What the Hell Happened to Elizabeth Berkley?

Elizabeth Berkley

In the early 90’s, Elizabeth Berkley was a rising star.  After several years on television, she was ready to make the leap to the big screen.  Showgirls was a huge opportunity.  The script was written by one of the most successful screenwriters in Hollywood and the director was A-list.  The last time Paul Verhoven and Joe Eszterhas collaborated, they made a star.  But this time, things worked out differently.  Instead of becoming an A-list actress, Berkley’s movie career went down in flames.

What the hell happened?

Berkley started dancing at a young age.  When she was ten, she auditioned for the lead role in the movie version of Annie.  She didn’t get the part, but she began travelling to New York to train.  By 1983, she had appeared in several ballets and stage musicals.

As a teenager, she began modeling.  She worked for Elite Model Management.

Berkley - Gimme a Break

Elizabeth Berkley – Gimme a Break – 1986

Berkley made her TV debut in 1986 with a bit part on the sitcom, Gimme a Break.  In the fifth season episode, Getting to Know You, Nell Carter agrees to babysit some adopted children.  She is surprised when she ends up watching over a dozen children (including Berkley) and a dog.

Berkley - Silver Spoons - 1986

Berkley – Silver Spoons – 1986

Later that year, Berkley appeared on an episode of Silver Spoons.  In Ricky Moves Out, Ricky Schroder’s character decides to move to the guest house to get a little more privacy.  Instead, he finds himself playing host to his friends who want to use the house for parties.  Berkley appears as one of many guests.

In 1987, Berkely appeared in her first TV movie, Frog.  It starred Shelley Duvall, Elliott Gould, Paul Williams and a young Hal Sparks.  The talking frog movie was followed up with a sequel titled Frogs! in 1991.

In 1988, Berkley appeared in an episode of the TV show Day by Day titled Girl Wars.  She also had a role in a TV movie called Platinum Blonde.

Elizabeth Berkley - Saved by the Bell - 1989

Elizabeth Berkley – Saved by the Bell – 1989

In 1989, Berkley was cast on the kids’ show, Saved By the Bell.  The show was about a group of six high school students at the fictional Bayside High School in California.  Mark-Paul Gosselaar played Zach, the charming schemer.  Tiffani-Amber Thiessen played Kelly, the popular cheerleader.  Mario Lopez played A.C. the jock.  Berkley played Jessie, the brainy crusader.  Dustin Diamond played Screech, the dorky kid.  And Lark Voorhies played Lisa, the gossip.

Saved By the Bell was a spin-off from a Disney Channel show called Good Morning, Miss Bliss.  The original version of the show focused on a high school teacher named Miss Bliss played by Disney legend, Haley Mills.  Gosselaar, Voorhies  and Diamond played students on the show which was set in Indianapolis.

Miss Bliss was cancelled by Disney after 13 episodes and the rights reverted back to NBC.  They repackaged the show as Saved By the Bell.  The three students and the principal character all relocated to California.

Elizabeth Berkley - Saved by the Bell

Elizabeth Berkley – Saved by the Bell

Berkley auditioned for the role of Kelly.  She lost the part to Theissen.  But the producers liked her well enough to create the role of Jessie for her. At 17, Berkley was the oldest member of the cast.  Diamond was only 12 years old.  The rest of the cast was 15 at the time.

Saved By the Bell became the highest-rated show on Saturday mornings.  The show ran through 1993.  NBC doubled the order for the final season but Theissen and Berkley did not sign on for the extra episodes.  They were included in the final graduation episode which was filmed before they left.  After the final season, Saved By the Bell inspired several spin-offs..

In 1990, Berkley continued making guest appearances on other TV shows while working on Saved By the Bell.  She appeared in a two-parter on Valerie (aka The Hogan Family).  She also appeared on the short-lived sitcom, Married People.  And finally she did an episode of Life Goes On.

Next: Baywatch and the Bandit


Posted on January 30, 2015, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 138 Comments.

  1. I viewed “Showgirls” on cable many years after its release in theaters, so I came in with a blank slate. Actually, I kind of liked it, and thought Elizabeth Berkley did a good job.For some reason, I keep going back to an episode of “The Simpsons” when Marge takes him to see “Showgirls” and the when they are driving home, Homer is seen with a teddy bear holding a tiny red flag with “Showgirls” written on it.
    I liked the addition of Peter Coyote’s Amazon review; in my mind, I read it like he was doing one of his historical narrations.
    I viewed that film starring Berkley and Jason Priestley (who I briefly met a a bar many years ago. I thought he was my friend Mike, who I was meeting at said bar, and asked, “Mike?”. He turned around, raised his pint of beer, and said “cheers”).
    I never heard of that DiCaprio story; wow, that sounded rough.
    Overall, I thought this was a fun read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty proud of this one. I thought it would be a 6-pager. But there was just so much interesting stuff to cover. I never imagined I would have so much to say about Showgirls. But I had to dissect the train wreck in detail. And then the movie has this amazing resurgence but it still doesn’t help Berkley. They won’t even pay a nominal fee to interview her for the DVD. AFTER they paid her peanuts to star in the movie that ruined her career. And that DVD release came with a naked photo card of Berkley and little pastie stickers you could put on her. Embarrassing. You would think they could have found a little money to keep her happy.

      I smiled when I found Coyote’s review on Amazon. I also read it in his voice. I watched a bit of the movie on Amazon and it is ultra low budget. I didn’t watch much of Coyote’s segment since I was focused on Berkley for the article. So I can’t comment on his performance.

      The DiCaprio story was another find. I thought I was just about done with the article and then I found out about the lawsuit. The next thing I knew I was digging up a ton of articles on DiCaprio and a bunch of D-list actors. Back in the day, DiCaprio gave Justine Beiber a run for his money.


      • I love your website lebeau, but I feel it’s important to point out that the case against DiCaprio was thrown out of court for very good reason.

        The Judge was satisfied that

        A/ DiCaprio was not even in the restaurant when the attack happened.

          Not only was there witness testimony from the staff, bouncers and guests at the restaurant, but also, from what I remember of the case, CCTV footage filmed outside the restaurant. 

        B/ That Wilson had gone to the restaurant with an Army bayonet. And that this was the reason that others, including staff had ‘jumped’ Wilson in order to stop him using it.

        c/ That Wilson choose to sue DiCaprio because he was the wealthy star of the group.

        I followed this case for some time and think it’s unfair to add to the myth that this event was Leo’s fault. I think it’s clear that Wilson, a failed actor himself, wanted a quick pay day and choose to sue DiCaprio for money he’s worked hard to earn.

        If you look hard enough you will find information about this all over the internet. I think it’s wrong to take Berkley’s side when the court evidence proves that it was Wilson, not Leo, who instigated the entire episode and then sued when he didn’t get his own way.

        Leo was never a Justin Bieber. A lot of Gossip rages painted him as such, including the infamous Pussy Posse article, but mist of that was as a result of this case. It was rightly dismissed in my opinion.

        I hope you don’t feel offended with me pointing this out. But you yourself said that you were surprised with what you discovered in your research. I watched the case unfold at the time and while the press were often against Leo as time passed and the evidence emerged it became clear to even his harshest critics that he was the victim in all this.

        Also this

        For Leonardo DiCaprio, it looks like the 1990s are finally over.

        A judge in New York on Wednesday dropped DiCaprio as a defendant in a $45 million lawsuit filed back when Titanic mania was barely subsided and Elizabeth Berkley was a cause allegedly worth fighting over.

        “It’s an exceptionally long and old case,” DiCaprio’s attorney, Paul Callan, said Wednesday.

        DiCaprio stood accused in the Titanic-sized complaint of egging on an alleged attack of Roger Wilson, an actor/writer, outside a Manhattan restaurant in March 1998.

        The reported fisticuffs were said to have started after Wilson, once a movie star in the Porky’s series, confronted DiCaprio pal Jay Ferguson, once a sitcom star on Evening Shade, over phone calls reputedly placed by Ferguson to Berkley, once a Saturday-morning TV star on Saved by the Bell. At the time, Berkley was Wilson’s live-in girlfriend.

        Wilson filed suit against DiCaprio and nearly a dozen others a year later. From the outset, DiCaprio’s camp branded the allegations against the actor as “absolutely false.”

        On Wednesday, more than five years after the lawsuit began working its way through the courts, DiCaprio felt “total vindication.”

        “What’s terrific about the American justice system is that justice is served, and we hope this discourages [others] from making money on false claims,” Ken Sunshine, the actor’s publicist, said.

        A call to Wilson’s attorney was not returned Wednesday.

        Per DiCaprio’s camp, New York Supreme Court Justice Paula Omansky dismissed Wilson’s claims against every named defendant, both person (i.e., DiCaprio) and thing (Asia de Cuba restaurant), save for one.

        Todd Healy, described by Callan as a friend of a DiCaprio friend, remains a defendant in the case, the attorney said. Healy is alleged to have punched Wilson, Callan said.

        Healy claims he acted in self-defense, the Associated Press said.

        In the suit, Wilson said he was struck twice, suffering damage to his throat and larynx.

        Wilson accused DiCaprio of telling friends to go outside Asia de Cuba and “kick his [expletive],” the wire service said. But Callan said Healy couldn’t have been incited by DiCaprio’s alleged remark because Healy was never inside the restaurant with the star’s group–he met up with them outside the establishment.

        “For Leonardo DiCaprio, it was an entirely frivolous lawsuit,” Callan said. “He was named because he is a prominent celebrity.”

        In March 1998, DiCaprio was beyond prominent. He was ubiquitous.

        He was 23. He was the star of Titanic, a box-office phenomenon steaming its way toward a record 11 Oscar wins and record domestic gross of $601 million. And he was the headliner of a “posse” whose every nightclub move was documented by the tabloids.

        These days, DiCaprio is in the news for reportedly buying a home in Las Vegas, presumably so he can spend his golden years in the desert. He turns 30 in November, not long before he’s back on the big screen as mogul Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator.

        Other players in the Wilson-DiCaprio affair also have moved on: Berkley, 32, wed Ralph Lauren nephew Greg Lauren last November; Ferguson, 29, did guest spots last season on Judging Amy; Wilson, now in his mid-40s, cowrote the just-shot horror movie, Devour.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for providing some terrific perspective. I did not mean to give the impression that Wilson’s case against DiCaprio was in any way legit. 45 million against three guys who didn’t actually touch him is pretty obviously begging for a cash settlement. DiCaprio made it pretty clear he would not be extorted. I may have to go back and clarify that part of the article. Thanks again.


        • Thank’s for the reply lebeau. I was worried you might get offended with me pointing this out but that’s a pretty decent response. As I said I love going on this website. I’m always interested in your ‘What The Hell Happened,’ articles. Keep up the great work.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks man.

          I will NEVER be offended by someone bringing another perspective to light. Especially when you make your case with facts. When I am wrong, I am willing to admit it. And if someone has a differing opinion, I welcome it.

          I only take offense when someone is picking a fight. You made a very reasonable point respectfully. That will always be welcome here.


      • Yeah, that’s pretty unfair to Elizabeth Berkley; I’ve heard of actors asking for more money than that to appear on bonus features.


  2. I’m glad Showgirls has achieved cult status. I remember getting no end of crap from people when I told them I saw the movie twice. Everyone that didn’t see it thought it was basically soft porn, and figured I watched it for that reason. The reality is that it is a hilariously terrible movie that is fun to watch because of the preposterous story and terrible acting. There is so much nudity in the film that you quickly become numb to it anyway. In fact, the tv edit with the poorly CGI’d bikinis makes the movie even funnier!


    • I saw Showgirls in snippets. It came out when I was working in movie theaters. We were one of the few theaters that would show it. Partially that was because showing the movie involved paying for additional security. We had to have ushers posted at every entrance and exit to keep kids from stepping in. And we had the local media hanging out in the parking lot. So we had to have security for them. All that effort and about 10 people bought tickets!

      I would go in and “sweep” the auditorium. Mostly the idea was to show that management was making sure there weren’t any minors in the NC-17 movie. The company was scared silly of the potential bad publicity. So I ended up seeing the beginning and ending of Showgirls a few dozen times. These are the parts of the movie with no nudity. I saw a lot of Berkley hitch-hiking. I caught glimpses of the middle here and there. Mostly, I felt bad for MacLaughlin as a Twin Peaks fan.

      The general perception was that the movie was porn. People were embarrassed to be seen buying a ticket. When I walked the theater, they would drop their gaze. So it’s no surprise to me that the movie found life on video where people could enjoy it in the privacy of their own home without worrying about what the neighbors might think.


  3. Oh god, another one and I still haven’t finished Judd Nelson…


  4. “Former Playboy Playmate, Jenny McCarthy, auditioned for the lead role and was a front-runner until it was discovered that she could not dance.”

    Nor can she act, yet she made it as far as front-running?. Out of morbid curiosity I sat through ‘Santa Baby’ a month or so back. On that evidence, Elizabeth Berkley is Streep level by comparison. So – and considering the rest of the list of actresses mentioned for Nomi – I’m going with looking good & happy nekkid was the requirement ahead of anything else, and whomever got the role would have struggled afterwards.

    I like ‘Showgirls’. It’s utterly ridiculous, and in no way anything remotely like art, but the magnificent Gina Gershon is knowing enough to make it work. Always worth a cheesy cackle when it’s on TV, tho’ I’m feeling deprived now at not having seen the CGI bikinis.

    I’ve just had a look at Paul Verhoeven on IMDb, and I’m very surprised at how few films he’s directed outside the Netherlands. Anyone got any theories on that? Is it his slightly tongue in cheek attitude not playing well, him not really wanting to work in cinema, or something else?


    • I don’t think acting was a requirement. 😉


    • Since when have acting been a requirement for the type of movies show girls is?
      I might be cruel,but I always laugh when I hear the people of baywatch look back and complain about how they had to stay in shape,and within certain weight limits.And how the bathing suit revealed so much skin etc,Vs how stupid the episode script was.
      I guess you can really do it in hollywood.But I feel for patting them on their shoulders and go..Honey..They didn’t hire you out of nowhere to run around in bathing suit,because of your serious acting chops.You were hired to look pretty.
      I mean how many guys watched Saved By the Bell for the storyline?
      We watched it because the girls were hot.


      • I suppose I viewed “Saved by the Bell” to see what the ol’ gang was up to, but I never really got into “Baywatch” (or, as I called it, “Babewatch”) other than the odd episode here and there. If I want to hassle The Hoff, I’d just view “Knight Rider”, with its wicked cool intro theme, awesome car, and general 1980’s tone.


  5. Jimmy Fallon Went to Bayside High with “Saved By The Bell” Cast:

    While in L.A., Jimmy reminisces about his time at Bayside High with the gang from “Saved By The Bell.”


    • The Jimmy Fallon Sketch

      Jimmy Fallon had been hinting for years that he wanted to be the talk show host to bring the cast of Saved by the Bell back together for a reunion. He eventually got five of the seven cast members to agree, but, because two were holding out, it looked like he was giving up. When he aired a California Dreams reunion instead, it really looked like he was settling for another Peter Engel show over his dream of bringing our gang back together.

      I have no doubt that part of this was due to the continued fallout following Behind the Bell as Dustin Diamond managed to piss off his former cast mates royally, to the point he was even excluded from a reunion photo shoot with People magazine. It definitely looked like Diamond was going to be the weakest link in preventing any sort of Saved by the Bell reunion.

      Then, in 2015, just as Jimmy Fallon was settling into his new role on The Tonight Show, we were treated to special Saved by the Bell sketch, starring the original cast. Okay, so it was actually starring only five of the seven original cast members, and Max and Tori are nowhere to be seen either, but it was a joyous event for Saved by the Bell fans who, once again, got to watch their favorite characters in action.

      Screech and Lisa were nowhere to be seen, though. In Lark Voorhies’s case, I have no idea why she wasn’t invited to the reunion. Dustin Diamond, though, is obvious: it was the only way to get the other original cast members, who didn’t want to be in the same room as him. Diamond initially claimed he had been invited but declined. He later admitted he’d been snubbed, though, proving without a doubt that he’s willing to lie as much as needed to make Dustin Diamond look better.

      The actual sketch is pretty simple. Jimmy Fallon remembers the days when he was a student at Bayside. With the Valentine’s Day dance coming up, Slater plans to take Jessie while Zack Morris is taking a very pregnant Kelly. But all is not well: Jimmy tells the gang he’s moving to New York to pursue his dream of being on Saturday Night Live and dating Nicole Kidman. The gang are dejected by this news and sing Zack Attack’s hit song “Friends Forever” to wish him goodbye and good luck.

      What’s more impressive is the production of the entire thing. The hallway from Bayside looks perfect, nearly identical to the show. The clothes are spot on what were used in the show, and the props, down to the brick phones, are very believable as relics of the early nineties. Someone put a lot of love and care into making this sketch feel as close to the atmosphere of the original Saved by the Bell as possible, and it shows. This was something they easily could have skimped on and been forgiven, but they didn’t and it shows a level of professionalism I have to appreciate.

      Even more than this, the little things they got right are just amazing. The scene opening music, use of the time out, and Zack Morris’s monologue are perfect. The inside jokes in the background like referencing the rafting trip from “The Fabulous Belding Boys” showed they actually knew what they were doing in recreating Saved by the Bell. And even the references to various episodes didn’t feel terribly forced. Okay, I have to admit, Jessie’s recreation of the freak out from “Jessie’s Song” felt a bit forced, but, other than that, it was great.

      I have to admit, the cast looks great. Only Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Dennis Haskins look like they’ve aged at all since the original show. Seriously if Slater, Jessie, and Kelly were to film new episodes today in the costumes Jimmy Fallon provided, I could believe they were leftover episodes from the original series. They were that good. Either they haven’t aged a day or the make-up on The Tonight Show is able to perform minor miracles because it was such an amazing job making them all believable that I can’t praise it enough.

      Reviews and buzz on the internet following the skit were overwhelmingly positive. Jimmy Fallon managed to create a tribute to a childhood favorite of many of his viewers without seeming patronizing or overly critical. That’s not an easy task, and this could have been horrible but I think it shows the depth of love that Fallon himself has for the show that it went so well. I have a feeling this is the closest we’ll ever get to an actual Saved by the Bell reunion unless Dustin Diamond manages to kiss ass enough to be invited. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing at least part of the original cast in action again in the midst of doing this blog.


  6. I find it pretty crazy that Showgirls get an NC-17 rating while Seven is rated R


    • I am in full agreement. But welcome to America and our backwards Puritanical views.


      • That’s for freaking sure. It’s fine to see blood and guts, the inside of a human, but unclothed skin and body parts? Nada.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, to be fair, women’s unclothed skin / body parts are actually pretty acceptable. As is men’s sexual pleasure. It’s once you get into the horror of women’s sexual pleasure or – HORROR – male genitalia that it goes really really horribly wrong. If anyone goes to ’50 Shades … ‘ I’ll be interested to know how much of Jamie Dornan they see.


        • Yeah, I thought about the whole penis thing (anyway I say this, it isn’t going to sound right) while I was typing my post, and it is the largest offender of the human body parts when it comes to exposure. Part of it is that actors don’t want to show their member; that’s why I give credit to guys like Richard Gere, Kevin Bacon, and Peter Saragaard for performing scenes with their pecker in tow.


  7. Jesse Spano!

    Amongst people of a certain age ‘Saved By the Bell’ is incredibly iconic (and it isn’t just an American thing – I’m Irish). Watching that faux reunion clip is surreal.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. can someone post a link to Peter Coyote’s review? I’d love to read anything he writes.


  9. Re: Who is Blacklisted in Hollywood and why (bring the tea):

    Speaking of Sean Young and James Woods, I was reading through Joe Eszterhas’s (Screen writer for Basic Instint, Showgirls) book, which I got for 3 dollars at the local Piggly Wiggly by the way, and he said Sean Young sent mutilated voodoo dolls to Wood’s home, and threatened to glue his penis to his thigh. Oh and according to him, Paul Verhoeven (director of Showgirls) Elizabeth Berkley allegedly had an affair on set, which Eszterhas believed destroyed the movie.


  10. J.R. Francisco

    I had a thing for Elizabeth Berkley when I was in high school and watched “Saved by the Bell” on Saturday mornings back in 1991. Always thought she was discreetly sexy and just waiting to be unleashed, which is why I watched “Showgirls” with two of my buddies for the first time after it was released on video.

    The problem with the movie, in our opinion, was that her character was not likeable. She was kind of bitchy and self-centered. We wanted a topless Jessie but instead we got a whinny stripper without a heart. Yeah, strippers are not really known for their compassion or kindness but this is “Jessie Spano” we’re talking about! The point is, if your main character is not likeable, especially if she’s female, the movie will not work. No to brag, but I could have written a better story.

    Anyway, Elizabeth got screwed in that movie. It wasn’t her fault it was so bad it was laugh-able. Okay, she’s not the best actress in the world but it wasn’t all on her. The film would have failed with Nicole Kidman.

    Still think Elizabeth is hot and sexy, even today. There’s just something about her that gets my attention. Shame it worked out the way it did.


    • Believe it or not, I have never watched Showgirls. I have started watching it this weekend. I’ve seen bits and pieces, but never the whole thing. From what I have watched so far, it’s hysterically funny. The question is whether or not the comedy is intentional. Whenever Verhoven is involved, that seems to be an issue. A lot of his movies could be viewed as brilliant satire or trash. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that the comedy was intentional. But I don’t think Berkley was in on the joke. Which is good because if she had been it would have ruined it.

      There’s no doubt she got screwed over. They paid her peanuts. The idea was that she was doing the money for next to nothing for a chance at big paychecks down the line. But those big paychecks never materialized and Showgirls scorched her career going forward. Which is a shame. The part that really burns my ass is where the studio refused to pay her to appear on the DVD commentary. The package included a naked Elizabeth Berkley doll! Give the girl a couple grand!


      • I agree. The least they could’ve done is pay Liz that meager $2500. And it would’ve been quite interesting to her commentary on Showgirls.


  11. Berkley in “Showgirls” on WatchMojo’s first list of Top 10 Career Ruining Movies


  12. Elizabeth Berkley Has Finally Come ‘Full Circle’ On Her Role In ‘Showgirls’:


  13. How Showgirls (eventually) turned into a hit movie:

    Showgirls is reportedly the biggest-selling MGM DVD of all time. So how did it go from flop to hit?


  14. Berkley just celebrated her 43rd birthday on Tuesday! I’m surprised there isn’t a picture gallery dedicated to it.


    • My apologies to Elizabeth Berkley. Her birthday wasn’t in my database. I have her in there for next year.

      We have two birthdays today and two more tomorrow. But maybe I’ll post a belated gallery for her over the weekend.


