Betty White interview, 'SNL's' Mother's Day gift, video preview
By April MacIntyre Apr 30, 2010, 22:15 GMT
01/23/2010 - Betty White - 16th Annual Screen Actor\'s Guild Awards - Press Room The Shrine Auditorium - Los Angeles, CA. USA © Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos
America's premiere smallscreen actress Betty White will be hosting Saturday Night Live on May 8 for a very special Motherís Day show.
Betty White is SNL's golden girl who tells Monsters and Critics the one person she would bring back from her past is Allen Ludden, her husband who died in 1981.
The social media site Facebook might have sparked her return to the smallscreen on SNL, but White shares in her interview that she is a techno "spaz" and doesn't have an account.
Through popular demand by her fans who use the social-networking website, the Emmy-winning veteran of "The Golden Girls" returns to our TV on SNL May 8.
In honor of Betty White's upcoming SNL appearance on May 8, and the premiere in June of her new TVLand sitcom "Hot in Cleveland," the St. Olaf Glee Club produced their video homage to all the great "Betty White Lines" and sent us the link.
Monsters and Critics joined other journalists and spoke to Betty White the other day about her TV work and the SNL show.
Yahoo!: Would you be in favor of a Golden Girls remake at some point? And if so, who do you think should play Rose?
Betty White: Oh isnít that funny? Well Mae West is gone. I really have never given it any thought. But itís an interesting question and Iíll brood on it. And Iíll try to come up with somebody. But I canít right off the top of my head.
Yahoo! But would you think thatís a good idea?
Betty White: Sure, why not?
Monsters and Critics: Will we be seeing Sue Ann Nivens perhaps resurrected in any skits?
Betty White: I havenít a clue what Iím going to be doing. I havenít met anybody. I havenít heard anything about content. So Iím getting a little panicky but I look forward to maybe sitting down with the writers and hearing what they have in mind.
Monsters and Critics: Iím just wondering if you could just bring someone back to do some scenes with, some segments or scenes, who do you miss the most in comedy that you played well with?
Betty White: Allen Ludden.
Oh I think I would - Bill Moore goes back to Life with Elizabeth. We had the most fun together because a lot of it was - we were sort of making it up as we went along.
Boston Herald: Are you surprised with I guess the appeal you have with such a young audience, people that werenít even born maybe when Golden Girls was still on the air?
Betty White: Well the amazing thing is and with the Mary Tyler Moore Show, some of the kids, you know, grew up with me, but their parents also grew up with me and in many cases their grandparents grew up with me.
Iíve just sort of been around in there, you know, as a fixture (all through the). When I do a book signing or anything like that the kids come up and they werenít born when Mary Tyler Moore came on. And now as you say, even when Golden Girls was on the air they hadnít been born yet.
But thatís what comes of good writing. The writing on both those shows were - thatís what keeps bringing them back and makes them work for any generation because itís funny.
Us Weekly: Since Jay-Z is going to be the musical guest this Saturday if you were a fan of his before the show. And if not, if you have started listening to his music?
Betty White: Oh Iím thrilled to meet him and thrilled to hear that heís going to be on the show because heís the hottest thing since sliced bread.
But I will certainly enjoy him. I hope that we get along well.
How did you become aware of the Facebook campaign to get you as an SNL host?
Betty White: Well all of a sudden people would tell me that they saw the Facebook thing. And all these people had joined in. And I couldnít believe it. At first I thought they were putting me on.
But it just came out of left field and I was astounded. I told my agents to please say thank you I appreciate it but no thank you. And he said you have to do it. And if you donít do it Iíll divorce you.
And I love my agent so here I am doing it.
Minneapolis Star Tribune Why do people cast you as from Minnesota? Why do you think that is?
Betty White: I donít know because Iím not Norwegian although both the characters more or less lean that way. But Iím Danish. I had a Danish grandfather. Maybe geographically close. Letís put it that way.
Minneapolis Star Tribune why did he think it was so important that you take advantage of this opportunity?
Betty White: Well at my age Iím an old broad. And at my age to be invited to do a show as current and choice as Saturday Night Live he thought would be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a different direction to go in.
And I said Iíd rather watch it than do it. And he said no, no, no. So I trust his judgment. Heís done a wonderful job for me. So here I am, going to do it and scared to death.
Arizona Republic: Has comedy evolved or changed or gotten better or worse over the years?
