“Vampire Diaries”: Jersey boy Paul Wesley lets his fangs out

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Civil War-era vampire Stefan Salvatore may be calm, cool and collected when it comes to the ladies, but the actor who plays him on “The Vampire Diaries,” Jersey boy Paul Wesley, admits to being anything but.

Can you believe future ladykiller Paul Wesley was once a flop with women?/Photo credit The CW

Take one of his earliest crushes – a 12-year-old classmate in Marlboro (Monmouth County), NJ. In a move designed to be “super romantic” and “super suave,” Paul copped his dad’s credit card and ordered the biggest, most elaborate bouquet available for his lady love. Trouble ensued when the florist included his father’s name on the card.

“They thought my dad was sending a 12-year-old girl a massive teddy bear and some flowers,” he revealed on “George Lopez Tonight” last week. “My father refused to pay, so they took it away from her.”

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“Jersey Shore”: Oscar edition

Summer at the Jersey Shore is still several months away, but the cast members of the hit MTV series of the same name remain red hot.

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The sextet appeared on another hilarious segment of “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” this week, where they do what they do best: parody themselves. And hey, it works well for them. (And I give The Situation major points for having more of a clue than the rest of the bunch.)

Case in point: The group took time out from their busy GTL schedules to film several clips spoofing several Oscar-nominated films for TBS’ “Lopez Tonight” – and proved that they are indeed funniest when they stick to mocking themselves…

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“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.

Jersey-tastic: “Jersey Shore” and “Chelsea Lately”

After being bombarded by two brand-new episodes of “Jersey Shore” last night (both of them drama-filled), it’s hard to believe that the show is coming to an end next week.

Hopefully, just because the show’s first season – it supposedly has been renewed for a second, according to castmate Vinny – is almost over doesn’t mean that the cast (primarily Snooki, The Situation and Pauly D) won’t continue doing hilarious appearances like last night’s interview on “Chelsea Lately.”

Not surprisingly, New Jersey came up in conversation (how could it not?).

After discovering that Pauly is from Providence, Rhode Island, Livingston native Chelsea Handler asked Snooki where she was from.

“Upstate New York,” she replied.

“So this should be called New York,” Chelsea concluded. “New York and Rhode Island, actually.”

In addition to learning that The Situation and Snooki *hooked up* (choose your definition), Chelsea quizzed the trio on their recent run-ins with the Hollywood elite – who apparently are fans of the show, too.

“We were with Kevin Connolly (“Entourage”) the whole night,” The Situation explained of an outing this week. “And he’s like, ‘Oh, I want to bring you to this VIP table.’ And all of a sudden, we walk over and somebody’s got a hat on and (Kevin’s) like, ‘Oh, I want you to meet somebody.’

“I look up and it’s Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio). He’s like, ‘GTL, baby.'”

For the uninitiated, GTL was introduced in last week’s “Jersey Shore” episode and refers to Pauly and The Situation’s daily routine of gym, tan and laundry.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.
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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)?
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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”:

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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?

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(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!

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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).
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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.

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