Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer are not lawyers. But they are about to play a pair on TV.
In the series “Franklin & Bash,” which debuts June 1 on TNT, Gosselaar (“NYPD Blue,” “Saved by the Bell”) and Meyer (“Clueless,” “Road Trip”) play best friends and L.A. lawyers who often resort to unconventional tactics in the courtroom. But how much do they really know about the law?
When Gosselaar, 37, and Meyer, also 37, recently visited Washington to promote their new series, I put them to the test by administering a pop culture bar exam, a quiz based on notable law-related moments from film, TV and pop music.
Before the exam began, it only seemed fair to engage in some warm-up chit-chat. So we talked a bit about their characters on the series (“They have more moxie than us,” Meyers noted), as well as how they handle their associations with previous roles. “I’m not going to go on your local news channel and do a skit from ‘Saved by the Bell,’ ” Gosselaar said. “I will do it on ‘Fallon’ because he’s national. ... If I see that it’s going to help the show that I’m working on or some project I am working on, I’m all for having fun with my past.”
(Speaking of past, we also went off on a brief tangent about a semi-disastrous interview I did years ago with Ron Palillo from “Welcome Back, Kotter,” which prompted us to recall that Palillo fought Gosselaar’s former co-star, “Saved by the Bell’s” Dustin Diamond , on “Celebrity Boxing.” “That was sad television,” Gosselaar noted. Indeed.)
With that, they were suitably warmed up and ready to take the pop culture bar exam, a test that proved they know a bit about “Law & Order,” are less certain about the soundtrack from “Legal Eagles” and have lots of opinions about Charlie Sheen.
First question: Who played Perry Mason?
Gosselaar: That guy.
Meyer: Raymond Burr.
Meyer: Oh. I thought there was more to that [question].
Nope. It’s that simple. This one’s a little harder. Who sang the theme song from the movie “Legal Eagles”?
Meyer: “Legal Eagles”? Was it Carly Simon?
Gosselaar: “Legal Eagles” -- Is that with Robert Redford?
Meyer: Can you tell us the song title?
Well, the bonus question was that you’d get an extra point if you could tell me the name of the song.
Meyer: “Legal Eagles”...
Yes, Robert Redford, Debra Winger...
Meyer: No, I know the movie. And Darryl Hannah, right?
Gosselaar: We watched that for —
Meyer: Oh yeah, we watched it.
You watched it for this?
Gosselaar: Yeah, we watched a bunch of movies.
Meyer: We watched everything from “A Few Good Men” to “Witness for the Prosecution.” “Legal Eagles.” “And Justice for All.” “Superbad.” “Wedding Crashers.”
Those last two for the buddy element.
Okay, right. I didn’t remember there being a courtroom scene in “Superbad.”
Meyer: Wait, was [the song] famous enough that it was Oscar-nominated?
No. It wasn’t.
Meyer: It sounds silly to say, but I think it was before I started really loving dramas. I was still young. I was still a kid. I want to guess it, though.
If I tell you the artist, that may help you think of the song. The artist was Rod Stewart.
Meyer: Oh, god. It isn’t “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”? That can’t be back from “Legal Eagles.”
All right. It’s a song called “Love Touch.”
Meyer: Never in a million years would I get that.
Given what you just said about other things you’ve been watching, you should know the answer to this next one.
Meyer: I’m sure I do. I’m going to bet the house that I do.
In a crucial scene in “A Few Good Men,” Tom Cruise’s character accuses Jack Nicholson’s character of ordering something.
Meyer: The Code Red.
Meyer: Because he stuffed the rag down Santiago’s throat, and it was dipped in acid and he had an allergic reaction. “Did you order the Code Red? You’re [expletive] right I did!”
Complete the lyrics from this well-known rock song: “I miss my baby and I feel so sad/I guess my race is run/She’s the best girl that I ever had...”
Gosselaar: Until the day is done. I don’t --
Meyer: I thought maybe you knew it.
Gosselaar: I don’t. Do you?
Meyer: Can you read it again?
