Q: I read that Maura Tierney had to drop out of NBC’s “Parenthood” to seek treatment for breast cancer. Who will be replacing her? And how is Maura doing? – Hallie, via e-mail
A: NBC has confirmed that Lauren Graham will be joining the cast of “Parenthood” as single mother Sarah Braverman. Production is scheduled to begin in November, with “Parenthood” joining NBC’s lineup in early 2010. The series is based on the 1989 movie of the same name, which starred Steve Martin, Jason Robards, Dianne Wiest and Mary Steenburgen. Lauren’s most recent TV gig was as the coolest mom on the block, Lorelai Gilmore of “Gilmore Girls.” Maura is said to be responding well to treatment, and I wish her all the best for a full recovery.
Q: There is an actor in the movie “Desperate Hours,” with Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins, who looks just like “Law & Order: SVU” star Christopher Meloni. Was that him, and if not, are they related? — Teresa P., Fort Worth, Texas
A: The actor you are thinking of is Elias Koteas, who is often mistaken for Christopher, and vice versa. In fact, I sometimes confuse the two myself — the resemblance is uncanny! Elias is mostly a film actor, co-starring in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Haunting in Connecticut,” “Crash,” “Shooter,” “Two Lovers” and the upcoming “Shutter Island,” among many others. Christopher is best known for “SVU,” but also was featured in “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Nights in Rodanthe,” in addition to his extensive television work.
Q: Three generations of my family love NBC’s “Merlin.” Will it be back for another season? — Beth G., Roanoke, Va.
A: As of this writing, NBC has not yet announced if it will pick up the original BBC show “Merlin” for its second season. However, if it does, it will most likely air sometime in spring or summer 2010. If you have satellite or cable TV, you can catch original episodes on BBC-1 (depending on what channels your provider offers), which began airing Season 2 on Sept. 19. It also was recently announced that the BBC has picked up the show for a third season. So, whether or not NBC renews “Merlin,” fans of the show can still find it. It just might take a little looking!
READERS: Many of you have written in throughout the years to find out when “Ally McBeal” will be released on DVD. Well, after a long wait, fans can finally get all five seasons of the show on DVD. “Ally McBeal: The Complete Series,” a 32-disc box set with tons of extras and special features, is finally available. You can find the DVDs at any retail store (Target, Wal-Mart, Borders, etc.) or check online (amazon.com and ebay.com, to name a few) for special deals. You also can purchase each season individually; however, only Season One is available separately as of now.