ROAD TO REDEMPTION
Screech’s Long, Sad Road to the Slammer: The Fall of ‘Saved by the Bell’ Star Dustin Diamond
Dustin Diamond, aka the lovable nerd on ‘Saved by the Bell,’ was sentenced to four months in jail for a stabbing. From sex tape to tell-all, it’s been a long way down.
The ostensibly unemployed Dustin Diamond is in fact starring in a meta motion picture as the kid whose life went totally downhill after high school. You know, the one whose reverse evolution from valedictorian to disaster instantly validates your own life choices. This trope of high school hero turned cautionary tale is particularly tragic in the case of Diamond, better known as Saved by the Bell’s Screech—an actor so obsessed with his high school days that he extended his fictional Bayside High School stint over 12 years. Doing nothing after high school is one thing, but failing to launch after over a decade in the fake public school system is fifty shades of sad—as is a “career” consisting almost entirely of Celebrity Fit Club, Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling, and Celebrity Big Brother appearances.
Diamond rose to fame in the role of a lifetime—literally, the one role of his lifetime—as Screech, a lovable nerd with a penchant for chess, plaid, and getting some (pour one out for Lisa Turtle). Screech starred on the 90’s cult classic until the bitter end, when Saved by the Bell: The New Class went off the air in 2000. The aughts ushered in a dark era for Diamond—a cold new world where school day sitcoms were out of style and ill-fitting button-downs in a variety of bright patterns were not yet embraced as normcore. Poor Screech was left in the lurch, wandering the streets with his anthropomorphized robot Kevin, recording unreturned voicemails on Mario Lopez’s answering machine. Naturally, Diamond entered the seedy underbelly of the ex-child star scene, where former darlings of stage and screen trade sex for TMZ headlines and pray for redemptive Oprah interviews.
I speak, of course, of Screeched—Saved by the Smell, a sex tape named for an act so repulsive that even Urban Dictionary refers to it as a “disgusting thing.” The 2006 tape, which resulted in a respectable payday for Diamond and correspondingly large therapy fees for a nation of ‘90s babies, was allegedly photoshopped. Diamond claims that the scene was shot by a stunt double and his face was tacked on in the editing room; we like to imagine Screech photoshopping his sex tape in a comically anachronistic computer lab that he snuck into after school.
Just three years after the dirty Sanchez heard ‘round the web, Diamond’s quarter-life crisis culminated in the tell-all book Behind the Bell. The gossipy memoir was widely dismissed by Diamond’s Saved by the Bell cohorts as fictitious trash. According to a masochist who actually read Diamond’s tour de farce, it’s “just riddled with spelling errors, punctuation errors, repeated references to craft services as Kraft services and weird line breaks. On two separate occasions, entire paragraphs are actually repeated.”
Additionally, Screech snitches on Tiffani-Amber Thiessen for cheating on her boyfriend on set, accuses Mark-Paul Gosselaar of steroid use, and claims that he has “banged over two thousand chicks.” While Diamond’s descriptions of the Saved by the Bell set as an orgy where cocaine was traded like candy and tighty-whities never stayed on for long are doubtlessly juicy, overall his memoir was even shittier (and way less believable) than his Screeched sex tape. In a 2013 interview on Oprah: Where Are They Now?, a humbled Screech claimed, “The book was another disappointment of mine,” and blamed his ghostwriter for exaggerating his tales and adding a hostile tone, insisting, “That turned into ‘factual trash-talking’ about everybody—which really, I have nothing but good thoughts and memories towards everybody.” The sincere apology of a misrepresented child star, or the words of a man who is deeply afraid of getting beat up by an enraged, growth-enhancement guzzling Gosselaar?
Unfortunately, Diamond has bigger beatdowns to worry about. Back in 2014, he and his girlfriend Amanda Schutz were enjoying a classy Christmas Day bar crawl when a handful of Port Washington bar patrons began badgering the couple and asking for pictures. The ensuing showdown, which fittingly took place at the Grand Avenue Saloon, involved Diamond, Schutz, two men and one woman. According to the arrest report, Diamond unwillingly entered the scuffle; he “turned to close his account and get their coats, but when he looked back, his girlfriend was bleeding and two men were holding her hair.” Ah, there’s the chivalrous gentleman behind Saved by the Smell.
During the brawl, one of Diamond’s antagonizers was stabbed under the armpit. Diamond admitted at the time that he might have stabbed the man with the pen he was holding to sign his receipt—though police officers intelligently intuited that the injury might have been caused by the bloody switchblade they discovered in Diamond’s car (he later copped to the knife).
While the wound was not life threatening, a Wisconsin jury ultimately found the fading star guilty on two misdemeanor charges for carrying a concealed weapon and behaving in a disorderly manner. On Thursday, Judge Paul Malloy sentenced the 38-year-old to four months in jail, along with an over $1000 fine. Schutz got hit with a $500 charge, as well as an embarrassing public record of disorderly conduct and dating Screech. All in all, another low point for the actor who Gosselaar pal Breckin Meyer memorably called “such a dick.”