Don Cheadle recalls his TV start with Betty White on 'The Golden Palace'

golden-palace-ad.jpg Don Cheadle is doing a different kind of TV work now, but he remains very fond of several Golden Girls who helped him on his way.

About to start Season 2 as a slick management consultant on the often raunchy Showtime comedy "House of Lies" Sunday, Jan. 13, the recent Emmy nominee has made big-screen marks in such movies as "Hotel Rwanda," "Crash" and the current "Flight." Cheadle started building toward those as a regular on "The Golden Palace," CBS' 1992-93 spinoff of NBC's long-running, Emmy-winning "The Golden Girls."

Bea Arthur
opted out of the follow-up -- though she turned up in a two-part episode -- but Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty all stayed on board in their original roles, becoming investors in a Miami hotel managed by the character played by Cheadle. He tells Zap2it he remembers "the relationships with them more than anything, really, about the show.

"I still see Betty occasionally, and I have great feeling for her. She's just cool people ... and so were Rue and Estelle, rest their souls. And I'm still friends with Cheech [ Marin, who played the hotel's chef]. It's kind of what happens with all of these things; you make these little nuclear families for the time you're together, then sometimes, they're just gone and you don't see each other ever again."

However, Cheadle adds, "There's usually one or two people you manage to keep some sort of connection with, and they stay in your life in some way. It's really special when that happens, and it's nice that it doesn't just have to be about being on a show where you're in pursuit of making money. Things can happen outside of that."

Soon after "The Golden Palace" ended, Cheadle stayed with CBS by moving into another series that earned its share of awards: executive producer David E. Kelley's "Picket Fences," on which he played the district attorney in a Wisconsin town often beset by weird happenings.

"That was a much more disparate situation," Cheadle notes. "I see Kathy [ Baker, that show's female lead] every once in a while but I was, like, half a generation younger than most of those guys -- although I'm 18 years older than almost everybody else on my show now! We've found a way to work it out, though."