Q: When will “Southland” be back? I was so happy when TNT picked it up from NBC, and have been eagerly awaiting its return. — George F., via e-mail
A: The cutting-edge drama will be back on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 10 p.m. on TNT. Series star Benjamin McKenzie (pictured left; photo credit: Doug Hyun) gave me the scoop: “It’s going to be the same show you’ve seen before, it’s just going to be more focused on the four principle characters left: Ben, Lydia, Sammy and John. It’s a pretty aggressive show; this season it’s really going to double-down on the aggressiveness. It’s fast, hard-hitting and uncompromising.
“With my character and John, the dynamic has changed yet again. It’s more of a peer-to-peer relationship than it has been in the past. Although Ben will still mess up and John will criticize him brutally for it, he’s got a little more freedom to do a little more of his own work. The end of the season will mark the end of his probationary period.”
Q: I love the Syfy show “Merlin.” I haven’t seen new episodes on the schedule for a while, and I’m afraid it has been canceled. Please tell me it hasn’t! — Mark T. in Vermont
A: Don’t worry, Mark. The magical Syfy series will indeed be back for a third season beginning Friday, Jan. 7, at 10 p.m. Season three finds the young Merlin (played by Colin Morgan) in increasingly more dangerous and dark battles in his secret quest to protect Prince Arthur (Bradley James) in the fabled kingdom of Camelot, where magic is forbidden by King Uther (Anthony Head). They rejoin Morgana (Katie McGrath) — who has a dark destiny of her own — with Angel Coulby as her loyal maid Gwen, and Richard Wilson as wise court physician Gaius. John Hurt returns as the voice of the Great Dragon.
Q: Is Jillian Michaels really leaving “The Biggest Loser”? I can’t imagine the show without her! — Tawny D., via e-mail
A: Well, start imagining it, because Jillian is outta there. After this season, which begins Jan. 4, her contract is up, and she is leaving the show. Jillian explained her decision: “I want to take a year off TV and focus on becoming a mommy and doing more charity work. Shooting ‘Losing It’ also had a big impact on me. Living with kids, I saw firsthand what I was missing.”
Q: How is Vanessa Williams fitting in as the newest cast member of “Desperate Housewives”? — Sandi S., Lousiville, Ky.
A: Vanessa is doing great, at least according to co-star Joshua Moore, who plays Parker Scavo. When we spoke about the show’s return from winter break on Jan. 2, he told me: “She’s just great to work with. I think she’s a really good actress and she’s great in her role. She’s just a very cool person to talk to and hang out with. She definitely has to flip that switch on to be mean (like her character, Renee).”
Q: I was so happy when I heard that Nancy O’Dell would be replacing Mary Hart as co-anchor on “Entertainment Tonight” when Mary retires in 2011. It will be nice to see Nancy’s lovely face on TV again! What is she up to in the meantime? — Jillian F., Fort Worth, Texas
A: Nancy is thrilled by her latest career move. She told me: “It is such an honor (to be chosen to replace Mary Hart). Mary is such a TV icon. I remember watching it when it first debuted and thinking, ‘Oh my God, that would be such a cool show to work for.’ And here I am, working for it! It is very exciting.”
Nancy also has teamed up with Florida Orange Juice on a promotion to help make mornings special for families. She explained: “It’s so difficult for people to make their mornings meaningful with their families, as they are being pulled in so many directions. But all you need is 15 minutes, whether it’s over a glass of orange juice or over breakfast, to just sit down and talk with your family.” So Nancy is helping launch the Florida Orange Juice Morning Squeeze contest, with the grand prize being a family trip to Florida. To enter, go to www.FloridaJuice.com/Morning_Squeeze.php.
Q: Will “Army Wives” be back anytime soon for a new season? — William S., via e-mail
A: Rest assured, Lifetime Television’s perennial hit drama “Army Wives” will be back for a fifth season with 13 all-new episodes. “Army Wives” is Lifetime’s most successful series in the 26-year-history of the network, so I’d say the show has quite a bit of life left in it. It will be back in 2011, however the exact date has not been announced. If previous seasons are any indication, it should be back by late spring to early summer.
Q: I caught the tail end of what looked like a really good documentary on Animal Planet about men diving with Nile crocodiles. Can you tell me what it was called and when/if I can see it again? — Sam M., via e-mail
A: The show is called “Into the Dragon’s Lair,” which documents wildlife photographer Roger Horrocks and world-renowned underwater cameraman Didier Noiret as they travel to Botswana’s Okavango Delta to capture never-before-seen behaviors to help broaden the world’s scientific understanding of these fearsome creatures. It is definitely a don’t-miss show, and you can see it again Thursday night, Jan. 20.
Q: How much do reality-television stars, people like Kim Kardashian, make? — Frankie F., Washington, D.C.
A: It depends on the star’s popularity, as well as extracurricular activities, like perfume and clothing lines, books, etc. Kim, for instance, is the highest-paid reality star, raking in $6 million in 2010. Lauren Conrad is close behind, banking $5 million in 2010.
