The wealth of teen programs these days is a good indication of how TV and film have changed. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that a young adult audience got truly tapped into. Then, like a newly breached oil field, the demographic yielded riches.
The playing field was thus perfect for the arrival of teen sitcom Hang Time, which first aired in 1995. Part of NBC’s Saturday-morning dedication to sleepy school-weary teenagers, it was created by writer-producer Troy Searer along with Robert Tarlow and Mark Fink.
It followed the exploits of Deering High's boys' basketball team called the Tornados. The pilot episode focused on the controversial addition of Julie Connor to the team and the boys’ reaction. As the seasons progressed, each incorporated a balance of young-adult plotlines as well as focused on issues relevant to teenagers such as drug addiction and sexual harassment.
Running for a full six seasons, the show was also noted for its cast being changed more times than a baby in a beer-drinking contest. Only actresses Daniella Deutscher (Julie Connor) and Megan Parlen (Mary Beth Pepperton) survived the entire show. Hang Time finished its run in December 2000 but, by then, had firmly stamped its influence on the marketplace.
17 years on, we thought it’d be fun to find out what 15 of the 20-strong cast look like now.
15 Megan Parlen
Along with Daniella Deutscher, American actress Megan Sloan Parlen was the only other long-term cast member of Hang Time. She played Mary Beth Pepperton, the Tornados’ head cheerleader, whose father is a wealthy, self-made businessman. Mary Beth is initially jealous of Julie and understandably protective of her boyfriend Chris (played by David Hanson). During the second season, Mary Beth is promoted to team manager, a position that leads to, as Wiki puts it, “several blundering attempts at initiating her position's responsibilities.”
Born in 1980 in California, Pepperton has since gone on to study broadcast journalism, receiving a Master's degree from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication. Since the show, her main focus has been on TV and film production rather than acting. She's credited with acclaimed factual programming such as Operation Homecoming (2007) and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (2010-2013).
14 Hillary Tuck
Born in 1978 in in Kerrville, Texas actress Hillary Tuck’s first role was in a Dr. Pepper ad when she was 15 years old. She's since appeared in other commercials, both nationally and internationally, for companies such as Kelloggs, IBM, and AT&T. In the first season of Hang Time, she played Samantha Morgan, the Tornados’s team manager for six episodes. She happens to be equally well known for her part as Amy Szalinski in the TV adaptation of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1997-2000).
Since then, Tuck has acted in over 30 different shows, including voicing Patty, Girl in Blind Date, Cecilia in Family Guy, and Angela in the acclaimed April Rain (2015). Hillary has many off-screen talents, according to IMDb, including fluency in American Sign Language and a recognized talent in Jazz and Modern dancing. She supports the nonprofit organization Hands Across Communications Organisation, which is currently overseen by US Comedian CJ Jones.
13 Amber Barretto
Born in 1978, Amber Barretto is an actress known for All My Children (1970-2011), Hang Time (1995), and Little Monsters (1989). All My Children, set in the fictional East Coast suburb of Pine Valley, is a long-running soap opera focusing on Erica Kane and her long line of husbands. Barretto played Emily Ann Sago Martin in the show between 1986 and 1988. After appearing in two subsequent films and three TV series, Barretto secured the role of Kristy Ford in Hang Time.
Throughout seasons 3-6, Barretto’s Kristy was the team's head cheerleader following the unexplained departure of Paige Peterson's character, Amy Wright. Both she and Adam Frost become involved in subplots with Mary Beth as the show drew to a conclusion. After Hang Time, Barretto starred in six more TV series, including American Dreams (2005), Medium (2006), and For Heaven's Sake (2008).
12 Danso Gordon
Danso Gordon is a Canadian actor who first came of age in an episode of Street Cents, a CBC original series. At around the same time – aged 16 – he appeared in a footwear commercial with the then much-talked-about basketball star Charles Barkley. Gordon then moved to LA to be with his father and, from then on, pursued a career in acting.
After landing good roles in American History X, Sliders and numerous adverts (for Domino’s Pizza, Foot Locker, T-Mobile, Saturn, McDonald’s, Verizon, and Time Warner) Gordon was cast as Kenny 'Silk' Hayes for seasons 4, 5 and 6 of Hang Time. He later joined South of Nowhere but left in 2007 because the plotlines “contradicted his personal faith and integrity,” allege his Wikipedia page. Gordon continued as a film actor but is currently studying for his second bachelor's degree in Computer Science.
