Nothing says New Jersey like a little Bon Jovi

One of the things I like most about Jon Bon Jovi is that he always gives a shout-out to his home state – the Garden State.

Heck, he even named one of his albums after Jersey.

And the love just keeps on coming. In the opening minutes of his recent appearance on “Inside the Actors Studio” (along with band mates David Bryan, Tico Torres and Richie Sambora), he gave us props once again.

“Where were you born?” asked host James Lipton.

“In the great state of New Jersey,” Jon proudly replied. “Perth Amboy, New Jersey.”

“And here’s a little-known fact,” he continued. “Richie, David and I were all born in the same hospital – delivered by the same baby doctor.”

I believe he’s referring to Raritan Bay Medical Center. Wonder if Dr. Greenberg is still practicing or if he’s retired?

On a side note, I’ve known Bon Jovi (not personally, of course) for most of my life. But what else would you expect of someone who was a teenager in the ’80s in New Jersey?

My association with the band goes a little farther, though: I was present for the filming of the band’s “7800° Fahrenheit” single “Only Lonely” in 1985 at a club called Modern Times in Jon’s hometown of Sayreville. (The club is now very well-known as Starland Ballroom.) If you squint really hard while watching the video, you might see me. Or not. Hey, I was only 15 and 5’7″!

I don’t remember much else, except there was a lot of standing around in a large crowd of people. Not surprisingly I didn’t get anywhere near Jon or any of the other band members. But I was there.

In the meantime, if you get the opportunity definitely check out David’s “The Toxic Avenger Musical.” I saw it last year at New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse and it was a lot of fun. It’s got a lot of Jersey jokes in it, so you’ll enjoy it that much more if you’re a Garden Stater.

And Richie was just in his hometown of Woodbridge this week, where a street leading into the high school was named in his honor. You can read my former Home News Tribune colleague Chris Jordan’s story about Richie’s time in Middlesex County right here, and there’s a whole online gallery of photos here.

Who says you can’t go home?

“Celebrity Ghost Stories” offers food for thought

Because it’s mostly full of mildly interesting stories of the paranormal, I don’t typically rely on Bio’s “Celebrity Ghost Stories” for serious discussions/thoughts on the afterlife.

And that’s why a recently aired episode caught me completely off-guard.

During a segment on Eric Roberts (brother of Julia, father of Emma), the character actor recounted his near-death experience following a vehicle accident in 1981. (According to IMDB and other online sources, Eric suffered significant facial and head trauma and was comatose for several days.) When he awoke from the coma, he said he remembered little of his life and was concerned his acting career was over.

In addition to an out-of-body experience, Eric spoke about how an elderly Romanian couple he didn’t recognize came to visit him in the hospital and gave him specific instructions for taking medication that would help him regain his memory. After writing down the names of the drugs, the couple disappeared and no one at the hospital recalled ever seeing them. Eric took the medication as they suggested and within a week, he said, his memories began to return.

While that story was interesting, it was a short, off-hand comment Eric made that really got me thinking. He was talking about how peoples’ spirits are made of energy, and that it’s not so much about the physical body – although we tend to associate the spirit with its human form. So when someone dies, Eric suggested, it’s really only the outward shell that is gone forever.

And then he said this:

“You can’t kill energy. You can only displace it.”

I find that way of thinking to be extremely comforting.

It also makes me wonder what New Yorker Joe Tiralosi – who WCBSTV.com reports was considered dead for 47 minutes before being revived – experienced and/or saw. Unfortunately, that particular aspect is not mentioned, except when reporter Chris Wragge’s co-host, Kristine Johnson, asks him outright at the very end.

“Jersey Shore”: You give Joisey a bad name

Despite what some people may think, most New Jerseyans are proud of their home state.

Greetings from New Jersey

And really, what’s not to love? We’ve got it all:  mountains, the Pine Barrens, farmland galore (well, at least in some spots). But we’re perhaps best known for the Shore (and yes, where I come from that’s a capital “S”).

But now MTV is about to ruin everything with a little show called “Jersey Shore.” Just watch:

Forget the pristine beaches, beautiful sunsets and fun Boardwalks. “Jersey Shore” appears to focus on the least unappealing side of Shore visits: the rude, obnoxious (and typically drunk) people.

“Some of the hottest, tannest, craziest Guidos,” the above promo touts.

Way to combat stereotypes, MTV!

Seriously, does this show appeal to anyone?

Anyone?

Susie Essman just can’t “Curb (Her) Enthusiasm”

“Can I say f*** in a temple?”

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Susie made sure she signed each and every book (which I believe numbered well over 100)./Photos by Ava Gacser

Ladies and gentlemen, Susie Essman is in the building – a Jewish temple in bucolic East Brunswick, N.J., as a matter of fact.

“Now I’m here with all you lovely Jews,” she said last night with a smile.

