Hallmark Pits Thiessen Against A "Pandemic"

By Jay Bobbin - ZAP2IT / Updated: 05/24/07 6:45 AM

How does one go from "Saved by the Bell" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" to the Centers for Disease Control?

Just star in a TV movie called "Pandemic."

Tiffani Thiessen has graduated from young-adult roles to play women in charge also encompassing her part as a video game company executive on the ABC series "What About Brian" and she goes into medical-expert mode in Hallmark Channel's new suspense drama at 8 p.m. Saturday.

After a virus-plagued flight from Australia lands in Los Angeles, a passenger slips through the quarantine area at the airport. CDC doctors, including the one played by Thiessen, launch a desperate effort to contain the disease before it can race through the city and far beyond.

Oscar winner Faye Dunaway plays California's governor in the thriller, whose large cast includes Eric Roberts, Bruce Boxleitner, French Stewart, Vincent Spano, Bob Gunton ("Fracture"), Barry Livingston ("My Three Sons") and another "90210" alumna, Dana Barron.

Thiessen says "Pandemic" was filmed almost a year ago as a miniseries, though Hallmark will run it in one three-hour chunk.

"It was definitely one of those time-consuming, lots-of-long-hours jobs," the actress says, "because I'm pretty much in every scene. It was a 10-week shoot, but I started a week late; I was on a fun little vacation for my one-year [wedding] anniversary, so they shot a lot of the stuff I wasn't in before I got there."

Her later start gave Thiessen more time to brush up on basics for her role. "I'd never played a doctor before," she says, "so I was constantly calling friends who are in the medical field and looking at the dictionary for words I didn't know how to pronounce or had no idea what they were. I was picking up the phone quite often to reach a girlfriend who's a doctor in New York, and my brother's fiancee, who's studying to be a nurse. Between the two of them, I was pretty well-covered."