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PASADENA – Betty White kicked off the semiannual Television Critics Association confab Wednesday morning with a few well-placed zingers.
The star of TV Land’s rust-belt cougar sitcom Hot in Cleveland, has become a media darling, snagging a SAG nomination and helping propel the show to TV Land’s most-watched original series in network history.
Along the way, the prolific White has become somewhat ubiquitous, hosting Saturday Night Live (after a Facebook fan campaign) and doing a myriad of guest turns (NBC’s Community, ABC’s The Middle).
“It’s hard for me to say no to a job because you spend your career thinking if you say no to a job they’ll never offer you another one,” explained White. “My mother taught me to say no as a girl. But I’m trying to cut down, I really am.”
Appearing on the dais with her were Cleveland costars Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves and executive producer and head writer Suzanne Martin, White fielded the bulk of the questions from reporters.
“What is this Betty White business,” she said. “This is so silly. You’ve had an overdose of me. I think I’m going to go away for a while.”
In fact, the second season of Hot in Cleveland bows Jan. 19 and marks the on-screen reunion of White and Mary Tyler Moore, who guest stars in the season opener.
White, who turns 89 on Jan. 17, said she and Moore, who haven’t worked together since The Mary Tyler Moore Show, have remained friends. But they don’t see each other as much she would like since Moore lives in New York City and White resides in Los Angeles.
“We haven’t worked together in 33 years so it was great fun,” said White adding that Moore is “a dynamite lady.”
“It was a great reunion.”
The second season of Cleveland will also feature another familiar face of a certain vintage. Susan Lucci and other characters from ABC’s daytime soap All My Children will appear on the TV Land comedy in a three-episode cross-over event Feb. 16 and 23 on Hot In Cleveland and Feb. 24 on All My Children.
Lucci will play herself in the Cleveland episodes, continuing last season’s storyline that established her as Malick’s character’s archenemies.
The show’s status as a runaway cable hit and White’s own stature as something of a national treasure has had a rejuvenating effect on the entire cast of Hot In Cleveland, all veteran sitcom actresses. Malick, 60, observed that fans of the show are constantly approaching her.
“That’s one of the greatest things about this job,” she said, adding a common refrain is: “Thank you for making me laugh last night.”
To which White quipped: “And what time did he go home?”
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