  15. Three excellent books, including one about Showgirls:

    It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls

    Recently I named Showgirls, an infamous Paul Verhoeven movie starring Elizabeth Berkley, as the pop abomination I would expunge from 1995. Almost instantly, our very own Ignatiy Vishnevetsky jumped to the film’s defense, claiming it was a brilliant satire, much like Verhoeven’s other works. I argued that I didn’t exactly buy that, if only because it seemed that Berkley truly believed this would be her big transition from teen television actor (Jessie Spano from Saved By The Bell) to movie star, and in interviews seemed to sell the film at face value. Furthermore, I was not alone in my opposition to Showgirls; it won the Razzie that year for Worst Picture. Not budging, Ignatiy lent me A.V. Club contributor Adam Nayman’s Pop Classics book It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls, an in-depth look at the film’s creation, reception, and (argued) rehabilitation. After quickly reading the engaging book, which is over before it reaches 130 pages, I still can’t say I enjoy the film. I did, however, find Nayman’s presentation interesting and well argued enough that my perspective shifted a bit. It helps that the book devotes a chapter to the idea that Berkley was purposely kept in the dark regarding the film’s actual message, in the same way that Verhoeven had kept Sharon Stone in the dark about his intentions while shooting Basic Instinct’s interrogation scene. (Although part of me still questions why Stone wasn’t just wearing underpants in the first place.) Whether you love or loathe Showgirls (and if you have even a passing interest in Basic Instinct), this is a must read. [Becca James]


    • I like that Elizabeth Berkley took a chance; in a way, her character was HER in real time, thinking that I’m starting from scratch and here I come. Wow, between her and Gina Gershon (another actress that just throws caution to the wind, then likely flips wind the middle finger), I think there was good stuff there. Is it the best Las Vegas film (I think “The Cooler” has some stones, and we know that “Leaving Las Vegas” rules)? I don’t know, could that be a poll?


  16. Elizabeth Berkley’s career was ruined, then revived by ‘Showgirls’:


  17. 10 Actors You Hate Because Of One Movie Role:

    Elizabeth Berkley – Showgirls

    It’s tempting to feel sorry for Elizabeth Berkley, a child-star of one of America’s best-loved shows (Saved By The Bell) thrust into the film spotlight for Showgirls, one of cinema’s most famous flops. It’s even more tempting to feel that empathy when you take into account that director Paul Verhoeven has recently admitted that he instructed his star to act in the way over-the-top manner that she does.

    It’s also worth noting that, 20 years on, some are reevaluating Showgirls as a camp, kitsch classic, and of course it needs that Berkley performance to be so. But then you remember just how god-damn bad she is in it, and all mitigating circumstances go out of the window as you surrender to your instincts: “She’s awful, she’s annoying, I hate her.”

    Showgirls killed her career, so there’s nothing to even counter-balance her performance with, nothing to suggest that she might actually be able to act. (Though again, this isn’t necessarily her fault). It’s easy to stick the knife in to Berkley, and it has been done numerous times in the last two decades. But when something is that prevalent, it of course has basis. What’s one more nail in a coffin chock-full of them?


  18. Saved by the Bell’s iconic Jessie’s Song episode aired 25 years ago today

    Jessie Spano’s caffeine-pill addiction was revealed in this episode that had Elizabeth Berkley singing “I’m So Excited.”


  19. Elizabeth Berkley is coming to New Girl

    The former Saved by the Bell star, who now goes by the name Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, will play the new principal at Jess’ school.


  20. 10 Forgotten Actresses From The ‘90s: Where Are They Now?

    Elizabeth Berkley

    Outside of Dancing With the Stars, Elizabeth Berkley has moved into the realm of obscurity. Her heyday was back in the ‘90s with her Bayside pals on Saved by the Bell. So she’s been in over 60 flicks…most are made-for-TV movies or single appearances on sub-par shows like Melissa & Joey. Back in the ‘90s, Berkley was getting gigs in Showgirls, The First Wives Club, and Any Given Sunday, but the closing of the decade brought about the waning of her career. The best thing she’s done in the last 15 years was her appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on which she portrayed her throwback character Jessie Spano in an unforgettable parody of the classic ‘90s show.


  21. Fanboy Flicks: Showgirls (1995)


  22. Saved by the Bell: The Original Class…Reviewed!

    Following Saved by the Bell, Elizabeth Berkley made the mistake of starring in the so-bad-it’s-good cult film Showgirls, as I’ve made fun of her for several times. Though she’s continued to act over the years, many people find it difficult to take her seriously, which is unfortunate, as Showgirls being as terrible as it was clearly wasn’t her fault. She’s had very few recurring or starring roles as a result, with notable exceptions being on The L Word and CSI: Miami. She also runs a non-profit, Ask Elizabeth, which aims to help teenage girls overcome personal issues, and is raising a beautiful family.


  23. What Happened To Elizabeth Berkley – News & Updates

    She first graced our screens as Jessie Spano, the brainy foil of Kelly Kapowski, in “Saved by the Bell” but Elizabeth Berkley has gone on to have a long and successful career in television, film and the stage. Elizabeth Berkley has used her fame to help guide young girls to a path of confidence and positive self-image. Let’s find out what she’s been up to recently.


  24. What movies killed what actor’s career?

    I think it’s fine as a corny cult film and she was strong and brave and perhaps ahead of the times in her performance. But it was just a choice and a turning point that put the brakes on her career. Should it have? Who knows, but history has shown that it did.


    • I’d argue that Showgirls helped her career more than anything, as she wasn’t a bankable star at the time. Sure, Saved by the Bell was popular for what it was, but a family-oriented Saturday morning sitcom is not the type of gig that’s going to lead to bigger and better things once it’s over. Showgirls didn’t make her a movie star by any means, but purposely going against type by showing her tits on the big screen at least separated her from her Saved By the Bell image, and that lead to more work in more serious roles, as opposed to ending up like Lark Voorhies or Dustin Diamond.

      At the very least, I highly doubt her filmography as an actress would have ended up looking any more impressive if she hadn’t done that movie. It’s not like casting directors across Hollywood were beating down her door.


  25. What the hell happened to Elizabeth Berkley’s “Saved by the Bell” co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar:


  26. Why Hollywood won’t cast Elizabeth Berkley anymore

    Her first post-Saved by the Bell role was a box office disaster

    In order to decimate her good girl image of excitable feminist class president Jesse Spano, Berkley starred in Showgirls (1995). Director Paul Verhoeven told Rolling Stone, “It’s probably true that casting her in a part so different from how American audiences knew her affected the box office.” The movie had an almost unheard of NC-17 rating, with many theaters refusing to screen the film at all. Combine the nudity with the rest of the content, and it was a box office disaster. IMDb reports that Showgirls cost $45 million to produce and made less than half of its budget back, grossing a total of $20 million in ticket sales.

    Showgirls was a critical flop

    Despite its “so bad it’s good” cult classic status, Showgirls only has a 19 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 16 percent Metascore. One of the best reviews for Showgirls was from Time critic Richard Corliss, who wrote, “Showgirls…is one of those delirious, hilarious botches that could be taught in film schools as a How Not To.” Berkley’s acting was the target of many scathing reviews. Critic Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle called her “an unappealing leading lady playing a woman whose fierce ambition is to do something not admirable, just ridiculous.” Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said, “As an actress, Berkley is, to put it mildly, limited. She has exactly two emotions: hot and bothered.” Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel said the starlet “possesses no detectable acting talent. Berkley keeps glaring at the camera with a peculiar intensity that I can only assume is meant to suggest great depth. What it really looked like to me, however, was that she was trying to recall which foot is left and which is right.”

    Of course, Berkley’s acting wasn’t the only problem with Showgirls—Meryl Streep could not have saved a script that awful. However, since Berkley was the face (and, uh, naked body) of the film, and it was her first major endeavor after Saved by the Bell, the film hurt her the most.

    She was almost too good in Showgirls

    Even though Berkley received harsh criticism for her acting in Showgirls, everyone else involved insists she wasn’t the problem. Director Verhoeven told the Los Angeles Times, “If somebody is to blame it’s [screenwriter] Joe [Eszterhas] or me. I think she did exactly what we wanted and what we thought would be good. And apparently we failed.” He added that Berkley’s performance was so good that the public couldn’t separate her from Nomi Malone. “Her performance that everybody is so against is based on a character,” Verhoeven said. “The hate towards her character—an edgy, nearly psychotic character—is actually a compliment to her performance.” A source close to Berkeley told the paper, “She’s been getting the blame for this movie and it’s so unfair. She is an innocent. Paul Verhoeven said, ‘Be this way.'”

    Surprise! Hollywood is sexist

    In the words of Jesse Spano, Hollywood is full of sexist pigs. The world never really seemed to get over the fact that Berkley got naked in Showgirls because this was back in the early ’90s, when a sex tape could crumble, not create, an empire. As the star of the film, Berkley bore the brunt of the consequences; not the male screenwriter, director, or producers, even though they admitted that the film’s failures were mostly their own doing. Verhoeven explained to the Los Angeles Times, “I never thought this continuous bashing of the movie and of Elizabeth would happen. We’re sitting with these ruins in front of us. I realized with the nudity and the fact that critics are essentially Puritan that there would be backlash and anger, but I never thought the movie wouldn’t do well. So I never accounted that she would be put in such a bad position and I feel terrible about it.”

    How she can turn it around

    Berkley is on her way to a major comeback. The actress has become an agony aunt, penning the best-selling Ask Elizabeth in 2011 and serving as a motivational speaker for teen girls. She told Entertainment Weekly, “Everyone just talks about the problems our teenage girls are facing and what they’re dealing with. But there was, to me, a void in how they were being served or helped. I thought, ‘Wow, I’d love to create something.'” She developed a two-hour workshop series based on her talks with teens. “It spread like wildfire,” she gushed. “Schools and administrators and parents, completely word of mouth, totally grassroots, I didn’t do any press on it for two years. It was just organic.”

    Berkley has also expanded her resume. She explained to TV Guide that Showgirls may have been a blessing in disguise. “I see it as the beginning of my film career. At the time, there were obvious controversies and difficulties that arose, but it was a choice, and it set me on a path for a movie career that [has allowed me] to work with people at the highest level…It brought forth the kind of people I’d want to work with, like Oliver Stone or Woody Allen…So it weeded out the kind of people I wouldn’t want to work with anyway.”

    Berkley has also embraced her past, performing an “I’m So Excited” tribute on Dancing with the Stars, and hosting a 20-year anniversary screening of Showgirls in 2015, saying it was a “full-circle moment.”


    • Yeah, Kim Kardashian gets raves for her recorded exploits with Ray Jay, yet Elizabeth Berkley, a legitimate actress simply playing a character she prepared for and put hard work into, gets burned like a celluloid Joan of Arc for “Showgirls”. It hardly seems fair.


    • Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Elizabeth Berkley Anymore


  27. A ‘Saved By The Bell’ Producer Reveals That Jessie Was Originally Hooked On Something Worse Than Caffeine

    Easily the most memorable episode of Saved by the Bell to this day is “Jessie’s Song,” the after school special-like episode in which Jessie Spano gets hooked on over-the-counter caffeine pills amid pressure to do well on her midterms and perform in her singing group, resulting in the infamous scene, above, one for which Elizabeth Berkley should clearly have won an Emmy. But even those who watched this episode as a kid must have wondered, “Really? Caffeine pills?”

    Yeah, about that. In the following excerpt from his memoir out today called I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True, the show’s executive producer Peter Engel reveals that Jessie’s addiction was supposed to have been much more serious, but the brass NBC shut down these plans.

    What fans don’t know is that, when I originally wrote the episode with Tom Tenowich, Jessie was hooked on speed, not caffeine pills. But Standards and Practices, the censorial department of NBC, vetoed it, saying speed was too serious for Saturday mornings. I insisted that we needed to start dealing with more important issues than we had in the past, and that speed was a vehicle not only for exploring drug use but also the pressure that kids put on themselves to achieve. But Standards and Practices wasn’t budging.

    “What if she gets hooked on caffeine pills?” someone—I don’t remember who—suggested.

    The S & P folks talked it over, and told us caffeine pills would get a green light. So we compromised. We kept the episode virtually the same, but swapped out the speed. I wasn’t pleased about it — after all, the average caffeine pill was the equivalent of a cup of coffee, if that, so we might as well have had Jessie get addicted to Earl Grey, or breaking into the Max to snort coffee grounds. But hey, we had to start somewhere.

    And the rest, as we say, is history. You can read the full excerpt here, which also details just how seriously Berkley and costar Mark-Paul Gosselaar committed to the scene.


  28. Behind the Bell

    Dustin Diamond complains about being typecast as Screech, but the decision to reprise the role after the original series ended would have been his decision (at least that’s what I assume; he was still a minor when SBTB ended, but presumably, he could have said no to TCY and TNC). I could understand Diamond continuing to play Screech for the easy money, and if that was why he did it, that’s fine; he was a goofy looking kid who grew up into a goofy looking adult, and I don’t think there was ever any chance of him becoming a leading man like Neil Patrick Harris or a respected character actor like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Aware of his own limitations as an actor, Diamond may have just decided to stick to the one role he knew he could play. If this is the case, he just needs to be upfront about it and own it, rather than complain about being typecast as Screech, as if playing the same role for over a decade didn’t have anything to do with that. It’s interesting that out of the many child actors who cycled through the Engelverse, only Diamond became a stereotypical troubled former child star as far as I know. Elizabeth Berkley seems to have a much healthier outlook on her less than stellar career, taking the view that even if SBTB and Showgirls aren’t “Citizen Kane,” these works make people happy, even if not for the reasons the creators originally intended.


    • I Was Saved by the Bell

      Unlike other accounts, Engel says they always intended to have Jessie as a character; they just weren’t considering Elizabeth Berkley for her role until after she auditioned for Kelly.

      In “Jessie’s Song”, Jessie was originally supposed to be on speed, not caffeine pills, which made a hell of a lot more sense. The censorial department at NBC vetoed this, though, and caffeine pills became the compromise. I’m actually inclined to forgive Peter Engel for this knowing this tidbit of information.

      Engel says that Tiffani and Elizabeth left after the graduation episode because they were just ready to say goodbye, and he didn’t want to stand in their way. This contradicts Behind the Bell, of course, but I’ve always thought Dustin Diamond was full of s***, so what’s new. Engel says he was quite happy with the Tori episodes and that Leanna Creel did as well as anyone could expect her to given the circumstances.


      • 15 Weirdest “Very Special Episodes” Of TV Shows


        Other “very special episodes” of Saved By the Bell offered heavy-handed lessons about ecological issues (“Pipe Dreams” and its oil-slicked dead duck) and hypocritical pot-smoking teenage actors (the-name-says-it-all: “No Hope With Dope”), but “Jessie’s Song” is especially special for its over-the-top portrayal of the effects of caffeine pill abuse. According to one of the episode’s co-writers, the disparity between Jessie Spano’s scenery-gobbling meltdown — which would anticipate Elizabeth Berkley’s camp-classic turn in Showgirls by several years…and the actual effects of taking the pharmaceutical equivalent of a Red Bull — is due to the fact that NBC’s censors wouldn’t let them show a high school student abusing amphetamines on Saturday morning TV.

        So instead, Spano, spread thin between her constant academic perfectionism and the newfound pressures of fronting the band Hot Sundae, turns to demon caffeine to keep her energy up. “We might as well have had Jessie get addicted to Earl Grey, or breaking into The Max to snort coffee grounds,” writes executive producer Peter Engel in his memoir I Was Saved by the Bell. “But hey, we had to start somewhere.”


  29. Going full frontally naked at a young age in “Showgirls” obviously ruined her career. The same happened to Peter Firth when he went full frontal in “Equus”.


    • I don’t really think the nudity was much of a factor, but headlining a notorious film that was a box office bomb probably was.


      • If “Showgirls” actually got good reviews (instead of now becoming a classic “show bad it’s good” type of movie like “The Room” or “Troll 2”) then maybe Elizabeth’s would’ve been able to get away with it. I think Elizabeth’s problem is that she was still primarily thought of as Jessie Spano on a Saturday morning teen sitcom. It would be like today if a popular young female actress on a Disney Channel or Nickelodeon sitcom in just a short few years, did a movie where she’s full frontally naked. It was just way too hard to shallow.

