You can always count on Ed Asner for a good interview. The outspoken seven-time Emmy winner turns 84 on Nov. 15, has two fun TV appearances coming up and couldn't help calling out Hot in Cleveland for recently snubbing him and pal Gavin MacLeod.
TV Guide Magazine: Mr. Asner, you've worked with so many fellow TV legends, but was your upcoming appearance on CBS's The Crazy Ones (airing Nov. 14) your first time co-starring with Robin Williams?
Asner: First time. I was prepared to go flying off into the wings, but we learned how to control ourselves and do the job. He's disciplined and well-behaved. We are both in the club of appreciation and shined on each other.
TV Guide Magazine: And what about Sarah Michelle Gellar?
Asner: She was a wonderful sprite. Slim and lovely. I'll keep her!
TV Guide Magazine: What do you play on The Crazy Ones?
Asner: I'm playing a trademark commercial character (Mr. Finger) from years ago like Mr. Clean. They decide to restore the character in a new ad campaign, so they bring me back and I put on my best British butler. And I have a girlfriend who is trying to keep me on the straight and narrow. It was a ball and I had a wonderful experience!
TV Guide Magazine: Did you miss not having a live studio audience to play to?
Asner: I missed that, sure. I think we would have had them peeing their pants.
TV Guide Magazine: TV Land's Hot in Cleveland is still playing it old school in front of a live audience. They recently staged a reunion of all the ladies from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but you and Gavin MacLeod were not part of it. I was told that you were unavailable.
Asner: No, we were available. It's just that they were fixed on presenting the feminist angle. So they can go to hell! I hope they ate crow. If you talk to them, tell them we will exhume Ted [Knight] for a triple male threat of our own. All three MTM boys back in style.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you happen to catch Valerie Harper's run on Dancing With the Stars?
Asner: I've been on the road, so I missed it. She can certainly do something I can't. Gavin MacLeod and I are supposed to have a lunch with her in the next couple months. I think her attitude was wonderful when she said, 'I got this [terminal cancer] and am going out with a flash!' And then to emerge and along the way experience remission, is just marvelous.
TV Guide Magazine: You also have a TV movie coming up on Lifetime this December called Christmas on the Bayou in which you play Santa Claus. You seem to be the go-to Santa, with previous appearances in Elf, Olive the Reindeer and others.
Asner: I probably have the record. The most gratifying part is that I'm the first Jewish boy to have succeeded so well as Santa. But this new Santa is actually Papa Noel — the Cajun version of Santa. And you're never really sure if I'm the real deal or not.
TV Guide Magazine: Well Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you sir!
Asner: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.