By BERNICE FOX
Special to Circling the News
At age 88, former Pacific Palisades Honorary Mayor Rita Moreno is as busy as ever.
Her TV series “One Day at a Time” is returning. And she has a featured role in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming ‘West Side Story.”
“One Day at a Time” starts its fourth season Tuesday, March 24, at a new home, Pop TV. It airs right after “Schitt’s Creek.” The first three seasons ran on Netflix.
When Netflix decided last year to end the show, fans and TV critics loudly made their voices heard. Pop TV came to the rescue.
Moreno feels that love, saying “I, for one, am thrilled at the support that we’ve gotten, just more than we ever dreamed, all of us.”
Norman Lear’s re-imagining of his original 1970s “One Day at a Time” as a Cuban-American family, is known for pulling from issues of the day, mixed with laughs.
Moreno, who plays the family’s vibrant grandmother, says she doesn’t think the show “ever had any trouble being topical. The truth is that we talked about homosexuality. We talked about the trouble with the VA, one of my favorite episodes. We talked about everything, alcoholism, depression. What’s not topical?”
This season’s first episode dives into the U.S. Census with a guest appearance from sitcom star Ray Romano, who’s also been venturing into films. Romano plays a census taker.
Moreno was honorary mayor of the Palisades in 1988. Later, she and her husband, Leonard Gordon, moved to a home in the Berkeley Hills overlooking San Francisco Bay. They sold their house on Amalfi in 1999. Gordon passed away in 2010. While still in the Palisades, he retired after decades as a physician. Then he went back to work in a new career as his wife’s manager.
With “One Day at a Time” filming at Sony in Culver City, she tells Circling the News she has “a little apartment” in the Los Angeles area.
When CTN asked Moreno in mid-January if she’s considering moving back here, her response was clear.
“No, I love it up north. I’ll just be down here for four or five months. We get a fourth week hiatus every fourth week. You have to give the writers a break! That’s a very hard job, by the way. So, I just go up north.”
But with the “Safer at Home” order to prevent spread of COVID-19, filming of “One Day at a Time” is on an unexpected break. A number of episodes are complete, and most were shot in front of an audience. It’s expected that when they eventually shoot the rest, it will be without a studio audience.
Judging by what Moreno says about her fellow castmates, she’ll probably be happy to rejoin them, remembering “it was as though we were all star-crossed” when they first met.
While waiting to return to “One Day at a Time,” Moreno can revel in the joy of having completed the new “West Side Story.” She plays the newly created character of Valentina.
Moreno won an Oscar for playing the character of Anita in the 1961 movie. The new “West Side Story” is expected in theaters December 18, 2020.