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Q&A: April 20

Question: I'm struck by how much Mary McCormack of In Plain Sight and Maria Bello of various movie look alike. Are they related?
David Dunbar

Answer: Others have noticed this, too, but I've found no evidence that they're related.

Question: Have you heard anything about the future of One Tree Hill? I'm hearing this might be its final season. I have a house full of OTH fans and would love to know!
Dorothy White

Answer: One Tree Hill has been picked up for a seventh season on The CW. The network also has announced renewals of 90210, Supernatural, Smallville, America's Top Model and Gossip Girl for next season.

Question: I just read a little post on shows that may be canceled. There were several that I'm a fan of, but a couple of them really upset me. Fringe and Life ?!? I thought Fringe was doing well. I've been onboard since Day One and I'd really be disappointed if Fringe is axed. I've never really heard much about the ratings for Life, and I was late coming to this party, but I've become a fan. Any word on Life?
Derrick Dennis

Answer: Life, which has gone under-appreciated from the start, looks like an extreme longshot to return next season. Sorry about that, but NBC will have five fewer prime-time drama hours available next fall when Jay Leno takes the weeknight 9 p.m. (central) slot. That makes it even tougher for Life unless DirecTV again comes to the rescue, as it has with NBC's Friday Night Lights.

Fringe, as well as fellow Fox newcomer Lie to Me, both look like pretty solid bets to be back. But I'd count out Fox's two Friday night sci-fi entries, Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Question: I'm watching the unwatchable Jimmy Fallon, which I do as rarely as possible. The only reason I'm watching is because Michael Emerson (Benjamin Linus on Lost) is one of the guests. Jimmy's monologues are pure torture. Even the audience chuckles sound embarrassed.

Also, I'm a huge Craig Ferguson fan. I wish CBS would throw some money into his show and get him a band and a better set and put him in HD. His guests, while enjoyable primarily because of Ferguson's interview style, are seldom people I'd like to see. Does CBS have any plans to give him an upgrade?
Rachel Dillard

Answer: Ferguson really should be upgraded to HD. That's the very least CBS can do. Especially since ABC began showing Jimmy Kimmel in HD on April 14th, leaving Ferguson the odd man out. CBS has, however, upped the promotions for Ferguson's Late Late Show.

Ferguson's monologues have become his show's trademark ever since he started improvising and mostly doing away with cue card prompts. Fallon's openings indeed are still painful, but I did kinda like the recent joke about how the new White House dog, Bo, "arrived just in time because Sasha and Malia were getting tired of throwing frisbees to Joe Biden."

Ratings-wise, Fallon and Ferguson often run neck-and-neck, both nationally and in D-FW. Ferguson also had been increasingly competitive with Fallon's predecessor, Conan O'Brien. So the momentum may still be with Ferguson, but Fallon has improved -- performance-wise -- after a very flop-sweaty first week.

Q&A: April 1

Question: Is there anything we can do to bring back Life on Mars? I am so tired of my favorite shows getting canceled after less than a season! Surely the brilliant minds at the networks must know that if you put a high-concept show on holiday hiatus, bring it back on a different night, schedule it opposite Law & Order and then fail to advertise it, the show is going to lose ratings. Following Lost didn't work because the Mars audience is not the same as the Lost audience. The Mars fan has a lot more in common with The Sopranos and Law & Order fans. Once upon a time viewers brought back Seinfeld and Cagney & Lacey. What do you think?
Andy Allen

Answer: I feel your palpable pain, Andy. But Mars didn't work -- ratings wise at least -- when it followed the potent Grey's Anatomy earlier this season on Thursday nights. I don't think ABC has a compatible show on its schedule, although audience "flow" no longer matters nearly as much as it once did. CBS' CSI: Miami doesn't exactly mesh with its Monday night lead-in, the network's Rules of Engagement sitcom. But viewers flock to it anyway.

Mars, scheduled to have its final telecast on April 1st (no fooling), is no doubt lost for good. Viewers saved CBS' Jericho by deluging CBS corporate headquarters with bagged nuts. But the ratings were no better the second time around for the seven additional episodes.

I'd recommend that you catch the British-made Mars sequel, Ashes to Ashes, which currently is airing on Saturdays at 8 p.m. central on BBC America. The Brits know to treat their series. Although in fairness to ABC, the network didn't scrimp on promotion for Mars and gave it two of its best available time slots.

Question: Why did ABC drop the 7 p.m. (central) rerun, with captioned commentary on Lost, that preceded the week's new episode? I loved those reruns and the insight I got from the pop-ups.
Rachel Dillard

Answer: Low ratings again are to blame. I found the Lost recaps very useful as well, but most viewers looked away. Not that Scrubs is doing any better. We all live in a hellish TV world at times. Were it me, I'd throw the Lost recaps back in there. Meanwhile, ABC's "Lost Untangled" feature on the network's Web site might help some. Although it's pretty damned cartoonish compared to what we had before.

Question: Whatever happened to local voice and sometimes TV talent Nancy Jay?
Tom Unterberger

Answer: Unclebarky.com had a feature on Nancy Jay in September 2007, when she had a brief role as a news anchor on USA's Monk. She's been freelancing of late, and was the off-camera voice of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a Papa John's pizza commercial that aired that year. That's about all I know at present.