This is almost the end for ‘This Is Us’


Mandy Moore

Q: When is “This Is Us” coming back? — Heather Post, Wheeling, W. Va.

A: Very early in the new year. The beginning of the end for the NBC drama starts Jan. 4, as it returns to its customary Tuesday slot to open its final season. Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown and company will be on for a month, then off for a few weeks while the network televises the Winter Olympics … and then, the series will be back for its last stretch of episodes. Creator and executive producer Dan Fogelman has said that he has known for a long time how the show will end, and now that we’ve reached this point, everyone else also will know relatively soon.

Q: Will Ryan Seacrest host New Year’s Eve on ABC again this year? — Pam Dolan, via email

A: Absolutely. The plan for “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” is the same as usual, with a two-part special in primetime followed by another two parts after late local news, and the traditional Times Square ball drop covered at midnight Eastern time. Seacrest will have a little more competition beyond such traditional rivals as NBC, Fox and CNN, since CBS is getting back into the New Year’s Eve game for the first time in a long time with an all-star music special originating from Nashville.

Ryan Seacrest

Q: Now that Megan Boone is done with “The Blacklist,” what will she be doing next? — Ted King, Reading, Pa.

A: Nothing was definite as of the time this column was written, but one reason she left the ongoing NBC series after eight seasons was to develop projects of her own. She now has a production company (called Weird Sister) and a deal by which Sony Pictures Television — one of the entities behind “The Blacklist” — will get first crack at what she has to offer. That certainly speaks to the stature attained over the past decade or so by Boone, who had a two-episode tryout as Detective Danny Reagan’s (Donnie Wahlberg) potential partner on CBS’ “Blue Bloods” the season before “The Blacklist” premiered.

Q: Someone told me that Brad Pitt was on the original “Dallas.” Is that true? — Grace Bennett, Sioux City, Iowa

A: It is. Very early in his career, during the CBS serial’s 1987-88 season, he played the boyfriend of Charlotte “Charlie” Wade (Shalane McCall) … daughter of Jenna Wade (then played by Priscilla Presley), who had a past with Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy). Though he also was doing work in such other shows as “Growing Pains” and “thirtysomething” at the time, Pitt wouldn’t have his true breakthrough until a few years later with his supporting role in the Oscar-winning 1991 movie “Thelma & Louise.”

Q: What happened to Poppy Harlow, who anchored weekday mornings with Jim Sciutto on CNN? I haven’t seen her lately. — Doug Hunter, via email

A: She is on a leave of absence from the network, and for an impressive reason. Harlow has gone back to school to get her Master’s degree in law from Yale University, something she has said she was inspired to do while covering the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year.

Harlow had another inspiration closer to home, though … her father, who was an intellectual property litigator. He died when she was in her teens, but she had spent many weekend mornings with him at his office and was exposed to his interests, which clearly became interests of hers as well. Harlow’s course of study lasts a year, so it will be a while before she’s back at CNN full-time, but she may fill in for other anchors occasionally in the meantime.

Q: For how many years did Tim Russert host “Meet the Press”? — Barry Smith, Clovis, Calif.

A: Not long after becoming the Washington bureau chief for NBC News, Russert was named moderator of the Sunday-morning staple in 1991, keeping the job until his untimely passing in 2008. He was working at that time, recording voiceovers for the following Sunday’s show — and as Tom Brokaw delivered the sad news on the NBC networks, rivals ABC and CBS also aired special reports that relayed the information to viewers.

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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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