11 Daniella Deutscher
As well as being known for her portrayal of Hang Time’s Julie Connor, Daniella Deutscher is an accomplished American actress. The show was her first acting role, and she claimed the part having already been a star basketball player in high school. It probably made sense to auditioning producers to choose an actor who could emulate the skills of the inimitable Connor.
Deutscher and her co-star, Megan Parlen, were the only two actors who appeared in every episode of the series. She dated and eventually married another cast member, Jay Hernandez, who played Antonio Lopez in seasons 5 and 6 – more on him later. Since Hang Time, she's had four film credits, including Special Forces (2003), in which she plays an American journalist imprisoned by a Maldonian warlord. She also appeared in the acclaimed American television series Las Vegas, where she was credited as Daniella Wolters.
10 Paige Peterson
Paige Ellen Peterson was born 2nd May 1980 in Kansas. She came to the industry at an early age and made a name for herself in dance competitions and community theatre productions. With such a start and confident in her daughter’s abilities, Peterson’s mother relocated to Hollywood, hoping that by doing so, she could further her daughter’s career. It worked. Peterson was soon able to attract an agent and hasn’t looked back since.
She played the part of Amy Wright for season 2 of Hang Time, but her stint as the peppy cheerleader was only the start of a meteoric career in TV and Film that continues to this day. Since the show, she's appeared in a great many shows, including the smash hit medical comedy Scrubs (2002-2005), the long-running Salem-based soap opera Days of Our Lives (2006), and sitcom Two and a Half Men (2007), in which she played a hooker.
9 Reggie Theus
Since Hang Time was all about basketball, it made sense for the network to include a real-life sportsman. The now 50-year-old Reggie Theus played Coach Bill Fuller in seasons 1 through 3 of the sitcom. It’s Coach Fuller’s decision to make Julie the Tornados’ first female player that lights the firecracker for the whole show. Hang Time wasn’t Theus’s first foray into the entertainment industry. He had already hosted talk shows and, for several years, was as a studio analyst.
But his major was professional basketball. Theus was selected for the Chicago Bulls in 1978 and the Sacramento Kings seven years later. He then served as head coach for the Kings and New Mexico State University's men's basketball team before becoming an assistant coach for the University of Louisville under Rick Pitino. Theus is the current head coach of Cal State Northridge.
8 Anthony Anderson
Although Hang Time was Anthony Anderson’s first TV role, he was already an accomplished actor. Born in 1970, he studied at the Hollywood High School Performing Arts Magnet's Class graduating in 1988. After playing Teddy Broadis in seasons 2 and 3 of Hang Time, he appeared in over 30 other TV shows, his most recent appearance being as this year’s judge in the hit US talent contest The Gong Show.
Anderson starred in his own sitcom All About the Andersons as well as the ABC sitcom Blackish for which he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. He’s also bagged major roles in successful feature films, such as Me, Myself & Irene (2000), Kangaroo Jack (2003), Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004), The Departed (2006), Transformers (2007), and Scream 4 (2011).
7 Mark Famiglietti
Born in 1979, Mark Famiglietti is an American writer and actor. He starred as Nick Hammer in season 4 of Hang Time and made other guest appearances in 5 and 6. After starring in school productions, Famiglietti went to New York University where he studied with the Atlantic Theatre Company as a drama major. It was during his time at NYU that he landed the part of Nick. Since then, he's gone on to acquire 53 acting credits for films such as Acting Like Adults (2012) and Dark Power (2013).
Famiglietti has also appeared in numerous TV shows, including Bones (2011) and Grimm (2015). In addition to voicing characters in the X-Men: Destiny Video Game, he wrote a movie for director Mark Steven Johnson and M.G.M. called Succubus. Sony bought M.G.M. in early 2005, and perhaps, as a consequence, the picture was never made.
6 Dick Butkus
Former American football linebacker Dick Butkus played Coach Mike Katowinski in seasons 4, 5, and 6 of Hang Time. Butkus was brought in as the Tornados’ new coach toward the end of the show. By the final season, Katowinski's future plans aren’t mentioned, but he remains in his position as Deering High's basketball coach, which [spoiler alert!], without Connor, returned to being a boys’ team.
Butkus played for the Chicago Bears in the US National Football League. He was contracted in 1965 and is still widely regarded as one of the best linebackers of all time. Prior to Hang Time, the now 74-year-old appeared in over ten movies, including Johnny Dangerously (1984) and Spontaneous Combustion (1990). He's since become a celebrity endorser and broadcaster and portrayed himself in two critically acclaimed productions of Brian's Song (1971) and Teddy Bears' Picnic (2002).
