Mailbag: Minor’s future, Miller’s past

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Rickey Minor & The Tonight Show Band musical director Rickey Minor.(Mitchell Haaseth/NBC)

You have questions. I try to have answers.

Q: When Jimmy Fallon and the Roots take over from Jay Leno, what happens to Rickey Minor and the Tonight Show Band?

A: They get new gigs — or return to old ones. Minor, who has been with Tonight since 2010, is returning to American Idol as musical director. One executive associated with the Fox show told the Hollywood Reporter: “Rickey really cares about helping the kids shine and, whether it’s the most current pop hits, or classics, Rickey knows how to bring them to life with authenticity.”

Minor was with the singing competition for seasons four through nine and, according to the Reporter, helped create showcases for performers like Adam Lambert and David Cook; he also worked on The Voice and The X Factor. His arrival — replacing Ray Chew and band — is just one of the changes Idol is making; its latest judging revamp now finds Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. behind the desk, with Randy Jackson moved to a mentoring role. The series begins a new season with telecasts on Jan. 15 and 16.

Q: I would like to know the name of the show that Jonny Lee Miller played on before “Elementary.” He was always hearing music and seeing the person singing the songs.

A: Miller, currently starring as Sherlock Holmes in the CBS drama you mentioned, was in quite a few other series, including the little-seen Smith and in a recurring role on Dexter. But the show you are thinking of was Eli Stone, which aired on ABC across two seasons in 2008-09. Miller played Stone, a man who has weird visions, including those featuring songs by George Michael — and Michael himself onscreen.

Q: While watching the musical version of “Little Shop of Horrors,” I was wondering what happened to Rick Moranis. He used to be in a lot of movies. Is he still around?

A: Around, yes. On screens, not really. Moranis, who played Seymour in the big-screen Little Shop, was also known for Ghostbusters, Parenthood and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, along with TV’s SCTV (especially with Dave Thomas as Bob and Doug McKenzie). But he has not acted on camera for close to 20 years. Empire magazine said not long ago that Moranis has instead been “filling his days with his kids, voiceover work and music.” That last activity included the 2013 album My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs, a 13-song set of Moranis-penned tunes celebrating Jewish life. Selections include the title song, Kiss My Mezuzah, The Seven Days of Shiva, I’m Old Enough to Be Your Zaide and I Can’t Help It, I Just Like Christmas. You can find it for sale — including in packages with a specially labeled, purple yarmulke — through

Q: Is there going to be a memorial service for “Mad Men?” How long has it been since the last show? I keep hearing about awards for a show that has not been heard from in years.

A: Apparently you lost track of some telecasts, so let me update you on the most recent seasons. The bleakly beautiful sixth season of the AMC series aired from April to June 2013, covering roughly the same period in 2012 when the fifth season aired. Both those seasons are now on DVD and Blu-ray; you can also find Season 5 on Netflix.

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Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and, including the HeldenFiles Online, He is also on Facebook and Twitter.

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