Q. I have seen Dick Van Patten in numerous television shows, the most memorable of which was Eight Is Enough. There is also an actress named Joyce Van Patten. Are they brother and sister?
They are. Dick Van Patten is the older brother of Joyce, But that is hardly the end of the clan. There is also Dick’s half-brother, Tim Van Patten, formerly an actor ( The White Shadow) but now more acclaimed as a director ( The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones).
Dick has three sons who became actors: Vince, Nels and Jimmy. And Joyce has an actress daughter, Talia Balsam, from her marriage to the actor Martin Balsam. You may have seen Talia as Roger Sterling’s ex-wife, Mona, on Mad Men; John Slattery, who plays Roger, and Talia are married in real life.
Q. What is the status of Homeland?
Showtime has ordered a third season of the Emmy-winning drama, which is set to debut Sept. 29. It will begin in the aftermath of the terror attack in the second-season finale and will include a global manhunt for Nick Brody (Damian Lewis).
Q. I enjoy watching Murder, She Wrote reruns on the Hallmark Channel, but I am puzzled by something. In the spring of 1990, Angela Lansbury did not appear in six episodes except for a short intro at the beginning of each. What was that about?
During the 1984-1996 run of Murder, She Wrote, Lansbury often found the workload onerous, and more than once said she was leaving the series, only to be brought back with changes made to accommodate her.
In 1989, she made a deal that included episodes highlighting other characters, among them Dennis Stanton, played by Keith Michell, and Hagerty, played by Len Cariou. After two seasons of the extra detectives, Lansbury in 1991 said the experiment “wasn’t tremendously successful,” and the show’s focus returned to Jessica.
Q. Who sings the song Stand Up on the Blue Cross Blue Shield commercial?
If you are talking about the ads promising the company is “standing with” you, the song is Count on Me by Bruno Mars.
Send questions to TV Mailbag, Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309 or email@example.com. Replies cannot be guaranteed.