Bayside High School reunion! Dustin Diamond caught up with his Saved by the Bell costar and Extra host Mario Lopez and finally revealed the truth about his 2009 tell-all book, Behind the Bell, in a preview of the sit-down.
Diamond, 39, who played nerd Samuel “Screech” Powers, claimed he didn’t actually write the book, and that a ghostwriter deceived him and made everything up. “I wanted to write a book about my life … I was supposed to talk to a ghostwriter for 40 hours total. I talked to a guy for 90 minutes total … another two weeks go by, and I get something in the mail, I get a copy of the book,” he said in the Extra clip. “They fabricated a whole bunch of stuff.”
The scandalous book alienated him from his Saved by the Bell costars because of its claims that drug use and hook-ups were rampant in the dressing rooms of the hit NBC sitcom. The tell-all even alleged that Lopez (who played AC Slater) was a womanizer who “hit on every costar” and that Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) used steroids. At the time of the memoir’s publication, Gosselaar dismissed the allegations. “We weren’t in rehab and Mr. Belding wasn’t my crack dealer,” he told Us Weekly.
“The book didn’t exactly paint a flattering picture of your fellow castmates,” Lopez, 42, said. Diamond agreed and somewhat apologized. “Imagine how I feel, I haven’t talked to Mark-Paul or Elizabeth [Berkley] or Tiffani [Thiessen] in ages, so I can’t imagine what they think, and I’m hoping this will clear it up. It wasn’t me, I didn’t write this. I was just as shocked and appalled,” he said.
The interview was Diamond’s first time speaking out since his recent release from jail. The actor was found guilty of disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon after a bar fight where someone was allegedly stabbed in 2014. He served his time behind bars at the Ozaukee County Jail in Wisconsin and was released after about three months for good behavior.
Diamond cleared up what actually happened during the brawl, saying he was only defending his fiancée, Amanda Schutz, after she was sucker-punched. “I opened my pocketknife and said, ‘Let my wife go immediately,’ which worked,” he said. “The guy came from around me and grabbed my throat, and so he nicked his arm on the tip of [the blade]. It was a Band-Aid, the most expensive Band-Aid I’ve ever bought.”
As for his jail stint, he said it’s not like what you see on TV. “It’s pretty daunting, it’s pretty scary going into that environment. I found that as long as you follow the rules and stay with the system, it works. You can get in and out unscathed,” he said.
Now, Diamond wants to move past all the costar drama and legal trouble. “I want to put the tomfoolery and malarkey behind me … for that clean slate. Time for a change,” he told Lopez.
The full interview will air on Wednesday, May 18, and Thursday, May 19, on Extra.
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