Vicki Lawrence will make a rare TV appearance as her old Carol Burnett Show/Mama's Family character, Thelma Harper, on Logo's RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race this season, which begins October 22.
"RuPaul knew details of the Burnett Show that even surprised me," says Lawrence, (here pictured with the out-of-drag host). "He's a real aficionado of the show."
Other judges on tap include Kelly Osbourne, Elvira, Busy Philipps and SNL alums Rachel Dratch and Cheri Oteri.
Lawrence, who tours as Mama in stage shows around the country (see vickilawrence.com for details), helps judge a challenge in which the contestants dress as famous funny ladies and "write and perform a comedy bit with Mama," she explains. "A couple times I wanted to fix their jokes to make them funny, but we weren't allowed to. So I just gave it my best shot. We had a Bette Davis, Bea Arthur, Charo, Lucille Ball, Shakira and Fran Dresher." (If you ask me, the queens all missed a prime opportunity to go head-to-head with Mama as Burnett's Eunice!)
So why haven't we seen more Mama on TV? A rep for Lawrence says estate monitor John Hamilton (son of Burnett's late ex, Joe Hamilton), who controls the TV rights to the character, has "stonewalled" efforts for several proposed revivals, including a Mama reality series. But Hamilton assures me he has indeed shopped several concepts (alas, no takers) and has yet another Mama concept currently in development.
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