Sunday, June 19, 2005

Wherefore art thou, Jessie Spano?

Charles Isherwood has a rather funny mea culpa in the Times today on the topic of the actress Elizabeth Berkley and how she asked him once -- very nicely, it would seem -- to stop branding her as that girl who starred in the horribly bad movie known as ... (and the critic doesn't mention the movie's title through the entire article).

But you know he's talking about that train-wreck of a film, Showgirls. (Having never seen this movie, I take it on faith that it is bad.) The funny thing is that I remember her from an extremely popular if decidedly cheesy and predictable sitcom called "Saved by the Bell," which predates the-film-that-will-not-be-named by a good five years (1989).

Is this an age thing? Did you have to be under the age of 15 in the early 1990s to remember her as "Jessie Spano" -- she of the notorious caffeine-pill problem (see "Jessie's Song" on this episode guide) -- and not whoever she played in Showgirls?

In a way, I guess she could be embarrassed by both early credits, but all that aside, she's actually been having a go on the Broadway stage lately, and Isherwood says she has some talent: last season with Sly Fox, and currently over at Hurlyburly, which is a play set during the Hollywood excesses of the mid-'80s and reminds me even more of "Saved by the Bell," because the sitcom just couldn't shake that big-hair feeling of the decade it was launched in.

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