With “Hot in Cleveland” returning for its second season Wednesday (1/19) and promotional demands picking up as well, Wendie Malick acknowledges that she and Jane Leeves and Valerie Bertinelli tend to watch out for their cultural phenomenon cast mate, Betty White, who turned 89 yesterday (1/17).
“That’s kind of the rule of thumb. We’re all here to look out for each other. Look, we know we’re in the presence of a national treasure here, but she’s a strong one. She’s a tough broad, I have to tell you,” Malick says.
“She’s got some kind of constitution. The woman lives on hot dogs and french fries. I was trying to get her to eat salad with grilled salmon and my husband said, ‘Will you stop? Whatever she’s been doing is obviously working.’ Maybe red licorice is the secret to a long life.”
The hit status of “Hot in Cleveland” is a welcome surprise to the series team. “We all knew it would be a longshot because there were so few pieces about mature women. But you had to know at some point something would have to work, because there are so many baby boomer women out there who are reinventing ourselves, who are starting new chapters of life.”
With a guest star roster including Mary Tyler Moore, Bonnie Franklin, Carl Reiner, Tim Conway, Melanie Griffith, Peri Gilpin, Joe Jonas and Jon Lovitz, the hitcom also has a few twists on the way. Among them: Malick’s character, ex-soap star Victoria Chase, is headed for a stint on daytime’s “All My Children” toward the end of the month in a first-of-its-kind exchange between a prime time show and a daytime show on different networks.
“It is so confusing,” says Malick — who requested being billed as Victoria Chase in “OLTL” credits, rather than as Wendie Malick.
“We’re having trouble keeping track. Okay, this is a show within a show. Now I’m playing a character who is playing a character.” She doesn’t know what the soap writers have in mind for her as yet. “I’m completely putting myself at their mercy. It will be interesting to see what they come up with, knowing the dynamic between Victoria and Susan Lucci. She did a cameo on our show in the season finale, where she accepted an Emmy on my behalf,” reminds Malick, whose character was filled with chagrin.
She’ll be shooting “Hot in Cleveland” and “One Life to Live” at the same time, “double teaming a little. I know they’ll try to shoot all my things at once. I’ll rehearse a few hours on my show, then shoot a few hours with them.”
It’s a time squeeze most actors would love to have. “Oh, yes, says Malick. “You really want to be a little too busy.”