The “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star’s appearance included a Q&A and book signing to promote her recently released memoir, “What Would Susie Say? Bullsh*t Wisdom About Love, Life and Comedy,” at Temple B’nai Shalom. The event, coordinated by the Friends’ Health Connection, was $35 and included a copy of the book which Susie graciously signed at the end of the evening.

Naturally, much of the conversation – which was artfully moderated by Susie’s good friend, comedian/actor/former “Saturday Night Live” writer Alan Zweibel – revolved around Susie’s experiences playing her “Curb” alter ego, the wonderfully foul-mouthed Susie Greene.

She admitted that when hired by Larry David to do the show, she was reticent when “LD” (as Larry refers to himself) instructed her to curse out her co-star and “Curb” husband, Jeff Garlin, in an episode called “The Wire.”

“Rip Jeff a new a**hole,” she recalled was the only direction Larry gave her. And after a bit of cajoling, this was the result:

“He let the genie out of the bottle,” Susie said with a laugh.

She revealed that she and Larry have never had a discussion about who Susie Greene is, and that she was the one who came up with Susie’s crazy taste in clothes.

“Susie is a very simplistic character,” she explained. “You don’t cross her, and you definitely don’t cross her kid.”

She said she’s pretty good at holding it together during filming and doesn’t laugh, but that this week’s episode, “Officer Krupke,” sent her over the edge.

When Larry dropped his pants, “just seeing those spindly legs” was enough to crack her up.

Her favorite episode, though, is “The Doll.” She said that was the first time the “Spaghetti western music that’s become my theme song” (I love that music!) was used.

“I don’t know what’s funnier than (screaming), ‘Get me the f***ing head!'” she laughed.

Susie said that despite the fact that most of actors on the show go by their own names – Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Michael York, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards (you get the picture) – they’re not necessarily playing themselves.

“The only one who is who you think he is is Richard Lewis,” she said.

(Which is a pretty interesting statement, considering his actions in the funniest episode so far of this season, “Vehicular Fellatio.” Clip please:)

“People don’t understand that it’s not reality TV,” Susie added.

Alan agreed, saying that he was just out with Jeff Garlin this week, and people were coming up to Jeff and cursing at him for cheating on Susie – Susie Greene, that is.

Although Susie enjoys being on “Curb,” she said she would like the opportunity to explore different roles… like perhaps on “Mad Men.”

“It’s so beautifully written,” she gushed. “Those characters are so fully drawn.”

You hear that, Matthew Weiner?

One thing is for certain: When Larry originally contacted her about “Curb,” she had no idea it would turn out to be anywhere near as popular its become.

“I never planned to make a living telling people to go f*** themselves,” she said.

A bit about Alan

When Alan Zweibel first came out, I realized my friend Mary Ann and I (who I was again with last night) had seen him perform earlier this year in “Celebrity Autobiography” (also with Susie Essman!) in New York City. He read a hysterical passage from Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee’s memoir, “Tommyland.” Alan, it turns out, was one of the original writers for “Saturday Night Live” and was good friends with Gilda Radner, for whom he wrote her iconic character, Roseanne Roseannadanna. In fact, he’s written a book about that relationship, “Bunny, Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Romantic Comedy.” Just the little bit he recounted last night was enough to make me want to read the book (and thanks to Franklin Township Public Library, I soon will be!). Alan also talked about his life working in the biz (he’s good friends with Billy Crystal) and his own experiences with Larry David (he was a consultant on “Curb” for a couple of years).

“We all knew that someday the rest of the world will catch up with him,” Alan said, explaining that audiences didn’t seem to appreciate Larry’s sense of humor back in the days when he worked comedy clubs.

Susie agreed, recalling that she and her best friend, Joy Behar, used to hang out with Larry and listen to him complain about women and dating.

“It was all the George stories,” she said and confirmed that “The Phone Message” episode (clip above) was straight out of Larry’s life.

At the end of the evening, Alan hung around the lobby as Susie signed books. He also took the time out to talk with people, signed several of Susie’s books himself and was nice enough to pose for photos, like the one below with me.

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I chatted with guest host/comedian/author Alan Zweibel after Susie Essman’s talk.

And here’s another photo of Susie at the signing:

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“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” get real

You want it, you got it: Here’s my quick, in-a-nutshell recounting of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” appearance on Saturday at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair. (And look out -this time I was sitting in the front row and have some great pix of the ladies!)

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You can't really tell here, but Dina Manzo's T-shirt reads "Last year's Versace." Copies of the shirt were also for sale in the theater's lobby. "I can't help myself," Dina said. "I'm a wise a**."/All photos by Ava Gacser

While much of the material covered territory similar to last month’s appearance by Caroline Manzo and Teresa Giudice (along with “Real Housewives of New York City’s” Alex McCord and Jill Zarin) in Englewood, there were a few new tidbits of information.

