Saved by the Belle
White Collar, Series Premiere Friday, 10/9c, USA
As the smart and stunning wife of an FBI agent on USA's new con-artist drama White Collar, Tiffani Thiessen -- who's famously portrayed rah-rah cheerleader Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell and manipulative vixen Valerie Malone on Beverly Hills, 90210 -- is relieved to at last have an alter ego she can relate to. "I love finally playing a character that is a little more true to myself: a woman of my age, married, with a career," says the 35-year-old actress, who's hitched to actor Brady Smith.
Tonight's premiere may focus on the odd-couple working relationship between Elizabeth's G-man husband Peter (Tim DeKay) and rakish thief Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), leaving Thiessen criminally underused, but she assures us that will change. "We'll be exploring Peter's home life... and you'll see my career as an event planner worked into the story lines," she says. While she's in the sharing mood, we couldn't resist asking: What does Thiessen think of former costar Dustin "Screech" Diamond's salacious Bell tell-all? "I feel so sad for him. I don't think he's had the right direction," she says. "We're all working and he's not. I think people can see that, and that's what's sad about it." -- Joseph Hudak
"White Collar is very 'Thomas Crown Affair' meets '48 Hrs.', and I love those kinds of movies" -- Tiffani Thiessen