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The Bayside gang are reuniting.
NBCUniversal’s newly named streaming service, Peacock, is teaming with Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley for a new Saved by the Bell series. Sources say the streamer is in talks with other castmembers, including Mark-Paul Gosselaar, to potentially return.
The new straight-to-series comedy explores what happens when California Gov. Zack Morris (Gosselaar’s role) gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools and proposes the affected students be sent to the highest-performing schools in the state — including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the overprivileged Bayside kids a much-needed and hilarious dose of reality. Lopez and Berkley will return to play their respective characters A.C. Slater and Jessie Spano in what sources say are new roles as parents.
The comedy hails from writer Tracey Wigfield and is from Universal Television, where the 30 Rock grad and Great News creator recently renewed her overall deal. Wigfield will serve as showrunner and executive produce alongside original series creator Peter Engel and Franco Bario (Great News). Lopez and Berkley will also produce.
Saved by the Bell ran for four seasons as part of a Saturday morning block on NBC from 1989-1993. The comedy, created by Sam Bobrick and developed by Peter Engel and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, starred Gosselaar, Lopez, Dustin Diamond, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Berkley and Lark Voorhies as high school students navigating everything from dating to drugs. The show, which launched as a redeveloped version of Disney Channel series Good Morning, Miss Bliss, became a massive hit and led to profitable merchandising lines, two spinoffs and a pair of TV movies. Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Saved by the Bell: The New Class ran for one and seven seasons, respectively. The core cast — Lopez, Thiessen, Gosselaar and Berkley — reunited in April, hosted by the latter duo and well documented on Instagram. (Gosselaar, meanwhile, recently signed on to star in ABC’s Black-ish prequel comedy, Mixed-ish, and Thiessen stars on the Netflix series Alexa & Katie.)
For Lopez, now a father of three, the new Saved by the Bell marks his return to series-regular television. His last regular onscreen acting roles were in 2006 on the daytime soap The Bold and the Beautiful and in the late 1990s on USA Network’s Pacific Blue. More recently on the scripted side, Lopez has guested on series including The Rookie, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Other Two and This Is Us, playing himself. Lopez’s return to acting arrives two months after he joined the NBCUniversal-owned syndicated news magazine Access Hollywood and its daytime counterpart, Access Daily, as a host following a long run at Extra. As part of his Access pact, Lopez inked an overall deal to develop scripted and unscripted shows with Universal TV and its alternative counterpart. He is repped by WME and Del Shaw.
Berkley, a mother of one, most notably followed up her time with the Saved by the Bell franchise with the 1995 flop turned cult classic film Showgirls. Her credits include 1996’s The First Wives Club and Any Given Sunday and guest roles on New Girl, the original The L Word and CSI: Miami. She is repped by Untitled Entertainment and Sloane Offer.
Wigfield has a long relationship with Universal TV and counts 30 Rock, The Mindy Project, Great News and Four Weddings and a Funeral among her credits for the studio. She is repped by WME.
NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, is set to launch next April with originals joining the lineup in summer 2020. The Saved by the Bell announcement arrives as part of an ambitious slate unveiled Tuesday by the forthcoming streamer that also included news of a Battlestar Galactica reboot from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, among several other projects.
Reboots and updates of beloved series remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming platforms look for proven intellectual property with a built-in audience in a bid to cut through a scripted landscape expected to top 500 originals in 2019. The Saved by the Bell sequel will make noise and likely help drive interest (and subscriptions) to NBC’s upcoming service, which will join a wave of similar upcoming offerings from the likes of Disney, WarnerMedia, Apple and Viacom’s BET.
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