Executive Producer 'Was Saved by the Bell'

Apr 26, 2017

WBGO's Ang Santos and Peter Engel in NYC.
Credit Albert Spevak / ambassadortv.com

‘I Was Saved by the Bell:  Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True’ is a new memoir from Peter Engel, a producer who suffered decades of missed opportunities.

“These stories kind of chronicle my journey of searching for a hit.”

He says some were small, some were downright ridiculous, some were humorous, and some were really big.

“The show that I really would have wanted to do was ‘Saturday Night with John Lennon’,” Engel said. “Everything was going fine and I got a call from John’s guy and he says John has a little change that he wants in the contract.”

I went over to ABC and said ‘it’s nothing much.  This person that John likes, you probably never heard of her…Yoko Ono.’ 

They said ‘WHAT!?’ 

I said ‘he would like her involved in the show.’ 

They said ‘How involved?’ 

I said, ‘nothing major…co-host…I kind of coughed it…co-host. 

They said, ‘GET OUT!’

Saved by the Bell would become Peter Engel’s first big hit as an executive producer.  He reflects on it fondly now, but in 1988?

“Hated it,” Engel said.  “I hated the name and the theme song.  I instructed each one of them.  I do not want to hear a bell.  I don’t want to hear the word bell.  I don’t want to hear a bell ringing.  I don’t want to hear I was saved by the bell.  Got it?  First four guys came in, their songs weren’t very memorable.  They were fine but nothing to knock you out of the box.  The fifth guy, Scotty Gale, comes in.  He turns on his tape recorder and you hear...DIIIIINNNGGG!  The bell!  The guys look at me in the room, they’re looking at me and they think I’m going to kill him.  The song ends and I said, it’s perfect.  Thank you for not listening to me.”

Emmy Awards have eluded the six time nominated executive producer, but there’s still time for a Tony.  Peter Engel just finished writing Saved by the Bell: The Musical.