When Peacock’s Saved by the Bell reboot returns for its upcoming second season on November 24, the show will pay tribute to original cast member Dustin Diamond, who died of lung cancer in February at the age of 44.
Diamond, who played Samuel “Screech” Powers from the show’s inception in 1989, through its College Years and New Class spinoffs — 12 years in all — was referenced in the first season of the reboot, though he was not invited onto it as a guest star.
Executive producer Franco Bario, who also produced the original series, tells Variety he spoke with Diamond ahead of the season one premiere to “fill him in on the Screech mentions in the first season and how those may lead us to possible stories that would include him in season two.” However, after learning of Diamond’s death, Bario and showrunner Tracey Wigfield decided to celebrate Dustin as an actor and Screech as a character in season two.
“I didn’t know him and I hadn’t met him,” Wigfield tells Variety. “Just thinking about it as a fan, I knew we wanted to do more than just putting a picture of him up at the end.”
After pitching the idea to original cast members Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, Mario Lopez, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen and Lark Voorhies, who appear on the show in different capacities, Wigfield and Bario wrote a scene in which the five OG cast members would reunite at the group’s favorite hangout, The Max, to remember their friend.
The tribute to Diamond also includes clips of him in the original series, to demonstrate that he was not just “an outrageous character” or “the butt of a joke,” but “to show how important he was to the show the other characters.”
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