Q: I am in love with the “Outlander” book series. Is it true that it’s going to be a series on TV? — Nina H., via email
A: It is indeed, Nina. In fact, the sweeping historical drama premieres on Starz beginning Saturday, Aug. 9, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The first eight episodes will air through Sept. 27, with the second half of the season returning in early 2015. However, if you’re like me and can’t wait to see the first episode, starting Aug. 2, you can watch it online at starz.com, on Starz’s Twitter, YouTube and Facebook pages, as well as select cable/satellite outlets.
For those unfamiliar with the books, the “Outlander” series spans the genres of romance, science fiction, history and adventure in one epic tale. The series — adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s international best-selling books — follows the story of Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a married combat nurse from 1945, who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743’s Scottish Highlands. Upon her arrival, she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. But when she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) — a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior — for her own protection, a passionate relationship is ignited.
Q: I never knew until recently that actor Christopher Walken also is a song-and-dance man. Will he be showing off his skills in anything soon? I’d love to see that! — Priscilla J., via email
A: NBC recently announced that the award-winning actor and talented hoofer will portray the iconic character of Captain Hook in the network’s live musical adaptation of “Peter Pan,” which is set to premiere in December. The success of last Thanksgiving’s “The Sound of Music Live” has proved that America loves a good, live musical, and I have a feeling that Christopher and the rest of the as-yet-uncast cast will deliver.
Q: Will “The Unexplained Files” be back? I love that show. — Peter H., Wooster, Ohio
A: The Science Channel’s most watched series of 2013 is returning for its second season on Tuesday, July 29, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Season two’s 12 all-new episodes will launch viewers into another gripping exploration of the unknown by investigating more of the most puzzling, global incidents from the United States to Russia to Bosnia-Herzegovina to Mexico and more.
Q: I know how busy Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are, but please tell me that there will be another season of “Sherlock.” — Jenny T., via email
A: I am happy to report that there shall indeed be another season of the BBC/PBS hit mystery series based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective book series. The show will return with a three-episode fourth season, which will start with a one-off Christmas special (most likely) in December 2015. You heard me right: That’s a Christmas special PLUS a regular three-episode season.
According to “Sherlock” co-creator and actor Mark Gatiss: “At last! It’s always special to return to ‘Sherlock,’ but this time it’s even more special as we’re doing … a special! Not only THAT, we’ll then be shooting three more episodes, which will take Sherlock and John Watson into deeper and darker water than ever before. The whole ‘Sherlock’ team are terrifically excited to return for four new adventures. The game is on — again!”
Q: Is it true that characters from the hit Disney film “Frozen” are coming to “Once Upon a Time”? Judging by the tease from this season’s finale, I’d say yes. — Steff S. in Florida
A: That is indeed true, Steff. Characters loosely based on Kristoff, Anna and Queen Elsa — who will be played by Scott Michael Foster (“Greek”), newcomer Elizabeth Lail and Georgina Haig (“Fringe,” “Reckless”), respectively — will cool their heels in Storybrooke, Maine, in season four of ABC’s red-hot fantasy/drama series. The “Frozen” story arc on “Once Upon a Time” is expected to pick up after the events of the film.
Q: I saw an ad for a show called “The Quest,” but I can’t figure out if it’s a competition show, or an actual drama/adventure series. Can you tell me what it’s about? — Paul I., Wooster, Ohio
A: “The Quest” is a new reality competition show from executive producers of “The Amazing Race,” teaming up with an executive producer of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Premiering on ABC on Thursday, July 31, at 8/7c, the series is billed as: “a thrilling race against time, fantasy, reality and scripted drama … a new reality-based competition series unlike anything else on television.”
