When originally looking the above promo for the Saved by the Bell, you’d think it’s just Screech goofing around with a chemistry set. But after you read what creator Peter Engel is revealing about the show (and his history in show business), maybe the above photo is more like a promo for AMC’s new show about meth-fueled teens called Breaking Bayside. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but his story is still pretty interesting for anyone who grew up watching the show.
Peter Engel is the first name you saw when the show always did it’s freeze frame ending, crediting him as Executive Producer. And now Engel has decided to reveal some buried secrets to fans of the show because honesty is always the best policy, especially when you’re trying to sell books.
While promoting his book, I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love and Dreams That Do Come True (helluva a title, isn’t it?), Engel has let people in on a few of the more interesting pieces of the show’s background, especially how completely stoned he was at times during his career.
“Monday through Friday, I would wake up and smoke two joints, pop speed to get through work, snort a gram of cocaine, and take a handful of Quaaludes to fall asleep.”
Peter Engel at a table read with the cast.
Engel however isn’t taking all of the heat concerning excess during the show’s run from 1989 until 1993. He certainly gives some dirt on the cast’s relationships, including the amount of alleged sex going on behind the scenes. Mario Lopez who played A.C. Slater and Tiffany Amber Thiessen who played Kelly were dating, but not for long as Engel tells the story.
“He was in his dressing room, making out with an extra, and Tiffani came in, catching him red-handed,” Engel remembers.
“She was wearing his letter jacket and, in a rage, ripped it off and threw it at him. After that, she ran out.”
Hopefully the extra got a few Taft Hartley’s for that performance. Although we can’t imagine how worth it she was to lose Kelly to Zack Morris…again.
One other interesting piece of info is the infamous caffeine pill episode where we got to see Elizabeth Berkley’s acting skills REALLY shine, wasn’t supposed to be caffeeine pills at all. Because of Peter Engel’s drug history (he was apparently got clean in 1979), Jesse was supposed get addicted to speed but the censors at NBC said that would be a bit much for kids to take in on Saturday mornings.
“I wasn’t pleased about it, after all, the average caffeine pill, was the equivalent of a cup of coffee, so we might as well have had Jessie get addicted to Earl Grey, or breaking into The Max to snort coffee grounds. But hey, we had to start somewhere.”
Not pleased? This moment is a TV classic, folks! I mean it didn’t win any Emmy Awards, but we’re obviously still talking about it today.
Peter Engel’s book is on sale right now. Find a copy on Amazon here.
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