Only in Jersey: 3/14/12

Happy Hump Day! Time for another edition of Only in Jersey!

If it’s filming in Jersey, takes place in Jersey, or is about celebs from Jersey, you will find it here.

Jermaine Jones: Thanks for misrepresenting New Jersey!/Photo credit Fox

Reality television and drama go hand-in-hand, no doubt. And there’s plenty o’ drama to go around these days on “American Idol.” Remember Jersey contestant Jermaine Jones, the show’s “gentle giant”? People reports that he will be quitting the show during tonight’s telecast. In a tweet last night that has since been deleted, Jermaine wrote, “Awww I will no longer b on the show.” TMZ goes a step further, saying the show’s producers discovered Jermaine has a criminal past that he had lied about. The Pine Hill native reportedly was arrested twice last year, and one of those arrests was violent in nature. On top of that, Jermaine apparently lied to police, giving them fake names each time he was arrested. And there are also outstanding warrants for his arrest. This news comes on the heels of reports that Jermaine’s story of his dad abandoning him as a kid are untrue. (His dad told TMZ that that wasn’t the case at all and that he sees his son regularly.) All of this raised the producers’ suspicions, and they started looking into Jermaine’s background more closely. And here we are. I guess the only question remaining is how much the show will reveal tonight (8 p.m., Fox) and what its explanation will be for Jermaine’s sudden departure. That leaves Kinnelon native Elise Testone the sole Jerseyan contestant left. Hopefully she will be able to impress the judges more than her next-to-last-place finish last week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s hear it for the (Jersey) boys

Mark Feb. 19 down on your calendars right now – because that’s the night two New Jersey natives will debut new seasons of their respective HBO shows.

"Tim" - along with Amy, The Boss, Stu and Debbie - return with all-new episodes in a couple of weeks./Credit HBO

First up is East Brunswick native Steve Dildarian, whose hilarious animated series “The Life & Times of Tim” returns at 9:30 p.m. Tim’s life is not unlike Larry David’s on another HBO series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” in that he repeatedly finds himself in one uncomfortable situation after another. The big difference between Tim and Larry, though, is that Tim is a lot less of a jerk than Larry.

(Be sure to check out my favorite character on the show, Tim’s no-name boss, voiced by Peter Giles. He is hysterical – especially when he forced Tim to pretend he was Mexican in the first season!)

If you haven’t given this show a try, I highly recommend it. I also suggest you check out the first season, which comes out on DVD Feb. 9.

Immediately following “Tim” at 10 p.m. is River Vale native Bill Maher, who returns for an eighth season of “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

This clip gives you a taste of what’s in store this season for both shows. (I can’t believe how much actor Nick Kroll resembles his animated “Tim” character, Stu):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Life & Times of Tim“, posted with vodpod

New Jersey & TV: Perfect together

Quick!  How many television shows can you name that either a) take place in New Jersey or b) feature a New Jersey native?

Greetings from my hometown, New Jersey's Franklin Township (Somerset County), No. 5 on Money Magazine's 2008 Best Places to Live list!

These days, you only have to turn on your television and New Jersey is all up in your face. I can think of a whopping 26 shows off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are others. (Obviously, I am only including current shows, otherwise “The Sopranos” would be at the top of this list.)

In addition to this list, at least three more will join the ranks this year: the tentatively titled “Jersey Couture” (about a dress shop in Freehold/Monmouth County) from Oxygen, “Jerseylicious” (about a hair salon in Green Brook/Somerset County) from The Style Network, and Martin Scorsese’s “Boardwalk Empire” (a historical look back at Atlantic City/Atlantic County) from HBO.

And now, without further ado, is my list of the Top 26 Jersey-centric TV shows:

26. National Geographic Channel’s “The Dog Whisperer”

Pooch communicator Cesar Millan may be from Mexico, but his right-hand man, Daddy the pit bull, was Jersey born and bred.

That’s right: The lovable, gentle giant who’s helped Cesar reform countless pups was originally owned by rapper Redman from Newark (Essex County). When Redman’s tour schedule took him away from Daddy for long stretches of time, Cesar stepped in and offered to adopt him. Nowadays, the 16-year-old cancer survivor is retired from Cesar’s grueling TV schedule, but on any given day you can find repeats that include him.

*Sadly, Daddy died in February 2010.

