Between their grown-up adaptations of Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind and their upcoming biopic slate, which includes films about Whitney Houston and Aaliyah, Lifetime is re-establishing itself as the go-to channel for tactless entertainment. Sure, it’s not high art, but it is fun to watch with a few drinks and a carton of ice cream, and what else do you really need after a long week? Still, one of their upcoming films has the potential to take that absurdity and turn it into must-see TV: The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story.
Based on multiple independently-conducted interviews – and not, thankfully, Dustin Diamond’s 2009 memoir – the film will chronicle all of Bayside’s dirtiest secrets, and promises to change the way you look at the classic teen comedy, if you’re one of the few who made it through Diamond’s press tour without being traumatized. Thus far, all that’s been revealed is the cast, who you can check out on BuzzFeed, but the network is keeping the lid on what kind of shocking secrets will make it into the film. Going by the rumors, speculation and secondhand gossip that have circulated over the years, though, we’d say the film has plenty of shocking revelations up its sleeve; the Saved by the Bell story has it all.
Sex If you believe even a fraction of what Diamond wrote in his memoir, everyone was hooking up with one another behind the scenes at Bayside. And we do mean everybody: all three girls are rumored to have slept with Mario Lopez and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffany-Amber Theissen slept with a few of the show’s memorable guest stars, and Diamond was apparently picking up girls left and right at Disneyland. What else would you expect to happen with a bunch of teenagers stuck together for hours on end?
Drugs Despite the gang’s memorable refusal of drug use on the show, Diamond maintains that everyone was actually getting high off-camera. Apparently, Theissen's dressing room was the place to hang out if you were interested in lighting up. The actor formerly known as Screech also alleged that Gosselaar was using steroids during his time on the show, which the latter had since denied. Whether it’s true or not, you can bet it’ll show up in the movie.
Scandal Between the rumors of NBC paying hush money to a girl who accused Lopez of sexually assaulting her, Diamond’s revelation that he had a relationship with Linda Mancuso, the network’s Head of Children’s Programming, and the speculation that executives and producers were abusing their power over the stars of the show, there are more potential twists and turns in this story than all of V.C. Andrews’ novels put together.
Falls From Grace After spending five years as straight-laced Jessie Spano, Elizabeth Berkley decided to branch out with a role in the NC-17 cult classic Showgirls, a move that sent her career into a tailspin for years afterwards, even if it did give the world a new way to pronounce “Versace.” Thanks to his father’s mishandling of his Saved by the Bell earnings, Diamond went broke as an adult. Although, if he hadn’t needed the money, he might never have written his wonderfully terrible memoir, and there would so much less juicy Saved by the Bell gossip in the world…
In-Fighting With this many teenagers in one place, there must have been plenty of drama. Though there haven’t been too many fights or feuds at Bayside, Diamond does maintain that he was picked on and left out of things by the rest of the cast. Maybe they were just trying to help him get into character?
Sweet '80s Fashions Saved by the Bell was on during the finest period in American fashion: the late '80s and early '90s. Since everything is more ridiculous in hindsight, expect plenty of acid-washed denim, teased hair, garish print and color combinations, crop tops and bows – and that was just Kelly’s wardrobe. We don’t even know how they’re going to tackle every ridiculous thing that Slater wore.
The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story premieres on September 1 at 9pm on Lifetime. We're so excited, we're so scared!
Ever notice how television is just too good lately? Once upon a time though, the TV landscape was littered with lots of bad programming, like Saved by the Bell. Remember that show? If you grew up in the '90s, it would be damn hard not to. Let's hit the rewind button for a minute and revisit one of the guiltiest pleasure TV shows of the boom boom Clinton-era (no pun intended).
Zack Morris Was the Epitome of CoolHe got all the ladies, occasionally broke the fourth wall, and wore more product in his hair than an '80s rock star. For fans of the series, Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was the quintessential cool dude slacker. He also dated Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), the G-rated fantasy of every teenage boy in America.
Sometimes You Learned an Important Life LessonThere was the occasional episode where the writers would pack heavy themes into the show, like when Jesse Spano (Elizabeth Berkley, later of Showgirls career-ending infamy) got hooked on caffeine pills and nearly had a breakdown. Zack eventually came to her rescue, however, and by the end of the episode we learned that drugs were dangerous and bad, and that apparently, caffeine pills were a thing that existed. (Who knew?)
The College Years SuckedWhen the show ended in 1993, Zack, Kelly, and the rest of the crew all signed on for a spin-off series called Saved By The Bell: The College Years. The show was doomed from the start. For one, it aired in primetime on Tuesday nights, the original having gained popularity on Saturday mornings, and the only promising attribute new cast member, and former NFL player, Bob Golic brought to the new show (aside from bad acting) was an impeccably maintained mullet. Bless him for that! The network eventually wised up and cancelled The College Years after its disappointing first season.
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In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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