‘American Auto’ is giving Harriet Dyer a TV tune-up


Harriet Dyer

Q: Where have I seen Harriet Dyer of “American Auto” before? — Mike Jennings, via email

A: While a lot of her work has been for television in her native Australia — which you might not suspect from her flawless American accent in her new NBC comedy — Dyer had the lead for the same network as a clairvoyant in the drama series “The InBetween” several summers ago. She also appeared in “Wakefield,” which Showtime ran recently.

However, she may be even better known now for “The Invisible Man,” the 2020 horror-movie update in which she plays Elisabeth Moss’s sister. Semi-spoiler alert: Dyer makes a very memorable exit from the film in a scene that she told us was the last one shot on a very long work day, in the middle of the night. And it may well be the moment you’ll remember most from the picture, long afterward.

Q: Every so often on “Noir Alley,” I’ll hear Eddie Muller give the impression that he helps restore classic films himself. Is that actually something he does? — Bob Winder, Stuart, Fla.

A: It is. Even before he started hosting his weekly program on Turner Classic Movies, Muller became the founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation, which works with producers and studios to preserve examples of the genre. In many instances, movies that he presents on “Noir Alley” are titles he has had a firsthand role in bringing back to their original (or better) picture and sound quality. 

Muller also showcases those films at in-person events he stages around the country (including in his native San Francisco), though in the era of the coronavirus pandemic, such in-person gatherings have been suspended.

Eddie Muller

Q: I enjoy watching Sheinelle Jones on “Oh Baby!” on weekends. Is she actually a parent herself? — Jane Rogers, Reading, Pa.

A: Also a regular “Today” presence, the NBC News anchor-reporter has three children with her husband. As viewers of the family-oriented “Oh Baby!” know, that program runs more toward highlighting the parent-and-child relationships that exist in the animal world.

Q: Why was the “Saturday Night Live” Christmas episode that Paul Rudd hosted filled with so many old clips? — Marcia Potter, via email

A: Like so much of the rest of the country, in the week leading up to the episode, New York had seen a significant spike in the number of COVID-19 cases … so, out of caution, the NBC program ultimately made the decision not to have a studio audience nor a musical guest (who would have been Charli XCX) for its last “new” show of 2021.

Rudd admitted it was not what he had envisioned for his stint as a fifth-time host of the show (Tom Hanks and Tina Fey still were present to welcome him to that club), but he also made reference to his recognizing that was necessary for the circumstances. Kenan Thompson and Michael Che were the only current “SNL” cast members on hand in the studio for the episode.

Q: When I watched “The Grinch” just before Christmas, it was a different version than I expected. How many are there? — Cheryl Collins, Providence, R.I.

A: Three, all with slightly different variations of the title. “Dr.. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is the original 1966 animated special narrated by Boris Karloff, with songs by later “Fame” co-star Albert Hague. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is the live-action 2000 movie directed by Ron Howard, with Jim Carrey in the title role. 

Meanwhile, “The Grinch” is a 2018 cartoon feature with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the title character. All of them had television workouts during the recent holiday season … and there also was a live-action “Grinch” musical, starring Matthew Morrison (“Glee”), done by NBC in 2020.

Q: I loved seeing Danny Kaye in “White Christmas” again over the holidays. When was “The Danny Kaye Show” on the air? – Lucy Fryer, via email

A: The legendary talent’s CBS variety program ran from 1963 to 1967, starting in black-and-white but moving to color in 1965. Originally, the series was slated to air on Sundays after “The Ed Sullivan Show,” but CBS feared it would be demolished in the ratings by NBC’s hugely popular “Bonanza”– so it was slotted instead on Wednesdays, where it held forth through all of its run.

Send questions of general interest via email to tvpipeline@gracenote.com. Writers must include their names, cities and states. Personal replies cannot be sent.

The new year puts ‘American Auto’ in gear

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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