Time Out! Lifetime's Saved by the Bell Exposé Would Have Us Believe....

Saved By the Bell

Lifetime on Monday night presented The Unauthorized Save by the Bell Story, a made-for-TV movie inspired by Dustin Diamond’s 2009 tell-all and in part produced by Diamond — as if the conspicuous focus on Screech’s portrayer and his assorted dramas/demons wasn’t your first clue.

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The telepic starred young actors boasting varying degrees of likeness to their SBTB counterparts, ranging from “Ooh, close” (for the Lark Voorhees/”Lisa” character) to “Um, did the casting director have any idea what Mario Lopez looks like?”

Among the movie’s many “revelations”/claims, it would have us believe that:

* Young Mark-Paul Gosselaar lived on a $20/week stipend during his early SBTB days

* Young Dustin Diamond was able to waltz right into NBC boss Brandon Tartikoff’s office — well before SBTB became any measurable kind of hit.

* Future Beverly Hills, 90210 star Jennie Garth was up for the role of Kelly, but didn’t make the cut.

* Elizabeth Berkeley, at age 17, was well-schooled on the tenet of television situation comedy also serving as a vehicle for delivering socially resonant messaging a la All in the Family and M*A*S*H — as evidenced when she made the case to castmates for SBTB tackling serious issues.

* Diamond would pull lame practical jokes backstage… and then wonder why no one took him seriously or fancied him a heartthrob.

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* Diamond entertained hard-to-watch fantasies about being muscle-bound and climbing into hot tubs with sexy gals.

* Diamond’s first-ever kiss came from on-screen SBTB girlfriend (and future Beverly Hills, 90210 star) Tori Spelling.

* Diamond once KO’d a mouthy brat in a movie line, with two punches.

* A waiter in France volunteered to serve wine to Gosselaar and Tiffani Amber Thiessen, who because of this telepic’s casting perhaps collectively looked old enough to drink.

* Diamond was blackmailed by a hanger-on (who you would not be faulted for suspecting was imaginary for much of the movie), after failing to score the wannabe actor a plum role on SBTB.

Which reveals from The Unauthorized Save by the Bell Story most intrigued you? And what did you think of the “tell-all” as a whole? Kind of a rushed ending, right? And why the White Collar and Franklin & Bash disses during the “Where Are They Now?” rundown? And which TV series (Glee) would you next like to see (Glee) Lifetime tackle next (Glee)?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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46 Comments
  1. Kath says:

    Should’ve been titled ‘SBTB: Dustin Diamond still can’t move on 20 years later’. No wonder no one liked him. Shocking to see his name as an Executive Producer on this hilariously bad movie. The rest of the cast has openly discredited his book. The casting of Mario Lopez was unintentionally hysterical, as was the “fantasy sequence” with those awful graphics of Screech with a muscular torso. And I had no idea MP Gosselaar was part-Indonesian, and I’m not sure why the movie made multiple references to that. This was a total guilty pleasure. Sorry, Dustin Diamond- you still suck.

  2. bar says:

    It was pretty hokey, but in a way that reflected the way the original show was (Dustin’s first swig of vodka mirrored the pill-popping scene right before it to a T). Overall I thought it was a fun, original little movie.

  3. TheDuke says:

    Lifetime did a crappy almost parallel universe movie “based on actual events” movie I am shocked. We must alert the national media so it never happens again.

  4. Chris says:

    I was wondering about the diss to F&B/WC as well. Jealous much, Dustin? A ridiculous train wreck (that I am guilty of watching. Not my proudest moment)

    • Amanda says:

      I don’t think there really was a diss made. Though we may like F&B and WC, they are only “hit shows” on cable, but none of them really “award winning” shows either. I think they just wanted to stick to known shows and NYPD Blue and Extra are more known. If that’s the case, MP had another show on TNT, Raising the Bar, that should have been mentioned as well…j/s

  5. Laura says:

    As horrible as the movie was, the actors voices were almost spot on to the originals, in some parts. Made me nostalgic and wanting a Saved the the Bell high school reunion!

    • Patrick says:

      Never happen. The rest of the cast (excl Lark who would show up anywhere, anytime) would only do it if DD wasn’t involved. But viewers would only want to see it if EVERYONE was involved.

  6. MJ says:

    It was terrible, but I enjoyed it. Weird.

  7. Marianne says:

    Knowing that Dustin Diamond was only 11 or 12 at the beginning of the series made the actor playing him laughable. I also wonder if the age difference is a real reason why things weren’t so great for him. There is a huge maturity gap there.

  8. Fran says:

    The funny thing is that it all seemed pretty tame to me. Nothing really shocking or scandolous, just cheesy and the casting was just bad. I admit I did laugh when the Dustin character said its just caffeine pills, its not like she’s addicted to heroin…. Because that episode was so wonderfully exagerated :)

    • bar says:

      I agree. Part of me expected them to portray the other five cast-members as druggies and sex addicts, but it was all very bland.

  9. bar says:

    Now that you mention it, I would love a Glee version of this!

  10. Leslie says:

    According to the ovie, Dustin Diamond originated the “that’s what she said” joke? I wonder how Michael Scott feels about that revelation?

  11. Mick says:

    I love how Mario Lopez spent the time of twitter promoting his memoirs and laughing lol.

  12. Kay says:

    I imagine a Glee ‘tell all’ would be very scandalous. Drugs, death, feuds and romantic relationship between cast (and with crew), fired actors, leaked nudes.

  13. Mary says:

    Franklin& Bash and White Collar weren’t mentioned, it was NYPD Blue and 90210. I agree that the “where are they now” was mean and just sounded like Diamond was jealous. Especially that crack about Elizabeth Berkley.

  14. Christian says:

    * Future Beverly Hills, 90210 star Jennie Garth was up for the role of Kelly, but didn’t make the cut.

    This one is true. I remember this from the E! THS they had on the show a few years ago. It came down to Tiffani, Jennie and Elizabeth and they liked Elizabeth so much that they created Jessie for her. I remember way too much about this cheesy show!

  15. JA says:

    It was cheesy and poorly acted, but not nearly as sleazy as it could’ve been if the Amazon.com reviews of the book are to be believed. If anything, it sounds like they toned it down considerably. It felt like it had a sad, desperate, after-school-special vibe to it.

  16. JeniLee says:

    The Jennie Garth thing is actually true….Jennie said it before in an interview. But i’d imagine that was the only true thing in the entire movie lol

  17. irishrose4583 says:

    It was hard to buy some of the storylines especially sinc e they couldn’t recreate exact scenes from the show( come on I’m.so excited the ONE scene everyone from the 90s remembers from this show!!) or get the cast to look like the people playing them. But I assume a good part of that was not having actual rights or permissions. It just came across and bad but not like “we know it’s bad and were in on the joke” just reflects badly on Dustin diamond.

  18. As with most European countries that are way ahead of America when it comes to this, the drinking age in France is 18. Yes, the casting made them look 13, but even if that was 1992 (their final season was 1993), Mark Paul and Tiffani would have been 18 in 1992. They were probably just shocked, because they forgot the drinking age was 18, and not 21. #facts

  19. Jess says:

    I don’t know if intrigued is the right word, but what surprised me I guess is how tame it basically was bts. I know it was from Dustin’s pov and we’re meant to take this all with a grain of salt, but I was expecting there to be more to it, for it to be TV movie worthy, I mean.

  20. Um, It was relatively tame for a tell-all made for TV film and my morbid curiosity made me want to watch.

    But I think it was kind of clear why 99.9 percent of the cast pretty much dismissed it. Most of this sounded ridiculously far fetched.

  21. Meh says:

    Dustin Diamond is the worst. I have no respect for any adult who continues to use their past as an excuse to be cruel, crude and rude. I’d say grow up, but that ship has clearly sailed. He still plays the victim and blames everyone else for how crappy his life turned out. Newsflash Dustin: you aren’t a child anymore and guess what? We all have our problems and the last thing any of us wants is to keep hearing each other complain about them.

    • Amanda says:

      He’s not allowed to write a memoir? That means half of the books on my shelf shouldn’t exist. Though crappy, I don’t blame him for writing about his childhood, I just blame him for how awful and poorly written it was….

  22. Meh says:

    Also, is Mark Paul Gosselaar really the shortest person from the cast?? What the heck is with that casting choice??

  23. Hot Dumb Italian Mike! says:

    I actually hate to admit this, but Diamond’s “historical” accounts are pretty accurate. I’ve known older people that used to work on the show and also former cast members have mentioned and/or alluded to these things in interviews.

  24. Amanda says:

    I watched it, and I agree it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. To me it was a story about some teenagers and I don’t get what the fuss was all about! I do believe that they treated Dustin differently, how many 16 year olds do you see eager to hang out with a 13 yr old that isn’t related to them? So for them to be all buddy-buddy was far-fetched to say the least. And I do believe that they were all hooking up (I mean dating, I don’t want those other images in my head! GROSS), again they’re teens for goodness sakes, I didn’t expect them to be all wholesome. Now that would’ve been unbelieveable!
    Really and truly the only ones that should even be a touch upset is Mario and Tiffani-Amber, they were made to look like the horndog and flirt, the rest wasn’t painted that bad at all. Lark was played innocent and insecure, which I’ve heard she was. Elizabeth was determined (and kind of annoying), but not bad. She did want to break away from “Jessie Spano” and that awful movie did mess her image up for awhile and she did bounce back….am I missing the lie? Lastly, Mark-Paul was thrusted into the spotlight as the star and he rebeled like all teenagers do, so again what am I missing?? I was expecting orgies and other sinister crap like that and this movie didn’t serve it at all.
    All in all, this was pretty tamed compared to what they could of really did (true or false) and honestly if Dustin didn’t write it first, another one of them would have wrote it. I see Mario has one coming out this year. I just think people are mad that it was “Screech” and not “Zach” who wrote it. Besides Mr. Belding (?), he was on the show it longest…j/s

  25. Man this mess was all about Dustin Diamond, But it was entertaining. Being a hardcore fan of this show all I was doing was yelling WRONG! at most of the secrets. Dustin can’t let go. LOL yep I would also like to see a Glee tell all. Also are the casting people idiots? or just racist as hell. Don’t they watch EXTRA!!!?? X-FACTOR??? Or even Save By The Bell? How was that even close to what Mario Lopez looked?

    • Mike Houston says:

      10 Things this moved missed out on:
      Zack & Kelly Breakup
      Saving the Max (The Sprain Dance)
      Mr. Belding
      Slater moving
      The 5 Aces
      Zack Attack
      The Graduation Song
      Hot Sundae
      Stevie Performing
      Kelly working to provide for her family
      Lisa & Screech Love Life

  26. taniaha says:

    Has Hayley Mills been reached for comment?

  27. Mike Houston says:

    I was looking forward to hearing:
    “Cool School”
    “Did We Ever Have a Chance?”
    “Friends Forever”
    “The Graduation Song”
    “Artie”

  28. WireDream says:

    Leave it to Lifetime to make something actually more heinous than “Saved By The Bell.” And leave it to Lifetime to make THAT a “Saved By The Bell” biopic.

  29. NJMark says:

    If Dustin had been studying karate as he claimed, it wouldn’t be that difficult to “KO a mouthy brat in 2 punches.” (Not that far-fetched of an “if” – there was an episode of New Class where Screech was teaching karate to a kid.)

    There wasn’t a whole lot of new information depicted, and we know some of what we saw was absolutely false. In particular, every SBTB fan knows that Tiffani and Elizabeth didn’t “come back” for the graduation, because that show was taped BEFORE the Tori episodes, and held until the end.

  30. I liked it it was good. Can’t believe the many are giving this movie a bad rating it told a good story people watch it for yourself it’s on the lifetime app.

  31. notyourmama says:

    How has no one mentioned the eyebrows on the kid playing MPG? So horrible that there were times that was all I could focus on !

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