'Hot in Cleveland' returns to TV Land: You know what's more fun than watching it? Being there!


Image Credit: TV Land

You know what’s more fun than watching TV Land’s delightfully throwbacky sitcom Hot in Cleveland, which returned to television last night? Being on set of the episode that aired last night! And not even that, but being there not exactly as press, but as an extra.

If you watched last night’s episode “Where’s Elka?” and watched close (and, you know, had any remote idea of what I look like, which you likely don’t), you would have seen me a couple of times. Albeit, very, very briefly, in a couple of the scenes where Joy (Jane Leeves), Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli), and Victoria (Wendie Malick) stumble into an Amish bar (Victoria postulates that it’s an “old-timey gay bar”) looking for Elka (Betty White). I’m dressed as an Amish bar dude. Did you see me? The photographic evidence of my presence — sitting at the table of guys that flash to when the gals enter the bar, and then later, next to guest star George Wendt — is below.


Image Credit: TV Land

The fine folks over at Hot in Cleveland, notably executive producer Todd Milliner (see him with me in the last photo in this post), invited me to the set for the Feb. 11 taping, mostly because I’m a big fan of the show and have covered it since it launched last summer at the height of the frenzy around Betty White. And I have to say: Just like the show, the experience was completely delightful.

Probably because I was a special guest and not just a day-rate extra, I was treated rather well. That’s not to say that extras are treated poorly, of course, but my special status meant that I didn’t have to sit around for hours with the fleet of other extras who were there (I got to leave the lot during the afternoon break!) or eat in their special craft services area. And, wardrobe treated me like a king! The hair department, though, had trouble with me, as they kept telling me that my quaff was “too trendy” for an Amish ‘do. Hence, why I had to wear a hat in all my scenes. That hairdo they did give me is…hmmm…interesting, right? Let’s just say that I don’t usually style my hair like Alfalfa from Little Rascals.

Through it all, I even got to spend a few minutes with Betty White in her dressing room. So I took the opportunity to ask her about being an extra, since that’s why I was there. Had she ever been one in her decades-long career, possibly at the beginning? “I’m trying to remember,” she said, between reading proof pages of her latest book. “I don’t think I’ve been atmosphere.” I love, love, love that she referred to extras as “atmosphere,” which is a relatively common term on television sets but somehow sounds really old-school. Which, of course, fits White very perfectly.

The seasoned vet also talked a bit about working on Cleveland while I was with her. “You cannot work with these girls and not be thrilled,” she said. “They are incredible. We all fell in love the first time we got together, but it’s just such fun. I know it sounds corny, but we dearly love each other. If we see each other two sets away, we’re blowing kisses. You can’t force that. You can’t manufacture that. That has to be genuine. Oh, we’re having a ball.”


Image Credit: TV Land

Despite the long hours that you’re there for rehearsals and the taping and all, being an extra is sort of exactly that, too: It’s a ball. At least in my case, I got to dress up in wacky clothes, snack off the cheese plate here and there, and be in a couple scenes with the indelible Malick, Leeves, and Bertinelli. One word: Heaven. That trio can do no wrong, in my mind. I wasn’t in a scene with Betty, dagnabbit, but I guess I can’t complain since I got to spend a few minutes with her in her dressing room, and you know, watch the rest of the episode with her in it be taped. And get my photo with her! (See above.)

The episode itself was a fun one. It found Elka’s three roommates trying to track her down through Ohio’s Amish country, after she went on the lam during the mid-season finale back in March. Hence the title: “Where’s Elka?” Of course, they found her, and brought her back to Cleveland. George Wendt was a guest star, as you can see in the photo above, playing a guy named Yoder the gals were looking to for help. Watching him do his thing — it all seemed so effortless for him — was a real treat. And: The episode featured the return of Amy Sedaris to the series! That was an experience, seeing her catting around set.

All in all, a pleasant episode and a pleasant experience. But I’ll keep my day job as a writer.

Did you watch the episode? What’d you think of it? Did you spy me in the bar scenes? Lemme know in the comments below.

