'Saved by the Bell' star moves to 'Beverly Hills' (August 2, 1994)

By John Engstrom, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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LOS ANGELES — Dylan's got a scruffy beard and a definetly demented look.

Brenda's gone, forever.

And look out, because here comes Valerie, as close to a bad girl as "Beverly Hills, 90210" has ever had.

Big changes will be evident when Fox's landmark teen-age ensemble show matures into its fifth season with its Sept. 7 premiere, moving many of the young cast into their sophomore year at college.

Absent — with enthusiastic permission — is actress Shannen Doherty, after far too many run-ins with the cast and crew. Her character, Brenda, has been sent to London to study acting.

Any chance of a return guest appearance?

"None," says executive product Charles Rosin. "I wish her well in whatever she does — just do it elsewhere."

There's no love lost on Doherty. It has all been shifted to Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, the newcomer on the "90210" set when they began filming the season-opening episode last week.

Nervously chewing gum, a confidence-pumped Thiessen strode into a lion's den of TV critics gathered in the faux Student Activities Center at the fictious California University.

Thiessen was dressed to display a remarkably curvaceous form that wasn't seen much in her five-season gag on NBC's teeny-bopper "Saved by the Bell," which she started when she was 15.

This time around we're definitely going to see a different side of Thiessen, who recently turned 20.

Her fans will get a quick comparison, because NBC is scheduled to air a new "Saved by the bell" movie not long after she assumes the role of Valerie on "90210".

"I think seeing both shows will make kids understand that what I do is just a job and it's just acting, it's not what I am in real life," Thiessen said. "They'll see that I can play nice and I can play bad."

She's also not "the new Brenda," though she's well aware that's what will be discussed for months to come.

"I never though I was filling anybody's shoes," Thiessen said. "I am a brand new character coming in... I'm sure there's going to be tons of talk about it. But I think I'm strong enough (to take it). I'm here to do my work and that's all."