        The funny thing is that Elizabeth Berkley was arguably when she did “Showgirls”, more of a household name than Sharon Stone was when she did “Basic Instinct”. Before that Sharon Stone was probably best known for playing Mrs. Quaid in “Total Recall”. And even so, Stone didn’t have the baggage of being a child/teen star to the general public before her big breakthrough with “Basic Instinct”..

        Maybe if Elizabeth Berkley went at a more gradual pace in movies (instead of being so urgent to grab the proverbial brass ring), the blow that “Showgirls” made wouldn’t have been so damning. But because “Showgirls” came about still relatively early in her career, she for all intents and purposes had little else to build off of.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s funny, Sharon Stone and “Basic Instinct” was crossing my mind while I was typing my comment. Yeah, Berkley could’ve dialed it down a little, maybe start with a rated R film, not jump from Saturday Morning fare to NC-17 material. In the end though, the seeds of failure were sown all over “Showgirls”: the rating (which caused problems with promotion), lead actress new to carrying a motion picture, the motion picture itself…really, I don’t believe anything was in place for success.


        • I need to proof-read myself, I mean to say “Swallow” not “Shallow”!:

          In a surprisingly candid interview with The New York Daily News, Showgirls director Paul Verhoeven did not mince words when he took the blame for his movie ruining Elizabeth Berkley’s career. “Showgirls certainly ruined the career of Elizabeth Berkley in a major way,” he said, adding, “It made my life more difficult, but not to the degree it did Elizabeth’s. Hollywood turned their backs on her.” Verhoeven even attributed the “abruptness” of Berkley’s performance to his direction, but he admits that the film ultimately failed to convey his vision.

          Berkley has also publicly acknowledged the post-Showgirls destruction. In a tearful breakdown during a Dancing With The Stars rehearsal in 2013, she told her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, that she was not expecting the “criticism” and “backlash” she received from the controversial role which resulted in “a lot of doors slammed in her face.” But probably the saddest part of Berkley’s confession is her admission that her turn on Dancing With The Stars was so “empowering” that it felt “like some sort of sentence was lifted.” Yep, you read that right. Elizabeth Berkley actually felt that doing Dancing With The Stars was her big career comeback after 22 years of industry stonewall. That’s not even funny. That’s just sad.


        • It is sad; although I believe the entire scenario was lathered in failure from the git, it seems that Berkley was never given the right opportunity to demonstrate that “Showgirls” wasn’t her fault. Hollywood hands down some odd punishments, for sure.


        • I don’t see why “Saved by the Bell” should have been a problem. The series had already ended three years before “Showgirls” was released.


        • None of that would’ve mattered if the film was respected, but some people did seem to get a little holier than thou about Berkley, who was known for playing squeaky clean Jessie Spano, playing a racy role in an NC-17 film. When Lisa Bonet did nudity for 1987’s “Angel Heart” a big deal was made about that (especially by that saint of saints Bill Cosby). The film being a failure, along with some of the public having an issue with Berkley doing nudity, were both contributing factors. At best, the film didn’t really enhance the careers of anyone involved. At worst, there’s Elizabeth Berkley.


  30. I don’t understand why “Basic Instinct” was a major success. Stone was almost middle-aged and the police would have used DNA to solve the case. “Showgirls” was better because Berkley was only 20 when it was filmed and Kyle MacLachlan was much younger and better looking that Michael Douglas.


    • I really don’t see it that way; maybe the hoopla over “Basic Instinct” was overblown (I honestly didn’t view it until about 7 years after its release), but I still think its better than “Showgirls”, as it can be enjoyed without irony. As for the criminal procedure aspects of the film, I don’t think that’s what the script was going for, as it was more about Catherine Tramell’s mind games. DNA was in its infancy at the time, and definitely not in the public or entertain mainstream yet either (two years before The Juice got knifey with ex-wifey). Regarding Sharon Stone’s age, I think she was 33 when she was performing in “Basic Instinct”, so I don’t believe she was anywhere near middle age (some say middle age begins at 40, some say 45; I say 50), not that should matter.


      • You are correct, Stone was 33 at the time Basic Instinct was being filmed.


        • 35 is usually considered the start of middle age. DNA was used to secure a conviction in a rape trial in Florida in 1986, six years before the film was set. Forensic evidence would have proved Catherine was with Johnny Boz when he was murdered.


        • Sure, DNA was being applied to real life cases (such as the 1988 conviction of Timothy Spencer for rape & murder in Virginia), but it wasn’t really applied much in the medium of film at the time. Once The Juice got loose, that opened the floodgates.


        • B-I-N-G-O.

          Of all the ridiculous things that happened in Basic Instinct, the lack of DNA evidence never bothered me.

          Liked by 1 person

        • What probably bothers me about “Basic Instinct” is the last half hour, which felt like it went off the rails and left me unsatisfied, along with bewildered.


    • You know, back in the day about 50% of actresses lied about their age. So, you could be 35 but have people fooled you were only 32 if you looked it. The list of examples is endless. In this decade it’s much harder because writers can fact check quite easily thanks to the internet. Jessica Chastain tried claiming she was younger than her actual age and was exposed as a liar as soon as she made it big. But in the 1930s-2000s, you could get away with it quite easily.

      (Doesn’t apply to Stone, but since the conversation is going on…)

      By the way “Mark” I’ve seen your comments on Youtube where you repeat this like a broken record. It’s okay to have an opinion, and I agree with you about the movie being a piece of shit, but when your trolling is as obvious as it is, it’s hard for anyone to take these comments seriously.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Than Michael Douglas.


  32. On the other hand, some people say “Showgirls” is the only reason Berkley is still acting. There has definitely been a critical reassessment of the film.


    • I don’t agree with those people; it isn’t like she’s gotten great roles or anything, just enough work to stay active. There’s a lot of entertainment mediums out there, and if there are always spots for reality show types, then there is bound to be gigs for a familiar performer, although the quality may differ.


  33. Berkley reminds me of actress Betsy Russell (probably best known for her 1980’s work in films like the dumb “Private School”, 1985’s “Avenging Angel”, and “Tomboy”, while making something of a reappearance in the 2000’s as Jigsaw’s wife in the Saw sequels) a little bit; shame is, even with that rather humdrum output, Russell may have had a more robust film career than Berkley.


  34. People are assuming Berkley would have had a bigger film career without “Showgirls”, but there is no guarantee she would have.


    • I’m not at all sure what kind of career Berkley would’ve had without “Showgirls” (though I have made the comparison to Betsy Russell here), but that film definitely made things much more difficult for her, since it had such a toxic reputation within the business. It’s just that her “Saved By the Bell” alums Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, and Mario Lopez (celebrity MC, radio show host) have had it a lot easier and have been more successful, albeit in smaller degrees (still, on any normal level, successful).


      • Exactly. After Showgirls, Berkley couldn’t get arrested. She probably never would have been a big movie star, but Showgirls killed any chance she may have had. This was supposed to be her big break but instead of creating opportunities, Showgirls made Berkley a pariah.


        • I wonder of the proverbial stink of “Showgirls” easily made people think that Elizabeth wasn’t that far removed from a legitimate adult film actress? I mean, her first big lead role in a movie was an NC-17 rated movie that involved a lot of full-frontal nudity and relatively graphic sex scenes. It didn’t help that Elizabeth was written off as not being a credible serious actress (i.e. somebody to laugh at instead of with or not somebody who can be enjoyed unironically) after “Showgirls”.


        • I think that’s entirely possible.


    • That role almost went to Charlize Theron. Only reason Berkley beat her out is because she was known.


      • Wow, talk about a good break turning into a tough break. I think if Charlize Theron got the role instead, it would’ve hurt her less due to her being more of an unknown.


