Mario Lopez Discusses His Pandemic Parenting Plan + His Return To Bayside High

Mario LopezPhoto Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/

Everyone, at this moment in time, is looking for something to make them feel good. And what better way to feel good than to feel like a kid again? As Mario Lopez prepares to return to the series that made him a household name in his teens — Saved By The Bell — he decided to take part in another kid-like venture by teaming up with General Mills to host General Mills Presents: The Ultimate Saturday Morning Drive-In, featuring cartoon classics that can be enjoyed live in Los Angeles or from the comfort of your couch. The company is bringing back “flavors and shapes” that were popular way back when for the cereals that are still popular today, which should give all those born in the 70s and 80s (like Lopez, who’s 46) some serious nostalgia. Lopez will host the live event on Saturday, Oct. 3 at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. though others can watch along at home here. But first, check out our live chat with Lopez on returning to Bayside High, what makes him feel youthful and his tried and true pandemic parenting hacks.

Mario LopezPhoto Credit: Mario Lopez

Tell us about why you’ve partnered with General Mills for the Ultimate Saturday Morning Drive-In experience?

I’m excited to team up with General Mills. I’m a huge cereal guy. Not just as a kid, but as an adult. They’re bringing back the original tastes and shapes and introducing them to this new young generation. Doing this really cool drive-in experience, you get to go in your pajamas on a Saturday morning and look at some cartoons and eat some old school cereal. That was a staple at casa Lopez. Like I said I still love eating cereal as an adult and I do it with my kids now. I thought it was a fun campaign to celebrate these classic cereals… I totally [even eat cereal for] dinner, especially if my wife’s not there. I’ll use a big salad bowl and eat like half a box in one sitting.

How does cereal make you feel like a kid again?

It totally makes me feel youthful and like a kid. I remember getting up real early – obviously you couldn’t cook – my parents wouldn’t let me on the stove. Getting up early I felt very independent getting a bowl of cereal and milk. Now my daughter, who just turned 10, she goes and does it. It’s sort of like tradition. [As a go-to] I like to mix it up. Cocoa Puffs; I like it even chocolatier, I drink the milk.

Are your kids back in school? How are you schooling them?

We’re home-schooling unfortunately because I’m the worst teacher. I realized things got a lot harder and they changed math and I’m struggling so hopefully things clear up soon and get back in school. Poor kids.

How did you keep them engaged? Maybe you can share five pandemic era parenting hacks?

One of the positives is that I love all of this quality time that I’ve gotten to spend with them because I’m usually so busy sometimes I don’t get as much significant time. This has been great with a baby at home as well. But with the kids I try to keep as much structure as possible, make them get up and get ready. Even though it’s on their iPad or on their computer we school. Then afterwards they’ll have to practice their piano. We’ll do something physical every day too whether it’s dancing or we’ll go for a hike or a swim. My son and my daughter will practice their gymnastics. I’m very hands-on; every day we’re doing something.

What’s in store for AC Slater back at Bayside?

A lot of fun stuff and funny stuff. I don’t think I’m supposed to talk about the changes, but I think it’s very funny and clever the way they did it.

Mario Lopez
Lopez with son Dominic, daughter Gia Francesca and wife Courtney

Photo Credit: DFree/

Did it feel like a homecoming in a way, or not so much given that only a few of your cast members are back?

We just finished this last week. The first season and hopefully people will like it. it’s very funny, it’s very different. It’s supposed to come out at the end of this year, so it will be a holiday season to enjoy the new Saved By The Bell.

What prompted you to sign on?

We’ve been talking about it for a while and had the opportunity to produce this as well as appear in it. We were blessed with a great writer Tracy Wigfield who was the Emmy winning writer from 30 Rock and The Mindy Project. She put a very cool, modern spin on it.

What does the rest of your year look like?

We were at the Emmys last night, we just launched the new season for Access Hollywood as well as All Access and Daily Access. I’m on for two hours every day at NBC. We were the first show back in production here. We did the first Christmas movie out in this Covid era. That’s out November 21st on Lifetime, called Feliz Navidad and Saved By The Bell later. I feel very blessed with a lot going on right now.

What did you make of the Emmys?

I like that Jason Bateman gave me a shout-out! He said I want Mario Lopez to ask me what I’m wearing. I love Jason Bateman and Jimmy Kimmel. Considering the circumstances the show must go on and that’s how they had to do it.

What are your greatest hopes for [the future]?

I pray this pandemic comes to an end and we get back to a sense normalcy and the economy picks up and people aren’t struggling or suffering and we have a major turnaround. That’s the major hope.