Like many of us who "came of age" in the 90's, I was and still am a devoted fan of Saved by the Bell. Tell me you don't stop when flipping through channels to sit down and watch a full half hour of mindless teenage fun in Bayside. I wanted to be Kelly Kapowski in high school, I wanted to date Zack Morris, and do Time Outs and go to UCLA and the whole thing.
I think as far as teen idols go, it was a fairly decent cast to attach myself to. They weren't running around doing drugs (except Jesse's Speed addiction) or getting drunk or having sex (the soundtrack did the whooo thing anytime someone kissed). They did get into their own share of trouble, cutting classes, sneaking out to go dancing at The Attic with fake IDs, coming up with get rich quick schemes that always proved Screech wasn't as smart as you'd expect a science geek to be (the pasta sauce, the zit cream, etc).
A few years ago, I was living in LA (living out my SBTB dreams in grad school), and I ran into Dennis "Mr. Belding" Haskins at a karaoke bar. I got his autograph, though he was already surrounded by a number of adoring fans. That show is gold, even for the uptight principal.
And then today I saw an announcement for an event Elizabeth "Jessie" Berkley is doing for her new book, Ask Elizabeth (tonight, 7-9 at Dylan's Candy Bar, NYC), and I had to wonder, what are all of our old fantasy friends up to these days?
Since I started with them, first Mr. Belding. While he had a rough time shaking this character (and had to suffer through the travesty that was The New Class), he has finally come to terms with it's place in propelling him to household name status, and embraced the Belding. Currently, he tours colleges, as "Mr. Belding on Campus," reminiscing about his days on the show, and giving inspirational speeches about career and goals. According to his website, he's also hoping to be nominated for the next season of Dancing with the Stars. Good luck, Belding.
As for Miss Jessie Spano, She is obviously promoting her new book at the moment, which went on sale March 22. I'm proud to say she has come a long way from Show Girls, and is now focused, with her book and the MTV reality show planned to coincide with it, on helping out young girls with the drama of adolescence, and trying to give them positive influences and images (essentially the anti-Show Girls approach, way closer to the PSA episodes of SBTB). In fact, it sounds a lot like What Would Jessie Do come to life, for all those girls who are So Excited and So Sacred!!!!
And what about sometimes boyfriend AC Slater? You'd be hard pressed to say you haven't seen Mario Lopez around in the past few years. He has been a host on Extra, he has Danced with the Stars, he's had his own reality show in VH1, Saved by the Baby, and had a New York Times bestselling book, Extra Lean (which he's followed with Extra Lean Family). Oh Albert Clifford, you've come so far from your days of wrestling and dancing in really high wasted pants while bickering with Jesse and dueling Zack for Kelly.
Speaking of Kelly Kapowski, what happened to her after she left Bayside for Beverly Hills? She spent a while doing small roles in TV movies and TV appearances, but it seems her life has come together. She is a main character on the show White Collar, on which she plays supportive wife Elizabeth Burke (anyone else think that's awfully close to Jessie's real name?). Additionally, she is happily married and recently had a baby girl. She's still a SoCal girl and finally dropped the Amber from her name, making her simply Tiffani Thiessen.
And the third of our trio of girl friends on the show, Lisa Turtle? She may be the cast member who strayed the furthest from public view after the show. In fact, she's the hardest to find out anything about. I can tell you that she had a music career for a while, first with a group called Third Degree, and then as a solo artist. She is married and has a child, and co owns a production company with her brother. I was also surprised to learn that Lark too has a book out, entitles Reciprocity, a romantic thriller that I'm not completely convinced is actually by our Lark Voorhies, despite the assertion on her "official" website (which has an About Me section copied from Wikipedia).
So on to her eternal admirer, Screech Powers. Well here is one cast member we've heard more about that we would like. He languished with Belding on The New Class, and then fell into ruin. He went broke and started begging people to give him money, he leaked a sex tape of himself on to the Internet (can you think of anyone you would less want to watch?), published a tell all book (rejected by US publishers, released by Canadians), and did a stint on Celebrity Fit Club. He did everything he could to shake the Screech image, but in the end, you just want to smack him the way Lisa always did.
And of course, our favorite star, Zack Morris. I need a moment to sigh and bat my eyes as I think about him...Okay. What isn't there to say about Mark-Paul Gosselaar? He has had a few successful series and many bit parts on TV since leaving Bayside, notably NYPD-Blue and Raising the Bar. He's a car racing enthusiast, has competed and won in cycling races, and preformed off Broadway. He also has two kids and just last year got divorced (not from Kelly, don't worry). He is also the main impetuous for Jimmy Fallon's campaign for a SBTB reunion, which would be AMAZING.
Ok, Tiger fans, it's time to say goodbye to our favorite high school cast. Let's go hit the Maxx!