Elizabeth Berkley Lauren discusses Dustin Diamond tribute on 'Saved by the Bell' season 2

·4 min read
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren discusses Dustin Diamond tribute on 'Saved by the Bell' season 2

This story contains minor spoilers for season two of “Saved by the Bell.”

The second season of Peacock’s “Saved by the Bell” premiered Wednesday, and it includes a nostalgic tribute to the late Dustin Diamond, who played Screech in the original series.

The first episode of the new season sees Screech’s Bayside buddies — Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen), Slater (Mario Lopez), Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley Lauren) and Lisa (Lark Voorhies) —reminiscing about him over burgers at the Max.

In an interview with TODAY, Berkley Lauren said she and the other original “Saved by the Bell” cast members were deeply saddened by the news of Diamond’s death in February at the age of 44.

“It was so important for us to be able to pay tribute to him (on the reboot) in a way that honored him because he's so loved and he was such a talent,” she added.

Executive producer Tracey Wigfield sought the actors’ input as she and the writing staff put together a scene that serves as a salute to both Diamond and the Screech character.

“We were able to kind of work this out together to try to come up with something that we felt would feel right,” Berkley Lauren said. “I don't know if there's ever a perfect way to do this, but I do feel proud of the sensitivity and thought and care that went into it, and I hope the fans just really feel that.”

The tribute includes a video montage that highlights several funny Screech moments from the original series. Berkley Lauren, 49, recalled that Diamond, who was a few years younger than his castmates, had a strong sense of humor away from the cameras, too.

“He just was always making all of us laugh so hard, especially in the schoolroom,” she said of the cast’s sessions with their tutor during production.

She added, “He was brilliant in front of an audience, because we had a live audience on our show, being that it was a traditional sitcom. And it was like a pep rally and he would make the crowd laugh, too. He had a real gift.”

The scene at the Max marks the first in-person appearance in the reboot for Voorhies, who previously made a cameo in season one via FaceTime. Berkley Lauren said working with Voorhies again was “such a joy.”

“We've never stopped being friends and I've always just loved her so much,” she said. “We shared so much as kids together. And it was a joy to see her radiating, and she was right back to Lisa Turtle. It's uncanny how amazing she just dropped right back in, looking gorgeous, and she's so funny.”

Berkley Lauren pointed to the season’s sixth episode, in which she, Voorhies and Thiessen reunite again, this time with their characters attending Bayside’s career fair. She said it was “just like old girlfriends coming back together in the script, but also in life.”

Lark Voorhies on
Lark Voorhies on

Season two also gave Berkley Lauren the opportunity to further explore Jessie’s relationship with Slater — her high school boyfriend, now her co-worker at Bayside — as she goes through a divorce. There’s a “little spark” between the two of them, Berkley Lauren acknowledged.

Acting with Lopez on the reboot has been easy for Berkley Lauren, who compares their working relationship to a brother and sister “who never fight.”

“We just have always had this ease around each other, and we bring out the silliness in one another,” she added. “But, I mean, we're obviously both extremely professional and focused and determined and all those things. But once we get on set there is always just this kind of natural, great chemistry that is — where we really want the best for the other.”

Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley Lauren on
Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley Lauren on

Berkley Lauren’s divorce storyline also led to what she described as one of the most powerful and emotional scenes for Jessie in season two: a conversation in a park with her son, Jamie (Belmont Cameli), about the end of her marriage. Berkley Lauren has a great appreciation for the “humanity” that the show brought to the moment.

“This is a comedy so it's without the heaviness, but there's heart, and that's at the core of ‘Saved by the Bell,’ always,” she said.

Season two of “Saved by the Bell” is now available to stream on Peacock. (Peacock is owned by our parent company, NBCUniversal.)