Dustin Diamond may have been an executive producer on Lifetime's Saved by the Bell movie, but that doesn't mean he actually watched it.
The actor, 37, is currently starring in a piece of Bell history of his own: the off-Broadway parody show Bayside! The Musical, where he plays Dustin Diamond, a fictional version of himself, opposite a talented crew of young comedic actors. And, since he's been so busy moving from Wisconsin to New York City for the show, he hasn't had a chance to check out the much-maligned TV movie.
"I guess they did it from Screech's point of view in the Lifetime movie but I didn't see it," he told Yahoo TV when we caught up with him shortly after his opening night last month. "I will at some point, but the move out here has been so stressful. … There's so many people out there who are going to say, 'Oh, well, that's his book and this is all from his mouth and he's the executive producer of this so he must have had control over this.' I had executive producer credit in the movie, but that was in credit only. I had nothing to do with production."
In fact, just weeks after The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story premiered, the executive producer was mocking both the book (which was penned by a ghost writer) and the movie on stage in front of a live audience. "I'll write a sh---y book and Lifetime will do a sh---y movie out of it," his character declares.
While jabs at sex tapes and Celebrity Fit Club meltdowns also make their way into the show, the production is not all about Dustin Diamond. Amid references to all periods of the Saturday morning series — from the Miss Bliss era and beach club episodes to appearances by Tori Spelling and Becky the duck — the rest of the Bayside High alums don't come out unscathed.
"They've taken pot shots at everybody pretty equally," Diamond said. "[Writer/directors Bob and Tobly McSmith] were such devoted fans to the show that they really stayed true to it. They crammed in so many inside jokes."
As for playing a version of himself acting alongside another version of himself — Justin Cimino makes an undeniably impressive Screech — Diamond said it's flattering. "Justin is amazing… He's Shakespearean trained. I've never had anyone of that magnitude mimic me. I'm me and I didn't even do that. It's pretty awesome."
Diamond also insisted that none of the show's digs at him or his history were off-limits. "I'm easy-going. All the crazy, wacky things I've done in my life have mostly been smoke and mirrors. I'm not mean, the adult video thing was faked. … There's little things I heard that were in the Lifetime movie, too. Someone said, 'Did you really punch someone in line? Did you really drink alcohol before a martial arts thing?' And I have no idea what they're talking about. Neither one of those events have ever occurred in my life.
"Let's put it this way: I'm 37 and I made it out of Hollywood. I'm not a druggie. I don't really drink. I don't smoke cigarettes. I swear sometimes and that's about it. I'm pretty squeaky."
National Lampoon Presents Bayside! The Musical starring Dustin Diamond is currently playing at Theatre80 in New York City. Click here for details on tickets.