Q: When will “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” be on this year?– Kate Jonas, Kansas City, Mo.
A: By the time you see this column, it already will have had its first showing this year. That came earlier than usual for the long-beloved special, even before Thanksgiving — but the good news is that CBS traditionally gives it more than one airing each holiday season. Therefore, you’ll also be able to hear Sam the Snowman (voiced by Burl Ives) tell the story of how Rudolph came to lead Santa’s sleigh on Dec. 11 (the same night two other perennial favorites, “Frosty the Snowman” and “Frosty Returns,” also get CBS repeats). Additionally, Freeform will run “Rudolph” several times during the week of Dec. 19, including on Christmas Eve and Day.
Q: I was interested to see Clint Eastwood’s “Spaghetti Westerns” shown together on Turner Classic Movies recently, but they started with “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and ended with “A Fistful of Dollars.” Weren’t they released in the opposite order?– Dave Reach, via email
A: They were, which did make it interesting that TCM chose to show them in the sequence it did. Though Henry Fonda (who eventually would work with the trilogy’s director, Sergio Leone, on “Once Upon a Time in the West”) was considered to introduce the character of The Man With No Name in 1964’s “A Fistful of Dollars,” his fee was too high for the production, so the offer went out to Charles Bronson … who turned it down, also working with Leone later in the same movie with Fonda.
Ultimately, a list of affordable American actors included Eastwood, who was in the mood to change things up a bit from his then-current “Rawhide” television image. The rest soon became history, though legal matters kept “Fistful” from being released in the United States until 1967. By then, the sequel “For a Few Dollars More” already had been made and exhibited overseas, with its American debut following the first film’s by only a few months. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” premiered in Italy at the end of 1966 and opened in the U.S. almost exactly one year later — so all three pictures debuted in America in the same calendar year.
Q: I know the Tournament of Roses Parade took a different form the last time because of the coronavirus pandemic. Is the traditional parade being planned for this New Year’s Day? — George White, via e-mail
A: It is, and LeVar Burton — who got his much-desired shot at being a “Jeopardy!” guest host during the summer — will be the Grand Marshal of the highly floral 133rd procession through Pasadena, Calif. Burton’s reputation as an advocate for literacy, attained in large part through his hosting and executive-producing of PBS’ “Reading Rainbow,” is appropriate for the event’s 2022 theme: “Dream. Believe. Achieve.”
Since they also were in on the highlights-of-past years telecast presented last time, you can expect several networks to cover the next parade as it returns to normalcy as much as possible. ABC, NBC and HGTV typically have been among the outlets that have shown it.
Q: Did Charlton Heston ever make a TV series? — Dale Stark, Sacramento, Calif.
A: While he appeared early in his career as a guest actor in episodes of such anthology series as “Studio One” and “Playhouse 90,” the “Ben-Hur” Oscar winner didn’t have a weekly home-screen role until much later, in ABC’s mid-1980s “Dynasty” spinoff “The Colbys.” His character Jason Colby was more or less the California version of John Forsythe’s Denver-based tycoon Blake Carrington in the original serial. Also starring Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Ross, Stephanie Beacham and “Dynasty” transfer John James, the show lasted two seasons
Q: Is Tom Brokaw still with NBC News? — Pat Wood, Greenville, Mich.
A: Though he has been retired officially since the start of this year, he’s still called upon to serve as a special contributor for certain events, with that coverage drawing upon his knowledge of related people and/or situations from his time as an anchor of either “Today” or “NBC Nightly News.” Brokaw also has worked on projects for other outlets, Discovery Channel and History Channel being examples.