WHAT IT'S ABOUT Ninety years ago tomorrow, a very special lady was born. She's beloved (goes without saying), but this career is so varied and rich and ongoing that attention must be paid. Tonight, it will be paid. NBC is clearing the prime-time decks for a 90-minute special taped at Los Angeles' Biltmore Hotel.
According to the network, "From her first words on radio in 1947, to her current [TV Land] series 'Hot in Cleveland,' viewers will be taken on an unprecedented journey through Betty's storied career." Special guests are special indeed -- Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Reiner, Morgan Freeman, Tina Fey, Ray Romano, William Shatner and many more, with musical performances and surprises. No review copies of either this or "Rockers" -- a reality show about seniors playing tricks on juniors -- were available.
Betty White is a national treasure. On this everyone can agree. But keep an eye out for the show that is previewed afterward. A three-minute clip of "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" was posted on the Web recently and has probably gone viral by now. How to describe this? Betty White meets "Punk'd" meets "Candid Camera." "Old people are marginalized," the voice-over booms. "They're not even in the key demo! . . . Now they're fighting back." The clip is very randy . . . and very funny. If the series, still without an airdate, becomes a hit, then Betty White will be the one who saved NBC. That's right: Betty.