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Television Q&A: New 'Dancing with the Stars' host Tyra Banks draws ire of fans
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Television Q&A: New 'Dancing with the Stars' host Tyra Banks draws ire of fans

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You have questions. I have some answers.

Q: Whoever is in charge of "Dancing with the Stars," please, please get rid of Tyra Banks. She will bring this show down and you will lose all your viewers!

A: I have received quite a few letters complaining about the changes at "DWTS," which I explained in an earlier column. Banks is not pleasing fans of the now-gone Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, the current "stars" seem unfamiliar to many viewers, and one reader objected to a voting system online and via text message, instead of by standard telephone for less tech-minded viewers.

Now, competition shows often change formats, hosts, judges and other elements to keep viewers coming. Sometimes it seems as if the nominal purpose — to demonstrate a specific skill — becomes less important than elevating personalities, including not only contestants but judges and hosts. "DWTS" has certainly been guilty of making changes — glamming up the dances, promoting dancers — at the expense of the performances long before the current season. The problems this year are nothing new, with one big exception.

That is how Banks has changed hosting. Bergeron and Andrews for the most part kept it low-key, apart from Bergeron's occasional witty aside, and let others such as the judges play the flashier roles. Banks, in contrast, has added another flamboyant personality to the show, often with terrible results. She was way over the top in the season premiere, and her costume on the recent Disney night was a horrible distraction. (Disney nights, one of the show's many corporate cross-promotions, are bad enough on their own.) It's not that Banks is bad on TV — I had a pretty severe addiction to "America's Next Top Model" in its early years. It's that she's playing the wrong part on "DWTS."

Q: This has bothered me for over 50 years. As a child in the 1960s, I saw what I believe was a TV movie that was an odd version of "Cinderella." In the movie, the fairy godmother was a rather daffy older woman and Cinderella had some sort of an accent. At the end, when Cinderella came to say "goodbye" after she had met the prince and was going to move to the castle, the old woman replied, "I prefer words like 'windowsill' or 'geranium.'" I would love to see this movie again as an adult, if it can be found.

A: While it appears the details are slightly different from what you remember, the movie is "The Glass Slipper," a 1955 musical starring Leslie Caron as Ella and featuring Estelle Winwood as Mrs. Toquet, the eccentric woman who serves as the fairy godmother. According to Turner Classic Movies' website, the film originally had a narration by Walter Pidgeon. When the movie came to TV in 1967 on an ABC anthology series, a new narration by Daws Butler was reportedly added. As for finding the movie, it is on DVD and digital download; one place to find them is on Amazon. And now that you have the title, you can keep an eye for possible telecasts.

Q: I love Barbra Streisand's "A Star Is Born" best of all the versions. I have noticed the name Jon Peters in the credits. Isn't he related to Streisand?

A: Not exactly. Peters and Streisand were a couple, though not married, for about 12 years, according to People magazine. Peters, then a famous Hollywood hairdresser, met Streisand after designing a wig for one of her films. They began a relationship and Peters became a producer on "A Star Is Born." They split in 1985, People says. But Peters did well as a producer and studio executive. His other dealings with women have included four marriages, the latest a 12-day one to actress Pamela Anderson earlier this year. People reported that he has faced at least five lawsuits for sexual harassment from 1996 to 2008 (four dismissed and one where Peters was found liable, according to People).

Q: Is there a story about how and why "Major Crimes" came about as a continuation of "The Closer?"

A: A pretty simple one. Shows often lose a major actor and keep going; think of the various versions of "Law & Order," not to mention "NYPD Blue," "Criminal Minds" and others. Kyra Sedgwick, who starred as Brenda Leigh Johnson in "The Closer," decided that after seven years she wanted to pursue other projects. But even without Sedgwick the series had a good ensemble, a strong idea and decent ratings, so TNT kept it going. And while there was a new centerpiece, Sharon Raydor (played by Mary McDonnell), the change gave more screen time to other characters and to a more complicated approach to cases. But you couldn't have "The Closer" without a closer, so a name change was in order and "Major Crimes" was born. It proved to be a solid show as well, one that held up when I binge-watched the complete series recently.

Do you have a question or comment about entertainment past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or brenfels@gmail.com. Letters may be edited. Individual replies are not guaranteed.

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