Tiffani Thiessen, <EM>What About Brian</EM> Tiffani Thiessen, What About Brian

Zack Morris, eat your heart out. Kelly Kapowski's lengthy tresses and spandex minis have nothing on the sexy, manipulative roles Tiffani Thiessen has filled since leaving Saved by the Bell's Bayside High. Having actually shed her on-screen sweetheart persona long ago — her most memorable post-Bell gig was as Beverly Hills, 90210 troublemaker Valerie Malone — Thiessen continues to shake things up, this time with a saucy turn on ABC's What About Brian (starting tonight at 10 pm/ET). Via e-mail, Thiessen shared with TVGuide.com her thoughts on "appealing" to her audience, vying for an Ugly role and supporting her former costars.

TVGuide.com: Know what's funny? Almost exactly a year ago, we Q&A'd one of your BFFs, Constance Zimmer (now on Boston Legal). She, like you, tends to keep busy, eh?
Tiffani Thiessen: "Busy" and "strong work ethic" sort of go hand in hand with regards to Constance and myself. We both are hard workers, and we both like to see things done well. So regardless of what we may undertake, it's done with commitment and focus.

TVGuide.com: With an eye on your joining What About Brian and your previous gigs on, say, Just Shoot Me and 90210, do you think someone out there envisions you as a Heather Locklear-esque "show sexer-upper"?
Thiessen: I would like to think that Heather and I have an "appeal" that enables us to fit in well with an already existing show, be team players and work for the betterment of the show. Did I just give the politically correct version of a "show sexer-upper"?

TVGuide.com: But having had some experience playing the manipulative vixen, were you excited about What About Brian's Natasha? 
Thiessen: The role of a vixen can be entertaining, for sure. There's nothing like a good portion of comedy blended with manipulation to keep people on their toes, right?

TVGuide.com: Might 90210 loyalists get a whiff of Valerie when they watch Natasha? Valerie was always scheming and causing trouble....  
A whiff? Maybe. Perhaps. But a full-bodied aromatic Valerie Malone? Nah.

TVGuide.com: Being Dave's (Rick Gomez) former intern and now his new boss, will Natasha sport a superiority complex at all?
Natasha wouldn't be the type to "sport" anything. That would be too obvious. Superiority is sometimes best achieved with a more subtle and less obvious approach — much akin to the less-is-more mentality. Of course, obvious and blatant sporting can work, too!

TVGuide.com: Do Natasha and Dave "click" romantically? Right away, eventually?
I guess you'll have to watch, huh?

TVGuide.com: I hear she plays mind games with Brian (Barry Watson) and Adam (Matthew Davis). How so?
Again, watch and you'll see.... Ha!

TVGuide.com: Now that Adam's single again, will she start something with him, or does she have her eye on Brian — even though he's juggling Bridget and Stacy Keibler's character?
Thiessen: Wow, you just want me to give away all the story lines, don't you? Now, that wouldn't be fair, would it?

TVGuide.com: How long can we expect to have you on the show?
I'm appearing on five episodes. I hope the duration will give audiences enough time to appreciate the character.

TVGuide.com: Were you by chance a fan of What About Brian, or any other of J.J. Abrams' creations (Felicity, Lost, Alias)?
I'm a huge fan of J.J. Abrams. He continues to outdo himself with the projects he creates and develops. I'm flattered and thrilled to work with him. 

TVGuide.com: Has there ever been an instance where you have drawn the line when it comes to parlaying your inherent and abundant sensuality in the name of heating up a role? Yes, my male editor just seized the keyboard.
Thiessen: As he should! "Parlaying"? Careful with those words! Everything has its time, place and degree of appropriateness. Whether you're talking abundant sensuality or the ability to tie cherry stems in a knot with your tongue, everything should be tempered with moderation and timing.

TVGuide.com: What else do you have coming up? Is Pandemic ready to talk about?
The miniseries Pandemic will air this summer. In the meantime, I'm continuing to develop projects for TV and film under my production company Tit 4 Tat Productions — it's part of that "busy" factor you mentioned earlier. I also just finished cowriting a children's book and am working on the animated-series aspect of the book.

TVGuide.com: What are your favorite TV shows on the air right now?
I'm a huge fan of Ugly Betty.

TVGuide.com: Is there any show out there that you'd die to guest-star on?
I would probably have to say the same — Ugly Betty. It's such an amazing show, well written with bold, witty characters. And the direction and look of the show is outstanding. I'm actually shadowing director/exec producer Jim Hayman right now. It's been a great opportunity for me to watch him direct.

TVGuide.com: And lastly: Which Saved by the Bell alum's performance from the past year did you enjoy more: Mario Lopez rocking Dancing with the Stars, Elizabeth Berkeley as a pregnant, butt-kicking alien on Threshold, Mark-Paul Gosselaar working for U.S. president Geena Davis, or Dustin Diamond's sex tape?
I took my mom and grandmother to see Mario on his show this last year. They love Dancing with the Stars. Therefore, since Mario's performance is the only one I can attest to seeing, the nod would have to go to him. Sounds fair, huh? You can tell I don't watch a lot of TV, can't you?

James Denton of ABC's Desperate Housewives reveals what he's watching on the tube these days in the Feb. 19 issue of TV Guide.

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com