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Meeting Betty White on Set of 'Hot in Cleveland'

The "warm, personable" actress hugs the author and even mentions a tortoise she owned.

Editor's note: The following is Margot Ferron's account of visiting the stars of "Hot in Cleveland," a TV Land sitcom.

Recently, I was invited to a taping of the show Hot in Cleveland and it was fabulous. As I sit and write with teary eyes, this small-town Georgia girl knows how blessed I am to meet Betty White and all the actresses of the show.

From the minute we pulled into the parking lot until we left, the pages, escorts, staff and crew were friendly and polite. Because we were VIPs, they put pink wristbands on us, but everyone was treated like a VIP. We sat in the first row. I am guessing there were 175 seats.

Janice Naehu, Betty White's assistant, gave us a backstage tour of the directors, makeup, green room, all the stages and staging areas. When we had a break she checked on us to see if we needed anything.

No phones and cameras. (Janice took the above photo with her phone.)

Before we were seated, everyone was offered a vegan or turkey sandwich and bottled water. During the taping between takes, Mike Stoddard, a seasoned comedian, kept us in stitches. He included the audience with a dance-off, asked where people were from, and ran from one end of the stage to the other. Midway through there was a break; staff passed around huge cookies and more water.

There was a take, retake and more takes. The show started promptly at 5 p.m. and went until just after 8 p.m. It could be exhausting for any one of us, but imagine keeping up with that pace at 90 years of age. Betty White is such a trooper, quick-witted and charming.

At one point, I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants, so I did get an escort to the Ladies Room.

The actors and actresses look so much better in person. They all came out before they started the taping. Betty White naturally brings the audience to their feet. She is very humble and gracious, not taking anything away from the other actors. Cameron Mathison, a Canadian actor who was on All My Children was on the show. He looks so much younger in person.

The show had four major stages: the kitchen, the living room, the front porch and the office that Valerie Bertinelli is working in as a public relations director. They didn't have any scenes in the bar, but when they do it rotates in the office area. 

This is one show you definitely feel right at home with. Just before it was over they took us and six other people to sit in the green room. From there we were escorted to the stage. We met all the actresses and crew. They took photos. When it was our turn, Betty White looks at me and says, "Are you the lady who donated to all the animals?" I said yes and she just lit up. She gave me a huge hug!

She started talking to me. I told her I had a pet named Freeway. "What is Freeway?” Betty White inquired. I told her she is a tortoise I rescued off the 405. "Oh, I had a tortoise for 11 years." She continued to talk, but was jokingly interrupted by Valerie Bertinelli, who said, "Betty we will be here all night."

Betty White was so warm and personable. I would love to have dinner with her and hear her stories. She is a divine treasure with so much poise and grace. She is stunningly gorgeous! Her green eyes just sparkled (at least they looked like emeralds in the lights). 

This was an experience to die for! Hot in Cleveland was nominated for a People’s Choice award. You can vote at www.peopleschoice.com. If you'd like to make a donation for Ms. White’s animals you can go to the Morris Animal Foundation.

To watch a sneak peek of the show, go to tvland.com. Each time you share the video, they will make a $1 donation to FEEDING AMERICA, the nation's leading hunger-relief charity. For more information on Feeding America, go to www.feedingamerica.org. There’s no better way to share during Thanksgiving than seeing what they have dished up for this delicious new season of Hot in Cleveland premiering on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 10 p.m. on TV Land!

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