Ed Asner Follows Betty White – TCA Press Tour Day 1

By Barb Oates

Ed Asner, Credit: Matthew Welch

(Pasadena, Calif) Immediately following TV Land’s hilarious Hot in Cleveland Betty White panel was another revered TV icon – Ed Asner, who is starring in CMT’s first scripted sitcom Working Class. The series is scheduled to air on Fridays, beginning Jan. 28. Asner was quick to fill White’s shoes dishing plenty of his own candor.

“Betty White’s in the building,” he muses. “Did you know that? I hope I get to touch her.”

Co-star Melissa Peterman chimes back, ”You probably already have.”

So begins the panel for Working Class, a series that follows single mom Carli Mitchell (Peterman) who uproots her three kids moving them to an upscale suburb. Carli struggles to make ends meet interacting with her cranky neighbor Hank (Asner), a potential love interest (Patrick Fabian) and  her ladies-man brother Nick (Steve Kazee).

Peterman and Asner are definitely the stand outs in this series, and they gave critics a glimpse of their chemistry as they bantered back and forth over a question Asner was asked about voicing the character Carl in the movie Up.

“I don’t have to send out pictures of myself anymore,” Asner says about his Up role.  “I have been besieged. It remade my career. These guys never would have paid attention to me.”

Peterman jumps in,  “Oh, that’s not true.”

But Asner disagrees saying, “Now, you keep quiet.”

“You keep quiet,” Peterman fires back.

“No.  I’m telling you to,” Asner returns.

“Oh, you make me, old man,” Peterman snaps.

“I grew up in my time considering myself average height. I was considered average height in this country [referencing Peterman’s tall stature as he hovers over him].  Now, look where we are.  So the next time I do one of these shows, if you don’t give me a booster chair, I’m not coming on.”

OK, got it, now that that’s done, let’s get back to Asner. When asked what he believes attributes to his and Betty White’s recent popularity he says: “Well, I think talent has something to do with it.  I’d like to lay claim to that. I figure that I’m in that middle stage there of aging.  You always need a few, you know, droplets so that the youth can be compared to you.  So I’m in that middle stage prior to becoming Mickey Rooney or Betty White.  So it’s a gradual — it’s a gradual step up.”

A gradual step up for a seven-time Emmy winner? And speaking of Emmys…

“They are scattered throughout the house, judiciously scattered, not too overwhelming,” Asner shares. “You know, I just read Cloris Leachman had eight Emmys.  Is that true?”

Yep, Leachman’s got eight he learns.

“Bitch,” Asner sighs.

He’s sounding more and more like Lou Grant as he goes on…

“Well, you know, if you want to act nuts like she does, I guess you can get those.  I did mine through straight comedic developmental acting, progress all the time, perfection all the time, nothing off the charts.  That’s Cloris.“

The cast of "Working Class"

But it’s all fun for Asner, it’s not an Emmy race. “Listen, I don’t ever expect to get another Emmy, even on this show, as good as it is.  But I am very happy with the seven, which represent a variety of work, a drama as well as comedy, and I am quite content.  To keep working, to keep doing the thing that I enjoy the most, that’s the only joy that needs to be done.  I love it.”

And we love, Ed, Melissa and this new series. Check it out Jan. 28.