Q: I read in your column a few months back that Alicia Silverstone had given birth to a son, and it got me to thinking if she has plans to return to the big, or small, screen soon? — Darren F., Portland, Ore.
A: Alicia returns to her comedic roots with the help of Amy Heckerling, who also gave the beautiful actress her big break when she was chosen to portray Cher in the classic high-school comedy “Clueless.” With Amy writing and directing and Alicia starring, the new film “Vamps” is gearing up to bring to the new influx of vampire movies what “Clueless” brought to high-school-comedy movies.
“Vamps” centers on Alicia (“Goody”) and Krysten Ritter (“Stacy”) as they try to live as “good” vampires in New York City. “Vamps” also stars Sigourney Weaver and Malcolm McDowell, and should hit theaters some time next year.
Q: With the Emmy Awards a recent memory — and Jane Lynch doing a fabulous job hosting — I was wondering if you could tell me who will be the host for the next Academy Awards? — Deidre S., via e-mail
A: Actor/comedian Eddie Murphy, 50, has been selected to host the 84th annual Academy Awards. The ceremony, which is to be held Feb. 12, 2012, will mark the first time that the funnyman has hosted the show. His selection as the only host marks a return to the single-host format, which has gone by the wayside in recent years as the Academy opted for multiple hosts — some choices successful (Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin) and some not so successful (James Franco and Anne Hathaway). Eddie says he is “enormously honored” to be given hosting duties, and I’m excited to see what he has in store for viewers.
Q: I’m so glad that “The Mentalist” has returned for its fourth season, and I wanted to know when the previous season would be out on DVD. — Steven S., Akron, Ohio
A: Simon Baker and the rest of the crew have their work cut out for them this season, but now you can relive season three — which proved to be spellbinding and suspenseful in its own right — anytime you’d like at home, as Warner Home Video recently released it on DVD. “The Mentalist: The Complete Third Season” is a five-disc collection featuring all 24 episodes, plus two featurettes and some unaired scenes.
Q: I know you’re a fan of “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” so you might be able to tell me: Will it be back for a third season? — Patrick L., via e-mail
A: I am thrilled to report that truTV recently announced that an eight-episode third season of “Conspiracy Theory” will air in 2012, with Jesse at the helm and June Sarpong at his right hand, along with newcomers Tyrel Ventura (Jesse’s son) and Sean Stone (Oliver Stone’s son). Like me, I’m sure you can’t wait to see a new season of myth-debunking, truth-seeking and Ventura-style entertainment.
Q: I really loved Ann-Marie Johnson on “In the Heat of the Night.” What can I see her in now, and is she married with children? — Virginia, C.
A: I can’t even begin to list Ann-Marie’s film and TV credits, as there are way too many of them, but I can tell you the first series I remember seeing her in was “Double Trouble” back in 1984. Since then, she has been featured in “Hill Street Blues,” “I’m Gonne Get You Sucka,” “In Living Color,” “Melrose Place,” “Ally McBeal,” “The X-Files,” “JAG,” “Pursuit of Happyness” and “NCIS.” Her most recent projects have been “Leverage” and “Fairly Legal.” Ann-Marie, 51, has been married to actor Martin Grey since 1996, and they have no children.
Q: I was watching an older movie called “Dracula III” with Rutger Hauer as Dracula, and I could have sworn the red-haired vampire also plays the assistant D.A. on “Law & Order: SVU.” Are they the same person? Also, was Mariska Hargitay, also of “SVU,” ever on the TV show “Freddy’s Nightmares”? — Kevin B., Edmore, Mich.
A: You are correct on both counts. Diane Neal did indeed play Elizabeth Blaine in the straight-to-video vampire movie “Dracula III,” starring alongside Rutger, Roy Schieder and Jason London. And back before Mariska was detective-extraordinaire Olivia Benson on “SVU,” she did indeed have a role in one of the “Freddy’s Nightmares” episodes, playing medical student Marsha, whom Freddy — played by the always-scary Robert Englund — harasses on Halloween, driving her to the brink of madness.
Q: The TV show “The Mentalist” shows Ashley Gable as producer. Is she a daughter or granddaughter of Clark Gable? — Juanita S., St. Clair Shores, Mich.
A: Ashley Gable, who recently took over as executive producer of the CBS crime drama, is not related to the iconic actor, known best for his role of Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind.” Clark had two children: a daughter with actress Loretta Young named Judy Lewis, who has a daughter named Maria, and a son with actress Kay Williams named John Clark Gable, who has a son named Clark James and daughter named Hayley. Ashley Gable — who, again, is no relation to Clark Gable — is a prolific writer and producer, working on such shows as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Crossing Jordan” and “The Mentalist,” to name just a few.
Q: Will the horror series “The Walking Dead” be back for another season? — Donna C., Warner, Okla.
A: AMC has rewarded “The Walking Dead” with a 13-episode second season (up from a six-episode first season), which is scheduled to begin Sunday, Oct. 16, at 9 p.m. ET. For those unfamiliar with the critically acclaimed series, it is based on the comic-book series of the same name and centers on a group of people who’ve survived a zombie apocalypse and are searching across America for a new, safe home away from all the killer zombies.