Heaton Savors Vantage Point as Mom at ‘The Middle’
Been there. Done that. Won the Emmy.
That was Patricia Heaton's first reaction when the former "Everybody Loves Raymond" wife was offered the TV mom role on ABC's "The Middle."
Then she met the show creators, DeAnn Heline from Ohio and Eileen Heisler from Illinois.
"We're all moms, and they get it," says Heaton, 52, a Cleveland area native.
"I love DeAnn and Eileen. Everything they write about, I've experienced in my life. You can pretty much guarantee it, if you have a family," says Heaton, mother of boys ages 11, 12, 14 and 16.
The writers, who met as Indiana University roommates in the early 1980s, cast Heaton as Frankie Hicks, the middle-class, middle-aged working mother of three living in the middle of the country.
Unlike "Raymond," the Ray Romano sitcom (1996-2005) which earned Heaton two Emmys as best actress, "The Middle" tells stories from the wife's point of view. And that resonates with viewers, says Heaton, a 1980 Ohio State University graduate.
"DeAnn and Eileen write about things that we haven't seen on TV - at least in a long time - that are important to many people's lives," she says.
"The struggles you have with your kids is 90 percent of their lives. You worry about your kids. You worry about how you can help your kids grow up," she says.
"The tone is perfect. I know people in the Midwest are smart people. They're sharp and can laugh at themselves."
Heaton, coming to Cincinnati for the "Smart Talk" women's lecture series, plans to talk about the changes she has gone through in her life with her children and husband, actor-director David Hunt. She may talk about her drab clothes and clip-on bangs in "The Middle," which has been renewed for a second season.
"The first time I saw the wardrobe, I wept," she says. "You kind of have to check your ego at the door. You want to look your best, but you have to be true to the character."
She's anxious to field questions from Midwest viewers about "The Middle." She knows she'll hear lots about "Raymond" co-stars Romano and Doris Roberts.
"It seems like everyone has a mother-in-law like Marie, or a husband like Ray," she says.
"I also hear from many people about how a show like 'Raymond' or 'The Middle' gets them through the tough times. They say the sitcoms brighten their days. It's a good feeling that so many people appreciate your work."
Five years after going off the air, everybody still loves "Raymond."