Hot in Cleveland

What's the happy medium between Sex and the City and The Golden Girls?

Hot in Cleveland.

"We've actually talked about being called The Silver Girls. The Sparkly Silver Girls!" star Wendie Malick tells TVGuide.com. "It's about women in their late 40s, late 50s. You don't often see them represented in television, other than as the mother or the ex-wife or the judge or the principal or whatever it is. This is a chance to look at what's going on for women at this age ... who have this huge span of time in front of them and can go, 'What are my options? How can I make my life more meaningful and wonderful? And who are my friends who are going to get me through it?'"

On the new TV Land series (premiering Wednesday at 10/9c) — the network's first venture into scripted programming — Malick's buddies-of-a-certain-age are fellow sitcom veterans Jane Leeves (Frasier) and Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time). Malick (Just Shoot Me) plays soap star Victoria Chase, whose fictional Edge of Tomorrow, was just canceled. Leeves is the cynical Joy Scroggs, eyebrow archer to the stars, and Bertinelli portrays the newly divorced Melanie Moretti.

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The three Los Angeles-based friends wind up in Cleveland after their Paris-bound plane makes an emergency landing. Much to their surprise, the men find them desirable, luring them to stay.

"I think that the message is [about] reinventing because the characters, especially the two that Wendie and I play, are slightly self-absorbed," Leeves says. "They come from this youth-obsessed culture of Los Angeles. We're hoping to make some growth while we're in Cleveland."

TV Land orders new sitcom Hot in Cleveland

Like the women's age bracket, Cleveland's Midwest locale is often given the cold shoulder on television. The actresses view the show as a "love letter" to the city. "So many people don't know what happens between coasts," says Malick, who attended Ohio Wesleyan University. "Something like 80 percent of the population lives on both coasts of this country. But what goes on in the middle is quite different and there's a kind of softness and kindness and civility that I think is part of being Midwestern."

"It's a place with a different set of values," Leeves adds. "We come from a town that is very [shallow]. You move to Cleveland and it's like, 'People care about other things here? What is this?' I think it is empowering to women because we represent women of varying ages in the show as well."

Leeves is 49; Malick, 59; and Bertinelli, 50. Rounding out the cast is the hotter-than-ever 88-year-old Betty White, who plays Elka, the cantankerous caretaker of the house the ladies rent. White was initially booked as a guest star, but signed on as a regular after the pilot was picked up.

Betty White lands Hot TV role

"Betty is this remarkable, iconic champion," Malick says. "She's given me so much courage to own my age and my experience and to realize that you don't ever have to give up on yourself. Women can be fabulous, intriguing, sensual, funny, creative until they drop. She has really been the living example. Women don't have an expiration date, and that's what we're about."