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9 Things We Learned About Saved by the Bell From Dennis Haskins’ AMA

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Last night, actor Dennis Haskins—a.k.a. Mr. Belding—did a Reddit AMA in which he revealed some interesting tidbits about the decade-plus he spent on Saved by the Bell, in its various incarnations. Here are a few things we learned.

1. HASKINS’ REAL LAUGH IS AS HIGH-PITCHED AS MR. BELDING’S.

When asked if Mr. Belding’s trademark laugh on the show was real, Haskins admitted that “It used to be. I would laugh in a very high-pitched laugh. I was on Late Night With David Letterman in 1983, and I laughed at something David said. A friend of mine who saw the show said, 'One day, that laugh will make you famous.'”

2. THAT LAUGH IS PART OF WHAT LANDED HIM THE ROLE OF MR. BELDING.

“Cut to my audition for a thing called Good Morning, Miss Bliss and the character was called upon to laugh," Haskins said. For some reason, I remembered what my friend had said about my laugh, and did it the way I would laugh, in that high-pitched tone. The writers asked if I could do that again. And that became a trademark. So while the laugh was originally mine, I proudly will it to Mr. Belding.”

3. HASKINS TWEAKED BELDING’S ORIGINAL CATCHPHRASE.

Whenever he’d catch those zany Bayside students doing something wrong, Mr. Belding could be counted on to ask “What is going on here?” But the number of “Hey!”s he threw in front of that query was the result of a little ad-libbing. “Let me share something with all of you,” said Haskins. “The catchphrase ‘Hey! Hey! Hey! What is going on here?’ was written with only three hey's. Simply a line to be delivered. Our director, Don Barnhardt, used to tease the kids, and go ‘Heyheyheyheyhey’ in a descending tone of voice, like ‘everybody settle down.’ So in rehearsal, when I got that line, and to have fun with our director, I did it in the way that you hear it. The way I did it was a little different. And everybody laughed hard in rehearsal—and the rest is history.”

4. HE NEVER GOT TO EAT AT THE MAX.

Actually consuming the food at the totally tubular restaurant the kids of Bayside frequented was a no-no, both for Haskins and the rest of the cast. “We were told never to eat the food on-set, because it was all a prop,” Haskins said. “Having said that, anytime a cake was on the set as a prop, everybody had their fingers in it!”

5. HE HAD THE MOST FUN WORKING WITH DUSTIN DIAMOND.

When asked about his feelings toward Dustin “Screech” Diamond, Haskins said that “I worked with Dustin Diamond from when he was 11 years old until 20. Dustin and I actually became a team on The New Class. Dustin will always have a special place with me.” When pressed further with additional questions, he explained: “When the original show concluded, and we graduated the original class, the three guys went on to the College Years. Someone suggested that they continue to do the Saturday morning show, which is what we had always done. So I was asked to stay as Principal of Bayside High, as any principal would, and get a new class. It's real hard for a new group to come in and replace such a successful original group. But there were many good cast members in that show as well. I had the most fun doing comedy as a team with Dustin."

6. IN THE EARLY YEARS, THEY ALL HUNG OUT AFTER THE SHOW.

“With the original cast, we would all go out after the show—parents, cast, and producers—to Jerry's Deli, and then we'd hang out at Ed Debevic's,” Haskins said. “And frankly, I think hanging with everybody after the show helped make our cast closer on the show. Now, it's 25 years later, and everybody has families and their own circles of friends, as anybody would, so I don't get to see them as much as I would like, but I am happy for them.”

7. HASKINS DIDN’T SEE THE LIFETIME MOVIE.

When asked for his reaction to Lifetime’s recent Saved by the Bell expose, Haskins admitted that he has not seen it. “I will just refer you back to the last thing that Dustin has been saying—that he didn't write the book, that he had an hour conversation with somebody, who then turned around and wrote what you saw,” he explained. “Make your own judgments as to whether it was accurate or not. Because I did not watch it. I lived it, I didn't need to see somebody's version.”

8. NONE OF THE ACTORS GOT RICH FROM DOING SAVED BY THE BELL.

“None of us got rich financially from doing the show,” Haskins revealed, “but we were still blessed to do it, as it was our first steady job. I am grateful for all of that.”

9. MR. BELDING MAKES SWEET, SWEET MUSIC.

By way of introduction, Haskins noted that “Many of you probably know me as Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell. I'm also excited to let all of you know about two songs that Shooter Jennings produced for me, that will be coming out on Record Store Day! The record won't necessarily be in every store, since there are only 1000 limited edition copies. So reach out to your local store. National Record Store Day is April 18, 2015. You can read more about it in this article.”

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10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for more than 40 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.

1. IT’S THE FIRST PEANUTS SPECIAL TO FEATURE AN ADULT VOICE.

We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”

2. IT WASN’T JUST ANY ADULT WHO LENT HIS VOICE TO THE SPECIAL.

Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guardaldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."

3. DESPITE THE VOICE, THERE ARE NO ADULTS FEATURED IN THE SPECIAL.

While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”

4. LUCY IS MOSTLY M.I.A., TOO.

Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother, Linus, however, is still a main character.)

5. CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY STILL KEEP IN TOUCH.

Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”

6. CHARLIE BROWN HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS SIGNATURE “AAARRRGG.”

One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."

7. LINUS STILL GETS AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE.

While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"

8. THANKS TO LINUS, THE THANKSGIVING SPECIAL GOT A SPINOFF.

As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of whatever holiday they’re celebrating. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.

9. LEE MENDELSON HAD AN ISSUE WITH BIRD CANNIBALISM.

In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

10. MENDELSON EVENTUALLY GOT HIS WAY ... THOUGH NOT FOR LONG.

Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”

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The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon Is Back
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

For many fans, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is as beloved a Thanksgiving tradition as mashed potatoes and gravy (except funnier). It seems appropriate, given that the show celebrates the turkeys of the movie world. And that it made its debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1988 (on KTMA, a local station in Minneapolis). In 1991, to celebrate its third anniversary, Comedy Central hosted a Thanksgiving Day marathon of the series—and in the more than 25 years since, that tradition has continued.

Beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, Shout! Factory will host yet another Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon, hosted by series creator Joel Hodgson and stars Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. Taking place online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, or via the Shout! Factory TV app on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and select smart TVs, the trio will share six classic MST3K episodes that have never been screened as part of a Shout! Factory Turkey Day Marathon. Here’s hoping your favorite episode makes it (cough, Hobgoblins, cough.)

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