Q: I was so sad to hear that one of my favorite comedic actors, Leslie Nielsen, had passed away recently. Did he film anything before he died, to be released posthumously? — Jeff D., via e-mail
A: The great Leslie Nielsen, 84, who began his acting career back in 1950, passed away in November after a short battle with pneumonia. For his final movie, he voiced a character in the animated comedy “The Waterman Movie,” which is scheduled for release some time next year.
Q: What has happened to Rich Fields, the announcer for “The Price Is Right”? They keep having “guest” announcers. Will he return sometime soon? — Donna C. in New York
A: Rich Fields, 50, who came aboard “The Price Is Right” after the death of longtime announcer Rod Roddy in 2004, is no longer the announcer of the perennial game show. Before the start of the 2010 season, Rich was informed that the producers wanted to go a different way with the show, which included a new announcer with improvisation-comedy background. For now, the show is employing a series of guest announcers, but hopefully the producers will settle on one announcer soon, instead of continuing this game of announcer musical chairs. Currently, Rich is a part-time meteorologist in Los Angeles.
Q: Watching older movies with George Clooney, and comparing how he looked then with now, it looks like he has had a little tightening done to his face? Has he? To me, he seems like the last person on Earth who would undergo plastic surgery. — Hannah F., via e-mail
A: Actually, the 49-year-old star confessed to Oprah Winfrey back in 2007 that he had had some excess skin under his eyes removed. As he said: “It’s important to look awake.” If you check out some before and after pictures online, you can see that the result is subtle and natural-looking, unlike some other pulled-tight celebs who shall remain nameless.
Q: Why did the ABC/Disney-produced “Legend of the Seeker” get canceled? There is a worldwide fan campaign (saveourseeker.com) that is working hard to get this beloved, high-fantasy show back for a third season. Have you heard anything about the show coming back? — Shirley T., Derby, Conn.
A: The Internet is exploding with campaigns to save the show, as well as some well-placed rumors that the show might not be finished. Back in October, “Seeker” stars Craig Parker and Bruce Spence hinted at the fan gathering RingCon 2010 that the show might not be over, yet. Bruce stated, “I know that a lot of people think it’s dead, but it’s not.”
While he might just be employing positive thinking, rumor has it that many alternative stations have been approached about picking up the show for its third season, including SyFy and BBC (both of which reportedly passed). For some fan-made videos, as well as other links to help save the show, check out craighorner.com (a fansite for the “Seeker” star).
Q: I really miss “Parks and Recreation” — it is by far my favorite comedy on TV, along with “The Office.” When will it return? I can’t take much more of “Outsourced.” — Samuel F., via e-mail
A: You will be happy to hear, as I was, that “Parks and Rec” (as many of us lovingly refer to it) will be back on NBC on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 9:30/8:30c after “The Office,” where it belongs. I also was getting a little nervous that the mediocre comedy, “Outsourced,” was going to usurp Leslie Knope and company from their rightful spot on must-see Thursday night TV. I am not sure what this means for “Outsourced,” but I don’t really care. It is difficult for me to get behind a show that makes light of a real problem in America nowadays: high unemployment and jobs being shipped overseas. Aside from that, it just ain’t funny!
Q: Last I heard, “V” was coming back to ABC in November, but November came and went, and no “V.” Please don’t tell me that it has been canceled. After the cancelation of “FlashForward” and “The Gates,” I don’t think I can take another early cancelation! — Theresa R., Baltimore
A: Don’t you worry, Theresa. “V” will make its highly anticipated season premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 9/8c. Season two will feature more character and lizard revelations, more details about the V’s mythology, as well as even more action and more plot twists. As my favorite new show of the 2009 season, I can’t wait to see what develops.
Q: I loved Laura Prepon on “October Road,” and was sad when it went off the air. Can you tell me what else I can see her in? — Danni J. in Georgia
A: Laura, 30, has been busy since “October Road” was canceled in 2008. She guest-starred on “In Plain Sight,” “Medium,” “House M.D.” and “How I Met Your Mother.” In January, Laura plays Natalie Gray, the actress who portrays Nicki Heat in the movie adaptation of Richard Castle’s best-selling mystery book “Nicki Heat” on ABC’s “Castle.”
Q: I have loved all of the “Glee” cameos as of late, especially Britney Spears and Gwyneth Paltrow. Now I hear that Anne Hathaway might be on the show? Is that true? — Denny T., via e-mail
A: While there are no immediate plans for Anne Hathaway to guest-star on the popular Fox musical/comedy, if Anne gets her way, you just might see her walking down the halls of McKinley High. She recently revealed: “In my head, I’ve cast myself, and I know what song I’m going to sing! I would want to play Kurt’s long-lost aunt’s mother’s sister, who is also gay and comes back to help him deal with his sexuality, and I would sing ‘You Are Not Alone’ from Steven Sondheim’s epic show ‘Into the Woods.’”