Only in Jersey: 3/15/12

Happy Ides of March, y’all! 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.

So, as expected last night, in the wake of revelations that contestant Jermaine Jones had a violent criminal past and several outstanding warrants for his arrest, “American Idol” kicked the Pine Hill native to the curb. During a sit-down with producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick in the episode, Jermaine said he had a reason why he didn’t divulge his run-ins with the law. “I just was scared, nervous,” he revealed. “I didn’t want to get judged, I didn’t want to get penalized for anything that happened in the past.” And while the producers said they would’ve worked with him had he been honest from the get-go, to find out about it after the fact was unacceptable. “We are not allowed to have anybody that has an outstanding warrant against them on the program and you’ve got four of them against you,” Nigel told Jermaine. The segment concluded with a rehearsal clip of Jermaine singing “Somewhere Out There.” It was a sad finish to a promising start. But perhaps Jermaine will find that New Jersey is the “somewhere out there, out where dreams come true.”

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Only in Jersey: 2/15/12

Happy Hump Day!  It’s 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.

Whitney Houston: Coming home. /Photo credit Getty Images

Despite speculation to the contrary, Whitney Houston’s family has no plans to hold a public memorial for the late singer, who died February 11 in Los Angeles, California. Whitney will be remembered during an invitation-only funeral service beginning at noon on Saturday, February 18, at her childhood church, New Hope Baptist, in Newark. There is, however, talk that the singer will be buried in Westfield’s Fairview Cemetery. TMZ reports Whitney will be laid to rest beside her father, John Russell Houston Jr., who died in 2003, because that was what she wanted. Newark, meanwhile, is preparing for a crush of fans and onlookers during Saturday’s celebrity-filled, somber ceremony. “Obviously Whitney Houston was one of the greatest performers of our time, and certainly we expect a huge presence of other performers, actors and we’re preparing for all that,” the city’s police director, Samuel DeMaio, told The Star-Ledger. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered that state flags be lowered to half-staff on Saturday in Whitney’s memory.

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Take a walk in Jersey and you never know who you might see

If you live in Los Angeles, I imagine spotting celebrities is like spotting gas stations: There’s one on every corner.

How do you like John's jaunty hat?/Photo by Gretchen Dietze-Johnson

Not so in Jersey.

Case in point: My friend Gretchen ran into an actual, oh-my-gosh-I-know-this-person celebrity yesterday afternoon on the relatively mild-mannered streets of Princeton.

She was walking along Witherspoon Street on her lunch break when she passed by John Lithgow (he of “3rd Rock From the Sun” fame). And here, in Gretchen’s own words, is what happened:

“I knew I recognized him, but I couldn’t place the last name. A few moments later when I remembered the name, I turned around and walked quickly back to him.

Me: Excuse me… excuse me…

Him: Yes?

Me: I’m sorry, but you look like John Lithgow.

Him: I am.

(He shakes my hand and gives me a friendly hug.)

Me: Oh my God, can I get a picture?

Him: Sure.

Me (as I’m fumbling for my iPhone): I SO loved you on ‘Six Feet Under.’

Him: I”m sorry, but I wasn’t on ‘Six Feet Under.’ Are you thinking about ‘Dexter’? If so…

Me: YES! Oh my God, I’m so flustered!

Him: Hehe, that’s OK.

Me (after taking the picture): Thank you so much!

Him: You’re welcome.”

I always love hearing stories like this. John was excellent, by the way, in last year’s season of Showtime’s “Dexter” as the Trinity Killer. I also loved him in “The World According to Garp,” in which he played a transsexual former football player.

John, for the record, was in town performing his one-man show, “John Lithgow: Stories By Heart,” at the McCarter Theatre. His father, it just so happens, served as the theater’s executive director from 1963 to 1971. John is also a Princeton High School grad.

Michael Jackson belonged to everyone

So Us Weekly is reporting that many of the individuals who eulogized/performed at Michael Jackson’s memorial service had either never met him or barely knew him.


And this is significant why?

On the surface, yes, it is a little odd that those who knew him best – Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Elizabeth Taylor – were not present at the televised event. Then again, maybe it’s because they knew Michael so well that they didn’t attend. Perhaps they wished to honor his memory in a more private way, out of the glare of the spotlight. Considering the lengths Michael went to while alive to keep his private life private, that certainly makes sense.

But for those who did attend and memorialize him in the way they thought best – Queen Latifah, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson – that doesn’t make their appreciation, reverence, admiration and sadness any less sincere.  The thousands of fans gathered at the Staples Center (and millions more like me watching around the world) didn’t know him personally, either, but that doesn’t mean their feelings don’t matter. Michael Jackson belonged to everyone.

Sorry, Us Weekly, but I’m not buying it.

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