Mario Lopez seems innocent enough: He’s a married family man, and a charming interviewer, who generally comes off as much more of a gentleman than the Jessie Spano-labeled « sexist pig » that he played on Saved By The Bell. However, behind those dimples and amiable grins, there may be more of an inner Albert Clifford Slater than fans realize.
The longtime TV staple has been the subject of a series of shady stories that run the gamut from mundane (bailing on an event) to tone deaf (his comments about transgender children) to really dark. While Lopez has confessed to quite a few missteps in his life, including his two week marriage, an almost-failed one night stand with a pop star and more, he still manages to come out looking squeaky clean. Behold, the shady side of the man who got one of his biggest breaks being tutored by Dorothy Zbornak.
Mario Lopez made allegedly transphobic comments
Mario Lopez came under fire in July 2019 for his interview on The Candace Owens Show. In the chat, recorded a month earlier, the contrarian conservative hostess made a remark about Charlize Theron’s recent revelation that one of her children is transgender. Owens theorized that there was a « new trend » in which celebrities allegedly let their « child pick their gender. » Lopez responded, « I think if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong. But at the same time, my God, if you’re 3 years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way, or you think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make that determination then — ‘Okay, well then you’re going to be a boy or a girl,’ whatever the case may be. It’s sort of alarming and my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on. »
Owens and Lopez then seemed to conflate sexual orientation with gender identity, despite them being quite different things. Lopez told Owens that he believes questions of sexuality should effectively be tabled until children reach their « formative years. » He did, however, acknowledge that parents were not necessarily doing anything inherently wrong, explaining, « I know other parents who have certain parenting styles that I necessarily don’t agree with, but I do know they’re good people and they’re coming from a good place. »
Mario Lopez got called out big time
A month after Mario Lopez’s appearance on The Candace Owens Show, his comments went viral, and he began trending on Twitter after several high-profile people called him out for the remarks.
Queer Eye star Karamo Brown tweeted that he was « disappointed » in Lopez’s remarks, noting, »As a social worker I am trained to identify abuse or neglect of a child. Healthy & safe dialogue w/ kids is neither abusive, neglectful or ‘dangerous.' » He added in a followup tweet, « I don’t think @MarioLopezExtra should be ‘canceled.’ But I do believe he should be given the opportunity to learn why his comments are harmful to trans youth and their parents. Mario, I’m ready to talk when you are. » Jonathan Van Ness also took Lopez to task for his comments and shaded him for his « hollow » apology (more on that in a minute).
Former NFL player turned activist Wade Davis II tweeted, « Also #MarioLopez should read more — being #Trans is about IDENTITY not sex. And trans folks understand that they are being treated differently from how they identity btw the ages of 3 & 5 & adults force gender on kids from birth. @MarioLopezExtra when all else fails — READ. »
Was Mario Lopez’s response to his transgender comments shady?
With seemingly half of the internet coming for him after his comments about transgender children, Mario Lopez released a statement to People apologizing for the remarks. « The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were. I have been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and I am going to use this opportunity to better educate myself, » he said. « Moving forward I will be more informed and thoughtful. »
The remark also came after GLAAD told the same outlet in a statement that they spoke to Extra about Lopez’s comments about transgender youth, and that the organization was assured that his opinions did not reflect those of the show. The statement also noted, « Medical and psychological experts, and parents of children who are transgender, have long discredited the ideas that Mario Lopez shared last month. The real ‘dangerous action’ is when someone with a public platform uses bad science to speak against a marginalized and vulnerable group of children. »
According to the Daily Mail, Extra aired without Lopez the night after the scandal broke (July 31, 2019), and anchors Renee Bargh and Tanika Ray brought in GLAAD director Anthony Ramos and Dr. Johanna Olson Kennedy to discuss transgender children and the best way to care for them. Lopez’s absence was neither addressed nor explained on air.
Mario Lopez was accused of date rape in 1993
In 1993 — when Saved By The Bell was so popular it was generating sequel series and spinoffs — Variety reported that Mario Lopez was being investigated for an alleged date rape. Lopez was 19 years old at the time. His accuser was 18, and said she’d willingly gone to visit him at his home when the alleged assault occurred. Lopez’s attorney said that the actor « vehemently [denied] this, » adding, « Anybody who’s met this kid or his family knows he’s just a really gentle soul and a good person. » His lawyer added that the accuser may have made the allegations to gain « exposure » or financial gain, which she denied.
After the first accuser’s allegation went public, the Los Angeles Times reported that a second woman came forward and accused Lopez of sexually assaulting her two years earlier. Authorities declined to press charges in either case, citing a lack of evidence and, in the first case, witnesses who they claimed « contradicted » the accuser’s story.
How much security does Mario Lopez possibly need?
Considering Mario Lopez has the body of a tank and had a schedule free enough to appear on The Candace Owens Show, it’s a little baffling that he thinks he needs a full security team, but here we are. In July 2019, Page Six reported that Lopez brought a curious entourage with him on the Access Hollywood set. A source griped, « There was a full-on security team escorting him throughout the office. His bodyguard wouldn’t leave his side. It was so weird. It was like he’s the [bleeping] president. » The source added that the show films on a gated lot with « tons of security » already in place, making the alleged behavior extra flabbergasting to witness.
All that said, a rep for Lopez denied that he had a team of beefy bodyguards, but did acknowledge that he and a pal got a ride in a golf cart to the Access Hollywood studio from the Universal Citywalk.