5 Christian Benz Belnavis
Born in 1980, Christian Belnavis is an American actor known for his roles in The Rapture (1991) and Hang Time (1995). Belnavis played the lineup starter, freshman Michael Maxwell, throughout season 1. His departure at the end of the first season created the necessary havoc for the start of the second. Prior to his appearance on the show, Belnavis had starred in Almost an Angel (1990) and an episode of Knots Landing (1992).
Since Hang Time, Belnavis has appeared in countless TV series and movies, including Malcolm and Eddie (1997) and the popular NYPD Blue (2003). His most recent film credit is listed under Gone Are the Days, a movie currently in pre-production focusing on the story of notorious outlaw Taylon Flynn. IMDb’s synopsis reads, “Aged, ill, and unable to reconcile the man he was to who he has become, Flynn is hell-bent on exiting this life in a blaze of glory.”
4 Jay Hernandez
Born in 1978, Jay Hernandez made his acting debut in Hang Time as the young Antonio Lopez. Hernandez’s portrayal of Lopez was solid throughout seasons 4, 5, and 6 and increased the popularity of the show. Following on from this, Hernandez appeared in over ten other TV productions, including Undressed (2002) and Last Resort (2012), in which he plays U.S. government lawyer Paul Wells.
Hernandez was 20 at the time of Hang Time and was already in a relationship with its lead actress, Daniella Deutscher. The two had met when he was 14 and she 17; they were married in 2006. Hernandez is a prolific and acclaimed actor. Some of his many other credits include Ladder 49 (2004), Grindhouse (2007), and American Son (2008). In 2006, he was nominated for his performance in Dude You Don't Wanna Mess With (Fangoria Chainsaw Awards) and Movie: Choice Scream (Teen Choice Awards).
3 Phillip Glasser
Born in 1978, American actor and producer Phillip Glasser has starred in just two movies since Hang Time. However, prior to his appearance as Eugene Brown in seasons 5 and 6, Glasser already had an impressive number of acting credits. He appeared in numerous TV series and movies, including Gabriel's Fire (1991) and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996). In an episode of season 5 of Hang Time titled “Extreme Eugene,” his character causes conflict when he claims skateboards are more important than basketball.
The majority of work he now does involves Film and TV production. He has 17 production credits, including executive and associate for such films as Escape from Planet Earth (2013) and Little Savages (2016). He’s been married to actress and movie boss Elise Shirley since May 28, 2000. According to online zine Famous Birthdays, Glasser won a Young Artist Award for his voice work as Fievel Mousekewitz in An American Tail.
2 Kevin Bell
Born in 1970, American actor Kevin Bell got his first break in TV with his appearance in Saved by the Bell: The New Class, a spin-off of the successful US sitcom Saved by the Bell. Bell played David Conrad. Following on from this was a string of other shows, but he's best known for his appearances in 13 episodes of Hang Time’s season 2 as Josh Sanders.
Bell has also appeared in three films, namely Love Jones (1997), Dissent (2005), and ChangingMan, in which he plays Dovaax. ChangingMan (2000) is a science-fiction thriller described by IMDb as “a man's descent into madness as an alien race plots to replace his life with that of their worst criminal felon.” On the subject of Hang Time, TV Tropes was less than glowing: “the least believable of the actors playing teenagers was Kevin Bell (who played Josh in season two), who clearly looked like he was in his mid-20s.” (He was, in fact, 26).
1 Robert Michael Ryan
Born in 1978, American Robert Ryan played country-bred Earl Hatfield in season 1 of Hang Time. He's since gone on to make his name as an actor and producer in countless theatre productions and TV films. IMDb lists 29 acting credits, including Romeo & Juliet Revisited (2002) and Dark Revelations (2015). He's appeared in TV shows such as How I Met Your Mother and The Outer Limits. Not being confined to acting roles, Ryan most recently produced Dark Corners Horror Anthology (2015-2017).
TV Tropes notably mentions an occasion in Hang Time when Earl handcuffs Mary Beth and Chris together after the two break up in season one's "Trouble in Paradise.” This followed a misunderstanding resulting from a love letter Chris had ghost-written for Danny to give to his crush, Julie (Daniella Deutscher). “It helps them resolve their issues,” Tropes says, “but increases their contempt for Danny.” It was this sort of plotline that gave Hang Time its popularity.
Sources: en.wikipedia.org, tvtropes.org, imdb.com