No Hugh (Bonneville) for you, Vienna: Here’s why

TV Pipeline

Q: I was interested to see Hugh Bonneville hosting the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert from England. Was he not scheduled to go to Vienna from the start, or was that a last-minute decision? — Melissa Arnold, via e-mail

A: We spoke with the “Downton Abbey” alum a couple of months before the PBS-televised “Great Performances” event, and it already had been determined at that point that for his fourth consecutive year of hosting it, he would accomplish that remotely. Also given his recent role on The CW special “Silent Night — A Song for the World,” he joked with us that he was becoming known as “the host who sits by the fireplace.”

Given the nature of the PBS broadcast this last time, it was fitting that Bonneville was situated as he was. Normally filled with spectators on the holiday, Vienna’s Musikverein was devoid of an on-site audience as the orchestra presented its traditional program of Strauss music … due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, of course. One of the perks of the job for Bonneville has been his access to some of Vienna’s most storied and beautiful locations, and though he told us he would miss making those in-person visits, he certainly understood the necessity.

Q: Will the actor who portrays Deeks on “NCIS: Los Angeles” be gone forever? And if so, why? Also, will the actor who played Eric return, and where is he now? — Ann Koreman, Victoria, B.C.

A: Even with Deeks being written out of the thrust of the action on the CBS show for a while, that appears to be only for immediate story needs and isn’t destined to be permanent. Not only does CBS still list Eric Christian Olsen as a cast member on the latest press material, but someone who surely would know — Daniela Ruah, who plays wife Kensi to his Deeks (and, moreover, is Olsen’s real-life sister-in-law) — said in a recent interview that if he was leaving, “We would know about that by now.”

As for Eric’s portrayer, Barrett Foa had an opportunity to appear in a St. Louis staging of “Angels in America,” and the schedule was such that he couldn’t do both that and “NCIS: Los Angeles.” He asked the show’s producers for time off, and CBS also still names him as a regular cast member, so it’s likely he’ll return to the series before long (if, indeed, he hasn’t already by the time you’re reading this).

Q: I’ve been reading that a lot of shows are shutting down production again because of the pandemic. Will that mean more repeats than usual this year? — Whitney Adams, via e-mail

A: While that isn’t definite, depending on how quickly each affected show can get back to work and stay there, it’s certainly a possibility. Witness last spring and fall, when just about every broadcast series had to end filming on their seasons early and rely on reruns to carry them through most of the rest of the calendar year.

The networks wanted to start 2021 with fresh programming, and they had the inventory to do that. Now that some shows have had to hit “pause” again, though, it’s a matter of simply doing the math. They only can air as many new episodes as are completed, and the broadcasters may try to parcel those out over the coming weeks, until work on the programs can catch up to the intended schedule. This also could end up having episode orders on some shows reduced again, depending on how many are needed to get them to the end of the television season.

Q: It seemed like the regular “Good Morning America” anchors had a lot of time off around the holidays. Was it more than usual? — Jerry Brenner, Providence, R.I.

A: Not really. For any television news operation, it’s typical for on-air talent to want to use their vacation time before the year ends (which, frankly, is mirrored by any workplace). With that ABC program, it wouldn’t surprise us if the anchors had it written into the contracts that they have the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off.

Luckily, that show has a lot of bench strength when it comes to substitute anchors. “GMA” drew from its weekend edition — namely, anchors Dan Harris, Eva Pilgrim and Whit Johnson — for the weekday show during that period, along with T.J. Holmes (now a co-anchor of ABC’s weekday program “GMA3: What You Need to Know”) and White House correspondents Cecilia Vega and Mary Bruce.

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Jay Bobbin

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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