25. CNBC’s “Mad Money”

“Mad Money” host Jim Cramer may be from Pennsylvania, but it’s Summit (Union County) he calls home. The author, former hedge fund manager and co-founder of TheStreet.com gained perhaps the most notoriety (and not in a good way) last year when he received a public smackdown courtesy of another Jersey boy, “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Video: Jim Cramer Pt. 1 | The Daily S…“, posted with vodpod

24. Fine Living Network’s “Closet Cases”

New Brunswick (Middlesex County) native Lloyd Boston puts his best fashion foot forward and helps the clueless sort out their wardrobe.

(Note: The above clip features Lloyd making over his mom, Lynell Kollar. I was present for part of this episode’s shoot, which took place in North Brunswick. You can read all about it on my website.)

23. TLC’s “Table for 12”

The Gosselins aren’t the only family of multiples with their own TV show. “Table for 12” focuses on the mostly harmonious day-to-day lives of the Hayes family – Eric and Betty and their 10 children (two sets of twins and sextuplets) – as they live out their lives in Marlboro (Monmouth County).

(Note: The above video features the Hayes’ trip to Essex County’s Turtle Back Zoo.)

22. USA’s “White Collar”

Though he may be forever typecast as Carrie Bradshaw’s fashion-forward friend Stanford Blatch in HBO’s “Sex and the City,” Highland Park (Middlesex County) native Willie Garson continues to find work on both the large and small screen. His latest is the series “White Collar,” in which he plays a con man.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

21. Sundance Channel’s “Be Good Johnny Weir”

Outlandish, outspoken male figure skater Johnny Weir may originally be from Pennsylvania, but his personality is a chip off his adopted state’s block. Johnny’s Garden State roots run deep: He lives in Lyndhurst (Bergen County) and trains in Wayne (Passaic County). He loves nothing more than vacuuming his apartment and doing dead-on impressions of his Ukrainian coach. And, as his reality show confirms, he’s a complete and utter pleasure to watch, both on and off the ice.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Johnny Weir vacuuming“, posted with vodpod

20. “The Wendy Williams Show” (syndicated)

“How you doin’?” The phrase may be synonymous with Joey from “Friends,” but radio-turned-TV talk show host Wendy Williams has made it all her own. The host of the daily gab-fest “The Wendy Williams Show” is a Jersey girl through and through: Raised in Ocean Township (Monmouth County), she now makes her home in North Jersey.

19. FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

Born in Neptune, raised in Asbury Park (Monmouth County) and boarded at school in Summit (Union County), Danny DeVito has never forgotten his Jersey roots (even after sucking down numerous limoncellos). In addition to his saucy role as Frank Reynolds on “Philadelphia,” Danny owns two production companies – Jersey Films and Jersey Television – which together have produced a variety of impressive titles, including “Pulp Fiction,” “Reno 911!,” “Freedom Writers” and a little film starring another Jersey boy called “Garden State.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Hulu – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelp…“, posted with vodpod

18. TLC’s “Cake Boss”

Buddy Valastro creates art in his family-owned Hoboken (Hudson County) bake shop.

17. Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain is the epitome of a Jersey boy: sarcastic and wry, with a sharp wit.  Though the Leonia-born (Bergen County) Bourdain cops to wishing he’d lived his youth in “the city,” his love of the Garden State comes shining through in one of the first episodes of “No Reservations.” Take a peek:

16. HBO’s “The Life & Times of Tim”

This animated series – which finally returns for a second season Feb. 19 – is the brainchild of East Brunswick (Middlesex County) native son Steve Dildarian. In addition to thinking up all of the cringeworthy scenarios Tim finds himself in, Steve also voices the lead character.

15. Bravo’s “Millionaire Matchmaker”

The outspoken, no-holds-barred owner of The Millionaire’s Club is Short Hills (Essex County) native Patti Stanger, a third-generation matchmaker. “The Millionaire Matchmaker” returns for a third season Jan. 19.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Hulu – The Millionaire Matchmaker: Th…“, posted with vodpod

14. The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries”

TV hunks may come and go, but the pair of cold-blooded brothers stalking Mystic Falls, Va., in “The Vampire Diaries” has definitely heated up primetime this season. Playing good boy opposite former “Lost” star Ian Somerhalder, Marlboro (Monmouth County)-raised (New Brunswick born and Rutgers dropout) Paul Wesley – as 162-year-old Stefan Salvatore – sports chiseled, movie-star looks and a sensitive soul. Right now, he’s clearly won the heart of fair Elena. But brother Damon shares a certain chemistry with Elena, too. Who will ultimately wind up with her?

13. Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report”

Why is Southern-raised Stephen Colbert on this list? Because he’s a Jersey resident – Montclair (Essex County), to be exact.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Better Know a District – New Jersey’s…“, posted with vodpod

12. ABC’s “Scrubs”

You may already know that “Scrubs” star Zach Braff (who also put New Jersey on the movie map with “Garden State”) was raised in Maplewood (Essex County). But did you know that Zach’s co-star, John C. McGinley, grew up one town over in Millburn (Essex County)?
Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Hulu – Scrubs: Wingmom“, posted with vodpod

11. “Regis and Kelly” (syndicated)

You know Kelly Ripa as the perky sidekick of the lovable curmudgeon Regis Philbin on “Regis and Kelly,” but years ago she was just another Jersey girl – albeit one (from Berlin in Camden County) who just happened to shake her groove-thing daily on a little local TV show called “Dancin’ On Air.” The show, filmed in Camden and aired on a Philly network, “Dancin’ On Air” (which morphed into “Dance Party USA” when the show went national), featured teased-out teens dancing to ’80s hits. Ms. Kelly a was a regular and her long, curly blond hair was the envy of many viewers (including me, who watched the show religiously in high school). Here she is (with Regis) poking fun at more Jersey girls on my list, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The House Wives Of New Jersy (video) …“, posted with vodpod

10. HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”

Comedian Bill Maher -a River Vale (Bergen County) native – hosts this informative, entertaining look at current events, politics and popular culture.

(Note: The above clip features Princeton prof Cornel West.)

9. NBC’s “30 Rock”

Long Island may lay claim to funnyman Alec Baldwin, but it’s Parsippany (Morris County) that co-star Jane Krakowski calls home. This versatile actress – who met “Ally McBeal” co-star Calista Flockhart while they were students at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts – is as much at home on the stage (she won a Tony for her performance in “Nine”) as she is playing a goofball on critics’ darling “30 Rock.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Hulu – 30 Rock: Jenna on Hardball“, posted with vodpod

8. NBC’s “Mercy”

This medical drama about three nurses takes place in a fictional Jersey City (Hudson County) hospital and features numerous Garden State references throughout its episodes. In a brilliant crossover move, “Real Housewives of New Jersey’s” Jacqueline and Teresa added an extra dose of “Joisey” realism to an episode in this, its first, season.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Hulu – The Real Housewives of New Jer…“, posted with vodpod

7. Fox’s “Glee”

I bet New Jersey has never been more happy to claim a geek as one of its own than Lea Michele’s character Rachel Berry in “Glee.” Not only does Lea, who grew up in Tenafly (Bergen County), have killer pipes (at 23, she’s a Broadway veteran), she’s also proven herself to be an adept actress and fashion maven.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

6. E!’s “Chelsea Lately”

If you think Patti Stanger is outspoken, check out Chelsea Handler, host of this nightly comedy/talk show. Chelsea, who is also a stand-up comedian and three-time author (her latest, “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang,” drops March 9), is nothing but an old-fashioned (translation: sarcastic and snarky) Jersey girl from Livingston (Essex County). Hmmm… maybe there’s something about the water in Essex County?

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Hulu – Chelsea Lately: Jennifer Aniston“, posted with vodpod

(Note: The above clip contains Jennifer Aniston’s fashion diss on Jersey.)

5. Fox’s “House”

It may not feature any actors from the Garden State (former Monmouth resident Kal Penn’s character was killed off last year), but “House” officially put Princeton – and Plainsboro (Mercer and Middlesex counties, respectively)- on the nation’s radar. The hospital may not exist in reality, but the series is sprinkled with occasional Garden State references. And, in an ironic twist of life imitating art, construction on a new Princeton hospital – in Plainsboro – is underway.

4. Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey”

If there’s one thing we can count on with “The Real Housewives” franchise, it’s confirmation that the rich live well no matter what their zip code. But this Franklin Lakes (Bergen County) bunch brought a breath of fresh air – and more than a few expletives – to the series’ formula. Prostitution whore, indeed!

