Significant Entertainment

Fred and Mary Willard.

I want to talk about a variety of entertainment that is more than just fun, but filled with lofty talent, special spirit and closely tied to our community. So, in no particular order, let’s start with something huge.

Huge: One of the most important shows on television might seem like it’s about fat jokes, but no. Huge is a brilliant new series that just may, I pray, be a part of the solution to the dire problem of childhood obesity.

The Dooley/Holzman factor automatically means classic excellence. Tolucans Winnie Holzman and her daughter Savannah Dooley have put their creative heads together and, along with actor/papa Paul Dooley, have boldly brought Huge to television. This is not just for children, but an entertaining drama that rings true to all ages. Sure, it’s about dieting, but so many other issues, rarely acknowledged, are opened up. A huge shoutout to all producers and writers. Winnie has had an extensive writing career, from the musical Wicked to TV’s My So Called Life and Once and Again. Savannah is a young chip off two great blocks. Hooray for star Nikki Blonsky, and a great acting team. Huge is top of my Tivo, thanks ABC Family.

Hot in Cleveland: Betty White’s momentum continues. An Emmy nomination, again, for hosting Saturday Night Live! She’s got a sexy 2011 calendar ready to roll, and profits are going to The Morris Foundation to improve the health and well-being of companion animals and more. And her really funny series, about real grown ups, has just been picked up for 20 shows next season. Hot in Cleveland is hot everywhere. And, did I mention Betty would be Actors &Others’ honoree for our 40th Anniversary benefit!

A group from Actors and Others for Animals attended a taping last week, guided by the hysterical ringmaster, Michael Burger. Our luck, guest stars were Carl Reiner and Tim Conway, vying for Betty’s affections. TV Land has scored a big winner with its first sitcom. The cast is crammed with the cream of TV comedians, all stars in their own firmament, Jane Leeves, Wendy Malick and Valerie Bertinelli join Betty White in this comedy of errors (well, just a touch tacky and tender too).

Something old and something new. Nothing borrowed and often blue. A classic collision of great comedy writing and praiseworthy performances. LeBron, LeShmon, Cleveland has a hot show. Check their website and enjoy the bloopers with the cast.

Spirit at the Willards: Nothing can be as entertaining as being at home with Mary and Fred Willard celebrating the 4th of July. Their Valley compound, with spectacular all American décor and bright and beautiful flowers, was filled with red, white and blue dressed celebrants.

The Willards are family people and show folk. Their friends are funny and fabulous and some are famous. Fred and Mary are outgoing and personal, silly and sentimental, generous and gentle (and gentile). Their friend Steve Bluestein, comic, playwright, writer, animal lover, funny person, loyal friend, and a son with a great memory was also there. Sally Marshall was in attendance, with her bum neck in a brace, but it was patriotically covered and she was one of the distinguished performers who recited patriotic paragraphs as part of the pageantry.

JoAnne Worley participated in the Glorious Pageant as the friendly bullhorn and also played the straight-woman to Freddy (the grandson of Fred and Mary via their darling daughter Hope). Freddy nailed every gag and the family was beaming and gleaming. And the rocket’s red glare came from the dazzling display on the tennis court, where all the guests had paraded in costume with props and sparklers provided by the hosts.

The holiday-perfect eats were from my favorite caterer, Marsha Nardo of Off The Wall catering. Mary Willard, a Boston girl, made her famed Beans. Endlessly entertaining. We’ll talk …

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