We weren’t too amused when we first read about the premise behind Hot in Cleveland, TV Land’s first foray into original scripted comedy. The idea that three aging LA babes would attract such an outpouring of male attention during a flight layover that they would decide to move here on the spot insinuates that Cleveland women can’t measure up to California girls, no matter their age.
But Emmy-winning executive producer Suzanne Martin (Frasier, Ellen) corrects that perception immediately. She explains that 40-something author Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli) and her friends Joy (Jane Leeves) and Victoria (Wendie Malick) are products of their environment, a place where people schedule nip-tucks like dental checkups and skin is always in season.
“The first time I went to the supermarket in LA, women seemed like they were in bathing suits,” says Martin, a New England native.
Hot in Cleveland, which debuts June 16 at 10 p.m., is more than skin-deep, however. The characters have each reached crossroads in their lives, and Martin says she chose to land them in Cleveland because she thought the welcoming atmosphere she enjoyed when she first visited in the late ’80s would be conducive to their reinvention. “They say, ‘Why not give it a shot? Let’s go to a place that seems like it’s welcoming us.’ ”
There are no plans to shoot here, but Martin says many of the 10 episodes will unfold at city landmarks. “There will be a lot of dating,” she assures. There will also be plenty of sparring between the women and their rental-property caretaker, played by Betty White. To pay the rent, Martin envisions Joy, a Los Angeles eyebrow-salon owner, opening a business and Victoria, an actress, looking for work in the city’s theaters.
“Melanie may get a job writing for a newspaper or magazine,” Martin adds. Could she end up at Cleveland Magazine? “That’s a possibility.”