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

Read more:
‘Hot in Cleveland’ season finale: Betty White on the lam!
‘Hot in Cleveland’ returns strong

Comments (34 total) Add your comment
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  • Misspriss_1

    I was there watching the first episode… And it was as funny as always!! It is nice that the summer shows are finally coming on, and just in time, as tv has been lacking new episodes of my shows! Will continue to watch HIC…. It is fun and funny!! Love Betty White!! And the other three women too…

    • Lily

      netfrepretmyoacos on September 25, 2011 omg the sauve thing was so corny lol but hey its 2 free products so ill do it. i love your channel and facebook and site so great! im kat elliott on facebook it really would be great to have a forum and your site would be perfect for that

  • lyrica

    just watched the premiere! very funny!! also, great to see Fran D.back in “Happily Divorced” !

    • Julie

      Was great to see Fran too!! Was not as funny as the iconic “The Nanny”, but if you’re a die-hard Drescher fan like I am, you’ll watch her in anything.

  • KC

    Wow. Valerie looks great.

    • DC

      Agree! That’s what I was going to comment on.

  • Kacey

    I found myself laughing last night at the silliest things. I almost busted a gut when George Wendt walked into that bar (really? there are Amish bars? I don’t think so…) I saw just the first few minutes of Happily Divorced before the DVR switched off. Painfully horrible!

  • Starg8t

    We gave up watching TVLand two years ago due to the low-grade reality shows. So I won’t be there viewing TVLand’s originals. I am tempted to watch to see the older comedy stars in a new series but knowing TVLand’s recent history we know better. Get back to the oldies.

    • DC

      You aren’t missing anything. I love all the actresses in HIC and had hopes for it. All that can’t save the ridiculous didn’t-I-see-that-on-a-show-in-the-’80s story lines and poor scripts.

    • Jason

      Every station has low grade reality shows these days.

  • Marc

    Tanner is a guy! What?????


    just had to click on here to say “Dude, what are you wearin?”

  • Jaylen

    Good for you, Tanner! I’m jealous! :-)

  • Chucklehead

    I’ll never watch this show as long as it has Betty White on it. I can’t stand her.

    • reason

      she was awful in “The Proposal” and everyone acted like she was doing something special.

      • Chucklehead

        I’ve never understood her appeal.

  • Julie

    Some people’s expectations are just too darn high. How well are many of the network sitcoms doing? There are only a few hits today. The show definitely appeals to people old enough to remember and appreciate the traditional sitcom formula. I’ll enjoy HIC while it’s on.

    • KEVIN

      Modern Family, The Middle, Cougar Town, The Office, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Community, Big Bang Theory, HIMYM, Happy Endings…with sitcoms as good as these our expectations should be high.

  • Matt Meyer

    The episode and the ladies were funny. If you are going to do a show about Cleveland, get it right. Canada is north, on the other side of Lake Erie. Ohio Amish country is South, not on the way to Canada.

    • Buckeye

      Thank you!!!

      • Candy Jo

        Yay! Thanks for pointing that out — I noticed that too…

    • Kathy

      Well put, sir, well put. I’ll cetrnialy make note of that.

    • MW

      Keep it real? that was the least of the “real” on this episode. Ohio Amish do not speak that way “thee, thy, thou”. they do NOT own bars or gather in bars, they are not supposed to drink alcohol…. this episode was too stupid to be funny. would’ve been funny if they made the Amish a bit more realistic. like if they wanted Elke or the ladies to stumble into where a bunch of Amish men were hanging out then stumble on a horse auction. (mostly men, hardly any women at those, unless serving at the lunch counter) The writers could’ve been cleverly funny with that!

  • Sure

    I love HIC and will continue to give HD a chance. This is better than those scripted “reality” shows idiots watch.

    • Star

      I was really confused, and this answered all my qusetions.

  • Ben

    Was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night in Cleveland where the entire cast was there to premiere the new episode…had a ball! All four of them were great to talk too…very funny!

    • @Ben

      No you weren’t. Lyin’ won’t make you any more interesting. Loser!

    • Malinda

      Thanks for writing such an easy-to-undretsand article on this topic.

  • Tracy

    Don’t mean to be picky, but I think you mean coif (although, really, coiffure), Tanner. Quaff means to drink copiously and with hearty enjoyment.

  • Barb Stransky

    Tanner–Being a “Betty White Expert” certainly has perks!

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