Mailbag: Jones’ jokes, mature viewing

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Actor James Earl Jones poses for photos in Sydney, Australia in Jan. 2013. Jones and Angela Lansbury, in Australia to star in a touring production of Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer-Prize winning play "Driving Miss Daisy," credit the thrill of performing with their seemingly endless supply of energy, which has propelled them throughout their decades-long careers. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

You have questions. I try to have answers.

Q: Watching the latest Sprint commercials has me wondering, has James Earl Jones ever been on Johnny Carson or David Letterman?

A: Jones, who costars with Malcolm McDowell in the very funny ads, has demonstrated his sense of humor before. He memorably read one of Letterman’s Top Ten Lists about Y2K, which you can find on YouTube. Nor is he a stranger to TV talk. The Internet Movie Database lists appearances by Jones with Carson, Arsenio Hall, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson, Mike Douglas, Charles Grodin, Wendy Williams, the cast of The View and others.

Q: When can we expect the return of “Royal Pains”?

A: USA Network has the medical drama scheduled for this summer.

Q: Any word on whether “The Americans” was renewed? If so, what network?

A: The excellent spy series will begin its second season on FX on Feb. 26.

Q: The recent question from a reader about the error in the Roman numerals in the opening credits of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” begged a question I’ve wondered forever; why do movies have the year of their release written in Roman numerals? Instead of MCMLXIV, why can’t they just write 1964?

A: Many years ago, while pondering Roman numerals in general, a writer for BBC News said the practice is believed to have started to disguise the age of films or television programs. In other words, if you could easily read a date that seemed ancient, you might be less inclined to watch the program. While I have seen the same theory elsewhere, I don’t buy the logic. But there is so much logic in entertainment that I don’t buy. And the discussion of Rudolph certainly indicated that some viewers are deciphering the Roman numerals.

Q: After reading your Q & A concerning the fictional Hannibal Lecter, I was reminded of the historical Hannibal who took on the ancient Romans. He was depicted by the late Victor Mature in one of those old black-and-white “swords and sandals” films, and was supposed to be played by Vin Diesel in an updated version. What ever became of the Diesel project?

A: While promoting other movies last year, the Riddick and Fast & Furious star insisted that he was going to make not one but three movies about Hannibal, a project he has been pursuing for a decade. But he told Variety, “It’s about waiting until you get it all on the table and everything is right,” In the meantime, Halle Berry is set to executive-produce a Hannibal miniseries for the History channel. And by the way, 1959’s Hannibal, with Victor Mature, was in color.

Q: I am trying to remember the name of a TV movie some years ago starring Darrin MaGavin and the actor who starred in “Vegas,” and died several years ago from cancer. I cannot remember his name. The female star’s name in the movie was Raphaella.

A: It appears you are remembering Danielle Steel’s A Perfect Stranger, a 1994 TV movie with Ohio native Robert Urich (the actor whose name you could not remember), McGavin and Stacy Haiduk as Raphaella Phillips. It was based on a Danielle Steel novel.

Q: I missed the final episode of “666 Park Avenue.” Do you know where I could view that episode? I would love to find out how it all ended.

A: The series, including the final telecast in its 13-episode run, is on Netflix.

Do you have a question or comment for the mailbag? Write to the Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com. Please mark the email or envelope with “mailbag.” Letters may be edited for publication. Please do not phone in questions. Individual replies cannot be guaranteed.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter.


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