Melissa Joan Hart could’ve used a magic spell after a magazine cover nearly left her unemployed.
Hart, who starred as the titular role in the fantasy comedy “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” revealed that a racy photoshoot she did with Maxim magazine almost got her fired off the series during an appearance on the “Pod Meets World” podcast Monday.
Hart recalled the publicity ordeal when hosts Danielle Fishel, Will Friedle and Rider Strong asked her about a photo she took with pop singer Britney Spears during the New York premiere of Hart’s film “Drive Me Crazy.”
“If you look at my eyes, I had been crying all evening,” Hart said. “At the time, I thought this was the worst day of my life.”
Hart went on to explain she had been dealing with a barrage of bad news during the film’s premiere, including breaking up with her boyfriend and getting fired from her role in “Scary Movie.” During an afterparty at Planet Hollywood, the “Dirty Little Secret” star said she was informed by her lawyer that her recent appearance on the cover of Maxim magazine had landed her in legal hot water.
Hart was the cover star for Maxim magazine’s October 1999 issue. The actress was dressed in black lingerie and a white sheet that covered her bare chest. The cover’s headline read, “Sabrina, Your Favorite Witch Without a Stich!”
“My lawyer shows up and goes, ‘You did a photoshoot for Maxim magazine?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, I did,’ ” Hart said. “They’re like, ‘Well, you’re being sued and fired from your show, so don’t talk to the press. Don’t do anything.’ “
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Hart said the magazine’s use of her “Sabrina” character’s name violated a clause in her contract with Archie Comics, the publisher of the comic book series the sitcom was based on.
“(The contract) said I would never play the character naked,” Hart said. “So, here they were thinking I’m in breach because I’m playing the character. No, that was supposed to be me promoting my movie: It wasn’t supposed to be a character. I had no control over what they wrote on the cover.”
Hart said she was able to resolve the situation − and save her job on “Sabrina” − with an apology letter. In an unexpected stroke of luck, Hart said the controversy generated by the Maxim cover gave a publicity boost to “Drive Me Crazy.”
“Can Melissa be sexy? She’s 23, is she allowed to be sexy? What’s going on here? … Why is she being fired from her show?” Hart said, describing the media “drama” surrounding her cover. “But it made for ‘Drive Me Crazy’ to come out and be a huge success.”
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