When “Hot in Cleveland” returns this summer for the second half of season four, you can expect more laughs, heart and a few exciting surprises along the way.
In a conference call with The Michigan Daily, stars Betty White (“The Golden Girls”) and Jane Leeves (“Frasier”) discussed the upcoming episodes, feminism and teased a “Mary Tyler Moore Show” reunion.
When “Hot in Cleveland” premiered in 2010, it became TV Land’s first original scripted series. Just three years later, TV Land is home to four original series, boasting such star power as Fran Drescher, Kristen Johnston and Cedric the Entertainer. In development for the fall is “Kirstie’s New Show,” a sitcom starring Kirstie Alley and “Seinfeld” star Michael Richards.
White and Leeves are aware that their show has paved the way for the latter series. Of their status as pioneers of TV Land original comedy, Leeves likened “Hot in Cleveland” ’s success to that of another hit show.
“I think ‘Hot in Cleveland’ has done for TV Land what ‘Mad Men’ did for AMC,” Leeves said. “It sort of branded the network, so it feels really great for us and to keep this genre alive and kicking, a genre that both Betty and I have so much experience with … I think it’s really wonderful.”
One of the most anticipated episodes of “Hot in Cleveland” ’s upcoming season will feature a “Mary Tyler Moore Show” reunion of sorts — Moore, Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman will join White and Georgia Engel (who already recurs on “Cleveland”) for an episode set to air in September.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which ran from 1970 to 1977, was an important series in the development of gender roles on television, and White and Leeves think “Hot in Cleveland” has earned a place in that ongoing discussion.
“(Our characters) are still trying to continue and improve ourselves … The world doesn’t lock down when you pass a certain age. It’s always open for you, and it’s up to you to do it,” White said.
“It’s not over until it’s over. There’s always room to reinvent yourself as Elka (White’s character) is doing right now by going back to college,” Leeves said.
While “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” reunion may not exactly excite the average college student, there is still plenty to enjoy when “Hot in Cleveland” returns.
“I’m constantly surprised by the young demographic we have … There is such a message of hope in this show, and (it’s) a very modern twist on a classic format,” Leeves said.
Speaking more to the point, she thinks college students should tune in “because they don’t know what they’re missing.”
“Hot in Cleveland” returns on Wednesday, June 19th at 10 p.m. with a supersized live episode.