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Tiffani Thiessen: 'SBTB' Cast Mates Sorry for Diamond/Van Praagh Special Could Lead to 'Celebrity Séance' Series
Dustin Diamond's "Behind the Bell" tell-all about his days on "Saved by the Bell" includes his tattle tales of possible teen sexcapades, pot smoking and steroid use among his old cast mates — although he's only guessing, because he never seems to have been invited into anyone's dressing room. Those cast mates aren't angry about it — at least, not Tiffani Thiessen, who says: "Poor thing. It's so sad."
Working in New York on her new USA Network series, "White Collar," she says that she and fellow "Bell" alum Mark-Paul Gosselaar "talk a lot — his play ('The Understudy') is in previews here — and we feel bad for him. I talk to a lot of people from the show. We feel more sorry for him than anything. Some of the accusations he makes are a little ridiculous. They're comical."
Diamond, still best known as Screech from the old show, "generally felt a little more of an outcast," Thiessen recalls. "His mother died of cancer when he was young, and his father was, well, maybe not the best father. He walked away with a little bit of a bitter taste. I don't know why. We were never mean to him; I know that. He played a geek and was a little bit of a geek himself."
As for the "Bell" actors' responses, she says: "What are you going to do? We're not out there to bash him. ... I hope something will turn for him."
MEANWHILE: Right now, Tiffani's attention is on "White Collar," debuting Friday (10/23). She's playing the event planner wife of Tim DeKay's FBI man character. Matt Bomer's playing the charming master criminal who becomes the unlikely helper and friend of DeKay's G-man. Like other USA Network shows, it's character-driven and full of drollery.
"It's the boys' show. I actually don't work as much as they do. Taking a job more on the supporting side is nice after having worked 17-hour days my whole career," says Thiessen, whose series work also includes "Beverly Hills, 90210." "I do love everyone I'm working with on this show — which I haven't been able to say on some other shows."
THE SPIRIT IS WILLING: If James Van Praagh's Oct. 28 E! special, "Psychic Hollywood," grabs the interest of a big enough segment of the audience, we can anticipate seeing more such shows. Van Praagh, who has become a vastly successful author-speaker-producer via his activities as a communicator with the dead — as well as a favorite target of debunkers — reveals that the special is "a pilot for a show called 'Celebrity Séance.' The E! channel is talking about that." He expects to know more about its future next month.
The "Psychic Hollywood" special features Alana Stewart and Van Praagh going beyond the veil to contact the late Farrah Fawcett, Alana's close friend.
Van Praagh — whose TV résumé ranges from being played by Ted Danson in the movie "Living With the Dead" to his work developing and producing "Ghost Whisperer" to his former shows "The Other Side" and "Beyond With James Van Praagh" — notes that he already feels accepted in Hollywood. "People out there like me," he says. So he doesn't foresee any problem with lining up famous folk who want to talk to departed loved ones should "Celebrity Séance" get the green light. Regarding dead celebrities, he says he's been surprised a number of times. "I did a reading for Juliet Mills, and Laurence Olivier came through. She said, 'That makes sense; he's my godfather.' I had no idea he had such a sense of humor. He was cracking jokes left and right."
A DIFFERENT FACET: Sarah Silverman may push the envelope on TV with her controversial comedy, but the comedian reveals that if she ever decides to work behind the scenes on a project, she'd be attracted to doing children's television. "Yeah, I'd be interested in creating some other shows. I shoot videos all the time, so I enjoy the creative process," says Silverman, who is a writer and executive producer of her own show, "The Sarah Silverman Program," on Comedy Central. "I'm always thinking of ideas. I have a friend at Nickelodeon. I said I wanted to create a kids show — not for me to be in, but to be able to come up with ideas would be really cool."
UNFETTERED: Edie Falco, who rose to fame on HBO's "The Sopranos" and followed it up with the popular Showtime series "Nurse Jackie," tells us she's been lucky to have worked mostly on shows on which she's been allowed to work without inhibitions. "I've only really worked with cable shows. My world is a world of freedom," Falco notes. "We've never had anyone stepping on us saying, 'You can't say this! You can't do that!' I've heard that's how it is working with network television, but I've always had incredible support. I have a lot of friends who have not had that experience at all."
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster
To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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