Floating through the TV universe are endless tele-memories.
The channels vary – Get and Grit, Decades and Retro and Antenna and more – as do the shows. There’s “Partridge Family” and “Petticoat Junction,” Ed Sullivan and Johnny Cash and “Death Valley Days.”
But into that world comes a surprise: Just four years after it ended its run, “Hot in Cleveland” (shown here) begins a two-hour rerun stretch every weekday on GetTV.
It fits there, because it has a classic-comedy feel. “Hot” was:
— Filmed with multiple cameras in front of an audience, with all the cadences of situation-comedy. “I started my career that way,” Valerie Bertinelli said. “That’s where I feel at home.:
— Filled with sitcom stars. They are Bertinelli from “One Day at a Time,” Jane Leeves from “Frasier,” Wendie Malick from “Just Shoot Me” and Betty White from … well, everything.
“That woman is amazing,” Bertinelli said. “She’s done so much of the comedy I love.”
Bertinelli’s own career is still going. On the same day that “Hot” arrives, she has a season-opener on the Food Network … which also has two more of her shows.
But long ago, she and White were at TV’s laugh factories. White, now 97, was at MTM for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Betty White Show”; Bertinelli, 59, was with Norman Lear.
Lear’s shows (including “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Son,” which now fill GetTV’s prime time), were sometimes sharp and topical. Into that world stepped Bertinelli, a 15-year-old with an angelic face and no experience. “I went through 99 or 100 auditions for commercials. It was not fun.”
Lear had already done a “One Day” pilot about a single mom and her feisty teen daughter. Now he decided to add a second girl, bringing Bertinelli into the spotlight.
She stayed there for other comedies, a marriage to rock star Eddie Van Halen and more. Then came the “Hot in Cleveland” call. “They told me they had Betty and if I was in, they thought they could get Jane and Wendie. I learned later that they said (variations of that) to everyone.”
The concept was simple: Three gorgeous women, oft-ignored in youth-obsessed California, are surprised to be noticed in Cleveland. They stay there … with an eccentric old caretaker.
“I think of it as a love-letter to Cleveland” and its basic values, Bertinelli said. She grew up all around the country – Delaware, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Michigan – with her dad’s General Motors work, before reaching the coast (and all that rejection) at 12. “My acting career was never more important than my brother’s football games or anything else.” Divorced from Van Halen, she’s now married to someone (Tom Vitale, a financial planner) from Cleveland suburbia.
Bertinelli knew Leeves, but hadn’t met Malick — a one-time model who towers over her. “She is so different from the people she plays. She lives on a ranch, with horses and donkeys.”
When “Hot” ended, Bertinelli could have slowed — “I keep trying to retire and do my crossword puzzles” — but she keeps working. Lately, that’s involved food.
Bertinelli’s parents had a mixed marriage: He was Italian, which implies rich flavors; she was English, which doesn’t. (“I love a good shepherd’s pie,” the daughter claims diplomatically.)
Fortunately, her mother evolved. “She wanted so much to fit in with my dad’s family; she became one of the best Italian cooks.”
Bertinelli has continued that food passion – even during a stretch when she shed 40 pounds. Her new show, “Kids Baking Championship,” starts Monday. “Those kids are so inventive.”
There are nine of them, ages 10-13. Most are younger than Bertinelli was, when she started her 100-rejection ordeal.
— “Hot in Cleveland,” 6-8 p.m. ET weekdays, GetTV; it leads into Lear’s “All in the Family” at 8 and “Sanford and Son” at 10.
— On the Food Network: “Valerie’s Home Cooking” wraps its season at 11 a.m. Sunday (Aug. 4) … “Kids Baking Championship”is 9 p.m. Mondays, starting Aug. 5 … “Family Restaurant Rivals” is 10 p.m. Mondays, starting Aug. 19.