      • 15 Movies That Are Only Famous Because Of A ‘Revealing’ Scene

        Despite numerous suggestions to the contrary, Showgirls is not the worst movie ever made. It’s not a good movie, but it’s not quite as awful as its infamous status as the pinnacle of awfulness would lead you to believe.

        Having said that, it is a really, really bad movie that is mostly remembered for Elizabeth Berkley’s numerous nude scenes.

        Prior to Showgirls, Berkley was best known as one of the teen actors on Saved by the Bell. She’d never even come close to taking on a risqué roll. That’s why it was so shocking to see her appear nude several times throughout the course of the film’s runtime.

        For years, Showgirls was synonymous with Berkley’s nudity. In recent years, the film has slowly gained a reputation as an excellent piece of “So bad, it’s good” cinema.


  35. “Showgirls” is a deliberately over-the-top masterpiece and it was ahead of its time. Today it wouldn’t create any controversy because we have the Internet and many people film themselves in porn.


  36. Criticisms of her performance in the film are ridiculous. She was told to play Nomi that way by the director. He and the scriptwriter were to blame if the film fell short of its potential.

    “Saved by the Bell” had ended in 1992 and Berkley was right go seek different characters. That is why Daniel Radcliffe did “Equus” in 2007, so he would not be typecast as one character.


  37. There is nothing to suggest “Showgirls” was a mistake, as we have no way of knowing what kind of career Elizabeth Berkley would have had in Hollywood without starring in that film.

    It is exactly the same as when people say Hitler made a mistake invading the Soviet Union in 1941. In reality he could not have continued the war against the British Empire without resources from the east like oil and grain.


    • I think we can safely say Showgirls was a mistake. Berkley made the movie for next to no money on the promise that it would open up a bunch of career opportunities. Instead, no one would cast her after the movie was released.

      I won’t speculate on Hitler.


      • Making “Showgirls” was a gamble, just like the invasion of the Soviet Union. There was no guarantee she would have had many offers without playing Nomi Malone.

        For Hitler it was a case of either invade the USSR to seize the oil, or surrender to the British in 1941.


        • There’s no guarantee she would have had more, but she definitely would not have had less. Coming off Saved by the Bell, I am relatively confident Berkley would have had other offers. I understand why she made Showgirls. I don’t fault her for making that decision. But with the benefit of hindsight, it didn’t work out.


        • That’s for certain.


        • What Berkley could’ve had though, was a career that was less drama-free and workmanlike. She reached for the brass ring though, and all she got were metal spikes.


        • “[..]just like the invasion of the Soviet Union. […] For Hitler it was a case of either invade the USSR to seize the oil, or surrender to the British in 1941.”

          Aside from some suspect history, I can’t help feeling that you’re slightly overstating the importance of ‘Showgirls’. I’m sure the director – who grew up in the Netherlands during WW2, of course – wouldn’t find the comparison remotely overblown. I’m just hoping that you’re kidding …


      • I agree: “Showgirls” goes in the books as a great miscalculation at best, and sometimes taking chances (but one must), in anything, doesn’t work out, and it didn’t work out for Elizabeth Berkley. I think people who have had events in their life go sideways on them can relate to what went down with her; sometimes one gets no payoff.


  38. I only mentioned the invasion of the Soviet Union because people widely assumed it was the reason the Axis Powers lost the war, when in reality they never had any chance as Germany did not have the resources to carry out a long war with the British Empire.


    • I’m still struggling to work out what the relevance was of WW2 to ‘Showgirls’ in the first place. In many, MANY years’ experience, it’s a strong contender for weirdest instance of Godwin’s law that I’ve seen. So for that at least, congratulations. 😉


      • People assume “Showgirls” destroyed Berkley’s acting career in the same way they assume Hitler lost the war because he invaded the Soviet Union.

        There is no reason to believe Berkley would have had a better acting career without “Showgirls”, her only starring role, and Hitler would have been forced to end the war due to the oil crisis in 1941.


        • Mark, to anyone who is not a very serious WW2 buff, your analogy is simply going to make them go “huh?” Since I have no desire to derail this comment thread, I will leave it at that.


        • 15 Movies That Completely Ruined Actors’ Reputations


          Becoming one of the biggest sitcom stars with her role of Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell, Elizabeth Berkley shot to the top of Hollywood’s A-listers in the early ’90s. That level of recognition earned her the leading role in 1997’s Showgirls, director Paul Verhoeven’s drama about the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas dancers.

          Unfortunately, Showgirls was not the big-screen stepping stone that Berkley was hoping for. Verhoeven, who had been previously responsible for ultra-violent satires like Robocop and Total Recall, found himself out of his element when it came to telling a story about the seedy Vegas nightlife. The film was rated NC-17 due to its graphic nudity and sexual content, the kiss of death to any studio film looking to flip a profit.

          Showgirls came under fire from various critics for its juvenile storytelling and lack of restraint, resulting in a Razzie award for Berkley, which halted any dreams of her becoming a major Hollywood star. Though she still takes jobs here and there, there’s no undoing the damage that was caused by Showgirls.


  39. I believe Hitler would have invaded the Soviet Union in any case, but without the oil crisis he would have waited until he had finished the war in the west before launching Operation Barbarossa.

    In the same way Berkley was right to take the starring role in “Showgirls”, as without the film she might never have had another chance to become a major movie star.


    • The discussion of Hitler has gotten many people in the media in trouble before (ex-college football coach Lou Holtz, ESPN reporter Jemele Hill) so I’m not touching that hand grenade, but if “Showgirls” was Berkley’s one shot at the upper echelon, it wasn’t much of an opportunity. In the end, what surprises me about that film is that it wasn’t an audience favorite right away, as the nudity alone (although I didn’t find much of that appealing) should’ve brought in a decent crowd. I guess moviegoers were scared away by the reviews (it wasn’t like Demi Moore’s “Striptease” the next year didn’t do very well either).


      • I was working at a movie theater at the time and I can tell you a lot of people were embarrassed to be seen buying a ticket to an NC-17 movie. There was this perception that Showgirls was boderline pornography. They would rather watch this kind of material in the privacy of their own living room. That’s why NC-17 rated movies were never viable. Today, you rarely see racy R rated movies anymore.


        • We’ve always been a pretty prudish country, so that does make a lot of sense, even though that all seems pretty silly. I bet many movie theaters would smell pretty rank if no one who attended them took a shower, and showers involve nudity. For sure though, NC-17 does not sell; heck, rated R doesn’t really sell anymore.


        • Simply put, the erotic thriller genre (which is really another way to label “racy R rated movies”) aren’t considered viable in Hollywood anymore:

          I don’t know for sure if “Showgirls” was one of the biggest factors beyond killing it but I really doubt that we’ll ever at the very least, see something like “Basic Instinct” (i.e. a blockbuster of that type) again:
          -A list talent and Oscar winning actor Michael Douglas in the lead.

          -Auteur director Paul Verhoeven given a lot of creative control.

          -Graphic sex, violence, nudity, and homosexuality (not graphic, but pretty in your face with its presentation) .

          -A pretty large budget considering the content ($49 million, which probably approaches $100 million today).

          -An original screenplay not based on a pre-existing property.

          I guess you can argue that the “Fifty Shades” franchise are the closest thing that we have to a noteworthy example of “racy R-rated movies”, but those types of movies are really hard to enjoy unironically (the faulty presentation of those particular films fall just about entirely into the hands of EL James, who had virtually total creative control).


        • The Death Of The Erotic Thriller

          The last time “Basic Instinct” man-eater Catherine Tramell prowled the big screen, the studio erotic thriller was hitting box office heights. The first “Instinct” took the top spot when it debuted in 1992, with an opening weekend of $15.1 million, the equivalent of $20.45 million in today’s dollars.

          By comparison, “Basic Instinct 2” limped into 10th place upon its arrival this weekend, grossing just $3.2 million.

