Friday, February 25, 2011

Mark-Paul Gosselaar on ‘Saved by the Bell’s’ popularity

You often hear about former child stars who feel like their early work on a TV show typecast them for life and thwarted their career.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who we first got to know as Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell, is not one of them.

He played Zack for seven years (starting with 1988′s Good Morning, Miss Bliss – as the show was originally called – right through Saved by the Bell: The College Years in 1994. He was the central character of a show that also launched future stars Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley.

Once it left the air, Mark-Paul kept busy doing TV movies (The Princess and the Marine), a feature film (Dead Man on Campus) and starred in two short-lived TV series (Hyperion Bay and D.C.)

Then in 2001 came the breakthrough role of Det. John Clark on ABC’s NYPD Blue. For four seasons, Mark-Paul played Dennis Franz’s young partner and has not stopped working since including roles on two follow-up series Commander In Chief and Raising the Bar.

I got the chance to chat with Mark-Paul last month at the TV Critics Association Press Tour where he was promoting his latest series Franklin & Bash. I wasn’t sure how open he’d be to talking about Saved by the Bell but I wanted to ask him if he was surprised by its enduring popularity with reruns on several times a day.

“Yeah I am surprised because the show didn’t get legs until we were finished shooting and it wasn’t until we were in syndication that it started taking off,” he explained. “We always thought we were going to be canceled after every season. It always seems to generate a new generation of viewers and it hasn’t stopped. I don’t know when it’s gonna stop. We still have 12 year olds now that are just finding it.”

It was refreshing to hear how much regard he still has for the show and at 36, he makes no attempt to distance himself from work he did as a teen.

“I’ve been lucky,” he said. “Because we started so young I’ve had a lot of time, I want to be in this industry for a long time whether it’s as an actor or a producer or a director. I like this industry and I’ve worked very hard to stay relevant in it. I’ve been fortunate.”

Breckin Meyer, who co-stars with Mark-Paul in the upcoming TBS series Franklin & Bash, joined our conversation at this point and observed: “One of the reasons you can poke fun at him about [Saved by the Bell] – and I do poke fun at him all the time about it – is because he’s worked so much other than that. It’s not like that’s all he’s done.”

Mark-Paul added: “Like [former Dawson's Creek star] James Van Der Beek who guest starred on our show as well. There’s another guy where we’ve had similar paths and he has a great attitude as well. So does [former Wonder Years star] Fred Savage who came on our show as well – and directed an episode. We’re all products of growing up in the industry and it’s nice to see that we’re still continuing to work. It’s refreshing.”

By: Greg Hernandez Hollywood News

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