TIME Television

Saved by the Bell’s Dustin Diamond Seeking Redemption in Bell Biopic

"Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid" New York Premiere
Dustin Diamond attends the "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid" premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre on January 24, 2011 in New York City. Jim Spellman—WireImage

The actor who played Screech is looking for a redemption story — but will Behind the Bell be it?

Dustin Diamond, best known for role as Saved by the Bell’s “Screech,” doesn’t understand why he has such a bad reputation.

Like why fans believe he’s actually the aggressive guy they saw on reality show Celebrity Fit Club. (“It was scripted on my end,” the 37-year-old tells TIME. “I had to outdo Gary Busey! I didn’t think the fans would think of everything being real.”)

Or why they were turned off by his self-released and allegedly staged adult film, pleasantly titled Screeched — Saved by the Smell. (“Paris Hilton made $14 million for her sex tape . . . As an opportunist, I thought I could easily fake it and get a stunt double,” he said. “But people just ran with it. Everyone has a sex tape, but I was making porn. And I wasn’t, it wasn’t me. My conscience is clear.”)

And then there was his book, Behind the Bell, that claimed to provide salacious details about cast hookups and drug abuse that even Diamond now admits were embellished. (“They gave me a ghostwriter who just talked to me for a few hours here and there on the phone” and then came up with a false, final manuscript he was “powerless” to change, although he did pose for the cover, Diamond says. While he didn’t say what the book got wrong about other cast members’ stories, he said that he never called anyone a douche-nozzle or had a sexual relationship with NBC Vice President of Children’s Programming, Lisa Mancuso, who died of cancer years before the book’s publication.)

But now, Diamond is ready for redemption, which he hopes will come in the form of the upcoming and unauthorized Lifetime biopic based on Behind the Bell, premiering Monday. Diamond says the film isn’t based on the “nasty and negative” lies told by his ghostwriter, but on Diamond’s own clarifications. Viewers will be “surprised” by the film, Diamond says. And apparently Diamond will be, too — because in spite of his Executive Producer title, Diamond admits that he hasn’t “actually read the script or seen the final product.” Or been on set, for that matter.

When informed that the teaser shows Diamond’s character punching someone in the face while shouting “I’m not Screech!,” he was surprised, because that incident, he says, never happened.

“No one who is writing this was there,” says Diamond, revealing his first signs of concerns over the film, to which he signed on in a hands-off capacity. “I didn’t talk to [the writers] really, so how did they research? I’m going to watch with very nervous hopes . . . if they butcher it and get it completely wrong, I’m just going to film a documentary of just me talking about the errors.”

All this uncertainty might be why Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Bell’s Zack), Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding), and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie) have all exhibited disappointment in Diamond and complete disinterest in watching a dramatized version of what they remember as a positive experience. A spokesperson for Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) responded to an email request for comment with a brusque single-word punctuated response of, “Nope.” Lark Voohries (Lisa), meanwhile, tells TIME that she will be watching because the movie’s release “was flattering all around, you know, that the excitement lives on.”

While Diamond and Voohries have kept in touch and worked together on independent film projects, Diamond says he hasn’t heard from the rest of the cast since he was 16, which was more than 20 years ago. Diamond was only 11 when filming of Saved by the Bell began, which socially isolated him from his mostly 14-year-old cast-mates.

“Some of [the cast] would go out to a bar or a restaurant, and I wasn’t invited,” Diamond says. “And at that age it hurts. And it was like, what am I? I haven’t earned my place?”

Diamond, however, says there are no hard feelings. “No one holds on to a grudge over two decades.” But, depending on the backlash from the Lifetime film, Diamond said that “maybe reaching out to the cast members after all this time would be a good thing.”

TIME celebrity

Bruce Springsteen Is Writing a Children’s Book

US singer Bruce Springsteen and The E St
US singer Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band perform, on May 17, 2012 at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. LLUIS GENE—AFP/Getty Images

It's about a bank-robbing baby, based on his song 'Outlaw Pete'

Well, friends, it looks like the Boss is officially getting into the publishing game. He’s working on a book called Outlaw Pete, inspired by his 2009 song of the same name, the New York Times reports.

