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Pop culture Q&A: The voice of authority

Q: Who is the announcer with the deep voice who does the Allstate TV commercials?

A: That would be veteran actor Dennis Haysbert. His air of authority in the commercials has also been evident in some of his other work, for example when he played the president of the United States on “24” and when he was the leader of a Special Forces team on the CBS series “The Unit.” But his best-known role may be the power-hitting Pedro Cerrano of the Cleveland Indians in the “Major League” movies. He was so convincing in the role that he said it limited his getting other kinds of work for a while. He once told me, “Everybody thought I was that guy.” But other roles and those commercials have changed that image.

Q: Can you please tell me who does the voice for that lizard in the Geico commercial?

A: The Geico gecko has long been given voice by Jake Wood, an English actor whose credits include a long run as Max Branning on the British drama “EastEnders.” But during commercial appearances dating back more than a decade, more than one actor has played the role, including Kelsey Grammer.

Q: Thank you in advance for telling me where I can find Martha Stewart’s show.

A: You’re welcome in advance. If you are referring to her show for the Hallmark Channel, it is done. But she has a show for public television, “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School,” which airs at various times on PBS stations (check local listings). And, if you watch programming online, Stewart has an extensive library posted on Hulu.com.

Q: Many years ago there was a series about the White House. I think it was called “Backstairs at the White House” and was about the servants. I did not get to see all the series. Are there any tapes or DVDs?

A: “Backstairs at the White House” was a 1979 miniseries for CBS based on a book called “My 30 Years Backstairs at the White House.” It starred Olivia Cole, Leslie Uggams and Louis Gossett Jr., among others. It is available on DVD; if your local retailer cannot get it (or your library does not have it), the DVD is for sale from online vendors like Amazon.com and Moviesunlimited.com.

Q: Mark Harmon starred in a TV film “Certain Prey” based on a novel by John Sandford. Is it likely that he will star in any more of the Prey series stories? Will “Certain Prey” film be released on a DVD?

A: Sandford’s website notes that “reviews were decidedly mixed with fans and non-fans alike polarized” over the movie, but that the ratings were strong enough that there probably will be more movies. But nothing official has been announced at this writing.

Q: Many years ago (probably at least 40), I saw a movie with Richard Crenna called “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home.” It was very funny but not politically correct. Why is it never shown and can it be purchased?

A: I do not know of an authorized video release of “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home,” but I can see why it is not shown. The 1965 comedy starred Richard Crenna, Shirley MacLaine and Peter Ustinov. It was written by William Peter Blatty, later far more famous for “The Exorcist.” Crenna played Goldfarb, a former football star who becomes the coach of the football team of a fictional Middle Eastern country where Ustinov was king. (MacLaine is a journalist investigating the king by sneaking into his harem.) The team plays Notre Dame, and the real-life Notre Dame was reportedly so unhappy with the movie that it sued. When finally released, the movie was not a hit, and clips from it on YouTube indicate both ethnic insensitivity and a lack of humor.

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