Oct. 1, 2009— -- The sitcom "Saved by the Bell" entertained millions around the world. But what really happened behind the scenes?
Dustin Diamond, who played nerdy Samuel "Screech" Powers for nearly 13 years, tells the whole story, from the hardcore partying to real-life romances between cast members to the cast's dirty secrets.
In his new book, "Behind The Bell," Diamond pulls back the curtain to give fans the inside scoop on one of television's biggest and most beloved hits. In this excerpt for ABCNews.com, he talks about fellow castmastes Zach Morris, aka "The Golden Child," and Tiffani Amber Thiessen.
"I've heard lots of Hollywood hearsay in my day, but I can only vouch for what I saw with my own two eyes and heard with my own two ears. Here is one of the most f****d up things I saw behind the scenes of SBTB. Draw your own conclusions because I still don't know what to make of it.
The Golden Child started getting called to St. Peter's office for long meetings. Extremely long. He wasn't in any trouble, there was no Zack Morris spin-off in the works; he just slipped into the office and closed the door behind him. Which was weird in and of itself, because typically Peter kept his office door open for most meetings. But then again, most meetings with the cast only lasted several minutes. So what were these talks? What was going on?
I had heard stories about St. Peter, rumors beyond the dope and party days. Nothing I could verify of course. All I know is what I saw. I used to hang upstairs around the NBC offices at Stage 9 (where Good Morning, Miss Bliss started and where the original SBTB ended) because I liked to check out all the hot chicks who were cast as extras, the hot extras who were getting bumped up a notch to speaking parts, and, of course, the hot interns. This was during the time when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was taping next door on Stage 11. We shared wardrobe rooms side-by-side with their show, and I used to play chess backstage with Will Smith, who was a strong player.
I was upstairs one day when the Golden Child had been in St. Peter's office, door closed, for like an hour and a half. Then Tiffani began to be summoned upstairs for long, closed-door meetings with St. Peter. I mean, a couple of hours each time. Then, both he and Tiffani (!) were called, together, into St. Peter's inner sanctuary for another mystery marathon behind closed doors.
Just for perspective, I remember when St. Peter called me up to his office for a meeting. At first I was like, "Uh oh, what'd I do to f*** up this time?" It really was like being called to the principal's office, but way worse than Mr. Belding ever gave it to Screech. I entered with great trepidation as St. Peter told me to take a seat. I was scolded for some minor transgression on the Peter Engel morality meter, but St. Peter did leave his office door open the whole time.
Those long, closed-door meetings were all happening in 1992, prior to gearing up for our first movie, SBTB: Hawaiian Style. But before the movie was scheduled to begin filming on location in Hawaii for three months, the network was setting up an overseas trip for two cast members to do a press junket in Paris. Our promotional events had evolved over the years from mall tours and amusement parks to overseas trips as the popularity of the show spread in syndication around the world. The producers and network suits would decide which characters they were sending based on the exposure of the trip. Like I said, I got up to seven thousand pieces of fan mail per week, edging out all the other cast members by a small margin, but still consistently the most.
So, based on fan popularity, Mark-Paul and I were selected to go on the Paris trip together. They were sending the comedy team of Zack and his trusty sidekick, Screech. I was stoked. I already had my bags packed when, lo and behold, Princess Tiffani pitched a bitch. She went up to St. Peter's office for another hours-long, closed-door meeting, and when she re-emerged it was suddenly her and Mark-Paul now making the trip to gay Paree.
I mean, I really wanted to go to Paris, but not bad enough to find out what happened on the other side of St. Peter's closed office door. So Mark-Paul and Tiffani jetted off to the City of Light for what was supposed to be a week abroad promoting SBTB. As it turned out, the lovebirds were enjoying themselves so much they wound up convincing St. Peter and NBC to keep putting them up in Paris for a couple of months. That money didn't just materialize from thin air; it needed to be pulled from the budgets of other projects.
So when Tiffani and the Golden Child deplaned in California from their European holiday and it was time to go to Hawaii to shoot the movie, suddenly our three months on location had become three days. There was no money left in the budget for us to film there. All we did while we were in Hawaii was wander around through the scenery shooting B-roll footage with no dialogue. "Okay, you guys, act like you're playing on the beach . . ." "Okay, now walk along that footpath and gaze out over the water . . ." "Okay, stand there for a minute while we get this instantly recognizable Hawaiian landmark squarely in the frame . . ." "And no talking! We have to dub all this s*** later." "Okay, that's a wrap. Let's get back to L.A." We ended up filming the movie on the beach in Santa Monica, just down the freeway from Hollywood. SBTB: Santa Monica Style?
Tiffani liked to have her fun. Back in the day, guys would stop me on the street and say, "Tell me man, what's Tiffani really like. Can I have her number?" I'd say, "Dude, trust me, you don't want to go near that." Frankly, I just didn't see what the big fuss was about, but maybe that's because I worked so closely with her. I saw what she was like on a daily basis, and my final verdict was, "Meh." Besides, you show me the hottest girl in the world, and I'll show you a guy tired of banging her. Hell, Tommy Lee got sick of nailing Pamela Anderson. It gets old. It's just nature. Out in the forest, I suppose there must be owls sick of banging smokin' hot owls, and so forth."