Betty White: No I donít think so. I think whatís changed the most is the audience, not the comedy. The problem is the audience is - you know, they have heard every joke. They know every storyline. They know where somethingís going before we even take off.
Thatís hard to write for and thatís hard to perform for because thatís a tough audience to surprise. So you just have to take your best shot.
And I find I do better if I just sort of shoot from the hip and hope for the best.
Toronto Star: Your bawdy sense of humor that youíve demonstrated in recent years. Is that really you?
Betty White: Iíve always had a bawdy sense of humor. My father was a traveling salesman and he would bring jokes home and heíd tell and theyíd never explain them to me. If I got them, that was fine. If I didnít that was fine.
But heíd say honey you can take that one to school but I wouldnít take that one to school. And so but it was always both my mom and dad had a wonderful sense of humor. And we would even get through some of the grim times by at least keeping a little sense of humor. It sure beats the alternative.
UGO.com: Is there anybody from the SNL history of the show in an ideal circumstance that you would have loved to work with?
Betty White: I love the church lady. I donít know why. She always just tickled me pink. But Iím thrilled that they are bringing back the gals who have hosted before. It means Iíll have wonderful people to work with.
Teen News: What advice you have for younger actresses that are struggling in Hollywood today?
Betty White: Well Iím so thrilled weíve been around in this business for so long. And I keep getting young actresses who ask, you know, how - what do you do?
And Betty Davis, Betty, yes Betty Davis did an answer to that question on the Late Night Show one night that just cracked me up.
He said what advice would you give young actresses trying to get into Hollywood? She said take Fountain.
Well that doesnít mean anything to anybody outside of Los Angeles. But Fountain is the direct street that should take - that has the least traffic on it.
So young actresses, take Fountain.
Hollywood News: Since you don't know whatís going to be on the show yet are there any reoccurring Saturday Night Live characters that you would like to be in a sketch with like What Up with Dad or Gilly?
Betty White: Oh any one of them. I enjoy them all. And I kind of like the surprise of not knowing which one I'm going to be. I'm trying not to form any pre-opinions because I don't have a clue what theyíre going to ask me to do.
I don't know an pinch of anything that they have planned. So I'm trying to keep an open mind and just go for broke.
Hollywood News: When the last time you've been in touch with Rue McClanahan?
Betty White: Oh (Ruesy) is - I - we talk about every oh maybe three, four weeks we talk. She lives in New York of course. And she had a bum go.
She had a triple bypass and then had a stroke. And sheís just doing fine. I talked with her. Sheís home and doing better and better and speech is all cleared up. Sheís in great shape. Isn't that good news?
Hollywood News: What do you think the Craig Ferguson appearances have done for your new appeal?
Betty White: TheyĎve been the most fun of any - anything Iíve done. He is just incredible. Heís a good friend. But we - the only thing is we can't ever dare make eye contact when weíre working together or we both crack up. I don't know why. We just tickle each other. I love him.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: When the idea of being on Saturday Night Live was first brought up to you, you said you didn't want to do it. Why?
Betty White: Oh I - believe me, I would love to just be able to continue to watch it and never have to do it. Itís an intimidating assignment letís put it that way.
Youíre dealing with - and first of all itís so New York and I'm so California and I'll feel like a - kind of like a fish out of water.
But as long as I'm committed to do it Iíll go back and I want to make it a fun adventure. But if - between us I'm scared to death.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette And then youíre doing a sitcom for TV Land. How is that going and how is that different from your past sitcom experience?
Betty White: Oh this is a delight. Jane Leaves and Wendy Malick and Valerie Bertinelli are the three stars of the show.
And their chemistry together is wonderful. The pilot got picked up so fast that it blew all our minds.
And we actually start working on those series the day I get back from Saturday Night Live. So itís a quick turnaround but I think itís going to be great fun.
TV Tango: You said earlier youíre going to let the SNL writers kind of take the lead. But are you going to suggest any skits, maybe something like a Password skit with you and Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin?
Betty White: I'd love whatever they have in mind for me. I don't have a clue whatís going to happen. I'll be - I'll welcome, you know, whatever. But I'm getting kind of eager to see what they, you know, what they have in mind.
And I'll try. I'll do the best I can with the tools I've got. But itís going to be an adventure.
TV Tango: But nothing you'd want to suggest to them?
Betty White: No - my only suggestion was that everybody said that oh when you come out for the introduction everybodyís going to be so excited.
