First up at the Television Critics Association’s annual gathering: the TV Land session.
The MTV Network’s session included stars of upcoming TV Land sitcom Retired at 35—George Segal, Jessica Walter, Johnathan McClain, Josh McDermitt and Ryan Michelle Bathe—and executive producer Chris Case. As expected, the focus was on comedy and why the format is growing significantly on cable.
“I feel like when I write something, I want it to feel contemporary,” said Case. “So, I feel like it’s really missing from the big networks. People sort of walked away from it except for CBS, and if you look at their success, other places should be doing these types of shows.”
“With the decline of the sitcom, it freed up all of these showrunners, which we were able to get,” added Segal. “So, the quality of the writing is breathtakingly high.”
The sitcom floodgates on cable are opening up thanks to the success of Betty White vehicle Hot in Cleveland, which was up next in a panel, featuring actors Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, White and showrunner Suzanne Martin. The upcoming 20-episode season of Hot in Cleveland will be broken into two parts, with the first batch of 10 episodes bowing on Wednesday, Jan. 19, and the second half on Wednesday, June 15. TV Land is also gearing up production on three pilots—Ex Men, Rip City and Happily Divorced—the latter from Fran Drescher and ex-husband and co-The Nanny creator Peter Marc Jacobsen. (One of the three is expected to air out of Hot in Cleveland in June.)
In an unprecedented network event, it was announced that Hot in Cleveland will feature a crossover with daytime ABC soap opera All My Children. The story will revolve around Wendie Malick’s character, Victoria Chase, and her industry nemesis, Susan Lucci. The two-part Cleveland episodes will air on TV Land on Feb. 16 and 23 at 10 p.m. ET, followed by the All My Children at 1 p.m. ET on Feb. 24.
As expected, the much-beloved White had the lion’s share of questions at the Hot in Cleveland panel, including some about her show business ethic. “It’s hard for me to say no to a job because you spend your career thinking if you say no, they will never ask you again. And if you don’t take the job, you know that may be the end of it,” said White. “My mother taught me to say no when I was a girl, but it was not about show business.”
Immediately following White and company was her former Mary Tyler Moore co-star, Ed Asner, in a session on upcoming CMT sitcom Working Class. When asked where he houses his seven Emmys, Asner joked, “I just read that Cloris Leachman has eight Emmys. Bitch. Well, you know, if you want to act nuts like she does, I guess you can get those.” Working Class premieres on CMT on Friday, Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. ET.
Separately, TV Land announced that the ninth annual TV Land Awards will be taped later this year in New York and features tributes to The Cosby Show and Family Ties.