‘Hot In Cleveland ‘premieres this Wednesday night, and rest assured, the real Cleveland, Ohio, is ready.
TV Land’s first original scripted series presents Valerie Bertinelli (‘One Day At a Time’), Jane Leeves (‘Frasier’) and Wendy Malick (‘Just Shoot Me’) as three Los Angeles women whose waylaid travel plans deposit them in Indians territory. There, they realize that while their “certain age” has lost them some luster in Tinseltown, they are deemed (all together now) hot in Cleveland.
Is the Ohio city perturbed to be presented as having lower standards for beauty? Not at all. Rather, they like the idea of being spoken in the same breath as L.A. – especially if their coastal counterpart is the one assigned an unflattering reputation
Mark Dawidziak, TV critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, says that when he first got wind of the TV Land series, “Your first fear is: Is this going to be used to throw darts at our town? Is this just going to be a bunch of Cleveland jokes? But the first hurdle that gets cleared in this pilot is the fact that the city that comes off bad is Los Angeles.”
Still, there is a concern that as the series unfolds, the writers will resort to pot shots as low-hanging fruit such as the Cuyahoga River catching fire, Terminal Tower, the renovation of The Flats (and re-renovation thereof), or any number of sports infamies.
But save for quick nods to Drew Carey and Cavaliers star LeBron James, the first episode is too busy setting up the premise and characters to delve too deeply into the city’s hits and disses.
“Cleveland is the go-to city for a punch line, so you do tend to ‘put your right up’ when you hear that a show is going to be called ‘Hot In Cleveland’ and it’s not being done by Drew Carey or Steve Harvey or one of the favorite sons,” says Dawidziak. “Now that people are going to see the show, we’ll see what their response is.”
Dawidziak’s free advice to ‘Cleveland’s creative team: Tap into the wealth of homegrown talent – Molly Shannon, Patricia Heaton and Fred Willard among them – to either guest-star or offer a “true north” compass for any city-centric references.
Even series star Valerie Bertinelli’s fiancé was born and bred in Cleveland (specifiically Cuyahoga Heights), so “They have a built-in advisor!” Dawidziak notes.
Worst case, you can bring in the big gun: White-hot ‘Golden’ gal Betty White, who costars as the transplanted ladies’ cantankerous landlord. After all, what Cleveland diehard would not find it endearing were she to roll out of bed one morning in a Michael Stanley Band night shirt?
Watch this video clip for a taste of ‘Cleveland’: