Asner, who stars in CMT's upcoming sitcom Working Class, was reflecting on the success of TV's older actors — led, of course, by the white-hot Betty White — when Leachman, his The Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star, came up.
"Cloris Leachman has eight Emmys? Is that true?" Asner said Wednesday during the Television Critics Association's winter preview. "Bitch."
The audience laughed, but Asner appeared rather serious in his distaste. "Well, if you wanna act nuts like she does..." he said.
Leachman currently stars as a granny who likes to remove her top on Fox's Raising Hope.
The 81-year-old Asner has seven Emmys of his own — including three for his work on Mary Tyler Moore, where Leachman won two of hers — which he says he earned. "I did mine from straight developmental acting. ... Nothing off the charts. That's Cloris."
Asked about the secret to his own enduring career, Asner said, "I think talent has something to do with it. I'd like to lay claim to that. I figure I'm in that middle stage of aging. I'm in that middle stage prior to becoming Mickey Rooney. Or Betty White."
Working Class, about a single mom who moves her family to an upscale suburb, premieres Jan. 28 at 8/7c on CMT.