Q: Is “Good Girls” really ending? — Marcia Collins, via e-mail
A: It is, though NBC still had several episodes of the show’s fourth and final season left to air when the cancellation announcement was made. Like another NBC series that recently ended, “Manifest,” “Good Girls” — starring Christina Hendricks, Retta and Mae Whitman — was faring very well on Netflix, but that streaming service declined to continue the show with new episodes.
Once that happened, it was “game over,” since Universal Television wasn’t going to shop “Good Girls” to other outlets. The deal Netflix made for it right from the start was significant, since NBC didn’t have to foot the bill alone for the licensing fee … which without NBC’s involvement would have fallen to Netflix solely, and that likely was the breaker of any possible deal. If it’s any consolation to fans, the existing episodes (including the last season) should remain available on Netflix for some time.
Q: I’ve seen references to Conan O’Brien having written for “The Simpsons.” When, exactly, did he work on that show? — Mark Light, Columbus, Ohio
A: After his college tenure on the staff of The Harvard Lampoon, the former NBC and TBS talk-show host made several stops as a writer before reaching “The Simpsons.” He worked on “Not Necessarily the News” and “The Wilton North Report,” then joined “Saturday Night Live” for four years, winning an Emmy Award along with the rest of the show’s writing team at the time.
O’Brien’s “Simpsons” tenure came after that, from 1991 to 1993, when executive producers Mike Reiss and Al Jean recruited him. And he’s credited with adding a more surreal approach to the animated sitcom’s stories. Among the more famous ones O’Brien wrote are “Marge vs. the Monorail” and “Homer Goes to College,” and he stayed until the opportunity arose for him to succeed David Letterman on NBC’s “Late Night” program. He was sought as a producer, but his agent held out to get him the host spot. The audience for his audition was comprised of other writers on “The Simpsons,” and the rest is TV history … O’Brien’s, specifically. (Fox initially wouldn’t let him out of his “Simpsons” contract, but NBC and O’Brien himself mutually paid to resolve that.)
Q: I enjoyed the “Women in Film” series that Turner Classic Movies did. Will there be another one? — Kristin Fields, Antioch, Calif.
A: There will be if channel host Alicia Malone has her way. Pivotally involved in the edition that largely showcased female directors, she told us recently that she’d like to do another that focuses on other behind-the-scenes talents — film editors, cinematographers, etc. It’s a subject clearly close to Malone’s heart, since the books she’s written include “Backwards and in Heels: The Past, Present And Future Of Women Working In Film” and “The Female Gaze: Essential Movies Made by Women.” She said the TCM hosts are asked for suggestions for series they’d like to do, so our bet is on her making this happen.
Q: It seems that “Selma” has been on a lot lately. Is it unusual for a movie to be shown on so many channels at the same time? — Alice Kramer, via e-mail
A: More frequently these days, networks make deals to have the exclusive television rights to a film for a certain period of time. However, “Selma” was a special case, since its recent showings on the same weekend on CBS and the co-owned FX and FXM coincided with the Juneteenth holiday. The Ava DuVernay-directed drama clearly had special significance on that occasion, so CBS was able to make broadcast arrangements … which probably wasn’t hard to do, since in the United States, “Selma” is owned by CBS’ corporate cousin Paramount Pictures.
Q: I saw that it was June Lockhart’s birthday recently. Was she the original mom on “Lassie”? — Ralph Bennett, Clearwater, Fla.
A: She wasn’t. When the series premiered in 1954, Jan Clayton played the widowed Ellen Miller, mother of Jeff (portrayed by Tommy Rettig). Both actors wanted out after three years, so a new ”family” was brought in, with Jon Provost as young Timmy and Cloris Leachman — yes, that Cloris Leachman — as his adoptive mother, Ruth Martin. The actress reportedly wasn’t happy with the role, and she stayed only one season. The part then was recast with Lockhart, who was with the show for six seasons; not long after she left, she landed another iconic television role, Maureen Robinson on “Lost in Space.”