“The show takes 12 unsuspecting contestants to an imaginative realm where ogres run free in the forest, dragons stir, agents of a dark lord infiltrate the keep, and the only thing standing between peace and chaos are a dozen very unlikely heroes. ‘The Quest’ will be a fully immersive experience. In and around the castle, the fantasy realm will come to life with state-of-the art projections, animatronics, prosthetics and art direction. The narrative and mythology of ‘The Quest’ is deep and fully imagined, and it has been designed to incorporate seamlessly with the unexpected actions and decisions of the contestants. Fantasy comes alive as never before in this genre-bending series.”
A: Luke can be seen next starring in the Hallmark Movie Channel’s original movie “The Memory Book,” which premieres Saturday, July 26, at 9/8c. The story centers on photographer Chloe (played by Meghan Ory), who stumbles upon an old photo album from the 1970s. She sets out to find the couple in the album to prove that true love exists. Along the way, she meets Gabe Sinclair (Luke), a mysterious but charming bartender who soon finds himself falling in love with her.
I spoke with Luke about what the movie means to him: “I think it’s about investigating the past and learning from those who’ve come before us about how to live our lives. That sounds a little over the top, but I think the movie is about what the generation before us has to teach us. I’m a big history buff myself. I always look to the past, and I think that’s what our main characters are doing — looking to the past and seeing how it formed them. I think it’s also about staying open to the possibility of love.”
Luke looks back fondly on his time on “Brothers and Sisters”: “It was a great experience. It’s so rare that something lasts for five years. We got to tell a lot of really good stories. As far as the cast goes, I see Matthew Rhys whenever I’m in New York. I love Sally Field. She’s everything that everyone wants her to be. And Calista Flockhart — it was an amazing, positive experience.”
Check back in a few days for my full interview with this talented young actor.
Q: I was super excited about the new series “Hieroglyph,” and now I hear it won’t be airing. What’s up with that? — Gina R., via email
A: Fox recently announced that it’s decided to pull the plug on the historical fantasy/thriller centered on ancient Egypt, even though it gave the green light and shot the pilot episode. According to insiders: “The series wasn’t creatively coming together the way executives had hoped.” After watching the trailer for the series, to me it looked like a cheap “Game of Thrones” rip-off, so maybe Fox execs were saving us from finding that out for ourselves.
Q: You mentioned a while back that “A Young Doctor’s Notebook and Other Stories” would be back for another season, but I’ve heard nothing more about it. Do you know when or if it will return? — Jennifer D., via email
A: Season two of this darkly humorous series, which stars Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe as television’s most unlikely alter egos, premieres Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 10 p.m. ET on Ovation. It will continue on consecutive Tuesdays nights thereafter: Aug. 26, Sept. 2 and Sept. 9. The series is based on tales inspired by renowned Russian writer and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov, who also just happens to be my favorite Russian Lit author. (When you get the chance, you must read his seminal novel, “The Master and Margarita.” It’s in my top-three books of all time, along with “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving and “Sophie’s Choice” by William Styron.)
“Bulgakov’s writing has a special quality and tone that really resonated with all of us on the cast and crew,” says Jon Hamm, who plays the older version of the young doctor. “It’s so unique that we all were eager to come back for a second season that would further explore the character dynamics and pathos of this time and place. It’s fortunate that we have found such a supportive and enthusiastic U.S. broadcast partner in Ovation to showcase this one-of-a-kind series.”
Q: I’ve heard about a new series called “Gunslingers,” but I have no idea what channel it’s on, or when it premieres. Can you help? — Donald R., Bethesda, Md.
A: I certainly can help. The American Hero Channel’s new original series, “Gunslingers,” debuted last night, Sunday, July 20, at 10/9c. The series focuses on the few brave men who protected the innocent from an endless stream of gun-wielding outlaws throughout the 19th century. The thrilling six-part historical docudrama immerses viewers in the true stories behind infamous icons and legendary conflicts of the Wild West.
The series showcases the real, often little-known adventures of the Wild West’s iconic characters (Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok, etc.), and how their fearless pursuit of freedom and profit still resonate in America today. Contributors include: David Milch, the creator of “Deadwood”; Bob Boze Bell, the executive editor of “True West Magazine”; and actor Kurt Russell, who portrayed his favorite Western icon, Wyatt Earp, in the classic film “Tombstone.”