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Hulu – The Real Housewives of New Jer…“, posted with vodpod

3. ABC’s “Lost”

While his character is not one of the original “Lost” castaways, there is no doubt that former Old Bridge resident (Middlesex County) Ken Leung (ghost buster Miles Straume) is a star of the most mammoth TV series, like, ever. His delicious sarcasm rivals Sawyer’s and proves that he’s a Jersey boy at heart.

2. Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”

Comedian/highly successful mock-talk-show host Jon Stewart was raised in Lawrenceville (Mercer County).
Vodpod videos no longer available.

1. MTV’s “Jersey Shore”

Love it or hate it, MTV has a bonafied hit on its hands with this controversial *reality* show, which has introduced an entirely new vernacular into popular culture. I guarantee most New Jerseyans have never before heard most – if not all – of these phrases before: creeping (hitting on), GTL (gym, tan, laundry), grenade and grenade launcher (and that’s just from one episode!). “Jersey Shore” may in actuality star only one Garden State native (Hazlet’s Sammi “Sweetheart”), but it’s put Seaside Heights (Ocean County) on the nation’s radar, for good or bad.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “The Aftermath | Video | MTV“, posted with vodpod

Merry Christmas from HBO: “The Life & Times of Tim” to return in 2010

Christmas has come early to fans of HBO’s animated series “The Life & Times of Tim.”

Variety reports that the series – the first season of which aired way back in the fall of 2008 – will finally return at 10:30 p.m. Feb. 19, following “The Ricky Gervais Show.”

“Tim” – in case you haven’t heard – is the brainchild of Steve Dildarian, an East Brunswick, N.J., native. In addition to thinking up the painfully awkward situations Tim frequently finds himself in (think an animated “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Steve is also responsible for bringing us the Budweiser lizards and the happy-school-is-starting father in that Staples commercial. You can learn more about Steve by reading my 2008 interview with him on my website.

Meanwhile, posts on the show’s Facebook fan page (which include comments from Peter Giles, who hilariously voices Tim’s boss) indicate the first season will be available on DVD around the same time as the second season premiere. 2010 is looking brighter already!

It’s Dec. 1: Wishing you “Bunny Bunny”

When I unexpectedly met comedian, author and former “Saturday Night Live” scribe Alan Zweibel in an East Brunswick temple last month, I had no idea he would make me cry.

Yet cry is exactly what I did… when I read his beautiful, heartbreaking book, “Bunny Bunny, Gilda Radner: A Sort of Love Story.”

Listening to Alan’s impromptu introduction last month of friend and fellow comedian Susie Essman – in which he regaled the audience with stories of his days on the “SNL” set and vividly (and humorously) described first meeting Gilda Radner – convinced me I needed to pick up “Bunny Bunny” from my library ASAP.

I devoured the book in one sitting. Which is not hard to do – it’s only 190 pages long and full of Alan’s recollections of his conversations with Gilda over the years.

They clearly loved one another, though their relationship never became as romantic as perhaps Alan wished it to be. They supported one another through failed relationships, Alan’s eventual marriage and birth of two of his children, and Gilda’s eventual diagnosis of ovarian cancer and her drawn-out, painful death.

By the time I reached page 189 – titled “At A Memorial – June 1, 1989” – I was bawling.

“I don’t know why God makes people and then takes them back while they’re still having fun with the life he gave them in the first place,” Alan’s eulogy goes. “Just like I don’t know if I’m supposed to celebrate the fact that Gilda was in my life, or feel cheated that she’s not here anymore. But even though her body grew to betray her, spirits just don’t die.”

I know exactly how Alan feels. Which is why a recent episode of “Celebrity Ghost Stories” featuring Eric Roberts made such an impression on me.

“You can’t kill energy,” Eric said in it. “You can only displace it.”

Me and Alan Zweibel hanging in East Brunswick last month./Credit Ava Gacser

The title of Alan’s book, by the way, refers to a phrase Gilda began using as a child to make herself feel safe when she was scared – and one that she continued using as an adult, albeit a bit more infrequently.

“It’s just that, for whatever reason, on the first day of every month the first words that I say when I wake up are ‘Bunny Bunny’ to make sure it’s going to be a good month and keep me safe from anything bad that could happen,” Gilda explains to Alan in the book.

Since it’s Dec. 1, I can’t think of a better way to start the first day of the last month of 2009:

Bunny Bunny to you all.

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: