Neil Patrick Harris, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson all have this 'Saved by the Bell' connection

You know Ed Alonzo as restaurateur/magician Max on Saved by the Bell. But did you know that Alonzo is more than just pals with Screech? We caught up with Alonzo at the opening of the new Saved by the Max themed restaurant in Los Angeles and learned how his magical skills surprisingly connected him to some of Tinseltown’s top entertainers.

Neil Patrick Harris

Alonzo and Neil Patrick Harris’s friendship goes back to Alonzo’s Saved by the Bell days, when Neil Patrick Harris was becoming famous due to Doogie Howser, M.D.

“Strangely enough, the Saved by the Bell Max restaurant was themed after a restaurant called Ed Debevic’s,” Alonzo told Yahoo Entertainment. “I used to hang out at this restaurant a lot. Elizabeth Berkley [Jessie Spano] was there one day with Neil Patrick Harris. She saw I was at the other table, and she said to Neil, ‘I know you like magic — I have a friend here who’s on the show with me and he’s a magician.’

“So I come over and I meet this young guy and we became best friends. So every time he’s on television or in a movie or whatever and he’s doing magic, 99 percent of the time I’ve either helped him learn it, created it for him, or I’m right off camera rigging it up. He’s come a long way as a magician as well, and now he’s able to do a lot of his own stuff. But he still calls me. We’re still best friends.”

Ed Alonzo, top right, and the rest of the cast of <i>Saved by the Bell</i> in a publicity photo taken for the show’s first season. (Photo: Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank)
Ed Alonzo, top right, and the rest of the cast of Saved by the Bell in a publicity photo taken for the show’s first season. (Photo: Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank)

Britney Spears

During one of her elaborately staged tours, Britney Spears performed with a love-struck magician who never quite could win her over. That magician was our buddy Ed.

“Britney’s team contacted me in 2009 for her revival comeback tour, ‘The Circus,’” Alonzo reminisced. “The director said, ‘Maybe we should have a magician create an act where Britney could be the assistant.’ … I spent a whole year with Britney, and I got to do a number, just Britney and I, every night onstage. What a dream gig that was.”

Michael Jackson

One of the more memorable credits on Alonzo’s résumé was working with Michael Jackson on a concert tour before the King of Pop’s death in 2009. But Alonzo had already wowed Jackson with his illusions years earlier.

“Back in 1989, Michael had seen me on The Arsenio Hall Show and invited me out to Neverland Ranch, and I did a show for him and a couple kids and their parents,” Alonzo told us. “Seven people [watched my show] in a big full theater out at his house. A full, one-hour show with dancers and big illusions.

“I didn’t know what to expect when he invited me out. The curtain opened up and I started my show. I was looking at all of the empty seats and I thought, ‘Boy, this is going to suck.’ But Michael was the best audience ever … he was the greatest cheerleader ever.”

Watch a guide to the new Saved by the Bell-themed restaurant, Saved by the Max, that just popped up in Los Angeles:

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