Simon & Schuster, which is publishing the book, is touting it as a “a picture book for adults” that can also be read to children. (We’re pretty sure this actually means it’s a children’s book that can also be enjoyed by adults, but okay.)

“It’s a book for anybody who loves a good Western,” Simon & Schuster president Jonathan Karp told the Times Thursday.

“Outlaw Pete,” from Springsteen’s 2009 album Working on a Dream, is an eight-minute track outlining the story of a bank-robbing baby. The book will pair Springsteen’s words with the illustrations of cartoonist Frank Caruso. It hits shelves November 4. Our hearts are already hungry for it.

TIME Crime

The Homeless Man Miley Cyrus Brought to the VMAs Turned Himself in to Police

My Friend's Place representative Jesse accepts Video of the Year (on behalf of Miley Cyrus) for 'Wrecking Ball' onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Aug. 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif.
My Friend's Place representative Jesse accepts Video of the Year (on behalf of Miley Cyrus) for 'Wrecking Ball' onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Aug. 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif. Kevin Winter—Getty Images

Jesse Helt gained unwanted police attention after the wanted youth accepted Miley Cyrus' award for music video of the year

The homeless youth Miley Cyrus brought with her to MTV’s Video Music Awards last weekend turned himself in to Oregon police late Thursday night. Jesse Helt, 22, had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for violating his probation.

Cyrus had Helt accept her music video of the year award for “Wrecking Ball” in order to raise awareness for homeless youth. However, Helt’s appearance on the VMAs resulted raised flags among police in Oregon, where Helt is actually from.

Helt arrived in jail with 10% of his $25,000 bail, Sheriff Bob Wolfe told the Statesman Journal. In a Monday interview, Helt’s mother said that Cyrus had given Helt enough cash to visit home.

[Statesman Journal]

TIME celebrity

Watch Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert Sing a Hilarious Song Together (20 Years Ago)

Back during their days at Chicago's Second City

+ READ ARTICLE

This video, unearthed by Splitsider, features a young Steve Carell and an even younger Stephen Colbert performing together back in 1993 at Chicago’s famed Second City comedy club. (They’re joined by fellow funnymen Paul Dinello and David Razowsky, but obviously those guys are a lot less famous.)

This clip, which features the performers singing a little ditty called “The Obvious Song,” was part of a show called Take Me Out to the Balkans. Man, look at Steve ‘n Stephen — they’re just babies here. Kids really do grow up so fast, don’t they?

TIME

Brad and Angelina Getting Married Is a Slap in the Face to Gay Americans

Global Summit To End Sexual Violence In Conflict
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie attend the Global Summit to end Sexual Violence in Conflict at ExCel on June 13, 2014 in London, England. Danny Martindale—FilmMagic

I’m sorry, Brangelina, but real fighters for civil rights don’t buckle under pressure when it gets hard

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt got married last weekend at their magical fairy castle in France. Mazel tov! I would hate to deny anyone their happiness and tell them they can’t get married when they’re in love. Oh wait, except that is exactly what the federal government tells countless gay couples every day by refusing to recognize their rights to get married. Angie and Brad spoke out in support of gay marriage many times and even vowed they wouldn’t say their marriage vows until everyone could. Guess what, Mr. and Mrs. Pitt, not everyone can get married, so how good is your promise?

Back in a 2006 Esquire article, Brad said that he and Angie “will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able.” I can’t tell you how much this meant to gays and lesbians all over the country. They were two of the first celebrities to draw attention to the fight for marriage equality and did it before marriage was legal in states like New York, Connecticut, Iowa, California and a growing number every year. This brought international attention to the cause and showed that they were principled people who were willing to put their beliefs before their convenience.

