Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hopefully this won't hurt the grosses for "13th Grade"

You know that little voice inside your head that tells you to feel sorry for Dustin Diamond? Yeah, you can tell him to shut up now.

There is talk that Dustin's recent money troubles might have been exaggerated. I quote from Tom Roz, Wisconsin's most dedicated reporter on the Screech beat, who refers to a story on Denver's Westword.com:

"There are A-list celebrities and Z-list celebrities -- but the alphabet would have to be expanded to properly categorize Dustin Diamond, who made his name in the late '80s and early '90s playing Samuel "Screech" Powers on the time-capsule-ready teen series Saved by the Bell, then pretty much disappeared. But Diamond won't be saved by ManiaTV!

The has-been star was scheduled to personally helm a five-hour telethon from the two-year-old online network's Denver headquarters, with proceeds earmarked for his "Save My House" campaign; on his website, www.getdshirts.com, Diamond (who couldn't be reached for comment) says that his home in Wisconsin is facing foreclosure. Then, just ninety minutes before the telethon was scheduled to begin, Richard Ayoub, ManiaTV!'s vice president of programming, pulled the plug.

"We didn't want to take the risk," explains ManiaTV! spokesman Jason Damata. "We couldn't verify that his house is in foreclosure, and even if there are facts to substantiate that it is and he's really, honestly trying to save his house, he exhibited some really strange and obnoxious behavior."

As Damata tells it, in the week or two before the big day, Diamond seemed legitimately excited about the telethon, and eagerly accepted ManiaTV!'s offer to fly him to Denver along with a companion, Jennifer, whom he introduced as his manager and fiancée (in at least one article, she's referred to as his wife). But Diamond's tone was much more negative after he arrived in town, even though he was generating headlines for the first time in recent memory.

And afterward, Damata says, Diamond "acted like a complete jerk," which prompted Ayoub to pull Jennifer aside for a conversation -- and her comments made him wonder if the main thing in danger of foreclosure was ManiaTV!'s reputation. "We're really trying to develop trust," Damata notes, "and if we're perceived by our audience as being involved in something that was just a publicity stunt, it might be more hurtful than helpful."

If this turns out to be true, Diamond can pretty much kiss a guest slot on "Saved by the Bell: The Mid-Life Crisis Years" goodbye. He may not even get cast in craphole movies like "13th Grade," a low-budget flick he made in 2005 with Gervase from "Survivor." Which is saying a lot, because "13th Grade" makes "Saved by the Bell" look like "The Simpsons."


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