Skip to main content

Heath in Akron:
A Chat with Hot in Cleveland Producer Bob Heath

Bob Heath remembers the Montrose Drive-In.

He remembers the swim club, the Freez and the horse farm on the hill. All of those places are gone, replaced by outlet stores, chain restaurants, movie theaters and more.

“Nothing was there,” says Heath, who grew up in West Akron. “It’s amazing how it’s changed.”

Change is amazing. And it’s the driving force behind the four main characters on Hot in Cleveland, TV Land’s first original sit-com. Heath serves as the show’s producer.

Hot in Cleveland follows the misadventures of three L.A. women in their 50s: hopeless romantic Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli), cynical businesswoman Joy (Jane Leeves), aging actress Victoria (Wendi Malick). The women wind up in Cleveland when their plane makes an emergency landing at Hopkins. When they discover the men in Cleveland think they’re hot, they decide to forgo the West Coast for the Northcoast. The trio are joined by housekeeper Elka, played with great verve by the legendary Betty White.

“We’re so lucky to have these three actresses,” Heath says. “Casting was a stroke of genius. And what can you say about Betty White? We knew we wanted her and hired her before her popularity exploded – again.”

Produced By

Heath was hired as producer on Hot in Cleveland during the show’s development in November 2009. Heath works directly with executive producer and show creator Suzanne Martin and executive producers Sean Hayes and Todd Milner of Hazy Mills Productions.

You’ll catch Heath’s “produced by” credit near the end of the roll. Keep your eye on the “by” – it tells the whole story of Heath’s day-to-day work.

“I’m in charge of all the physical production of the show,” Heath says. “The writers finalize a script and then it’s my job to make that script stick to video. I take it from the printed word to the set to post-production, managing the entire process along the way.”

It’s an enormous role. Sit-coms shoot on a weekly schedule, and Heath oversees each week’s events. He manages the week’s many read throughs, during which actors and writers sit around a table and read through the script to see what works and what doesn’t so it can be tweaked and rewritten before production. He works with cast and crew through Thursday’s pre-shoot, where scenes are blocked for the cameras and the show is rehearsed before Friday’s live event.

“Then on Friday, we bring in a live audience and shoot the show,” he says. “It’s wonderful; kind of like photographing a play. Then we put a period on the show and start all over again on Monday.”

West Sider

Heath also serves as the resident expert on all things Cleveland. An easy task, since the Hollywood producer started his film career at age 12 in Akron.

“I wrote and published a neighborhood newspaper,” Heath says, “and I was looking for something interesting to write about. So I thought, I’ll walk up the road to the local television station and interview the news anchors and sports guys. They were local celebrities, you know.”

The TV station was the former WAKR, Akron’s only television station, now WVPX, affiliated with ion TV.

“When I got in there and saw what these men and women were doing, I said, ‘I want to do this,’” Heath recalls. “Since that moment, I never had another thought about what I wanted to do with my career.”

Heath graduated and attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He worked for a time in Columbus at WLWC and then went to Cincinnati. And then, one day in 1975, he packed his car and drove west.

“I thought if I wanted to make it big, I’d have to go to L.A. And if I didn’t, no big deal, I’ll just go back to Ohio,” Heath says. “Truthfully, I reached a point were I thought, I don’t want to be sitting on a porch in my 80s thinking, ‘I should have done this or I should have done that.’”

Today his career has spanned a number of successful sit-coms, including Mad About You, Less Than Perfect and According to Jim. Now, with Hot in Cleveland awarded a second season on TVLand, it looks like the hits will keep on rolling.

“I’m grateful for everything, and I love this show,” he says. “I think we’ve really hit gold.”


Popular Posts

'Avengers Infinity War' coming to Cleveland? Movie studio built on old Geauga Lake property? Both possible say Russo Brothers

Ivan Schwarz, Greater Cleveland Film Commission, Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, Cleveland natives and Marvel directors. They didn’t share any Captain America: Civil War spoilers, but directors Joe and Anthony Russo told fans that Avengers: Infinity War could land in Cleveland. “It’s on the list,” said Anthony. The reveal took place Saturday during a Wizard World Comic-Con Cleveland panel titled Let’s Shut Down Some Streets: Bringing the Avengers, Captain America and the Russo Brothers to Cleveland. The Russos, who grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Case Western Reserve University, were joined by Ivan Schwarz, director of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. The trio discussed how the region could grow its production slate and how it could attract more features to Northeast Ohio. The first step, said Schwarz, was getting the Ohio legislature to raise the motion picture tax incentive from $25 million a year to $75 million. That legislation will go before Ohio lawmake

Tina Fey, Jay Roach Bringing Kent State Film '67 Shots' to Ohio

Student protestors at Kent State in 1970 Tina Fey is taking a serious turn, producing 67 Shots , a film about the 1970 Kent State shootings. The movie applied for the Ohio Film Tax Incentive earlier this year and plans to film in and around KSU sometime in 2018. 67 Shots focuses on events that led up to the shooting deaths of four students by Ohio National Guardsmen. The title comes from the numbers of shots those guardsmen fired into the unarmed crowd of protestors. Fey is producing alongside Jeff Richmond, her husband and a Kent State alum. Jay Roach, best known for the Austin Powers and Meet the Fockers franchises, will helm the project. Roach is making more socially and politically aware films at this stage in his career, including Trumbo and Game Change . The film is based on the book 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence and is adapted by award-winning playwright Stephen Belber. Fey and Richmond’s production company, Little Stranger, will join

'Walking Dead' star Emily Kinney joins 'Anhedonia' cast

Emily Kinney joins 'Anhedonia' Emily Kinney, perhaps best known for her role as Beth Greene on AMC’s The Walking Dead , is joining Anhedonia , the new indie feature from Cleveland’s Eric Swinderman and Carmen DeFranco. Kinney got her start on stage, with roles in Spring Awakening and August: Osage County , before transitioning to guest roles on television and a star turn as Emily on Showtime’s The Big C . Her breakout role would come as Beth Greene, Maggie Greene’s little sister, on The Walking Dead . Kinney became a fan favorite during a series of dramatic episodes in the series’ fourth season when Kinney’s Greene bonded with fellow survivor Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reedus. Anhedonia co-stars Breckin Meyer and Giselle Eisenberg. "To have the opportunity to work with such an amazing actress like Emily is beyond exciting,” says Swinderman. “It's also very exciting for the city and people of northeast Ohio to have three huge TV stars coming to town to