'Hot in Cleveland' goes live for season premiere, but it's not the first
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On June 19 at 10 p.m., viewers of TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland" will see a live version -- a series first and, if all works out, maybe not a last, either. It shouldn't be that hard to perform without a net: "Cleveland" will have a pair of leads who once actually starred in live TV serials -- regular Betty White and guest star William Shatner.
But "Cleveland" isn't breaking new ground here. Several other series have gone "live" for a night. (And for whatever reason, most of them aired on NBC.):
30 ROCK (NBC, Oct. 14, 2010)
The episode called (what else?) "Live Show" had a fantastical plot to do with Liz (Tina Fey) turning 40, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) channeling Carol Burnett, Jenna (Jane Krakowski) having a "wardrobe malfunction" and Jack (Alec Baldwin) struggling to stay sober.
30 ROCK (NBC, April 26, 2012)
A budget cut forces "TGS" to go live -- yeah, kind of a metaplot -- but this episode ("Live From Studio 6H") also included a spoof of "The Honeymooners" and "Amos & Andy." The list of guest stars -- who included Paul McCartney and Kim Kardashian -- especially managed to infuse this live romp with a sense of pure lunacy.
ER (NBC, Sept. 25, 1997)
The fourth-season opener, about a PBS crew taping a day in the ER, tried to mimic the taped version by deploying handheld cameras that swirled around the operating table -- managing to make a few million viewers dizzy.
WILL & GRACE (NBC, Sept. 29, 2005)
"Alive and Schticking" launched the last season with a plot that involved a secret agent played by Alec Baldwin.
THE WEST WING (NBC, Nov. 6, 2005)
"The Debate" was, yes, a debate between contenders Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) and Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits). In a coup de self-promotion, "Wing" even made it appear as if the episode were broadcast by NBC News.
ROC (Fox, 1992-93)
The entire second season, from August 1992 to May 1993, was live! Remember? Maybe not -- it wasn't repeated the next season -- but thanks to their stage background, leads Charles Dutton and Ella Joyce pulled off this liveTVpalooza.