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Pop culture Q&A

Sunday, December 26, 2010

By Rich Heldenfels

McClatchy Newspapers

Q. I enjoy the show “The Doctors.” One of them is an ob-gyn named Lisa. I also look at the sitcom “Saved by the Bell.” Is she the same person who played a student on that show?

A. According to her online bio, Dr. Lisa Masterson has been on television, not only on “The Doctors” but on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Dr. Phil” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

She did not, as far as I can tell, act on “Saved by the Bell.” You are probably seeing a resemblance to Lark Voorhies, who played Lisa Turtle on the comedy.

Q. Around September on a Target commercial with schoolgirls — a female singer sings “There’s a land that I see/where the children are free.” Who is she? What a wonderful voice!

A. She is one of the New Seekers, a group founded by one of the members of the Seekers (“Georgy Girl”). The New Seekers were mainly known for “I’d Like to Teach the World To Sing,” which originally appeared in a Coca-Cola commercial and was so well-liked that it became a full-length record.

The song you’re hearing in the Target ad also has an interesting history. It’s called “Free To Be ... You and Me,” and is the title track from a 1972 recording of new songs and sketches for kids, which Marlo Thomas assembled to make children aware of all their possibilities. “Free To Be” was also a book and, in 1974, an Emmy-winning TV special.

According to the New Seekers web site, the group at the time of “Free To Be” consisted of Eve Graham, Lyn Paul, Marty Kristian, Pete Doyle and Paul Layton.

Q. I remember a movie some years back starring Kirk Douglas as the “Villain,” Arnold Schwarzenegger as the “Handsome Stranger” and Ann-Margret as the “Damsel in Distress.” It was hilarious; the Villain’s plots always backfired (much like Wile E. Coyote’s).

What was the name of the movie and where is it available and in what format?

A. The title was “The Villain” and, as you thought, the 1979 movie is often compared to a live- action Roadrunner cartoon. Hal Needham, best known for his collaborations with Burt Reynolds, directed.

Douglas’s character, the villain of the piece, was named Cactus Jack Slade; Ann-Margret was Charming Jones, and Schwarzenegger was indeed the Handsome Stranger. It is available on DVD, and you can find old VHS copies.

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