Has Screech turned over a new leaf? Ahead of Lifetime’s highly anticipated “Saved By the Bell” biopic, actor Dustin Diamond is setting the record straight about his scathing memoir that inspired the TV movie. In an interview on Friday with the Associated Press, Diamond said, “The Lifetime movie is going to be based on my book in the way that it’s a behind-the-scenes look, but my book was written by a ghost writer, and they tried to milk the negativity. It wasn’t supposed to be a dirty tell-all.”
Diamond, who executive produced “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story” revealed that the “overall vibe” of the TV flick will be “pretty surprising” to viewers. He also dished that he hasn’t seen “SBTB” alums Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tiffany Thiessen in more than 21 years. “They can’t say they really know me,” he said of his former co-stars. “The last time I saw Mark-Paul and Tiffany, I was 16 …That’s a hefty amount of time to traverse in growth. I’ve done a lot of stuff since I was 16. I made a lot of growth changes.”
Diamond’s 2009 book, “Behind the Bell,” painted a negative account of his real life experiences on the long running teen show, and included scathing stories of cast member hookups, threesomes, pot smoking while filming an anti-drug episode, and even an alleged date rape that he claimed NBC covered up with hush money.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar later told HuffPost Live that he while he only read excerpts of the book, he didn’t like what he saw. “It is negative,” the actor said. “That I must say. Everything I’ve heard about his book is that it is negative, and I don’t remember those things because my experience on the show was very positive.”
Diamond has tried to distanced himself from his book in the past. In an interview last year with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN update show “Where Are They Now?,” the 37-year-old actor said his ghostwriter misconstrued some of his statements. Diamond also revealed that that he was never given a copy of the manuscript to review before it was published.
Perhaps he’ll be able to get back in his former cast mates’ good graces with the biopic. Diamond told The Daily Beast that the TV movie won’t be a salacious walk down memory lane. “No, it’s definitely going to be in a positive light,” he said. “It’s not out to trash anybody or put anybody down or make anybody look in a negative way. That was never the intent, so it’s definitely not the way it’s going to end up.”
“The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story” premieres Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime.