Whatever Happened To:
The teen edition...
No one played ditz better than Bateman, who starred as Mallory Keaton for seven seasons on the family-friendly hit sitcom, "Family Ties." Her younger brother, Jason Bateman, was also made popular by his stint on another family-friendly sitcom, "The Hogan Family." But while Jason is now starring in FOX's "Arrested Development," Justine has all but retired her acting résumé in favour of her clothing line, Justine Bateman Designs. When I perused the site, www.justineb.com, I was chagrined to find that everything was hand knit. And when I say everything, I mean, the girl is a mean wool machine. Is it perpetually winter in her world? She has both a couture and ready to wear line. I also happened to catch her on an episode of "Blind Date," playing herself and subtly promoting her clothing line (and handling it gracefully, considering the couple was quite annoying). She married Mark Fluent in 2001. The couple has one child and is expecting another one this year.
Update: Even though I was positive that I wouldn't find much on Justine Bateman, I did see that she gave birth to baby Olivia in January 2004 (who joins brother Duke, born in June 2002) and, it seems, has temporarily stalled her clothing line to return to acting. Her latest credits include a guest stint on "Still Standing" in 2004, which I should have known seeing as how I watched the episode, but nonetheless totally forgot. She also starred in the Hallmark Channel's 2004 made-for-television film, "The Hollywood Mom's Mystery," opposite George Hamilton, Angie Everhart, and Andrew McCarthy. But the film I will always remember is 1988's Satisfaction, where Bateman stars as a sassy lead singer in a band. This obscure gem also stars a pre-Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, and Liam Neeson. Neeson, by the way, looks exactly the same in the film as he does now. If you can catch this cheesy but fun movie on late-night television, you should. Bateman also writes Christmas poetry in her spare time.
Zachery Ty Brian
Brian played the eldest sibling, Brad Taylor, on "Home Improvement." He is an avid soccer fan. Unfortunately, any sites dedicated to this actor are no longer active (or so Google tells me), and so the soccer reference is the only dirt that I can dish (unless you count the numerous sites that offer nude pics of the actor, which I chose to ignore). In 1999, he had a role in Carrie 2: The Rage, and guest roles on "Boston Public" (2000), "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (2002), "Smallville" (2003), and "Century City" (2004). This year, he starred in "Plainsong" with Rachel Griffiths (Muriel's Wedding, "Six Feet Under") and Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables), a television movie about people living in a small town and doing…stuff. He can also be seen in The Game of Their Lives, also made this year, about the heartwarming 1950 U.S. soccer team's win over England. This gem might be a straight-to-video deal.
Update: Like his television sibling on "Home Improvement," Zachery Ty Brian has also guest-starred on "Veronica Mars" (2005) and "Smallville." He also appeared on the now defunct John Goodman sitcom, "Center of the Universe" (2004). In 2002, at the tender age of twenty-one, Brian wed "actress" Cori Carter (the verification of her day job is still pending), and continues to act. Not surprisingly, his roles mostly comprise of high school bullies - roles in "Boston Public," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Smallville," and Carrie 2 have done nothing to convince me otherwise. A made-for-television film, "Code Breakers" (2005), finds Brian as a cadet at West Point Academy amidst a 1951 cheating scandal. Upcoming Annapolis (2006), a boxing film that centres around the titular naval academy and starring Tyrese, James Franco, Donnie Wahlberg, and Jordana Brewster, will once again throw the twenty-three year old star back in high school.
I had the pleasure of seeing the ex-"Saved By the Bell" star at my local Yuk Yuk's, thus sparking the inspiration for this column. Because, for once, I actually knew whatever happened to someone without having to watch the weekend edition of "Entertainment Tonight." After "Saved By the Bell" took off for college and Elizabeth Berkley became a showgirl to pay for tuition, Diamond released his breakthrough instructional video: "Dustin Diamond Teaches Chess" (you can visit the supposed official website at www.thegamester.com, although last time I checked, the site was down). In 1999, Diamond realized his dream of becoming a stand up comedian and began touring across the country. He also plays electric bass for his progressive rock band, Salty the Pocketknife. Sample song title: "Red Panties 145." On the reality front, he's appeared in "Celebrity Boxing 2," and beat the crap out of Ron Palillo (he played Horseshack on "Welcome Back, Kotter"). But of course, Ron is 4' tall and is about 45 by now. He also fulfilled a fan's dreams by appearing on "Star Dates." As of late, he's appeared in numerous movies as "himself," including Made, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, and Big Fat Liar. The Internet Movie Database also tells me that he dated Candace Cameron, and coveted the role of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo (the part eventually went to Matthew Lillard). Diamond has no plans to reprise his role at Screech, not that anyone was really asking.
Update: Dustin Diamond continues to foster his stand-up comedy dream by appearing on tours and local events. In 2004, he starred in a small comedy called 13th Grade as Corey, a Hollywood star who has shunned the limelight for obscurity, which strangely sounds like a biopic to me. (Aside: as an Ontario resident, I can attest that sometimes having an extra grade before advancing to post-secondary education is not a bad idea.) He was also honoured in VH1's serial, "100 Greatest Kid Stars," landing the sixteenth spot on the show, and featured in "TV Land's Top Ten: Lovable Losers: Geeks and Nerds" in 2005. As for recent adventures, Diamond has done voice work for the Cartoon Network's "Duck Dodgers," which I've never seen but looks to be a series about Daffy Duck in space. I've also overlooked the fact that he appeared in 98 Degrees' cheesy "I Do (Cherish You)" music video, and received a nomination for Best Cameo at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards (although I'm almost positive this category no longer exists at the award show known for making up categories from year to year) for his role in Made. He's still playing bass for Salty The Pocketknife, although the home page has been hacked by a group who calls themselves the "Iranian Boys Black Hat." Luckily, this mischievous group has left the rest of the site intact, allowing us to document the fact that it hasn't been updated since April 2004. The band's 2003 self-titled debut, however, has garnered positive reviews. His chess site, www.thegamester.com, is currently for sale, and there has been no mention of where to get his instructional video outside of one copy from e-Bay (which, some have suggested, was posted by Diamond himself). He filed a lawsuit against www.dustindiamond.com, a very brash parody site, and lost. Another website, www.dustindiamondsucks.com, is unfortunately down but could have provided hours of enjoyment. In a recent audio interview with www.thecommentary.ca, which I painfully sat through because I love our dear readers, Diamond very diplomatically discusses his days on "Saved by The Bell," hooking up with extras, and reinventing himself. Diamond plans to eventually write an autobiography.
Brian Austin Green
Oh, David Silver, how we've missed you. The ex-"90210" star is now finding work in indie films like Ronnie (2002), about a troubled young man who works at a mental institution and becomes enamoured by one of its attractive but crazy patients. Then there was Bleach (2002), a short, and "This Time Around" (2003), a made-for-television movie about a young girl who gets teased in high school (and ridiculed by popular Green), and inevitably grows up to be hot and successful and now has to work with him. In 2003, Green directed and starred in Fish Without a Bicycle. He recently had a guest role in "CSI," but died within its first two seconds. On the romantic front, he is engaged to ex-90210 co-star Vanessa Marcil (who replaced his ex-fiancé, Tiffani Amber-Thiessen, when she left the show - do we notice a pattern here?). The couple had a son in 2002. He also runs his own music production company, Shen Productions. From the Where Was I? files: in 1996, Green released his first rap album, One Stop Carousel. Apparently you can get really cheap used copies on e-Bay.
Update: Brian Austin Green's fantastically bad rap album was glossed over on a recent episode of Much More Music's "Evolution." Suffice it to say, they promptly made short work of his fabricated street cred and lollipop, Will Smith-inspired lyrics, which was pretty hilarious although you can see the punch line from a mile away. But onto better news, Green has landed a role in the ABC Freddie Prinze, Jr. sitcom, "Freddie." He will play Freddie's lovably lazy best friend, Chris. He's also got a cameo in the model-turned-bounty-hunter flick Domino (2005), which I also noted lists Ian "Steve Sanders" Ziering in its credits. And what was up with Steve - the supposed golden boy of popularity, who was neither particularly good-looking, smart, or athletic - getting no love from anyone but guest stars? I guess the story of his and Kelly's first time really did in his reputation. But I digress. The rosy-cheeked star has split from Vanessa Marcil, making him single again, although he still continues to share parental duties with the "Las Vegas" star. Green is purportedly helming his own music production and production company, Shen Productions and Brian Austin Green Productions, respectively. I could not find information on either one. Really, these child actors should embrace the Internet a little more.
Taran Noah Smith
Being the youngest kid on "Home Improvement," and barely old enough to ride a bike, Smith didn't get as much attention as his other three-named television siblings when it came to the teen gush factor. Smith is now legal and living in Kansas, but sorry ladies, he's already married to 36-year old Heidi Van Pelt. The age difference caused problems between Smith and his parents, and now they're engaged in a messy court battle over his $1.4 million trust fund. The broke Smith is also attached to Speedball: The Movie, which explores the grueling sport of paintball. No, that is not a typo. The movie's official site, www.speedballthemovie.com, explains that the underdog but inspirational paintball team will have a shot at the World Cup of Speedball. As of 2002, the movie's production was halted (by lack of funds, I suppose) and there are no talks of when the film will be completed or released. His official site, www.taransmith.com, is now an Internet dating site.
Update: Speedball: The Movie is no longer - the website is gone, and the last tidbits of this film-in-limbo floating around are some dated press releases from the studio asking for backers. I was excited to see a producer credit for the short experimental film, The 1 Second Film, until I realized that anyone who donated money for production, and as little as one dollar, would get a producer credit under his or her name. Out of a total nine fansites searched, nine were gone. To add further insult to obscurity, Wikipedia has optioned his page off for deletion. And since this is the first time I've seen this, I can only assume it's because his Wikipedia page has two lines of biography on it and hasn't been updated in years. Smith was set to attend the USC Film School, but dropped out after a semester, and mentioned in an old interview that he might enroll at the University of Kansas for business. Currently, he is still married to Heidi Van Pelt, and lives in California, where he has turned full-blown hippie by growing his hair long, running a vegan restaurant, and designing furniture. "20/20" recently interviewed him for a story on child actors and family disputes (also profiled were Leann Rimes and Jaimee Foxworth of "Family Matters"); Smith, now 6 feet tall, hinted that he and his parents were working towards reconciliation.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Thomas played middle sibling Randy Taylor on the hit show "Home Improvement," and was the only one who even remotely held any resemblance to Tim Allen. Now a student at Harvard, Thomas is studying History and Philosophy, and has dropped his moniker "J.T.T." in favour of the more grown-up and simpler Jonathan Thomas. Since the end of "Home Improvement," he's had less work, but it's still steady. High profile movies like The Lion King, (1994), Man of the House (1995), Tom and Huck (1995), and I'll Be Home for Christmas (1998) were traded in for voice work in the Wild Thornberrys in 2000 and a guest role on "Smallville" in 2002. A fan site reported that he had signed a six-figure development deal with FOX for his own television show in the fall (the format is still undecided)…congratulations, Jonathan! Except that that was back in 2000, and still no show. His next project, the animated science fiction Through the Mobius Strip, is slated for release sometime this year, and stars Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars) and Kellie Martin (of "Life Goes On" fame).
Update: After a couple of recurring roles on "8 Simple Rules…for Dating My Teenage Daughter" in 2004 and "Veronica Mars" in 2005, the 5'6" actor (née Weirs) has landed a high profile role in the thriller Invasion (2006), starring Nicole Kidman and loosely based on the plot from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Thomas' character is coincidentally named "Randy," just like his character on "Home Improvement." He graduated from Harvard in 2004, and was named 25th in VH1's "100 Greatest Kid Stars," thus marking him the third person in this article to land on the list. He's a committed pro-life vegetarian whose last project was a short film called Tilt-A-Whirl, produced by Johnathon Schaech and also starring Christina Applegate, Chris Klein, and breakout star…Justin Guarini. The second season of "Home Improvement" is currently available on DVD.
Playing someone named "Lisa Turtle" must have been traumatizing, not to mention the fact that her main love interest on "Saved By the Bell" consisted of Screech (there was that one episode where she and Zack kissed, but that was quickly dropped because Lisa always got shafted). But Voorhies bounced back and got engaged to Martin Lawrence. Maybe "bounced back" aren't the right words here. But after the original "Saved By the Bell" disbanded, Voorhies had brief stints on "Days of Our Lives," "The Bold & The Beautiful," and the L.L. Cool J sitcom that didn't really go very far, "In the House." She also did music videos - Dru Hill's "These Are the Days" and Boys II Men's "On Bended Knee." There was the miniseries "Widows" (2002), the Method Man and Redman college film How High (2001), UPN's "The Parkers" (1999) and the Jaleel White defunct sitcom, "Grown Ups" (2000). In 1996, she married Miguel Coleman, and now manages her own production company. We can only be thankful that she's gotten rid of Screech, and her uni-brow.
Update: As of 1997, Lark Voorhies didn't have a computer. We send our hearts out to her. But she does try to keep in touch with the cast of "Saved By the Bell" by sending cards every year. A devout Jehovah's Witness, Voorhies quit her soap opera stints because the love scenes would have interfered with her beliefs. Instead, she is slated to appear in The Black Man's Guide to Understanding Black Women (2005), although the film doesn't seem to exist anywhere; the same can be said of her production company. Rampant rumours on the Internet include her ugly break-up with Martin Lawrence, who some claim happened via television à la Matt Damon and Minnie Driver, and that she has checked into rehab for a cocaine addiction. Neither stories have been verified, but they'd make cool party anecdotes.
What a coincidence: Jaleel White, "Family Matters"' Steve Urkel, along with Dustin Diamond, also played "himself" in Big Fat Liar. When the show ended in 1998, White produced and starred on UPN's "Grown Ups" one year later. But gone were the days of Urkel, as White desperately tried to shed his nerd exterior for a smooth-talking post-college graduate hottie. Unfortunately, the show didn't graduate to its sophomore season. In 2001, White enrolled in UCLA's film school, and tells us that he still keeps in touch with Darius McCray, who played Eddie on Family Matters. He's also done some voice work, the latest being the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog in Sonic Underground (2000). In 2003, he honoured Gladys Knight on a television introspective. White is an avid basketball fan and blogs on the NBA's official site (www.nba.com/blog/blog22.html, for those of you interested in hearing his take on all things basketball). FYI: The character of Steve Urkel was supposed to last one episode, but by overwhelming fan demand, he was added to the cast. By the end of the show, White was earning $100,000 per episode.
Update: A misguided poster on the Internet Movie Database thought Jaleel White was dead, but he's very much alive. Sadly, in an interview on E! Star Boards, White has hinted that he will not attend a reunion show for "Family Matters." Instead, he keeps busy with projects like the ill named Who Made the Potato Salad? (2005), a romantic comedy in which a cop meets his fiancé's dysfunctional family, and the stoner comedy Easier, Softer Way (2006), starring Danny Masterson, Darrel Hammond, Ashley Scott, Terry Crews, and David Faustino. The former film is listed on the Internet Movie Database as being wrapped up, but my incessant searching led me nowhere near any release dates or production notes, although it did make me crave potato salad. The latter film, which will probably have a wider release than the previous, is a needless endeavour for White, as he will only be popping by for an uncredited cameo. Steve Urkel was dearly remembered in VH1's "I Love the '90s," and White was awarded the 37th spot in VH1's "100 Greatest Kid Stars." White is now a writer, and continues to blog sporadically on the NBA website. His last post, in May 2005, was well-written but dropped too many basketball players' names for me to follow along. His personal website, www.jaleelwhite.com, is up and running, although the barren site currently only hosts a link to his NBA blog and an e-mail address. Some gratuitous trivia: While on "Family Matters," White was not allowed to lift weights and had to shave every day. ¤ C.Ho.