Q: Is it true that S. Epatha Merkerson (pictured) is leaving “Law and Order”? I hope not, since she is one of my favorite characters. — Sheila F., Harrisburg, Pa.
A: I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that the rumors are true. Merkerson recently told EW.com that she did indeed plan to leave the hit crime drama after 16 years on the show. She revealed: “It’s the end of my contract this year, and the story line has been so perfect. I’ve given it my best for 16 years. It’s time to move on. I’m doing other things, and this will be a great way to leave what has been an extraordinary gig.”
Q: I really like the actress who plays Flo on the Progressive Insurance commercials. Can you tell me her name and a little bit about her? I think she is hilarious! — Lawrence D., West Palm Beach, Fla.
A: Stephanie Courtney, 40, plays the beehive-hair Progressive Insurance agent in the series of comedic commercials. She has made appearances in a variety of television shows and films, including “Blades of Glory,” “Sons of Tucson,” “ER,” “For Your Consideration,” “The United States of Tara” and “Mad Men.” On a related note, she also starred on the series “Cavemen,” which was based on the cavemen characters in the Geico Insurance commercials. Apparently Progressive didn’t mind her association with its competitor, as they cast her in their most successful series of commercials to date.
Q: I was sad to hear of the passing of actor John Forsythe, who seemed the consummate professional in every role he played. How are his Hollywood friends responding to his death? — Patti T., via e-mail
A: John’s former “Dynasty” co-star Joan Collins called him the “last of the true gentlemen of the acting profession. He will be greatly missed.” Kate Jackson, who worked with him on “Charlie’s Angels,” said: “He had a grace about him that was incredibly awesome. He was wonderful.” Heather Locklear, who also worked with him on “Dynasty,” said: “John was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was a gifted actor who knew the true meaning of being gracious and kind.” John passed away on April 1 from complications of pneumonia after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 92.
Q: Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott seem to be fighting a lot this season on Oxygen’s “Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.” Are they going to get a divorce? — Terri F., via e-mail
A: According to Tori herself, she and Dean are NOT heading to divorce court. The actress — whose reality show just began its fifth season — told NBC’s “Today” show: “We’re committed to each other; we’re committed to this family. But you know, we work on things just like everyone else. We have our fights. We have our ups and downs. It’s a real relationship.”