Mario Lopez couldn’t conceal his ambition
Before jumping ship from Extra to Access Hollywood, Mario Lopez reportedly gunned for what is now Ryan Seacrest’s spot on Live! With Kelly and Ryan after Michael Strahan’s rather ugly exit from the ABC daytime staple in 2016. Apparently, Lopez’s thirst for the job didn’t sit well with his then-current employers. Lisa Gregorich-Dempsey, the executive producer of Extra, was reportedly furious that Lopez campaigned so hard — and so publicly —for the job despite being employed already. A source told Page Six, « It was infuriating [Gregorisch-Dempsey] that he kept hinting and being coy about taking the Live role. He retweeted 23 fan tweets suggesting him for the gig in July alone, then played coy when he was asked about it on Ellen. The fact that he didn’t deny it from the beginning infuriated [Gregorisch-Dempsey]. »
The insider added that Lopez’s actions for the sake of his own personal « brand » were extra infuriating because Tracey Edmonds had recently stepped down as a host, making the suits at Extra feel like Lopez made the show look bad. A rep for Extra downplayed any tension, noting that Lopez had three years left on his contract. Three years later, it was revealed he’d be leaving Extra for Access Hollywood … so it’s safe to say that where there was smoke, there was probably a trashcan fire.
Mario Lopez cheated on his first wife, then shaded her in his memoir
Remember the gorgeous brunette from the Doritos commercials in the early 2000s? That’s Ali Landry. She and Mario Lopez dated for six years before they tied the knot in April 2004 … but he admitted later that he cheated on her at his bachelor party. He first revealed the indiscretion in 2011 on The Howard Stern Show (via Us Weekly), saying he’d told Landry he was going to Cabo to go marlin fishing, but his cousins and friends had other ideas, and he ended up getting a little too close with another woman. Landry busted him when she saw a photo of him from the incident.
Lopez explained that he simply wasn’t ready to get married, which manifested itself in infidelity, noting of Landry, « There was nothing glaringly wrong on paper: I thought, ‘She’s beautiful, she’s a good girl, she comes from a great family, she’d make a great mom … I confused cold feet with not being ready. » They annulled the marriage.
In Lopez’s 2014 memoir Just Between Us, however, he doesn’t speak as highly of his ex. He wrote that he had « fallen out of love » with Landry, and said he went through the motions of their engagement « like a zombie. » He even claimed that his family showed « no emotion » at his and Landry’s wedding, and said that after Landry found out about his bachelor party antics that she seemed « more worried about how it would make her look than about [their] relationship and working things out. »
Who was the ‘mega pop star’ of Mario Lopez’s one night stand?
In Mario Lopez’s 2014 memoir, Just Between Us, he boasted about having a one-night stand in Las Vegas with an unnamed « mega pop star » after an evening of drinking and dancing together. (He even admitted to almost drinking too much to make anything happen, but was able to, er, rally the troops to stand at attention long enough to do the job.)
Ellen DeGeneres asked him about the rendezvous on her show, and he appeared to pretend to be bashful about it, but, well, he wrote about it in the book he was promoting at the time. He said the incident went down sometime between 2006 and 2008, though he wasn’t entirely sure when, and that he’s still friendly with whoever the singer is. He said that out of respect for his wife, Courtney Mazza, and « this person … I’m a gentleman, I don’t like to drop names. » DeGeneres guessed Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Celine Dion, but Lopez joked that the lucky lady was actually Barbra Streisand … which, fine, we’ll give him credit for that charming tidbit.
Mario Lopez’s love life had a very early, very shady start
Mario Lopez reportedly described sex as his « drug of choice » in his 2014 memoir Just Between Us, and the habit has gotten him into trouble through the years, including long before most people can even legally consent to sexual activity. He revealed in the book that he lost his virginity when he was just 12 years old (technically the night before his 13th birthday). He also almost became a dad when he was a teenager, but his girlfriend at the time terminated the pregnancy. He expounded to People, « Now that I’m a dad, I look back and I think, ‘Oh my God!’ But you’ve got to understand, when you’re growing up in the hood, everybody grows up fast. » He added, « I could have a kid who is 25 years old. That’s unbelievable. »
He also revealed in the book that his first kiss was Kids Incorporated co-star Stacy Ferguson (who you may now know as Fergie) and that he also dated Saved By The Bell co-star Tiffani Thiessen (then Tiffani Amber Thiessen) off and on throughout the series. These days, Lopez is happily married to Courtney Mazza, with whom he shares three children.
Mario Lopez got sued for an alleged breach of contract
In April 2013, Mario Lopez was sued by a promoter named Robert « Bobby » Capone on grounds of alleged fraud and breach of contract. Capone sought $50,000 after Lopez allegedly skipped out on an event for which he was under contract and already partially paid. In the lawsuit, obtained by Radar Online, the promoter alleged that Lopez was hired to host an event in Philadelphia in October 2012 for $15,000. Lopez was allegedly paid $8,000 of the sum in advance. Lopez allegedly told the promoter two weeks before the event — after he’d allegedly been paid the $8,000 — that he would no longer be able to attend the very event he was scheduled to host due to « new commitments. »
E! News reported that the promoter claimed to have suffered $5,000 in losses due to Lopez’s cancellation and accused the actor of not just « breach of contract, » but also « consumer fraud » and « bad faith dealing. » Lopez didn’t comment on the suit at the time, and it’s unclear what stipulations the contract had for potential cancellations.