Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Where Are They Now? Home Improvement, Saved by the Bell, & Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

By Allison Heard for


Home Improvement

Home Improvement was a sitcom staple of 90s television, airing from 1991-1999, that skyrocketed Tim Allen’s career out of relative obscurity. Tim, who played handyman dad Tim Taylor went on to be a common name in the industry playing Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movies, Santa Claus in The Santa Clause, and most recently, starred alongside John Travolta in Wild Hogs. If you feel like you need a Tim Allen fix, he is currently playing Mike Baxter on Last Man Standing and has a comedy, Geezers!, slated for release in 2012.

Compared to Allen’s post-sitcom success, the kids of Home Improvement have a much smaller rap sheet. Hunky middle brother Randy Taylor, played by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, is most noted for his role as Simba in 1994’s Lion King, but after Home Improvement wrapped, he could only be seen in small roles. He voiced character Tyler Tucker in The Wild Thornberrys and had a three-show arch in 8 Simple Rules. He recently did an interview and photo shoot for Entertainment Weekly and said he is currently traveling and going to school. It seems like his days of gracing the cover of Teen Bop week after week are over for JTT, for now at least.

Zachery Ty Bryan, older brother to Randy with the laidback attitude and killer blonde mullet, has produced little since the show. His most noted roles were as Brian Nolan in Code Breakers, a made for TV movie, and as Clay in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Zachery got married in 2007, and since then has only made a splash in 2008 when he was tased by hotel security after trying to reenter his hotel room in San Diego. Apparently, hotel security thought he was a vagrant trying to enter one of their hotel rooms.

The youngest brother and resident show weirdo was played by Taran Noah Smith, and honestly, not much has changed since. His work in the film industry has been limited, but he did get married to a much older woman, sued his parents for $1.5 million dollars, and got a divorce. His million dollar mansion is now in foreclosure and judging from the amount of internet commentary about how weird Taran has turned out, it looks like he has no hope of returning to Hollywood.

If Home Improvement makes you miss your childhood or gives you feelings of sweet nostalgia, check out their recent reunion photo from Entertainment Weekly. (Sadly, beloved neighbor and fountain of wisdom Wilson passed away in 2003 and is not in the reunion photo.)

Home Improvement Highlight Reel: Taran’s weird and broke, Zachery has a wife and looks like a bum (without a mullet at least), JTT is still hunky, and Tim is Buzz Lightyear, Santa Clause, and still relatively awesome (on an older man scale of awesomeness). Oh, and Al (Richard Karn) hosted Family Feud and Jill (Patricia Richardson) guest starred on The West Wing for two seasons.

Saved by the Bell

While Saved by the Bell originally aired in August 1989, the bulk of the shows ran in the early 90s and it became a starting block for more modern sitcoms revolved around teen drama. Surprisingly, many of the stars of this show have gone on to make a name for themselves, even if it is not always a good one (and you know I’m talking about Screech a.k.a. Dustin Diamond).

Zack Morris, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the shows heartthrob-worthy blonde, moved on from Saved by the Bell in 2001 when he played Detective John Clark in NYPD Blue. His days as a cop came to an end in 2005, but he continued to act in shows like Commander in Chief, Raising the Bar, and Franklin & Bash, a TNT drama where Mark-Paul currently stars as an unconventional lawyer in a sea of straight laced attorneys. Mark-Paul has two children, Michael and Ava, and is engaged to advertising executive Catriona McGinn after his 2010 divorce.

Mario Lopez, who played jock A.C. Slater, flew under the radar after SBTB until his breakout role as Dr. Mike Hamoui in the FX drama Nip/Tuck. Since then he has maintained a constant presence in the entertainment industry. He danced on the third season of Dancing With The Stars, hosted MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, and is a current correspondent for Extra!. His bangin’ 6 pack probably doesn’t hurt his star appeal either.

Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa, the trio of girls from Saved by the Bell, have all continued to be a part of the Hollywood industry alongside their male counterparts. Jessie, played by Elizabeth Berkley, shed her girl-next-door image with Showgirls in 1995, which, of course, was met with bad reviews and controversy. Her career took a hit after the film’s release and she began to take smaller roles. Now, she is developing a series with MTV that is based off her website “Ask Elizabeth,” a self-help program for teenage girls.

Tiffani Thiessen, who played head cheerleader Kelly, has been in multiple shows, such as 90210, since her younger days and is currently playing a wedding planner in White Collar. In 2010, she traded her pompoms for a burp rag when daughter Harper was born.

Lark Voorhies, (Lisa), has continued her acting career while also stepping into the music scene. She has released a few singles and starred in music videos for artists like Boyz II Men and Kenny Lattimore. She has now been forever memorialized in Asher Roth’s 2009 single “Lark on My Go-Kart”.

Saved By The Bell Highlight Reel: Mark-Paul and Mario still have their heartthrob good looks, Elizabeth is helping out teen girls with the help of MTV, Tiffani and Lark are both mothers, and if you want more information about Screech’s life after Saved By The Bell check out this link.


The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

“Now this is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down, and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air.”

Those opening lines of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air opened the world, or at least the American viewing audience, to the Banks, a ritzy family who gets an interesting new member when nephew and cousin William Smith (played by Will Smith) moves in. Since his time as the fresh prince, Will Smith has undeniably moved on to bigger things. His music career has prospered, with his chart-toppers like “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” and “Switch,” and his films like Bad Boys, I Am Legend, and Men in Black, have cemented Smith’s reputation as a Hollywood All-Star. Will’s wife Jada Pinkett, son Jaden, and daughter Willow have also created names for themselves alongside his sometimes overshadowing Hollywood persona. Men in Black III is set to release in 2012.

Alfonso Ribeiro played Will’s cooky cousin Carlton, most remembered by his wonderful dance moves. Alfonso has done little since the show wrapped in 1996, but landed the position of host on GSN’s Catch 21. Even with his lack of a proper Hollywood resume, Alfonso’s dance skills will always be legendary.

Prissy older cousin Hilary called her acting career quits after her 6-year run on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Karyn Parsons did attend film school in New York, but while there she met her future husband. They had two children together and are still living in New York.

The youngest member of the Banks clan grew up in front of the shows audience and Tatyana Ali acted her way through Ashley’s most awkward years. Tatyana graduated from Harvard in 2002 with a degree in Afro-American History and Government. While going to school she had roles in multiple movies and TV shows. National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze and Nora’s Hair Salon are among her most recognizable roles. She also played Roxanne in The Young and the Restless from the 2007-2011. Ali ventured in to music as well, but it seems that Willow Smith (Will Smith’s pre-teen daughter) has made a bigger splash in the music industry just by whipping her hair back and forth. Either way, Tatyana seems to have done well for herself and has come a long way since her pre-pubescent days on Fresh Prince.

Sadly, there has yet to be a reunion for this show, but it has been rumored to be in the works.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Highlight Reel: Will Smith is Will Smith and needs no explanation, Karyn is a New York mom and wife, Alfonso is a game show host but will never be forgotten for his amazing dance skills, and Tatyana is still starring in movies and TV shows after graduation from Harvard.


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