The lyrics are repeated.
Gosselaar: Oh! [Expletive] Do it again, please?
Meyer: Sing it.
The lyrics are sung.
Gosselaar: I’ve heard it obviously, I just can’t...
Meyer: It’s not “Love on the Run”?
Would it help if I give you a hint?
More than one artist has done this, but the one you probably know best is the Clash.
Gosselaar: You should know this. That’s your wheelhouse. Do you have a lifeline?
Meyer: I don’t know. Can I get a lifeline? “I miss my baby...” No, I don’t know it. What is it?
It’s “I Fought the Law.”
Meyer: Oh for [expletive’s] sake.
Meyer: That’s absolutely right.
Meyer: But they wrote it.
No, the Clash didn’t write it. It was recorded before they did it.
Meyer: I’ve never heard another artist do that. I mean, I’ve heard them do Clash covers. Oh, of course.
Gosselaar: That’s terrible.
Both, singing: “I fought the law and the law won...”
Meyer: I’ve even played it. I’ve played the damn song. Son of a ... That’s going to make me mad. You’ve gotta put the British accent on it.
I can’t do a good Joe Strummer, I’m sorry. Next question: Try to answer this as quickly as you can: How many “Law & Order” series have there been?
Gosselaar: Oh gosh.
Meyer: “Law & Order”?
Law & Order.
Gosselaar: New York. “SVU.”
Meyer: “Criminal Intent.” Or is that wrong? Is that something else?
Gosselaar: “Criminal Intent”? I have no idea. Is that a Dick Wolf show?
Meyer: I have no idea. I’m just making [stuff] up.
No, that’s right.
Meyer: Oh, I’m right! Four!
Gosselaar: It’s probably five then.
It is five.
Gosselaar: What’s the other one?
“Trial By Jury,” which I think was on very briefly.
Meyer: It’s not on anymore? I’ve never seen a “Law & Order” in my life.
Neither have I, not all the way through.
Meyer: Is that right?
You and I are the only two people in America.
Meyer: That’s it, yeah.
Okay, one more question.
Meyer: I need more quizzes. I need to redeem ourselves.
This is not a right-or-wrong kind of question. If you could offer legal advice to any of the following celebrities currently dealing with legal issues, who would you choose: Rosie Perez, who is suing the makers of “Law & Order: SVU” because she was injured —
Gosselaar: What? When?
This was announced earlier this week.
Gosselaar: What did she do?
She was injured supposedly on set, so she’s suing.
Gosselaar: She’s suing them? Why?
Because she was hurt and she feels she was put in a position that caused her injuries.
Gosselaar: How much is she asking for?
I can’t remember.
Meyer: A lot, I am guessing.
So Rosie Perez; Lindsay Lohan, who recently entered a no-contest plea for stealing a necklace.
Meyer: She stole a necklace? Just kidding.
Or Charlie Sheen, who is suing Warner Bros. and CBS for breach of contract?
Meyer: That’s a Franklin & Bash.
Gosselaar: Charlie, yeah. That would be the most interesting.
Meyer: Me personally? Probably Charlie, too. Also, that attorney-client privilege...
Gosselaar: I think he actually has a case there. I like that case. I like the chances of him winning that money. I don’t necessarily...
Supposedly his contract says he has to be paid whether or not he’s on the show.
Gosselaar: Well, that’s what he’s fighting for.
Meyer: But there’s also a morality thing, that’s in all contracts, I believe.
Gosselaar: But the way that they did it, they didn’t specifically say he needed to go to a certain rehab. He went to rehab — in his house--
Meyer: But that’s not the case. They can basically say we’re going to point to our morality clause now. You were arrested for putting a knife to a woman’s throat —
Gosselaar: But it’s not that easy with him because they claim they were setting this up over time. They were saying you have to do this, you have to do this, and all will be well. And he was doing those things.
Meyer: He did every step.
Gosselaar: Exactly. They just didn’t like that he was talking about Chuck Lorre.
Meyer: You know what? Let’s give him a call.