Be Good, (Jersey boy) Johnny Weir

I had no idea U.S. male figure skater Johnny Weir had his own reality television show – or that he makes his home in the Garden State.

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Wonder if he finds time to GTL every day?

Anyway… I watched him compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics last week, where he came in sixth. But it wasn’t until I heard about – and finally caught up on- the Sundance Channel series “Be Good Johnny Weir” over the weekend that I realized that a) Johnny’s a Jersey boy and b) he’s a really likable Jersey boy. Just check out this clip of him working with this group of budding female skaters:

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Technically, Johnny’s originally from Pennsylvania (his family lives in Delaware), but he moved to North Jersey (where he’s obsessed with vacuuming)…

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and trains at the Ice Vault in Wayne.

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“Be Good Johnny Weir” is a totally addictive show, and that’s entirely because Johnny is such an interesting – and entertaining – character to watch. His interactions with his stoic Russian coach Galina and struggles on and off the ice shed a unique light on the turbulent life of a professional figure skater.

If watching the show – which airs at 10:30 p.m. Mondays – piques your interest in Johnny further, then check out his Twitter and Facebook pages or his website.

“Jersey Shore”: You give New Jersey a good name?

Working out, tanning, doing laundry, drinking, clubbing, creeping, fist pumping and fist fighting. Who knew that “Jersey Shore” would give the Garden State such a great reputation?

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Nobody, including me. But according to a new poll, MTV’s highly enjoyable train wreck of a reality show has actually improved peoples’ perceptions of the Garden State.

Yup, you read that right: People who’ve watched those self-proclaimed guidos and guidettes fist-pumping at Karma actually like New Jersey more than those who have not seen the show!

That is, at least according to PublicMind, a recent national poll conducted by the state’s own Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Here’s the details: Three out of five respondents who’ve seen the show look favorably upon Joisey, compared to 44% of those who haven’t seen it. Meanwhile, one out of five people who have seen “Jersey Shore” (that’s 20%) has an unfavorable view of the most densely populous state in the nation, and about one in five who has not seen the show (or 18%) has a negative perception of the state.

“While we can’t be sure that ‘Jersey Shore’ is making people like New Jersey more, it certainly doesn’t seem to be hurting,” concluded Dan Cassino, survey analyst for PublicMind and a Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor, in a press release. “It could be that people who already have a favorable view of New Jersey are simply more likely to watch the show, while those who don’t like Jersey aren’t going to watch the show anyway.”

However, the survey does not address the show’s portrayal of Italian-Americans, who are referred to as “guidos” and “guidettes,”* and their penchant for GTL’ing the day away.

“I don’t think anyone would claim that the TV show has anything to do with the real New Jersey,” Cassino said. “Still, the image it portrays doesn’t seem to be hurting the state as some have feared.”

The poll also indicated that when the show’s viewers think of New Jersey they tend to speak about the Shore, boardwalk and ocean (13%) more than non-viewers do (8%).

“New Jersey has been using ad campaigns to build awareness of the Shore for years,” Cassino explained. “Legislators may not be happy with how the state is being portrayed, but the show links New Jersey to its beaches, which is a much better focus than the turnpike.”
Amen to that!
*It’s recently been revealed in the tabloids that at least three of the “Jersey Shore” cast members – Snooki, J-Woww and Ronnie – are not even of Italian descent.

“Celebrity Fit Club”: Sebastian’s Bach is worse than his bite

While Jon Bon Jovi is busy making television appearances as part of his “artist in residence” responsibilities for NBC, his fellow Central Jersey rocker Sebastian Bach is struggling to shed pounds on VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp.”

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The Lincroft resident has become somewhat of a reality show regular in recent years, participating in “Celebrity Rap Superstar,” “Supergroup” and “Gone Country 2” (which he won) prior to joining “Celebrity Fit Club.” And I must say, he’s a lot of fun to watch.

I can reassure you that the former Skid Row frontman is not putting on an act.  What you see on TV is definitely what you get in person – or at least on the phone, as I did during an interview with him in 2008.

Sebastian is another star who proudly embraces his home state of New Jersey, and you gotta love that.

“30 Rock”: Jon is c’est bon

Sayreville, N.J., son Jon Bon Jovi recently rocked “30 Rock” – and managed to give a shout-out to a state university, too.

“I have an honorary degree from Monmouth University,” he assured Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) in the above clip.

And it’s not just any honorary degree – it’s an honorary doctorate, which he was awarded back in 2001. According to this article written by my former colleague, Chris Jordan, Jon’s speech was very inspiring for graduates of the West Long Branch college.

“At this very moment, all across the country, thousands of graduates are receiving diplomas, some from schools like Yale, Georgetown and Dartmouth, who may think their piece of paper is more valuable — or their commencement speaker more impressive,” Jon told them during his commencement speech.

“Remember, we’re from Jersey. We’ve been underdogs all of our lives.”

I knew there was a reason I’ve always liked Jon Bon.

Reduced Shakespeare Company gets “Lost”

Confused about “Lost”?

You won’t be after watching this 10-minute performance of the show’s first five seasons by the brilliant Reduced Shakespeare Company.

My favorite line: “Then other Others started to appear: Angry, frustrated viewers who don’t know what the heck is going on.”

I’ve seen Reduced Shakespeare Company perform twice in my life, and it’s an experience not to be missed. If they come to your area, I highly encourage you to check them out!

You can follow the troupe on Twitter and Facebook.

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