Whos ready to return to the halls of Bayside High?!
NBCUniversal's newly named streaming service, Peacock, is teaming with Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley for a new Saved by the Bell series. Sources say the streamer is in talks with other cast members, including Mark-Paul Gosselaar, to potentially return.
The new straight-to-series comedy explores what happens when California Gov. Zack Morris (Gosselaar's role) gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools and proposes the affected students be sent to the highest-performing schools in the state — including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over-privileged Bayside kids a much-needed and hilarious dose of reality. Lopez and Berkley will return to play their beloved characters A.C. Slater and Jessie Spano, respectively, in what sources say are new roles as parents
The comedy hails from writer Tracey Wigfield and is from Universal Television, where the 30 Rock grad and Great News creator recently renewed her overall deal. Wigfield will serve as showrunner and exec produce alongside original series creator Peter Engel and Franco Bario (Great News). Lopez and Berkley will also produce.
Saved by the Bell ran for four seasons as part of a Saturday morning block on NBC from 1989 to 1993. The comedy, created by Sam Bobrick and developed by Peter Engel and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, starred Gosselaar, Lopez, Dustin Diamond, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Berkley and Lark Voorhies as high school students navigating everything from dating to drugs. The show, which launched as a redeveloped version of Disney Channel series Good Morning, Miss Bliss, became a massive hit and led to profitable merchandising lines, two spin-offs and a pair of TV movies. Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Saved by the Bell: The New Class ran for one and seven seasons, respectively. The core cast — Lopez, Thiessen, Gosselaar and Berkley — reunited in April, hosted by the latter duo and well documented on Instagram. (Gosselaar, meanwhile, recently signed on to star in ABC's Black-ish prequel comedy, Mixed-ish, and Thiessen stars in Netflix series Alexa & Katie.)
For Lopez, now a father of three, the new Saved by the Bell marks his return to series regular television. His last regular on-screen acting roles were in 2006 on daytime soap The Bold and the Beautiful and in the late '90s on USA Network's Pacific Blue. More recently on the scripted side, Lopez has guested on series including The Rookie, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Other Two and This Is Us, playing himself. Lopez's return to acting arrives two months after he joined NBCUniversal-owned syndicated news magazine Access Hollywood and its daytime counterpart, Access Daily, as a host following a long run at Extra. As part of his Access pact, Lopez inked an overall deal to develop scripted and unscripted shows with Universal TV and its alternative counterpart.
Berkley, a mother of one, most notably followed up her time with the Saved by the Bell franchise with 1995 flop turned cult classic feature Showgirls. Her credits include 1996's The First Wives Club, Any Given Sunday and guest roles on New Girl, the original The L Word and CSI: Miami.
NBC's streaming service, Peacock, will launch in April 2020 with originals joining the lineup in summer 2020. The Saved by the Bell announcement arrives as part of an ambitious slate unveiled Tuesday by the streamer that also included news of a Battlestar Galactica reboot with Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, among several other projects.
Reboots and updates of beloved series remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming platforms look for proven intellectual property with a built-in audience in a bid to cut through a scripted landscape expected to top 500 originals in 2019. The Saved by the Bell sequel will make noise and likely help drive interest (and subscriptions) to NBC's forthcoming service, which joins a wave of similar upcoming offerings from the likes of Disney, WarnerMedia, Apple and Viacom's BET.