First of all, although it was never stated outright, I get the distinct impression all five ladies will be back for the second season (slated to premiere on Bravo sometime in 2010 with – get this – about 18 episodes!!!). I know there’s been some question about Dina Manzo’s participation, but based upon things she said – such as “I’m trying to make (Project) Ladybug be part of the show” and “He’s (Dina’s hubby, Tommy) not in Season 2; he won’t be around” – there’s no doubt in my mind she’ll be back.

Dina proved amusing during the approximately two-hour event, joking that seeing herself on television convinced her she needed major plastic surgery.

“I’m getting a nose job, I’m getting lipo,” she laughed.

She also took responsibility for getting the controversial “prostitution whore” herself, Danielle Staub, on the show.

“Ironically, it was my fault,” she admitted.

According to Dina, Danielle had quite the reputation at Chateau, the Franklin Lakes salon several of the women frequent. And because it was the owner of Chateau, Victor, who was the one Bravo originally approached for help in finding women for the series, salon clients were obviously preferred.

“What about that crazy one?” Dina said is how she recalls referring to Danielle. “Why don’t we take her out to dinner and find out if she’s good crazy or bad crazy?”

Dina also set the record straight about her husband, Tommy, who co-owns The Brownstone with Caroline’s hubby, Albert.

“He wants nothing to do with the show,” she said, adding that initially that bothered her but now she’s glad he isn’t involved. “It’s brought us closer” and makes their time together more special. “It’s just the two of us… it’s just like boyfriend/girlfriend time.”

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I couldn't get a clear shot of Caroline because of that ridiculously placed speaker.

Caroline’s popular son, Albie, was in attendance (as was Dina’s daughter Lexi and Jacqueline Laurita’s daughter Ashley), and she revealed Albie now has a girlfriend named – wait for it – Danielle.

“Can you believe the irony?” Caroline added.

And when the subject of “Regis and Kelly’s” recent Halloween episode featuring the pair dressed up as Caroline and Teresa, respectively, Caroline admitted it was funny but said she couldn’t help wondering, “Why do they always pick a man to imitate me?” (*This isn’t the first time: Earlier this summer, another Jersey girl, talk-show host Chelsea Handler, did a spoof on the “Housewives” and a man played Caroline then, too.)

(In case you missed the “Regis and Kelly” spoof, here it is:)
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Regis and Kelly ARE The Real Housewiv…“, posted with vodpod
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Unlike last time's form-fitting (and gorgeous) glittery dress, Teresa opted for this flowing shift.

Teresa denied that she carries hundreds of thousands of dollars around in her purse.

“I don’t walk around carrying $120k with me,” she said.

She also confirmed that her upcoming cookbook is called “Skinny Italian” and will feature “great quick Italian recipes.”

One of the funniest moments of the evening came when Teresa started trash-talking “Real Housewife of New York City” Bethenny Frankel. After alleging that Bethenny bad mouths her, Teresa called Bethenny a “b*tch,” “slut” and “big ho.”

“You should’ve gotten married first,” she added, obviously referring to newly engaged Bethenny’s recent announcement that she’s pregnant.

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It was good to see Jacqueline laugh.

Jacqueline gushed about her newborn son, Nicholas, whom she lovingly refers to as “monkey.”

“I hold him all the time,” she said. “He looks nothing like me. He’s my husband all the way.”

Speaking of which, Jacqueline also hinted that fans will see more of her husband (and Dina and Caroline’s brother), Chris, in 2010.

“Next season you might see him a lot more,” she revealed.

Jacqueline also said that she wished last season had shown her family’s relationships in a more positive light.

“It seemed to highlight all of the negative moments with my daughter (Ashley),” she said.

The evening was once again moderated by comedian Geno Bisconte.

“We all have our a**hole moments, and we all have our endearing moments,” summed up Caroline. “…If we ever forget where we came from, kick our a**.”

Here are a few more photos I took that evening:

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This was the best shot I could get of all of the ladies standing but it gives you an idea of how tiny they all are. Moderator Geno Bisconte is in the center.

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Teresa and Caroline.

Sisters-in-law Jacqueline and Dina were peppered with plenty of questions during the event.

Sisters-in-law Jacqueline and Dina were peppered with questions.

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Dina whipped out her leopard-covered Blackberry for some impromptu Twitpics, but for some reason they didn't wind up on her Twitter page (www.twitter.com/dinamanzo).

All of the ladies are on Twitter and/or Facebook. If you need any of those addresses, feel free to drop me a line. Hopefully everyone saw the In Touch Weekly photo spread of Jacqueline, Teresa and the babies. It was really cute! In case you didn’t, the photo below is from the article.

IN-TOUCH-HOUSEBABIES

Proud mothers Teresa and Jacqueline show off their newest additions, Audriana and Nicholas. I love the facial expressions on both babies!/Credit In Touch Weekly

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