The saucy side of "Sabrina" got Melissa Joan Hart axed… temporarily.
Back in October 1999, the actress posed for Maxim magazine in her underwear. That magazine cover — which featured the headline "Sabrina, Your Favorite Witch Without a Stitch!" — nearly cost her the title role on "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" due to a violated clause with Archie Comics.
"I thought it was the worst day of my life," Melissa said on a recent episode of the "Pod Meets World" podcast.
Ultimately, however, the headline-making photo shoot also boosted the film she was working on at the time…
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Melissa Joan Hart knew she'd be scantily clad when she posed for a cover story for Maxim magazine in 1999, but she never anticipated the fallout.
Her world came crashing down while she was walking the red carpet at the premiere for her film "Drive Me Crazy" (pictured).
While posing for photos, she knew she was minutes away from breaking up with her boyfriend. Then, shortly after, she found out she'd been fired from "Scary Movie," which was supposed to start production in Vancouver the following day.
"I was crying and upset," she said. Melissa didn't think things could get any worse. But then they did…
At the afterparty following the premiere of "Drive Me Crazy," Melissa Joan Hart was told that she'd been fired from her role as the title character on "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" over her Maxim magazine photo shoot.
"My lawyer shows up and goes, 'You did a photoshoot for Maxim magazine?' I'm like, 'Yes, I did.' They're like, 'Well, you're being sued and fired from your show, so don't talk to the press. Don't do anything.'" Melissa's mom, who was acting as her agent at the time, also called and asked, "What did you do?"
Melissa recalls telling her mother, "'Whatever my publicist told me to do at the photo shoot. Like, I did a photo shoot for Maxim! It's Maxim — of course you're gonna be in your underwear.'" Her mom replied, "Well, we're being fired from the show."
Archie Comics, which created the Sabrina character and own the rights to her likeness, had a contract clause stating that she could never appear naked.
Melissa Joan Hart, who was 23 at the time, didn't think the rule applied while she was promoting a film unrelated to the show "Sabrina the Teenage Witch."
"Here they were thinking I'm in breach because I'm playing the character. No, that was supposed to be me promoting ['Drive Me Crazy']. It wasn't supposed to be a character. I had no control over what they wrote on the cover," she said of the "Sabrina without a stitch" headline Maxim plastered across her cover.
Melissa recalled "hiding" in her hotel room for several days with friends and co-stars.
Amid the controversy over the Maxim cover, Melissa Joan Hart wrote an apology letter and all was forgiven.
The near-firing, however, made headlines and became a topic on talk shows.
"The silver lining was that it allowed for 'Drive Me Crazy' to come out and be a huge success," she said.