not of Dustin Diamond, who played Screech and is human trash). The series' original producers Peter Engel and Franco Bario have both signed on as executive producers. Here's their stupid premise for the revival:

"The new, straight-to-series comedy explores what happens when California Gov. Zack Morris gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools, he proposes they send the affected students to the highest-performing schools in the state — including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over-privileged Bayside kids a much-needed and hilarious dose of reality."

So, at best, a sexist teenage soap opera with a laugh track is going to tackle classism, income inequality, and America's failing school system in a world in which an egomaniacal sociopath has ascended to a position of power through his fast-talking manipulations and grandiose narcissism. At worst, it's going to depict Jessie Spano and A.C. Slater as quirky, eccentric parents who are so excited to welcome poor, disadvantaged kids to their neighborhood in an outdated and out-of-touch after-school special format.

Still, we bet you a baby in a gym bag that the revival won't be as cringey as the Saved by the Bell reunion sketch Jimmy Fallon hosted in 2015. That revival managed to capture all the creepy-next-door-neighbor energy of Mr. Belding and the homophobic overtones of A.C. Slater's entire character arc. It ended with the tasteless climax of Kelly Kapowski revealing she's pregnant with Zack Morris' baby, prompting him to wink at the camera.

Jimmy Fallon Went to Bayside High with "Saved By The Bell" Cast youtu.be

Elizabeth Berkley is owning her Showgirls past.

After being universally panned by critics and proving to be an embarrassing box office flop following its release in 1995, Showgirls has since risen to become a cult classic—and Berkley is one of its biggest fans.

The former Saved By the Bell actress made a surprise appearance at a screening of the controversial flick in LA on Saturday night and rallied the crowd with an impassioned speech—you can watch video here on Popdust.

"This is such a special night, you don’t even know. This is 20 years in the making, I can’t believe I’m here with you. 4,000 people. 4,000 Nomis, 4,000 Cristals," Berkley gushed.

"I wanna just start this incredible night off by just acknowledging what a celebration tonight is on the heels of such a monumental, incredible win last night. Love wins," she continued, referencing Friday’s landmark ruling by the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage.

"I had this huge dream to play this girl named Nomi Malone ... I sought it out, I fought for it, I did everything Nomi would do. Every agent in Hollywood told me, ‘there’s no way you’re gonna get it. They’re gonna give it to so-and-so, so just give up on that dream honey.’

“The casting director brought me in and I did my thing. Five callbacks later and I got it. I had the most extraordinary experience making the film. It was the greatest freedom. When a dream is happening, it's unlike anything you can imagine. Which is why, when the movie came out, it was more painful than anything you can imagine.

"While in 1995, it was such a different time when taking risks like that were not embraced. They were laughed at, they were shamed publicly, and to be a young girl in the center of that was something that was quite difficult. But I found my own resiliency, and my power and my confidence. Not only through what I had to find out, but because of you guys. "

"I really do want you to know that this movie is something that I love,” she continued, becoming more and more impassioned as she gained momentum. “But I love it because you love it too. Whether this film has been your guilty pleasure, whether you have played Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl, or whether Nomi’s plight and struggle has become your own anthem in life. I hope that it’s brought you comfort.

“I hope that it’s brought you joy, I hope that you’ve made incredible memories with your friends watching it cozy on your couch, I hope that you’ve over lined your lips and put glitter on like crazy. I hope that when you eat your french fries, you go crazy like Nomi. I hope that you grab life and go Andrew Carver on its ass. Just know that I love you guys so much and thank you for giving me strength and confidence to become the woman that I am."

Whoop! Whoop! Pasties all round!