Saved By the Bell: Zack Morris Returns on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Saved By the BellAs you may recall, Jimmy Fallon has been working on reuniting the gang from Saved By the Bell for his late night talk show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Back on March 27th, he announced his intent for the Saved By the Bell reunion. Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding) appeared to kick off the campaign and to say that he was willing to take part. On April 4th, Fallon announced that Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) had agreed to take part.

On April 30th, Fallon held a mock telethon in support of the reunion. Unfortunately, things didn’t go very well — until Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) appeared and rallied the troops. He also agreed to return for a reunion.

A few weeks ago, during a phone conference with reporters, Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) said that he’d be stopping by on Monday, June 8th for some “Saved By the Bell antics.” Well, fans of the old Saturday morning show weren’t disappointed.

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Not only did Gosselaar stop by but he appeared as his Saved By the Bell character. Apparently, Zack became an actor after he finished school and has been using “Mark-Paul Gosselaar” as a stage name. Gosselaar stayed in character the entire time and referenced many of the situations, characters, and places from the old show.

One particularly funny exchange comes at the beginning of the interview. When Zack talks about his age, he says that he’s originally from Indiana but moved to Southern California with his high-school principal and two of his friends. That’s a clever reference to the fact that Saved By the Bell began as Disney Channel show called Good Morning, Miss Bliss. It revolves around a mid-western teacher (Hayey Mills) and Principal Belding and students Zack, “Screech,” and Lisa are among the show’s secondary characters. When NBC took over the show, they changed the title, kept a few of the characters, and moved the setting to Southern California.

Apparently the idea for Zack’s return on Fallon’s show was Gosselaar’s. According to an interview with Mike Ryan, the actor wasn’t overly thrilled about the Saved By the Bell reunion initially and decided that he had to do something different if he was going to go on the show. He said, “I didn’t know how it was going to work out but my wife and I actually came up with the idea as we were headed away, just the two of us, on a weekend together and I didn’t know how to get in front of this reunion. I’ve never been opposed to the reunion but it’s got to be, sort of, under our terms.”

Gosselaar and his wife (who he met on Saved By the Bell: The College Years) brainstormed the idea for the Zack return. He says he had three things he wanted to do during the performance — talk directly to the camera and do Zack’s trademark “time outs;” use his old-style cell phone; and perform “Friends Forever” with the band.

Strangely enough, Fallon and his producers were initially apprehensive about doing it. Gosselaar says, “They weren’t sure because they’ve never had somebody just come on as a complete character and never say they were not the real person. So we weren’t sure how it was going to work out and how Raising the Bar would tie in and are they going to piss off the network because they didn’t promote it in some way. During the upfronts I worked with the writer, Mike Dicenzo, and told him, ‘here’s my idea.’ That’s his script, it’s 11 pages of his dialogue that he came up with.”

Gosselaar admits that he was a bit uneasy before coming out on stage last night. He said, “I haven’t been that anxious or nervous to do a role in a long time. To be in front of a studio audience… on Saved By the Bell, my very first opening scene that I talk to the camera, I remember how nervous I was for that and that’s about how nervous I was for this tonight. I kind of got into the character once I put on the hair and clothes. My stance completely changes, you stand very upright with fingers in the pockets. You also have to erase all the frown lines on your face because Zack was just very happy. It was fun. It was fun to jump back into that character.”

While on the air, Zack got a call on his huge cell-phone from “Jessie” (Elizabeth Berkley) and she also agreed to take part in the reunion.

That only leaves actors Tiffani Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski) and Dustin Diamond (Samuel “Screech” Powers). Interestingly, Diamond may be the hold-out. Despite putting out sex tapes, pleading for money to save his house, and writing a tell-all book, it’s rumored that the former child actor is a hold-out. Will the gang all get back together? Would the reunion be okay (or better) without Diamond?

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