Now they got married in France and it just all seems like a ruse. Maybe they just meant that they would get married somewhere, like France, where marriage is legal for all couples and has been since 2013? It’s like their trans-Atlantic knot tying is some sort of logistical and semantic alley-oop around the vow that they already took to the gay community. “Oh, well, if we do it in France maybe the gays won’t notice.” Sadly, when it comes to same-sex marriage, what happens in France stays in France. In fact, if I went to France and married a Frenchman (let’s call him Pierre), it wouldn’t even be recognized in a majority of states in this great nation of ours. That shows you how good getting married in France is. (Remember when we were changing “French” to “freedom?” Not when it comes to same-sex marriage!)

Still it seems like what Brad and Angie said the first time around doesn’t matter to them at all. It’s as if they didn’t want to get married in 2006 and said, “What if we say it’s because gay people can’t get married? Then people will stop bothering us about getting hitched and we’ll look so noble.” Now that they’ve had their ceremony and the wedding cake is in the freezer, it looks like their declaration was mercenary rather than thoughtful. In 2012, shortly before their engagement became national news, Pitt told The Hollywood Reporter, “We made this declaration some time ago that we weren’t going to do it till everyone can. But I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out.” They even knew they were breaking their word but didn’t seem to care anymore.

I’m sorry, Brangelina, but real fighters for civil rights don’t buckle under pressure when it gets hard. The couple says that their legal union means a lot to the children and that’s why they did it. What about teaching their children about standing up for what you believe in, even when it’s tough and unpopular? What if one of their children grows up to be gay and still can’t get legally hitched? What about all the gay and lesbian couples out there they inspired? What about all the straight mothers and fathers and siblings they enlisted to fight for marriage equality with their once-selfless act? What about the other celebs like Charlize Theron and Kristen Bell who have taken a similar pledge? Well, they don’t have to stick by their word either anymore. In 2013, a year after Brad and Angelina announced their engagement, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard got hitched too. Now that the biggest celebrities in the Hollywood firmament aren’t keeping their pledge, looks like no one else has to either.

I’m sure their choice to walk down the aisle was a difficult decision that required plenty of discussion, but, to the masses not able to penetrate their very closed doors, it appears as though the couple suddenly thought, “Hey, what they heck, let’s get married.” Well, there are still millions of people who don’t even have that option. What are they supposed to do? Are their rights not worth fighting for anymore? Apparently not. Gay Americans won’t have full equality until we can get married on a whim too, like a drunk Britney Spears in Las Vegas.

Maybe they thought that we’ve come far enough in our fight for marriage equality that they don’t need to be spokespeople anymore. After all, gay marriage is legal in 19 states in the country and the constitutional bans on same-sex marriage have been struck down in Utah, Michigan, Arkansas, Wisconsin,and Indiana. Heck, the Supreme Court even said the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. It’s only a matter of time before Neil Patrick Harris and his partner will have the same status as Angelina and Brad from the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters. And when that day comes, we’ll remember who stood with us not just when it was convenient or trendy, but for the entire fight to secure full marriage rights for all Americans.

Now, I recognize that with these two we’re talking about a couple of literal good-doers. Brangelina has always put their money where their beautiful mouths are, even donating $100,000 to fight Proposition 8, the California law that blocked gay marriage in the state. If they’re going to break their pledge and get married, the least they can do is make a sizable donation to the cause. What do you get the couple that literally has everything, including a chateau in France where they can get married anytime they feel like? Better yet, take the $529 million that the tabloids are sure to offer for exclusive wedding pictures and donate that to help fight for gay marriage. Leading by example is what gay and lesbian Americans really need, but since they’ve failed at that, we’ll at least take their money.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications. His boyfriend does not want to get married…yet.

TIME celebrity

6 Farm Dates We Need To See on Chris Soules’ Season of The Bachelor

Chris Soules was on the tenth edition of "The Bachelorette"
Chris Soules was on the tenth edition of "The Bachelorette" Craig Sjodin—ABC

Let's get hog wild, and other terrible puns.

ABC formally announced Wednesday that Chris Soules will be the leading man in its next season of The Bachelor. Let’s just call this season Farmer Gets a Wife. While we could have been living life in the fast lane with race car driver and Bachelor hopeful Arie Luydenyk Jr., instead we will be watching corn grow with Soules — a stable and successful farmer from quite possibly the smallest town in the world.

Last season, Soules’ mother assured Bachelorette Andi that “there’s no limit for a woman on a farm nowadays.” And we are sure that Bachelor producers, never shying away from a theme-date or pun, (pilot Jake Pavleka’s season was called On the Wings of Love, complete with its own eponymous song and everything), will be sure to teach us exactly what life on the farm would be like in the form of ridiculous date cards. This season on the Bachelor, the “surprise concerts” will be country, the strategically placed couches in the middle of the wilderness will be replaced with haystacks, and helicopters will be swapped out for tractors.

These are the farming dates we are the least, and by that I mean most, excited for:

Find a needle in a haystack
The winner of this group date is rewarded with one-on-one time and the promise of love everlasting, of course. The losers go home to cry and pick the hay out of each others’ hair. (Or, if there’s a hairdresser this season, learn how to incorporate them into elaborate braids for the Rose Ceremony).
Pun potential: I mean, implied

Catch a greased pig
Where mud wrestling meets Babe.
Pun potential: “Let’s get hog wild!” “I want to be his prize pig.”

Cook Chris a farm fresh breakfast using only products found on the farm
Chris told Andi that his wife doesn’t have to be a homemaker. The “big” city of Cedar Rapids is only an hour away. But let’s face it, knowing your way around a hen house and kitchen is going to be a plus.
Pun alert: “I am putting all of my eggs in this basket. Apart from the ones I’ve frozen. I really want to get married.”

A corn maze race
Especially appropriate considering that Chris grows corn.
Pun alert from the loser: “Shucks!”

Shear a sheep
The wise contestant will hoard her wool throughout the competition and give Chris a hand-knitted sweater toward the end of the season, shouting from the barn rooftops, “I choose ewe!”
Pun alert: “I’m in sheer disbelief that such a manly, gentle, gentleman farmer exists.”

Assist with the birthing of an animal
Just as contestants in past seasons have compared rappelling off the side of a building to rappelling into their potential mate’s heart, this date will be all about the metaphors. Like, “As I watched Chris pull a calf out of that cow’s vaginal canal, I realized, wow this guy has real fatherhood potential.”

Is it January yet?

TIME celebrity

Cops Want to Arrest the Homeless Youth Who Accepted Miley Cyrus’ VMA

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Backstage And Audience
Miley Cyrus attend the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards MTV/MTV1415—Getty Images for MTV

Oregon police are looking to arrest 22-year-old Jesse Helt

Taking a page out of Marlon Brando’s award show/advocacy playbook, singer Miley Cyrus made headlines at the MTV VMAs Sunday not for twerking, but for sending a homeless youth on stage to accept her award for Music Video of the Year on her behalf.

While Cyrus certainly raised awareness for homelessness and a Los Angeles-based organization called My Friend’s Place, she also unintentionally drew some negative attention on her date. As the spotlight turned towards Jesse Helt, Cyrus’ 22-year-old friend who left home and found himself living on the streets as he pursued a modeling career, it was discovered there’s a warrant out for his arrest in Oregon.

Helt pleaded guilty and served 30 days in jail for criminal mischief and criminal trespass in 2010, the Associated Press reports. A warrant was put out for his arrest in November 2011 when he violated his probation.

“He doesn’t make himself available to community supervision, and he takes off,” Polk County Director of Community Corrections Martin Silbernagel told the AP.

Helt’s mother told the Oregonian Monday that Cyrus had given her son money that he was using to travel home to visit his family. Police told Helt’s mother they are looking for her son with the intention of arresting him.

Here’s an excerpt from Helt’s emotional speech during Sunday night’s show:

I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now. I know, because I am one of those people.

I have survived in shelters all over this city. The music industry will make over $7 billion this year, and outside these doors are 54,000 human beings who have no place to call home.

 

[AP]

TIME Opinion

How to Reclaim the F-Word? Just Call Beyoncé

Beyonce performs onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif.
Beyonce performs onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Calif. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Beyonce’s brand of empowerment isn’t perfect, but her VMA performance on Sunday accomplished what activists could not: She took feminism to the masses.

Militant. Radical. Man-hating. If you study word patterns in media over the past two decades, you’ll find that these are among the most common terms used to talk about the word “feminist.” Yes, I did this — with the help of a linguist and a tool called the Corpus of Contemporary American English, which is the world’s largest database of language.

I did a similar search on Twitter, with the help of Twitter’s data team, looking at language trends over the past 48 hours. There, the word patterns were more simple. Search “feminist,” and you’ll likely come up with just one word association: Beyoncé.

That’s a product of Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, of course, in which the 33-year-old closed out the show with an epic declaration of the F-Word, a giant “FEMINIST” sign blazing from behind her silhouette.

As far as feminist endorsements are concerned, this was the holy grail: A word with a complicated history reclaimed by the most powerful celebrity in the world. And then she projected it — along with its definition, by the Nigerian feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — into the homes of 12 million unassuming Americans. Beyoncé would become the subject of two-thirds of all tweets about feminism in the 24 hours after her appearance, according to a data analysis by Twitter, making Sunday the sixth-highest day for volume of conversation about feminism since Twitter began tracking this year (the top three were days during #YesAllWomen).

“What Bey just did for feminism, on national television, look, for better or worse, that reach is WAY more than anything we’ve seen,” the writer Roxane Gay, author of the new book, Bad Feminist, declared (on Twitter, naturally).

“HELL YES!” messaged Jennifer Pozner, a writer and media critic.

“It would have been unthinkable during my era,” said Barbara Berg, a historian and the author of Sexism in America.

Feminism may be enjoying a particular celebrity moment, but let’s just remember that this wasn’t always the case. Feminism’s definition may be simple — it is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, as Adichie put it — and yet its interpretation is anything but. “There was only about two seconds in the history of the world in which women really welcomed [feminism],” Gail Collins, The New York Times columnist and author of America’s Women once told me in 2010, for an article I was writing about young women and feminism. “There’s something about the word that just drives people nuts.”

Over the past 40 years in particular, as Berg explains it, the word has seen it all: exultation, neutrality, uncertainty, animosity. “Feminazi” has become a perennial (and favorite) insult of the religious right (and of Rush Limbaugh). In 1992, in a public letter decrying a proposal for an equal rights amendment (the horror!) television evangelist Pat Robertson hilariously proclaimed that feminism would cause women to “leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”

Even the leaders of the movement have debated whether the word should be abandoned (or rebranded). From feminist has evolved the words womanist, humanist, and a host of other options — including, at one point, the suggestion from Queen Bey herself for something a little bit more catchy, “like ‘bootylicious.'” (Thank God that didn’t stick.)

It wasn’t that the people behind these efforts (well, most of them anyway) didn’t believe in the tenets of feminism — to the contrary, they did. But there was just something about identifying with that word. For some, it was pure naiveté: We were raised post-Title IX, and there were moments here and there where we thought maybe we didn’t need it. (We could be whatever we wanted, right? That was the gift of the feminists who came before us.) But for others, it was a notion of what the word had come to represent: angry, extreme, unlikeable. As recently as last year, a poll by the Huffington Post/YouGov found that while 82 percent of Americans stated that they indeed believe women and men should be equals, only 20 percent of them were willing to identify as feminists.

Enter… Beyoncé. The new enlightened Beyoncé, that is. Universally loved, virtually unquestioned, and flawless, the 33-year-old entertainer seems to debunk every feminist stereotype you’ve ever heard. Beyoncé can’t be a man-hater – she’s got a man (right?). Her relationship – whatever you believe about the divorce rumors – has been elevated as a kind of model for egalitarian bliss: dual earners, adventurous sex life, supportive husband and an adorable child held up on stage by daddy while mommy worked. Beyoncé’s got the confidence of a superstar but the feminine touch of a mother. And, as a woman of color, she’s speaking to the masses – a powerful voice amid a movement that has a complicated history when it comes to inclusion.

