As Mr. Belding on "Saved By The Bell," Dennis Haskins portrayed a venerable, well-loved principal in a diverse California high school. Since the show ended, one of his former on-screen students hasn't made the best decisions.
Dustin Diamond, who played affable nerd Screech, has appeared on reality shows like Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Boxing and Big Brother. He also published a book, "Behind The Bell," which supposedly told stories of his life while filming the show. The book has made him no friends with his former cast members; Mark-Paul Gosselaar ripped Diamond on HuffPost Live back in August for the "negative" tome.
Haskins stopped by HuffPost Live on Friday to chat about his memories of the show, and to dispel recent internet rumors of his death. Haskins told host Marc Lamont Hill that he talked to Diamond on Thursday, and that Diamond is in a "much better place now" despite his earlier missteps.
“I literally talked to Dustin yesterday," Haskins said. "I haven’t talked to him in several years but he reached out to me. He made some choices to do some things that he’s dealing with the results of his choices. You got to remember Dustin was 12 and everybody else was 15 and 16. That’s not a natural fit… But I never was aware that it was a huge deal… Dustin thinks different. He acts different. He is different."
Diamond's book, published in 2009, was recently made into a Lifetime movie. In a 2013 interview with OWN, Diamond tried to distance himself from both the book and film, blaming his ghostwriter for misconstruing the story. Haskins believes that Diamond simply did these things to stay financially afloat.
"Clearly, it’s about money. The movie made some money, I guess. A lot of people still love Saved By The Bell," Haskins said. "That’s the message that I get… It’s hard to say, Marc, you want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but how many times do you do that?"
Watch the rest of the clip above, and catch Haskins' full HuffPost Live conversation here.
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