Q: Watching the latest Sprint commercials has me wondering, has James Earl Jones ever been on Johnny Carson or David Letterman?

A: Jones, who co-stars with Malcolm McDowell in the funny ads, has demonstrated his sense of humor before. He memorably read one of Letterman's Top Ten Lists about Y2K, which you can find on YouTube.

Nor is he a stranger to TV talk. The Internet Movie Database lists appearances by Jones with Carson, Arsenio Hall, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson, Mike Douglas, Charles Grodin, Wendy Williams, the cast of "The View" and others.

Films play a numbers game

Q: The recent question from a reader about the error in the Roman numerals in the opening credits of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" raised a question I've wondered forever: Why do movies have the year of their release written in Roman numerals? Instead of MCMLXIV, why can't they just write 1964?

A: Many years ago, while pondering Roman numerals in general, a writer for BBC News said the practice is believed to have started to disguise the age of films or TV programs. In other words, if you could easily read a date that seemed ancient, you might be less inclined to watch the program.

While I have seen the same theory elsewhere, I don't buy the logic. But there is so much logic in entertainment that I don't buy. The discussion of "Rudolph" certainly indicated that some viewers are deciphering the Roman numerals.

Hannibal eludes Vin Diesel

Q: After reading your Q&A concerning the fictional Hannibal Lecter, I was reminded of the historical Hannibal, who took on the ancient Romans. He was depicted by Victor Mature in one of those old black-and-white "swords and sandals" films and was supposed to be played by Vin Diesel in an updated version. What ever became of the Diesel project?

A: While promoting other movies last year, the "Riddick" and "Fast & Furious" star insisted that he was going to make not one but three movies about Hannibal, a project he has been pursuing for a decade.

But he told Variety, "It's about waiting until you get it all on the table and everything is right."

In the meantime, Halle Berry is set to ­executive-produce a Hannibal miniseries for the History channel.

By the way, 1959's "Hannibal," with Victor Mature, was in color.

Send questions about pop culture (with name and address) to rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.