Q: I can’t find “I Wanna Marry Harry” on Fox anymore. Do you know why the series about the pretend prince has not been airing? — Dave L., via email
A: The Fox reality series, which flew 12 American women to a stately home outside of London for a dating-competition show, was pulled from Fox after the fourth episode for dismal ratings. If you want to see how the show turned out, the whole series is available on Hulu and at Fox.com.
A: Lauren stars in the new Lifetime movie called “Deliverance Creek,” which premieres Saturday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The movie is executive-produced by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook,” “Safe Haven”). It is a revenge drama centering on a widow and mother of three, Belle Gatlin Barlowe (played by Lauren), who is determined to protect her family and land at any cost during the Civil War. When the corrupt bank that runs their town pushes Belle into becoming an outlaw, the stakes become personal, setting off a chain of events that force her to question whether it’s better to be good or to survive.
Q: Angela Kinsey has to be one of the funniest women on television; I love her recurring role on “New Girl.” Will she star in anything of her own soon? — Judy T., Santa Fe, N.M.
A: The talented actress, who’s perhaps best known for co-starring on “The Office,” currently co-stars in “The Hotwives of Orlando,” a Hulu original series that premiered Tuesday, July 15. As you can probably tell by the title, the series is a riff on all the “Real Housewives” series, which follows Angela as the Religious Zealot, Casey Wilson as the Trophy Wife, Kristen Schaal as the Drug-Addled Former Child Star, Tymberlee Hill as the Entrepreneur, Danielle Schneider as the Bankrupt Overspender, and Andrea Savage as the Cougar. Paul Scheer (who also is a producer on the series) co-stars as Matty Green, the Enthusiastic TV Producer.
Q: Will “Downton Abbey” ever come back? — Hope M., via email
A: The popular Masterpiece Classic period drama — which airs on ITV in England and on PBS in the U.S. — will return for a fifth season in January 2015. It does air first across the pond (which should be sometime this fall), so try to stay away from spoilers, if you can, until it airs here in America.
Q: I loved Callum Blue in “The Tudors” and “Dead Like Me.” When will he return to series television? — Brittany T., via email
A: Callum has been tapped to co-star in the Kyra Sedgwick-produced pilot for TNT called “Proof,” which is currently filming. The series also stars Jennifer Beals, Matthew Modine, Edi Gathegi and Joe Morton, to name just a few. The series centers on a brilliant surgeon (played by Jennifer) who begins investigating supernatural phenomena, including resurrections, out-of-body experiences and hauntings. No word yet on when the series will premiere.
Q: I read in “Billboard” last month that Journey and Steve Perry were not going to reunite, despite the rumors to the contrary. What can you tell me about that? — Peter F., Tempe, Ariz.
A: Neal Schon of Journey has indeed spoken out against the rumors of a Journey reunion with Steve Perry. In fact, the rock band is presently touring with current lead singer Arnel Pineda. However, last month, Steve Perry made a rare and unannounced appearance (he hasn’t sung publicly since 1995) with the indie band the Eels at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn., singing an Eels song with the band, as well as Journey classics “Open Arms” and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.” He sounded absolutely fabulous, and I hope this is an indication that he is ready to step back into the spotlight, make a new album and go on tour.
Q: There was a TV show on last year about two LAPD cops who didn’t get along, so their captain sent them to couples’ counseling. My wife and I really enjoyed the show, and we were wondering if it’s coming back. — Tom W., Palm Desert, Calif.
A: The show you are thinking of is USA’s “Common Law,” which starred Michael Ealy and Warren Kole. It was canceled by the network in fall 2012. Michael has since co-starred in “Almost Human” (which recently was canceled), and Warren played a juicy role in “The Following,” although his character died last season.