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Engel discusses hit show

Jen Rowling | Thursday, October 7, 2004

Professionalism, perseverance, and passion are the key qualities for a person to succeed in show business, a field where the next great thing is lurking around the corner, said Peter Engel, producer of the hit television series, “Saved By the Bell.”Engel spoke at Notre Dame Wednesday about his experiences in television production, including work on the shows “Hang Time,” “The Last Comic Standing,” “USA High,” “California Dreams” and “City Guys.””If you don’t love it, have a passion or zeal [for it], you shouldn’t be in it,” Engel said. Engel discussed his natural passion for stories and drama, which he believes is essential for success. “Everything I saw would trigger an idea,” he said. According to Engel, ideas for production are inspired by reading and the passion to learn more about the world. “Most movies come out of the ‘New York Times,'” he said. “Learn more about your world, enlarge your vision.” He stressed the need for perseverance and discussed his early experiences at NBC. “No one is going to sweep you up,” Engel explained. These qualities allowed Engel to produce the hit TV series, “Saved by the Bell,” which aired for 11 years. “Every kid in 85 countries knows Zach, Screech and Kelly,” he said. Engel attributed the show’s success to the unique cast. “It was like lightning in a bottle – you only catch it once,” he said.For the first time in television history, characters were being played by actors of the same ages.”The only thing the Middle East could agree on was “Saved by the Bell,” Engel said.The producer also discussed today’s reality shows and the creativity he believes is lacking in many of them.”Television today has changed,” Engel said. “I don’t really like reality shows. I don’t even like my own reality show – I don’t find it creative. Scripted shows are about telling a story.”