Eight-time Emmy winner Cloris Leachman says she wasn’t looking to return to the TV series scene when Fox’s “Raising Hope” came her way. “I had nothing to do with it. It’s all his doing,” she says, referring to show creator Greg Garcia (“My Name is Earl”). And now, “I’m madly in love. I’ve been laughing so hard. I don’t know when I’ve been so excited.”
Cloris was taken right away with the role of Maw Maw, who goes around in her bra and orange stretch pants, and whose first response to her infant great-granddaughter is “Get that dog off my couch!”
Fox has scheduled “Raising Hope” to follow its hottest hit, “Glee,” this fall — what you could call an excellent in-house review. Two cast members were replaced from the original pilot, but Cloris feels that “shows what faith the network has in this show. It’s very costly to add to this thing,” she says of the first episode.
The “Raising Hope” cast – including Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt – begins shooting episodes next month. Cloris is not sitting idly waiting to go to work until then, however. Fresh from serving as grand marshal of this year’s Pride parade in San Diego, she’s doing her one-woman show Aug. 6-8 in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and looking forward to promotional chores for the big screen horror thriller “The Fields” with Tara Reid. In it, the Oscar winner (“The Last Picture Show”) plays the grandmother of an eight-year-old boy being terrorized by unseen forces.
MEANWHILE: Eighty-four-year-old force of nature Cloris attributes her energy level to the vegetarian lifestyle she’s embraced for decades. Indeed, we can’t help but remember her announcing that she only eats brightly-colored food during a luncheon meeting at least 20 years ago. (She also told us she loves to eat salad with her fingers, which she demonstrated right there in the Disney commissary.) Now articles about nutrient-rich brightly-colored foods are common.
“I was ahead of my time,” she says happily. “And Joanne Woodward and I were the only women who nursed our babies back when we were new mothers. After that, nursing became popular and a lot of babies were much happier because of that.” She adds, “You have to teach yourself child-raising. It’s not ever taught in school and it should be. They teach how to kick a ball, or throw it or hit it – it’s all about balls. It should be more about bats.”
And there you have it.