And so I would love it if theyíd introduced me and hereís Betty White and nothing, no applause, no nothing, the audience just stares back at me. I think that could be fun.
CanWest News: Do you have a favorite comeback or insult or curse word?
Betty White: Oh no. I have no idea what I'm going to say. My mental editor goes to sleep sometimes and I have to watch it like a hawk.
I have a rather bawdy sense of humor. And I sometimes I see double entendre where it really doesn't exist. But itís - I have fun with it and I try not to hurt anybody with it but itís - I have to watch myself carefully sometimes.
Flash News: Youíve mentioned youíre a little nervous about actually hosting. What are you most nervous about?
Betty White: The fact that I understand you work from cue cards. And I never have been able to work from cue cards. I memorize everything or ad lib it.
And I know with the changing scripts and it changes as you speak I know that won't be possible. And with cue cards I hope I don't have to wear my glasses. I hope the print is big enough. If it isn't I'll do the show with my glasses.
Flash News: Were there any other times over your career where you dreamt of hosting SNL?
Betty White: No. I was asked a couple of times years ago and again I said thank you but no thank you. It - itís such a New York focused show. And I am so, you know, Californian and stuff. I was always afraid Iíd feel like a fish out of water. So I said no thank you.
This time my agent put a firm hand in the middle of my back and pushed and said you've got to do it. So I'm going to make it fun.
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Regarding Hot in Cleveland - can you describe your character on the show and what sheís all about?
Betty White: Well the three girls have come to Cleveland, Valerie Bertinelli and Wendy Malick and Jane Leaves. They have come to Cleveland and theyíre renting a house because theyíre going to stay there for a while.
I have been housekeeper at that house for 50 years. And they inherit me along with the house. And of course Iím a pain in the neck.
Elka is not a nice person. She - her opening line when she sees the real estate man talking to the three girls is why are you renting to prostitutes? So that kind of sets her character. Sheís not easy to live with.
The Canadian Press; Was there ever a harrowing live TV experience, something that went wrong in the middle of something that you were doing that you can remember?
Betty White: Oh lifeís darkest moment. I was doing a song on Jack Paarís show and all of a sudden I lost the lyrics. It was a song I knew so well, When I Fall in Love.
And I don't know what broke my concentration or whatever and I just - I went on - I sang something. I made up lyrics as I went along but that is sheer panic. And I have a feeling itís the same kind of panic that I may feel when I do Saturday Night Live.
The Canadian Press; You seem to have such an ease with live TV. Is it because of all those early talk show appearances in your early live television?
Betty White: Well I started when I started locally in Los Angeles I was on live television 5-1/2 hours a day six days a week for four years.
And anything that ever happened in your life happened on camera. So it was like going to television college. It was good experience.
The Canadian Press: Do you have a Facebook account?
Betty White: No. Iím a technological spaz.
Desert Sun: Is it true your character in the upcoming Hot in Cleveland smokes marijuana?
Betty White: No, no, no thatís wrong. That - she does not smoke marijuana. At one point she comes in the room and thinks she smells marijuana.
I don't do dope jokes. I don't think dope is funny or fun or whatever. So no. But she just comes in and says I smell marijuana. And that is - so somebody -- I don't know who it was -- took it that Elka smokes marijuana. She does not.
Show Patrol: Are there any male celebrities that you think are super hot?
Betty White: Well my standard answer and has been forever and will continue to be is Robert Redford. I I've never met the man but I just enjoy fantasizing about him completely.
Show Patrol: Does comedy get easier or more difficult as you get older?
Betty White: Oh I don't ever think of doing comedy. You just do it. On and off camera you just think more into the humor side of it than the other side.
And I don't think itís changed any. I think you still - who was it - I forget who said on camera dying was easy, comedy was hard.
The man who did Miracle on 34th Street was the man who said it. I canít come up with his name right now. But I just I don't find it hard. I just love to do it.
TV Grapevine: What is more important, the celebrity life or helping animals with your charities?
Betty White: Oh I think helping the animals is - thatís the lovely upside of any celebrity that happens. Because people tend to listen and you can spread the word about, you know, loving animals and treating them properly and caring for them.
I'm not an animal activist. I'm not into anything political or demonstrations or anything like that. I'm just into animal health and welfare. And have been with the Morris Animal Foundation, a health organization for 45 years and with the Los Angeles Zoo for 45 years.
So over the years of enjoying show business we've been able to help the animals. Thatís great.
FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&CBetty White Biography -
Betty White Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sites
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