Q: Is it true that David McCallum is leaving “NCIS”? – Pete Douglas, Providence, R.I.
A: He’s not leaving, but he’ll appear as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard in fewer episodes of the globally popular CBS drama than he once did – which was the same situation last season. He explained that he wanted more time with his family when he signed his current contract for the show.
That includes his beloved cat, who was featured visually in the Facebook post in which McCallum announced his new agreement … and for someone who’s been in the television game since his days as iconic spy Illya Kuryakin on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” in the 1960s, it’s tough if not impossible to not grant him his wish.
Q: Since Aretha Franklin’s career principally was in music, I’m wondering why she was featured so prominently in the “In Memoriam” segment of this year’s Emmy Awards. – Joan Cook, via e-mail
A: Well, for one thing, her rendering of “Amazing Grace” set the tone and the soundtrack for that segment. Also, she made many television appearances over the course of her career – from variety shows to presidential inaugurations (though the latter weren’t exclusively events staged for TV) – so her presence in the segment also can be justified in that way.
It’s worth nothing that Sen. John McCain also was included in that “In Memoriam,” and though he also wasn’t a TV personality in the most literal sense, he appeared on screens often … particularly as a popular guest on the Sunday news-program circuit. Saluting him and music icon Franklin was a measure of their stature in their respective fields, and likely also of the relative proximity of their passings to the Emmy ceremony.
Q: I enjoyed watching all the Dean Martin films that Turner Classic Movies showed in September. What was the last movie he made? – John Morgan, Reading, Pa.
A: Technically, it was the 1984 auto-race comedy “Cannonball Run II,” in which he played the same role he had in the 1981 original. However, Martin portrayed himself in the 1985 TV movie “Half Nelson,” the pilot for a short-lived NBC series in which Joe Pesci starred as a New York cop finding new work as a private security man to the stars in Hollywood. Martin also appeared in the weekly version, which lasted only six episodes.
Q: With there being a new “Magnum P.I.,” I’m wondering if the actor who played the original Higgins is still alive. – Randy Cain, Bend, Ore.
A: John Hillerman passed away on Nov. 9, 2017. He was Emmy-nominated four times for playing persnickety estate manager Jonathan Quayle Higgins III, winning the award for his fourth nomination for the original show’s next-to-last season.
By the time the first “Magnum” premiered on CBS in 1980, Hillerman had spent a decade establishing himself as a top movie character actor, often working for director Peter Bogdanovich (“The Last Picture Show,” “What’s Up, Doc?,” “Paper Moon,” “At Long Last Love”). His 1970s films also included Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” – as Howard Johnson, who only had one ice-cream parlor to his name then – Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” and Clint Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter.”
Q: It was great to see Henry Winkler win his Emmy Award for “Barry.” Was he ever nominated for playing Fonzie? – Deb Monahan, via e-mail
A: Yes, three times … in 1976, 1977 and 1978. He did receive two Golden Globe Awards for his legendary “Happy Days” role as cooler-than-cool Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, in 1977 and 1978.
Over the years, Winkler also has scored Emmy nominations for hosting the documentary “Who Are the DeBolts? (And Where Did They Get 19 Kids?),” and for guest-star acting in “The Practice” and “Battery Park,” though the latter nomination was revoked after it was determined that the relevant episode had aired past the deadline for that year’s Emmy-qualifying programs.
Q: Has Craig Melvin left the Saturday edition of “Today”? – Anne Grant, Boynton Beach, Fla.
A: He has. His last regular appearance on that edition of the NBC program was in August, so that he could focus on anchoring the news segments of the weekday edition of the show alongside Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. As colleagues celebrated him on his last “Weekend Today,” he was joined by his wife – sportscaster Lindsay Czarniak – and their two children.
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