          In the years between the two films, a string of high-profile flops, including MGM’s “Body of Evidence,” United Artists’ “Showgirls” and Paramount Pictures’ “Jade,” have all contributed to the cooling off of the erotic thriller, a genre that had once sizzled at the box office.

          Paul Verhoeven, director of the first “Basic Instinct” (which scored $353 million worldwide) as well as the widely ridiculed “Showgirls” (now regarded as something of a camp classic), attributes the genre’s demise to the current American political climate.

          “Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States,” said the Dutch native. “Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values. And Christianity and sex have never been good friends.”

          Scribe Nicholas Meyer, who was an uncredited writer on 1987’s seminal sex-fueled cautionary tale “Fatal Attraction,” agrees, noting that the genre’s downfall coincides with the ascent of the conservative political movement.


        • I don’t really place “Showgirls” into the erotic thriller category, it’s um, it’s um, I don’t know exactly, an exaggerated look at the life of an up and coming showgirl? But I think “Jade” is one of those films that signaled the end of the prime of the erotic thriller, a genre that looked to have a very short shelf life.


    • I am putting a moratorium on the Hitler comparisons. I think whatever point you were trying to make has either been made or missed by this point. Let’s keep on topic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are officially my hero; not just for that, but for using the word moratorium, which should be tomorrow’s word of the day.


  40. I was trying to say that sometimes an event is widely believed to be significant when in reality that is not necessarily the case. I could have said Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 was not really a turning-point, as he had no way of defeating the UK.

    A film like “Basic Instinct” would never be made today because we have the Internet and late night porn channels on TV. Porn was less easily available in 1992. People would not pay to watch two middle-aged actors having simulated sex in a movie at the cinema.

    I don’t really get Verhoeven’s point about politics though, because Bush Snr was president when “Basic Instinct” was released. Personally I have never understood why any film with sex or nudity would be at all controversial, yet racist westerns and racist war films with John Wayne are still popular.


    • Yeah, sex and nudity in film should’ve stopped being a big deal a long time ago (I’d say 1973). Of all the trends people get sick of, it’s too bad it seems there are those who never got tired of complaining about too much sex and nudity.


    • If you want to bring politics into to the discussion, then I would theorize that erotic type of movies more or less thrived because they were a counterbalance of sorts to the decidedly more conservative era (i.e. when Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush were running the United States) that we were in.

      When Bill Clinton came into power in the early ’90s and we were hearing all of these lurid details/allegations surrounding his extracurricular life (culminating with Monica Lewinsky and the Star Report), the idea of using sex and nudity as effective escapism in movies just didn’t work as well anymore. The Star Report in itself was a more fascinating “erotic story” than say “Basic Instinct” or “Showgirls” because it happened for real (and it just so centered on the most powerful man in America).


  41. Also “Basic Instinct 2” flopped because Stone was nearly 50 and it was too long after the original film.


    • Oh, I agree, not only was “Basic Instinct 2” way past its sell by date (talk about Risk Addiction), I feel that the film as a whole is kind of a stinker. I think for people who want to check out an older Sharon Stone I’d recommend 2013’s “Fading Gigolo”.


  42. Movies with sex were most popular in the 1970s which is generally seen as a liberal and progressive decade, even though it began with Nixon and Heath in power.


    • Sex in film was still a relatively new thing in the 1970’s, and I also believe that the 1970’s were the peak of Hollywood filmmaking as a whole.


  43. Elizabeth Berkley deserves to have some more leading roles like “Lucky Christmas”.

    I wish I could have seen her in “Lenny” in the West End, but I was only a child then.


  44. What did the rest of the cast of Saved by the Bell do?



    • Mark-Paul Gosselaar spent four years on NYPD Blue and continues to work in television. In 2016, he was on a show called Pitch and he has a pilot for a new show for next year.

      Mario Lopez has spent the last 10 years as a host for Extra in addition to dozens of TV jobs. This summer he also hosted Candy Crush. Dude is everywhere.

      Tiffani Thiessen spent six years on Beverly Hills 90210 and continues working in television. She recently had a five-year run on White Collar.

      Berkley has done some TV work, but not as much as these three.

      I’m not sure you made the point you thought you were making.


  45. Without “Showgirls” Berkley may have just continued doing low-profile work like her appearance in “Diagnosis Murder”.


  46. It’s hardly surprising “Showgirls” was more successful on video as people could pause it that way.


  47. 15 Kid Stars Whose Careers Flopped After They Grew Up


    Elizabeth Berkley was best known for her role on Saved by the Bell. Actually, Berkley wasn’t even supposed to be on the show, as she had originally auditioned for the role of Kelly and lost out on the role. However, producers liked her so much that they created the role of Jessie just for her.

    After her time on the show, Berkley wanted to be taken more seriously. She ended up starring in Showgirls, the notoriously bad movie that has actually found success due to how horribly wrong it went. Sadly, the role didn’t help Berkley.

    Instead of trying to find success in mainstream Hollywood, Berkley turned to Lifetime and starred in some television films. She also had some success on CSI: Miami, however nothing has made Berkley the star she always intended to be.


    • My favorite child actress who rebuilt herself (of course it’s a female, no offense to guys:-)? Jodie Sweetin in “Fuller House” (I think that show is awesome, more self-aware than “Full House”). Man, Jodie Sweetin kind of put herself through things, but seems to have overcome her issues. Wow, she really grew up (I guess I did too, sort of; not sure if I’m a man-child or just a kid at heart, or just love listening to Heart the band:-).


  48. Roles that were supposed to be these actors’ big breaks

    Elizabeth Berkley — Nomi Malone (Showgirls)

    Casting against type doesn’t always work out. Just ask Elizabeth Berkley. After playing the neurotic, nerdy feminist Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell, Berkley signed on as the lead in Showgirls, director Paul Verhoeven’s campy, nudity-filled thriller. It’s easy to see why. Former child stars often take on edgy, mature roles in order to shed their wholesome images, and at the time Verhoeven was riding high on the back-to-back-to-back success of Robocop, Total Recall, and Basic Instinct.

    But it didn’t work. At all. Oh, as prostitute-turned-dancer Nomi Malone, Berkley successfully banished all associations with Saved by the Bell’s schmaltzy, family-friendly vibe from viewers’ minds. She also almost ruined her career. Critics turned on Showgirls immediately—the film went on to be nominated for 11 Golden Raspberry Awards, a record that still stands today, and flopped at the box office, thanks largely to its NC-17 rating. Berkley didn’t escape unscathed, either. In the aftermath, Berkley’s agent dropped her, and others refused to take her calls.

    Berkley toughed it out and eventually established a career as a working actress, but she never fully escaped Showgirls’ stench. Verhoeven blames himself. “She did exactly what we wanted and what we thought would be good. And apparently we failed,” the director said. “I never accounted that she would be put in such a bad position and I feel terrible about it.”


    • 9 Actors Whose Big Break Movies Almost Ruined Their Careers

      Elizabeth Berkley – Showgirls

      Elizabeth Berkley was the archetypal anti-typecast actor when she went from Saved By The Bell to Showgirls with barely a pause. It was shocking at the time, but nowhere near as shocking as how bad Paul Verhoeven’s erotically charged thriller turned out to be.

      It was a camp mess, full of terrifyingly bad performances, a vapid script and the most astonishingly bad sex scenes in the history of films. Yes, Berkley cast off her past as Jessie Spano, but it came at the cost of 11 Razzie nominations and the surrendering of her status as a legitimate lead actor.

      Did She Survive It?

      Aside from a few appearances in movies you might have heard of, Showgirls is still Berkley’s most notable role, which is telling. She was dropped by her agent after the film was released, but she struggled on, still working consistently until 2003 and sporadically since.

      Paul Verhoeven rather charitably blames himself:

      “She did exactly what we wanted and what we thought would be good. And apparently we failed,” the director said. “I never accounted that she would be put in such a bad position and I feel terrible about it.”


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