Dustin Diamond, the actor behind the character of Screech from Saved By The Bell, has apologised to his former castmates for salacious claims he made about them in a book.
The former child star has endured a troubling time since appearing in the 90s show and its spin-off, The New Class. Diamond was sentenced in June 2015 for stabbing a man during a fight at a bar in Wisconsin on Christmas Day 2014. He later returned to jail for violating his probation. He also appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK in 2013.
In 2009, Diamond published a memoir about his time on the show titled Behind The Bell, which painted an unflattering portrait of his former castmates. Diamond later insisted that the book was ghostwritten and that many claims in the book were fabricated or exaggerated. In the book, it was claimed that several members of the cast were in sexual relationships with each other, as well as with TV executives. One of the cast members was also accused of admitting to steroid use.
Now he has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, telling the host that he would like to apologise to the show’s cast for the drug and sex-related allegations that feature in the book. He said: “Oddly enough, it’s doing interviews like this and getting the word out there. This is my best weapon for repairing the damage that was caused by things that were done by people who took advantage of me and the situation I was in at the time.”
Asked what he would like to say to his former co-stars, he said: “I would say, guys, I think you’re fantastic, working with you has been just one of the icons of my life and I’m sorry that this has taken advantage of me — the book and other situations I’m sure we’ll talk about here. But I’m sure that you’ve experienced downfalls, as well, in your time and I’m still loving you guys.”
Diamond went on to describe the allegations as “upsetting to more than just the other cast members — upsetting to me as well. As it turns out, the general public doesn’t realise, I didn’t write the book. I had a ghostwriter… Unfortunately, being in the entertainment industry, you get fleeced a lot and you get taken advantage of a lot. And it hasn’t been my first bout with that and so I’ve gotten good at just kind of brushing it off and moving forward. If I dwell on the past, then it just eats at me and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Quizzed on when he last spoke to the other actors, Diamond said: “Mario Lopez [AC Slater] and I speak frequently and Dennis Haskins [Mr Belding] and I speak frequently … And they know what I went through, but the rest of the cast — Mark Paul [Gosselaar, who played Zack Morris] and I haven’t seen since I was 16 years old, so I feel terrible for it, but what can I do? I guess tweet him.”
Gosselaar, meanwhile, recently apologised for a ‘racist’ episode of the show that has always haunted the lead cast member – ‘Running Zack’ from November 1990, which tells the story of Morris’ apparent Native American ancestry.
“He gives a – I’m doing this in air quotes – ‘presentation’ that consists of putting war paint on Screech (Dustin Diamond) and giving him a toy tomahawk,” Gosselaar told Entertainment Weekly. “He has Screech stagger around and grunt at people. Zack doesn’t get in trouble for this completely racist presentation, and the only punishment is he’ll have to skip the big track meet if he doesn’t take the project seriously.”
He continued: “His teacher introduces him to Chief Henry, who appears to live in someone’s garage and bestows wisdom onto Zack before he drops dead without explanation at the end of the episode.”