No, you don’t have to like the way Beyoncé writhes around in that leotard – or the slickness with which her image is controlled – but whether you like it or not, she’s accomplished what feminists have long struggled to do: She’s reached the masses. She has, literally, brought feminism into the living rooms of 12.4 million Americans. “Sure, it’s just the VMAs,” says Pozner. “She’s not marching in Ferguson or staffing a battered woman’s shelter, but through her performance millions of mainstream music fans are being challenged to think about feminism as something powerful, important, and yes, attractive. And let’s head off at the pass any of the usual hand-wringing about her sexuality — Madonna never put the word FEMINIST in glowing lights during a national awards show performance. This is, as we say… a major moment.”

It’s what’s behind the word that matters, of course. Empty branding won’t change policy (and, yes, we need policy change). But there is power in language, too.

“Looking back on those early days of feminism, you can see that the word worked as a rallying cry,” says Deborah Tannen, aa linguist at Georgetown University and the author of You Just Don’t Understand, about men and women in conversation. “It gave women who embraced [it] a sense of identity and community — a feeling that they were part of something, and a connection to others who were a part of it too. Beyoncé’s taking back this word and identifying with it is huge.”

Bennett is a contributing columnist at TIME.com covering the intersection of gender, sexuality, business and pop culture. A former Newsweek senior writer and executive editor of Tumblr, she is a contributing editor for Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s foundation, Lean In. You can follow her @jess7bennett.

TIME Television

Donald Glover Will Finally Get to Be Spider-Man (in a Cartoon)

...Four years after Community fans tried (and, obviously, failed) to land him the starring role in The Amazing Spider-Man

Back in 2010, Community star Donald Glover expressed interest in playing the lead role in The Amazing Spider-Man. His fans took that pretty seriously and launched a social media campaign — complete with a #donald4spiderman hashtag — to make these dreams come true. The role ultimately went to Andrew Garfield and everybody moved on with their lives.

But now, several years later, Glover is finally getting getting his chance to play Spidey. It’s on the small screen, and in a cartoon, but still! This is great news.

According to USA Today, Glover will voice half-Hispanic, half-black Spider-Man alter-ego Miles Morales on an episode of Disney XD’s animated series, Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors. The character made his comic-book debut back in 2011 after writer Brian Michael Bendis was inspired by the #donald4spiderman campaign.

Check out the clip above to get a taste of Donald in all his Spidey splendor alongside Peter Parker (voiced by Drake Bell.)

We can only imagine that somewhere, Troy Barnes is getting very, very emotional about this.

TIME viral

Matt Damon Uses Toilet Water for His Ice Bucket Challenge

He hoped to draw attention to the widespread lack of clean water around the world

+ READ ARTICLE

When nominated by his pals Ben Affleck and Jimmy Kimmel for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Matt Damon faced a bit of a dilemma.

The challenge requires participants to either donate money toward amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research or dump water over their heads (or, as many celebrities have done, both, helping the campaign raise about $80 million.) Damon was down to contribute to a good (and massively viral) cause, but didn’t want to waste clean water, as he’s the co-founder of Water.org, a non-profit dedicated to providing safe water and sanitation in the developing world.

Damon’s solution to this conundrum? Just use toilet water — and also consider the video an opportunity to raise awareness about the lack of clean drinking water across the globe.

“This is truly toilet water. I’ve been collecting it from various toilets around the house,” he says as he fills his bucket. ” For those of you like my wife who think this is really disgusting, keep in mind that the water in our toilets in the West is actually cleaner than the water that most people in the developing world have access to.”

Then he dumps the toilet water over his head and nominates George Clooney, Bono and Tom Brady. We have a feeling those guys will just use regular water though.

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