Betty White's 'Hot in Cleveland' producer speaks out after 'Golden Girls' star's death: 'I loved her so much'

怀特的职业生涯也因其长寿而著称, 她在她的第十个十年里工作得很好. 托德·米利纳, TV Land 的执行制片人 “克利夫兰热,” was able to observe the master comedian and actress up close as she became one of the only octogenarians to experience an improbable career resurgence.

As Elka Ostrovsky, the widowed caretaker of the Ohio manor where the show’s three coastal refugees (played memorably by Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malick) take up residence, White got all the best lines. She was saucy, cranky, sexually liberated and maintained a rebel spirit; her character enjoyed bending the law and, it was hinted, was averse to a good toke.

For Milliner, “克利夫兰热” presented a chance to work with a legend whom he had grown up revering thanks to her turns as the sweet-natured Rose Nylund onGolden Girlsand the man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens onMary Tyler Moore.

(左) Actress Valerie Bertinelli, actress Wendie Malick, President of TV Land Larry W. 琼斯, actress Betty White, actress Jane Leeves, executive producer Todd Milliner, and show creator Suzanne Martin attend TV Land's ‘Hot In Cleveland’ 100 Episodes Celebration on May 1, 2014, in Studio City, 加利福尼亚州.

(左) Actress Valerie Bertinelli, actress Wendie Malick, President of TV Land Larry W. 琼斯, actress Betty White, actress Jane Leeves, executive producer Todd Milliner, and show creator Suzanne Martin attend TV Land’s ‘Hot In Cleveland’ 100 Episodes Celebration on May 1, 2014, in Studio City, 加利福尼亚州. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for TV Land)

BETTY WHITE WAS IN ‘GREAT SPIRITSWHILE FILMING TRIBUTE TO FANS JUST 10 DAYS BEFORE HER DEATH: ‘VERY SWEET

这里, Milliner pays tribute to his friend and remembers the highlights of their collaboration on “克利夫兰热,” which included quickly moving White from guest star to series regular and staging a pseudoMary Tyler Moore Showreunion that brought back Moore, 克洛里斯·里奇曼, Valerie Harper and Georgia Engle (who was already recurring). Milliner’s comments have been edited and condensed for clarity.

It was shortsightedness on our part and a little bit of hesitancy on Betty’s part to commit to another series, but she was only supposed to be a guest star on “克利夫兰热,” not a regular. It was right around the time when she was popping again in everything — there was the Snickers commercial, she’d just doneThe Proposal” 和 it was right before “SNL”.

When we did the pilot, it was such a magical experience and the audience loved her so much, that we looked at each other and said, “Oh s–Ť, we better sign her up for all of this.She was worried about committing to doing 24 episodes a year, but she liked working with the ladies so much as an ensemble that she was able to be convinced to sign up for the whole thing.

She was all-in. She was game for everything. We purposely tried to stay away from the more risqué topics, but any time we brought something to her that we worried would cross the line, she’d say it at the table read and there’d be a ton of laughs. She was willing to go to a lot of places. Just likeGolden Girls,” the show was about a group of women who were having active sex lives at an age where women aren’t usually shown on TV having active sex lives.

(左) Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, Betty White and Jane Leeves attend TV Land's ‘Hot In Cleveland’ and ‘Retired At 35’ premiere party at Sunset Tower on January 10, 2011, in West Hollywood, 加利福尼亚州.

(左) Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, Betty White and Jane Leeves attend TV Land’s ‘Hot In Cleveland’ and ‘Retired At 35’ premiere party at Sunset Tower on January 10, 2011, in West Hollywood, 加利福尼亚州. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

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She was a generous performer. Even when the camera wasn’t on her in a scene, she’d be smiling in support of her co-star. Everybody adored her and her talent. There was never a complaint about Betty. 上 “克利夫兰热,” for maybe the only time in my career, there were no problems on the show over six seasons. And with Betty’s attitude on that stage, it set a tone from the top down that we all had to be kind and considerate to everybody.

I’ve seen all these social media posts with people sharing memories of Betty White being so kind and so nice. I’m not surprised. Every day she came in thoughtful and considerate and ready to work. I don’t ever remember seeing her in a bad mood. The worst day she had was a table read we had the morning after [她的 “Golden Girls” 配角] Rue McClanahan died. She was so sad because she’d gotten the news. She was still great, but it was also the saddest I’d ever seen Betty.

I grew up watching so many episodes ofMary Tyler Moorethat it was outrageous when we had the show with all those actresses. There was tons of press around it. It felt like the NCAA tournament or something — there was so much interest that we had to have a press conference. I found myself visiting Mary Tyler Moore’s dressing room and she was so kind. She had me sit down so she could share all her memories of working with Betty. Cloris Leachman was just as crazy and funny and fun off stage as she was on stage. And she was completely off-book immediately. All of the women were pros.

There is a chunk of scripts every season that you know is great and then there’s a group that you wish were better and a bunch of them that live in-between. Every time we knew we were doing one of those episodes that we wished we could improve, we also knew that Betty could and would save us. She turned phrases or lines into comic gold in these instinctual ways. If she flubbed a line, her timing with the live studio audience was impeccable. She’d take a moment and then look at them and say something likeIt’s cruel to laugh at your elders.And people would just erupt.

Rue McClanahan and Betty White during William S. Paley Television Festival - ‘The Golden Girls’ at Directors Guild in Los Angeles, 加利福尼亚州, 美国.

Rue McClanahan and Betty White during William S. Paley Television Festival‘The Golden Girls’ at Directors Guild in Los Angeles, 加利福尼亚州, 美国. (Photo by Malcolm Ali/WireImage)

I’m a gay man who watched every episode ofGolden Girls.It was some sort of rite of passage for me. And then I caught up with her on reruns ofMary Tyler Moore.I was a fan of every chapter of her career. There’s probably an academic course on why these iconic female shows likeGolden Girls” 要么 “设计女性” became such a tapestry of growing up LGBTQ in a certain era. I can’t speak for others, but my relationships with older women were so important in my life that I loved seeing older women be very, very funny on those shows.

I was so sad when I heard that Betty had passed, because she was a friend and I loved her so much and because it was kind of a marker of time, 和 “克利夫兰热” was such an important time in my life. And then I thought, I’m going to knock it off and think about what Betty stood for and meant. Her legacy isn’t just about her impact as a wonderful comedic actress. We honor her because she was so full of kindness — kindness to people, kindness to animals and kindness to the world. That’s pretty rare right now.

If we all just figured out a way to live a little bit more like Betty White, 然后 2022 and beyond will be a whole lot better.

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